Websites, blogs, social media… you’ve got to be where your clients are! There are more people online than ever before - with a staggering 94% of people in the UK accessing the internet at least once a day in 2020 - so it is essential to pay attention to how you appear on the internet, in order to improve your company’s image and give your business a real boost. But how do you successfully create awareness and develop your client base online? How can you stand out from the crowd? What digital marketing strategy should you adopt? Here’s an overview of some digital marketing essentials when it comes to using digital tools to grow your bricks-and-mortar business.
Why should you increase your establishment’s online visibility?
With millions of Brits browsing the internet for around 25 hours per week, the internet is without a doubt the best way to reach a larger audience. You know this already: when you look for information, book a trip or reserve a table, nowadays, you first reach for your smartphone or tablet. And that new, trendy bar where you met your friends last week? You probably heard about it on Facebook first before deciding to go there. This is why it is not only important but indispensable to improve your online presence.
Generating qualified traffic and attracting potential clients
Everything you do online should be designed to attract users that are truly interested in your products and services (we call this “qualified traffic”). These are the people who are the most likely to become your clients or even loyal regulars. To accomplish this conversion, you must show potential customers that you are the expert in your field and that you can meet their needs and expectations better than the competition. All textual content (web pages, blog posts, social media) must therefore be of the highest quality and, of course, perfectly align with your business - it has to be truly useful and relevant information.
How to stand out online
On the internet, everything is accessible without the barrier of opening times and geographical location. Access to information is at everyone’s fingertips, so in theory, it is easy to reach a larger number of people and attract a substantial potential client base. In practice, however, it can prove more challenging to stand out from the crowd of competitors who have already built up a significant online presence. Using digital tools to improve exposure online is all about applying a few simple rules that we are going to share with you now.
Improve your visibility for local searches
Online phone books are excellent ways to improve your online presence on a local scale. Yell.com, Google My Business or Bing Places for Business are all non-specialised solutions, whereas Yelp and TripAdvisor have a more specific restaurant and hotel sections. Choose relevant sites that specialise in your field to build your presence on.
Google My Business: a standout business directory
When you ask Google for a “restaurant in Brixton” or “private nurse in the West End”, it immediately shows you a list of local businesses that match your search term, complete with a phone number and address on Google Maps. Why? Because these businesses have created an account with Google My Business, a business referencing service that allows them to benefit from being in the top results on the world’s most used search engine.
Your website: the showcase of your business
Your website is not only the online window display of your establishment, but it also embodies the image of your brand. First, it should attract visitors, then convince them to test your products and services. It should therefore contain high-quality content and all the possible information that a potential client could come looking for: professional and relevant photos, a comprehensive list of products and services, up-to-date opening hours, news and events, prices, and menus. Effective and well-written “calls to action” will similarly drive engagement with potential new customers. Your aim should be to create an attractive preview of your business that regularly generates new qualified leads.
Blogging: the basis of natural referencing
Creating a blog shows that you are an expert in your field while allowing you to hone your brand’s image and send your site high up the list of search engine results. It’s all about creating regular, quality content that is targeted and relevant. Try writing about a piece of company news, a subject close to your businesses operations, recipe ideas, patient profiles or client testimonies, for example. Through these articles, visitors should see that your business provides answers to their questions, interesting and relevant information, and new ideas. You should be the reference point for your area of expertise in order to generate qualified traffic.
SEO: naturally boost your blog or website’s referencing
A website or blog post well-placed on SERPs (search engine results pages) has every chance of being clicked on! You can achieve this by optimising your text thanks to SEO (search engine optimisation) techniques. You should carefully consider what keywords to use, maintain targeted language around a precise theme, and work hard to have links to your website appear on other sites. Google’s algorithms use all of these criteria to determine where to place your site in its search results. Alongside this organic approach, you could also choose a paid referencing strategy (SEA) by using Google Ads, for example. Purchasing keywords on search engines feeds interaction with your clients.
Everyone’s a critic…
Those infamous little stars next to your business’ name are what online visitors see first, and what tells them whether clicking on a certain link is worth their time. These reviews reflect customers’ experiences, so they are precious indications of the quality of your service for a potential new customer. They are essential for showing the value of your business. It is therefore imperative to pay attention to your reviews, across all platforms, and take the time to send appropriate replies - even to the negative ones. Keep in mind that your reply also contributes to your online reputation. Feel free to ask your loyal regulars for some help and encourage them to leave a comment.
When social media does the work for you
The ability to share things on a large scale and in real time is one of the many advantages of social media. It is an effective way to improve your establishment’s online visibility, convert online visitors to new clients, and nurture customer loyalty. Using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, regularly post news, photos, and videos across all platforms. Share information about upcoming promotions and post links to your latest blog posts. Like with search engines, you can also pay for advertising on social media to promote a new dish or a new service (Sunday roast, live music evening, guest chef, for example).
Boost your business’ profile by holding “viral” events
Another (very effective) way to get people talking about you is to go viral! By employing original and unusual advertising techniques, you can really make some noise on social media and get your brand and products seen by new audiences. For example, to mark the show’s 30th anniversary, Airbnb partnered with The Fresh Prince of Bel Air to offer a select group of fans the opportunity to stay in the iconic mansion for a few nights. In reality, very few people actually took part in the experience, but likes and shares sent it viral on social media and helped raise Airbnb’s profile for potential and existing customers. If you don’t happen to have access to a Bel Air mansion, special offers, competitions, and giveaways are other - more accessible - ways to incite people to share your posts, helping them reach a wider audience.
The right tools for the job
Modern digital tools are extraordinary and indispensable when it comes to developing your client base. Adopting an effective digital strategy involves implementing a wide range of well-adapted measures. Target potential clients’ needs, then determine the most effective strategy to show how you can meet those needs. Be creative and don’t be shy about asking for help - either from an agency or from your own team members, who can be an inspiring source of good ideas if you just ask! Go on, try it for yourself. The ball’s in your court now.