The Internet has changed the way a business can reach its customers. There are always new tools and ways to establish your online presence. However many small businesses focus only on active marketing such as online ads and e-mail campaigns. These marketing activities are very important and should always be part of your ongoing marketing efforts, but there are other simple alternatives that can be very effective to improve your online presence and attract customers. In this article, we present five free quick hits that can be implemented in a matter of minutes and will benefit your business:
- Set up your Google Place Page Go to http://www.google.com/placesforbusiness and all you need is your phone number to start the process. You can then fill in the details for your business name, description, address, hours and other information such as photos and videos! This is 100% free and should only take you a few minutes. It will make your site visible to the millions of searches served by Google and it will allow your customers to find you when searching maps and also give them a place to write reviews for your business.
In addition to Google you can also set up your listing in other directories like Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, Superpages, Whitepages, Yellowbot and CitySearch.
- Email your customers and ask them to check out your Yelp page
It’s as simple as sending out a thank you note to your past customers for using your product or service. Then add a note to have them check you out your Yelp Business Page or your Google Place Page. We don’t recommend asking directly for reviews, but adding a link to your page and making customers aware of your Yelp and Google presence is perfectly fine and it can really drive your reviews (specially if you provide a great service!), which eventually translates, into more sales.
- Get started on Social Media
If you haven’t already, set up a personal account on Facebook and Twitter.
After this you can create a page on facebook for your business, go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and select the category that best represents you (we suggest Local Business or Place). You can then follow the steps to add a photo, get some fans and edit your basic info. As soon as you start getting the word out, you will drive engagement with your current and potential customers. Remember to be actively driving the conversation and to constantly check what is happening on your facebook page. A little tip is that you can manage your business page by selecting Account from the top right hand corner and clicking on “Use facebook as page”. Another idea to increase your Social Media presence is to create accounts in both Foursquare and LinkedIn to engage with your audience.
- Upload some eye catching pictures to Flickr
A picture is worth a thousand words and on the Internet this is truer than ever before. Head over to Flickr and signup for an account (you can use your Yahoo!, Google or Facebook accounts). Select a few of pictures from your business, your product, your service or your team. Then head over to the upload section http://www.flickr.com/photos/upload/ and select the files you want to share. The site is very user friendly and uploading pictures is really easy and worthwhile to improve your online presence.
- Spread the knowledge; answer a few questions on Yahoo! Answers
A great way to establish your business and yourself as a thought leader is to help people out by answering their questions on Q&A sites like Yahoo! Answers. After you join the service, you can search for questions in your industry or area of expertise and begin typing away. Once you provide an answer, remember that this isn’t free advertising; it is a way for you to get your name out there and help some potential customers. They state very clearly that it is a place to gain knowledge, not customers. So feel free to give your opinions and answers and when relevant add a link to your website or blog, but never spam or solicit others.
If you follow these five simple steps, you will have gone a long way towards extending the reach of your online presence. More importantly you will have added value to the Internet, to your industry and to your customers. Like everything, it is important to understand that results come over time, the more consistent you are with your efforts the better results you will get. If you simply post a comment or picture once and forget about it, it is hard to imagine you will get many actionable results from it, but if you constantly keep adding new fresh and interesting information, you will definitely see the increase in traffic and customers. If you enjoyed this post you may want to also check out our post on common mistakes that can hurt your Google ranking.
Image credit: Eric Kilby