There’s a lot of pressure on small business owners to win and retain customers, which is, of course, essential in order to succeed in whatever industry you serve. Even successful small business owners can’t afford to take their eyes off the ball, lest they risk losing customers to an up-and-coming competitor. Consumer behavior is an ever-evolving field, and the ways in which customers find and interact with businesses is in a constant state of flux. The integration of new technologies and the continual flood of new competitors waiting to take some of your market share all mean that small businesses must be proactive, adaptive and forward-thinking in order to survive. When it comes to winning new customers and keeping them coming back for more, you have to make a great first impression, incentivize your customer’s journey from interest through to acquisition, and employ effective, multi-channel approaches to keep your customers loyal. This guide will explain three simple but powerful tactics that local businesses should use in order to both win new customers and keep those customers loyal over the long term.
If your prospective customers can’t find you, they won’t be able to buy from you – and you won’t have the chance to develop and nurture those long-term customer relationships that your business relies upon to succeed. Here are the essential elements you need to cover in order to make a great first impression online.
Getting Found Means Being Seen in All the Right Places
First up, it’s your job as a business owner to make your business easy to find – customers aren’t going to go hunting around for you when they’re ready to buy. This means that you need to make sure you appear on all of the popular listing sites that people use to find what they need online, including:
- Google and Google Maps
- Apple Maps
- Touch Local
- White Pages
Depending on your local area and the niche you serve, this is only the beginning – and you will probably also find that there are likely to be local listing sites, directories, and industry-specific listing tools you should consider too. All of this can take time that you might not be able to afford to lose – and so using a comprehensive automated listing service is worth considering.
Describing Your Business Without Boring Your Prospects
So you’ve made your business easy to find in all of the places customers might be looking for you – now you have to catch their attention. Providing all of the pertinent information that your prospects need without making them have to hunt around for it is just the start – you also have to achieve this without boring them to death! This means getting to grips with copywriting for small businesses, and knowing how to use your copy to engage, inform and sell. Often, less is more when it comes to making an impact and catching people’s attention.
There is a fine line between providing enough information and churning out reams and reams of dull, dry prose that will soon have your prospects clicking the “back” button. Here are five simple tips for effective copywriting for small businesses.
- Use impactful, informative headers and incentives.
- Give your customers all of the information they need to make a decision.
- Highlight your USPs – what makes your business and what you offer unique, special and desirable.
- Incentivise the next step with a good reason to find out more.
- Integrate calls to action naturally in the relevant places, to give your prospects that extra push when they’re ready to move forward.
You should also, of course, ensure that your spelling, grammar and the structure of your copy are spot on, and are targeted to speak to the type of buyers you want to attract in terms of their language style and tone of voice.
Responding to Reviews and Giving Great Customer Service Online
Getting your business listed on sites like Google Maps and Yelp is a must, but adding yourself to listing sites like these usually means that your customers will also have the chance to leave a public review for your business.
Good reviews can make all of the difference when it comes to swaying customers and gaining an edge over the competition. However, a series of bad reviews about your products or customer service could be deadly for even the most successful of local businesses.
Reputable listing sites won’t allow you to remove bad reviews, or pick and choose only the best ones to showcase – which means you have to be able to offset the inherent risk of bad reviews that come with such listings by having a plan in place to avoid them.
Here’s how to avoid bad reviews bringing your business down:
- Always be honest and never mislead your prospects. Follow through on any incentives or offers you provide, and make sure that your products or services do exactly what you claim they do.
- Avoid delays and disappointment by ensuring that you don’t offer out-of-stock products, or make people wait for longer than they expect to for service due to delays at the till or having to source additional stock.
- Be accessible and available to your buyers and potential buyers, both before and after sales. Make it easy for them to contact you directly, without having to resort to leaving a bad review or making a public social media post to get your attention.
- Respond to any queries or complaints promptly and be prepared to go the extra mile to deliver an excellent service.
Even if your customer service is excellent and your products second to none, the chances are that you’re going to come across the odd customer who simply can’t be pleased – and risk getting a bad review from them as a result.
When this does happen, how you handle things is actually more important than the review itself – and a good response can potentially increase customer perception even more than if you hadn’t picked up a bad review in the first place.
Here’s how to respond to a bad review in a good way.
- Always, always keep it civil and professional –even if your reviewer hasn’t. A really blistering review or one that is exaggerated or outright untrue can leave you itching to respond in kind, but this is something that you must avoid at all costs. Don’t post a reply while you’re mad – calm down first, and respond factually, politely and professionally.
- Always apologize unreservedly when an apology is due.
- Invite the reviewer to contact you directly to resolve the matter or improve their experience and let them (and others who might read the review) know that you are always happy to help and put things right.
- Explain, if relevant, what steps you have taken or are taking to avoid a similar issue arising again.
- Thank your reviewer for their input and comments and reiterate your commitment to quality and service.