Look around and you can easily spot a number of people bent over their phones, tapping smartwatches, streaming on iPads, or working on laptops. With access to internet 24/7, people are online all the time and most consumers surf the web to find and research a business before buying, calling, or visiting. For small businesses that want to stand out in cyberspace, you have to be where they can easily find you. Whether consumers are connecting with you on social media, exploring your website, listening to your latest podcast, or clicking through on an email, all these channels present numerous opportunities to build your brand, improve your reputation, increase customer engagement and loyalty, and drive revenue. Let’s discuss how you can take advantage of these interactions.
1. Jumpstart Your Website: Your website is the biggest piece of real estate on the internet. If it’s been awhile since you’ve paid any attention to it (or if you don’t have one, launch one soon!), give it a refresh. This is where people go to learn about your product or service, find out more about you, and hopefully, decide on doing business with your company. You have a small window of time to catch their attention and keep them scrolling. Consumers are much savvier these days and expect websites to be robust, responsive, attractively designed, feature relevant content, serve up all the information they need (what you do, who you are, contact info, location, hours, etc.), and offer a seamless e-commerce experience.
You got into business to deliver something of value to your customers, so showcase it in the best way possible. If you’re tech savvy, there are plenty of DIY website builder services if you want to do an overhaul or simply update your site. If you’re not as tech-savvy, hire a designer and a writer to show and tell your brand story. And remember, all the great content you’re creating for your website can be shared on other online channels. Get more bang (and reach) -- for your buck! The goal is more visitors and engagement.
Ways to drive traffic to your website:
- Create a blog - To educate, inform, inspire or simply entertain
- Offer a free trial or product giveaway - Customers love value
- Cross-promote an event with another business - Share resources, costs, and followers
- Connect with influencers in your industry – Consumers count on their honest reviews
- Host podcasts and webinars to spotlight a new product or service
- Post videos (and while you’re at it, how about starting a YouTube channel?)
- Create a mobile app for easy website access anytime
2. Ramp up Social Media: There are so many popular social media channels out there with new players popping up all the time. While it’s an amazing tool to keep the conversation going with your followers, choose the channels that make the best business sense for you. It takes tremendous time and effort to stay active and really make an impression. You can use the same content for different networks, but tweak it so it fits the space you’re in and the audience you’re talking to. And always be true to your brand so people recognize you when you show up.
- Facebook: This is the most popular social network designed for sharing news, thoughts, photos, videos - with space for longer posts. Good for lead generation and to strengthen relationships with “friends.”
- Twitter: Speak “Brand” when you tweet in 280 characters or less. Be quick; twitters check in here to see what’s new or trending. Use hashtags so they can easily find and follow topics that interest them – including you.
- YouTube: This is the place to really connect with your audience through videos. Live stream an event, highlight a new product, share your expertise, throw up a tutorial, or capture customer testimonials.
- Snapchat: Another favorite video-sharing platform, but the content expires. So win over viewers fast with special promos, customized content, “Flash” sales, or longer Snapchat stories. Add filters, lenses, and sounds... and snap away!
- Instagram: All about sharing visuals and memorable experiences. Post photos and videos right in the moment, right from your mobile device. Remember, Instagram Stories expire in 24 hours.
No matter what social media platform you use, be super engaged. Post often, like and respond to your follower’s posts, answer Direct Messages (DMs), and listen closely to the chatter to hear what’s important – it’s like free marketing research. Even negative comments can clue you into better ways to do business and give you the chance to offer a quick explanation or solution. Don’t forget, when people are talking about you online, others are listening in, too. When you can, tag others (and hopefully they’ll tag or link back to you for more exposure and online credibility).
3. Blast Some Emails: Think about how often you check your email every day. Well, your customers are doing the same. And since they’ve opted in to receive communications from you, motivate them to open your emails with catchy subject lines, content that offers them some value, and a strong call-to-action (CTA). You can send out daily, a few times a week or once a month. If you’re looking to build your email list, add a pop-up on your website to get visitors to subscribe by offering exclusive tips, a special discount or coupon, a video tease of a new product or sale coming up, or a valuable industry report.
4. Network, Network, Network! You’ve heard the expression: “Always be selling.” Since the web offers countless opportunities to spread the word about your business, make sure you’re exhausting all avenues for exposure:
- Encourage customers and vendors to write reviews and post them as testimonials on your site or on social media.
- Contact reporters or editors to feature you on local media.
- Start a public relations campaign when you have big news to promote.
- Invest in paid online advertising to target audiences and increase traffic.
- Create a LinkedIn profile to engage with other professionals in your industry.
- Reel in new customers with direct mail and invite them to find you online via your website and social media handles.
Meg Schutte is a Bank of Hope Blog contributor.
The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Bank of Hope.