Did you know 97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else?
Does that seem higher than you expected? Well, let’s think about it this way.
Imagine you just bought school clothes online for your kids and school is now in session. Your child runs inside after playing with his friends and you discover that his nicest jeans are torn and covered in grass stains. Oh no, tomorrow is picture day and you can’t get new jeans shipped fast enough! What do you do? Do you pile all the kids into the car and drive around until you find a store that might have what you need? Do you pull out your dusty Yellow Pages and look for clothing stores? Do you ask a customer service representative to tell you every size of jeans they have available?
No. You grab your smartphone or computer, and you search for it. That’s what you do, and that’s what your consumers do. And chances are pretty high that the search results will have something that matches what you are looking for.
So why do so many small businesses not have an online presence? Maybe you think that word-of-mouth is enough advertising for your business. Maybe you think that online presences are only for big businesses. Maybe you just don’t see how an online presence will have any ROI. Well, prepare to be enlightened. Here’s why every small local business needs an online presence.
With a consumer market that heavily relies on the internet for everything from directions to food recommendations, your small business can be more accessible than ever before. More than likely, your small business has set hours when consumers can walk in to find out what products or services you offer. But what about evenings, weekends and holidays?
Having an online presence solves this problem. Your website is accessible 24/7, allowing consumers to browse prices and hours and get answers to their questions wherever they are. This effortless way of sharing your business allows consumers to find out everything they want to know about your business without having to leave the comfort of their home.
When you first started your small business, did you have to mail out coupons and post in the local newspaper just to get the name of your business out there? Now instead of putting stamps on hundreds of envelopes, you can spread the word with just the simple click of a key.
In addition, having an online presence gives you access to tracking metrics that can show you exactly where your consumers are coming from and what they are looking for, allowing you to up your marketing game even further.
Local businesses also have the advantage of using local SEO tools that big brands may not be using. This approach to marketing using your online presence requires far less effort on your part, and we’ve only scratched the surface. Having an online presence also opens the door to marketing your business via social media, pay-per-click advertising and many others!
If your small business doesn’t currently have an online presence, then you most likely gain most of your consumers by word of mouth from current customers or by consumers who happen to walk by your business. This means that your audience is confined to only a small number of people.
On the internet, there are no limits. Your audience can be as large as you want it to be. With a solid website that is search engine optimized, anyone interested in your products and services can easily find your business. This includes those who otherwise would have been unable to make it to your location due to disabilities, lack of transportation, etc. This approach even opens up the opportunity to expand your business from local to global if you so desire.
Previously, you may have had catalogs or brochures that listed your services or products and any sales that may be going on. Unfortunately, any time your inventory changed or a sale ended, you would be forced to print out all new ones.
A website provides you with an easily customizable, updatable method that will keep customers informed without going through countless reams of paper. Now you can keep your customers in the loop when your store hours change for the holidays or you get a brand new product.
An online presence also allows you to communicate and build relationships with your customers. Reviews have become a huge factor for whether a potential customer decides to go with your small business or not. Even negative reviews are helpful because responding provides you with the opportunity to be professional and try to resolve the issue. The alternative would be having an unhappy customer talking down your business without ever allowing you a chance to make it right.
With all of these factors combined, having an online presence can truly make or break a business, especially for small business owners. Even if someone hears about your small business by word of mouth, they will likely still search the internet for similar businesses, hours, pricing and reviews.
Don’t let your competitors poach your potential consumers because of your lack of online presence. Take advantage of the accessibility, effortless marketing, wider audience and communication that comes with having an online presence, and dig into a gold mine of potential customers.