You probably don't need us to tell you that the way customers find your business has changed. We're glued to our phones, which serve as a dictionary, encyclopedia, phone book and superstore, all in one. We research products and companies online before ever stepping into a store.
Is your business keeping up with these changes?
If not, your marketing strategy needs an overhaul. In this post, we'll break down the differences between traditional and digital marketing and show you how to modernize your marketing strategy in order to thrive in today's digital world.
You know traditional marketing. It's the 4 P's - product, price, promotion and place. Traditional promotion methods may have included direct mail, print advertising (think newspapers or the phone book) and television or radio commercials. While, for many years, this was the best way to reach consumers, the Internet has created many more opportunities for businesses to reach consumers online.
With streaming sites like Netflix, we never have to watch another commercial again. And, newspaper sales have been declining for years now since most of us read or watch our news online for free.
People are reaching for their phones instead of the phone book to search for local business information. The world's gone digital, but have you?
Digital marketing, on the other hand, involves using digital media to promote your business online. Digital marketing is a great way to promote your local business because it can be far less expensive than traditional marketing.
With digital marketing, you can track the ROI (return on investment) of your campaigns, something far more difficult (and less precise) with traditional marketing.
You can advertise in the phone book's Yellow Pages, but the only way to know a customer found you through the Yellow Pages is to ask. However, with digital marketing you can track website visits, form fills, calls, direction requests, purchases and much more all with a single marketing analytics dashboard.
This is not to say traditional marketing is dead, but to survive today, businesses need a digital marketing strategy.
How to Modernize Your Marketing Strategy
I'm not telling you to totally ditch your traditional marketing strategy.
Online and offline marketing can work together to create a well-rounded marketing strategy, but you should make changes to update your online presence and be found by those consumers who are searching online for products and services like yours. How can you be found online?
Let's start with the basics.
Build a Website
You may not think you need a website and if so, you're not alone in thinking that way. Only 60% of local businesses have a website. However, 90% of smartphone users search for location information and 56% of mobile local searches end with a purchase.
So, now we know that local consumers are searching for businesses online and that those searches end in a purchase. How can you make sure they can find your location information? Create a website and add your location information to the header or footer. Add a directions page too so they can find your business.
Think of a website as a marketing investment and a way to build trust with consumers.
What information should your website contain? Make sure when consumers are researching those local products and services online that they have everything they need.
That means if you own a restaurant, post your menu on your website as well as a phone number, whether you accept reservations, business hours, what time your kitchen closes, what types of beverages you serve, weekly specials, local events you're catering, if you offer delivery and carry-out, etc.
Finally, make sure that your web designer or developer creates a mobile-optimized website. A whopping 91% of consumers will turn to a competitor if your website isn't optimized for mobile devices.
Citations and Place Pages
How else can you make sure consumers find your business in local searches? Search engines use your citation information to rank and display your business in local search results.
A quick search for your business's name and phone number can tell you how much your citation information varies online.
Build new citations (and clean up any conflicting or incorrect information about your business online) so that your citation information is consistent across directories.
Your business earns the trust of search engines when your name, address, phone number and URL is consistent across all directories. In turn, your business will improve its likelihood of being ranked favorably in search results.
And don't forget to create or update business pages on Google My Business, Bing Local and Yahoo! Local. Search engines use the information they find on those pages to list your business in local searches, so be sure to add all the information a searcher would need to find you online as well as locally.
Get More Online Reviews
You may not be a big fan of Yelp or TripAdvisor, but they can be hugely beneficial for businesses.
One study found that a hotel could raise its prices by 11% for every one-point increase in its TripAdvisor star rating. Businesses can also see a 5%-9% increase in revenue for every one-point star increase on Yelp.
I could go on and on about the importance of online reviews for your business, but suffice it to say that your business needs reviews. Create and/or claim your profiles on review sites. Start asking customers to leave online reviews. Share the most positive reviews on your social media pages.
In the past, businesses have advertised in newspapers, phone books, direct mail and on billboards. Today, though, there are better ways to advertise. It's easy to track the ROI of your paid ads, and online advertising can get your business to the top of the search results, help you get more leads and increase conversions.
If you add location extensions to your business's Google My Business page, your ads can be displayed in the local finder beside Google Maps for relevant local searches.
Local search ads will look almost exactly like any other local search result in Google Maps, but they will give you a better chance of showing up in local searches if you are still working on building your online presence.
Drivers may see your billboard on the side of the road, but how do you know if it brings them to your business?
Instead, try retargeting ads. These are ads that only display for users who have visited your website. To do this, you need to add a pixel to the HTML in your website and build a retargeting list. This will allow you to strategically target consumers that have already show interest in your product or service (this is a great marketing strategy for businesses in industries with a longer buying cycle).
Retargeting ads can be incredibly successful and have shown to can increase conversions by up to 70% in some instances. Retargeting ads will keep your business fresh in consumers' minds as they make purchase decisions.
Video is huge right now. Not only does it seem to drive user engagement in a way written content isn't always able to, but options like Facebook Live and Instagram are free and easy to do. How can you use video to promote your business?
1. If you don't already have one, create a business Facebook account.
2. Optimize by adding photos and business information.
3. Let friends and family know on your personal Facebook page.
4. Invite people to follow your page.
5. Once you have followers, open the Facebook app. Tap the top of your screen near your profile photo, where it says "What's on your mind?"
6. Tap "Go Live" to start live streaming.
You can use Facebook Live to stream at special events (such as the county fair if your business has a booth) or even stream during a busy day at your store.
You can also let followers know in advance that you'll be creating a Facebook Live video and give them the option to either visit your business while you're streaming and be part of the video or to submit questions, Ask Me Anything style, which you would answer in your Live video.
You can also do behind-the-scenes videos in which you allow followers to get to know your employees or show them what it's like running your business.
We've talked about Instagram Stories before, and it's a great way to promote your business. Stories appear at the top of users' home screens in the Instagram app, and your story will play automatically after the preceding story.
This means stories are more likely to be seen than a normal Instagram post, and Instagram Story videos can only be 10 seconds long at the most. That means you can be short, sweet and to the point.
Video marketing (think videos of products in action) is the way to go with Instagram Stories, since shoppers who watch videos are more likely to make a purchase than those who don't.
Video isn't the only way to use Instagram Stories, though. You can add photos, and you can add filters and text or even draw on your photos. Have fun with it.
Don't be left in the dust. Your competitors have a digital marketing strategy, and so should you. Follow our steps and be found by local consumers today.