Online Marketing Why You Need it and How to Get
The reality is that yesterday’s digital trend is today’s standard. Much like you, customers apply more online communications into their daily routine and use the Internet when searching for goods and services in their local area. Gone are the days of Yellow Pages and clipped coupons. Now that your customers are more web savvy, you should ask yourself – Are you doing everything you can to meet their needs? By investing in online communications and marketing, you align your business practices with customers’ preferences. More importantly, these technologies make it very easy for customers to interact with your business at their convenience, 24/7.
Online communications are not only key in your daily interaction with customers, but are also less expensive, more effective and allow your business to become more efficient. For instance, let’s say you currently use direct mail to promote specials on products or services, how do you track performance? Do you use a custom phone number for inbound calls or add a special promotion code? Email marketing takes care of all of that for you, automatically. With an email campaign, you can send a targeted email with a special offer in just a few clicks. Most email service providers give you access to tracking performance down to a user click. In fact, Demandforce allows you to not only track the email performance, but also see how many appointments were generated through a specific communication. Now you can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Email also gives you an opportunity to gauge customer satisfaction. Post service feedback is hard to capture and more often than not, customers feel uncomfortable sharing any unflattering experiences with you. However, an email survey is a non-intrusive way to ask the hard questions. Demandforce, for instance, automatically sends a Thank You email to all customers who received a service that day. From the email, customers can submit internal surveys or have the option to share a web review that is then syndicated across review sites and search engines. Now when potential customers are looking for a service provider in their local area, they not only find your location, but can also read reviews about your business from actual customers.
No matter how fantastic your business is there are bound to be a few customers who are unsatisfied with their service. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to turn the negative into a positive. By responding to a negative review, you can show you are proactive and committed to quality customer service. Very frequently, the reviewer will remove the negative post to reflect that an effort to rectify the situation has been made. Opening yourself up to both negative and positive reviews also lets outsiders know that your reviews are not fabricated, which can bring even more legitimacy to your review process.
Your engagement with the local community is also taking to the web. Online networks and forums are replacing traditional rotary clubs, local business owner groups and neighborhood conversations. This creates huge opportunities to magnify your presence and interaction with other local businesses and their customers. With referrals being such an integral part of a small business’ success, it is imperative to harvest relationships with other local businesses online. So being a part of an online network such as Demandforce’s Intuit Local is vital to the success of your business.
As your marketplace continues to modernize, it is increasingly important for small-business owners to adapt in order to succeed. You don’t have to do it all at once and you don’t have to do it all, but as you start to plan ahead for 2014, be sure to consider online as a key component in your marketing strategy.
Michael Forshey Corporate Franchise Development
22 4th Street, 12th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103