Now that some of the shine has worn off of ecommerce and online retailing, bricks and mortar stores are breathing a little easier
People have figured out: It’s fun going shopping! Thank goodness, everything in life hasn’t moved online. People are still visiting, checking out your stuff, and piling some of it into the cart. But whatever the nature of your bricks and mortar operation, Orange County retail is not going anywhere.
Online, there’s lots to be done for the multitude of shopping, services and eating establishments. That doesn’t mean moving more of your business online, though you can do that, too. Rather, let’s focus on what the average bricks and mortar store can do to boost their walk-in business.
Both Local and Traditional SEO require using very specific techniques so that more and more people can find your site easily. But “Local SEO” generally includes tactics likely to focus on visitors in or of a specific geographic location. Most “traditional SEO” refers to the tactics used to get any visitor irrespective of location and presumably because the site owners goals include providing service or products to anyone, anywhere. You can find out more here.
Specifics of Orange County (Brick and Mortar) Retail
You can’t eat anything you see on the Internet. Likewise you can’t touch it and feel it, much less try it on, before you buy it. At the same time, offline shoppers are not likely to learn about a shop’s history, the family who runs it or the values that make it worth supporting. They may very well miss half of the inventory you carry simply because they don’t explore your full physical property.
If they like you, they may very well want to know who they’re dealing with. You’ll be surprised at the reasons customers come back – refer their friends or even become fans. But it’s totally worth pursuing that 20% of repeat offline shoppers who very likely make up 80% of your sales. That’s really a big part of doing some SEO and keeping people coming back. It’s ALWAYS cheaper and more profitable to pursue repeat customers than new ones.
Now let’s look at the Nine Essentials of doing a little more of that online – even if you’re not an ecommerce online retailer.
1) Your Website is Still Your Home base
Though it’s not the only place you’ll be, it is the only place on the Internet you’ll fully control. So it’s got to be good. Websites can vary wildly, but basically, a brick-and-mortar website needs to prominently display your contact information and give a good idea of who and what you are, fast. Most of this article is about those other places and working with them, because they’re important. But as we said above, getting the 80% of your revenue depends on connecting with the 20% of your customers who are likely to keep coming back. Know where they are, what they’re reading and use the place names (and your own) prolifically throughout your site. Get them onto an email list, and to all of your social media outlets.
2) Values Matter
Making it personal doesn’t mean it needs to be political. On the contrary, you started your business for personal reasons and probably some economic reasons. That’s honorable. But keep this in mind: as any salesman will tell you, people buy from people and not from companies. A professional marketing company will work to make your brand into a person, but you can do it too.
3) Get a Copywriter
They don’t have to be expensive. “Interested” is usually good enough. Work with a good copywriter to flesh out as many pages as possible about your location and what you believe in. Then keep your copywriter around to do a weekly or biweekly blog post on your site thereafter.
4) Make Your Communications About People
Even the coldest B2B service is about the people it’s helping. If your website is about them and for them, then you can’t go too wrong, with local and with traditional SEO. (All SEO is some combination of the two.)
5) Get your Google+ Page Up and Claimed
We’ll start with Google+ because it’s unpopular, not particularly social and likely to change and grow quickly. Despite all its faults, Google+ is simply too successful to disappear. For now, just treat it like any other directory of business listings. Match it up with your place on Google Maps, and if you can, try to get some customers to review your business, and do a little posting on behalf of your business (we’ll get a little deeper into Social Media Marketing in a minute).
6) Select your national listings sites carefully
At the end of the day, there are only so many accounts and passwords and profiles you can maintain. The information across all of them needs to be consistent, especially your business name, address, phone and email. Having a hundred profiles can be a serious pain when something changes. Some obvious profiles you’ll want to maintain are Yelp!, Yahoo! and Bing, but Google+ in combination with Google Maps is still the big player.
7) Work on Getting Reviews
Getting people to review your business is always in your interest. You can email current customers and include links in your current email communications. The important thing is to start to build a reputation. You can selectively select quotes from reviews and put them on your testimonials page, but you don’t want to overwhelm your readers, or Google with fake or fake sounding reviews. Yelp! is notorious for considering nearly all of the reviews fake when they’re from first time users. Google does something similar, so the values of reviews are not always immediately apparent.
8) Do Social
Very often, that same copywriter mentioned above will also compose posts and interactions for your social media accounts. She may also send pre-written posts directly to your customer service people who are likely better prepared to follow up on comments or inquiries that may show up there. If you’re really an old-school B2B service firm, then the work you’re doing on social media, especially LinkedIn, may be some of the most important outreach work you do. So keep on top of it.
9) Your Website is also an Outpost of Your Customer Service
Make sure your customer service people, or your store associates, are looking critically at your website. Ask them who is in your store and work with them to build the content that matters to those people. This makes for happy, engaged employees, but it also provides you with invaluable insight into how your operation is really operating. If you get a lot of visits from the local baseball team, then celebrate them. If all your visitors are coming over from the hotel next door, then work with the hotel to learn where they’re coming from and how you can better welcome and serve them.
Orange County is a complicated place. Lots of cities, towns and neighborhoods mean it’s not difficult for you to distinguish your own business from all the noise. But perhaps the most important way to stand out is to remind people why they are where they are. Perhaps you’re there for the same reason.
Image via Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wavyday/4432119272/