Online Marketing Tips for Small Businesses in the Service Industries
The internet including search engines, social media and various other virtual platforms including forums, classifieds and blogs, have created a level playing field for small businesses. During the era preceding online marketing, commercials and traditional advertisements were the only effective mediums and they were expensive. Small businesses were usually confined to the real estate space available at their offices and leaflets, flyers and mailers to reach out to their target audience. Business directories were just encyclopedic books. They rarely highlighted any business unless special ads were paid for.
Online marketing empowers small businesses to reach out to millions of people at a fraction of the cost of producing and broadcasting commercials on television, paying for slots on radio and renting giant billboards by the roadside. While online marketing is empowering, the virtual world is also a highly competitive space. The challenges are even more daunting when we talk about the service industries. There is no dearth of option if you think about any service that customers routinely require. Generating traction or some exposure may not be an uphill battle but convincing the target audience to choose one proposition over numerous others is definitely a big task.
Here are some online marketing tips for small businesses in the competitive service industries. Effective use of these tactics will definitely provide a strategic advantage and it can be sustained in the medium to long term. There will be short term impacts as well once all the tactics are thoroughly executed.
Small businesses should leverage the power of reviews. People these days prefer to buy something or try a service that others have already experienced and are speaking highly of. The reason why anything goes viral these days is because people want to check out what others have liked. A vast majority of people shopping online or even those who are simply forming a preliminary opinion about a service will refer to reviews of others, critics and consumers alike. Small businesses must promote these reviews. Highlighting them on the website is not sufficient enough. The positive reviews should be advertised. They should be highlighted on all platforms.
The reviews should be shared in an organic manner. They should not be just static images on the website. Any company can compose testimonials and put them up on their website. What you should use are real ratings and reviews. Link the ratings and reviews across platforms. If you have a tweet from a customer that endorses you service, re-tweet it, link it to a testimonial on your website, share the active link when you highlight the review and always allow the target audience to actually see who the reviewer is and the original review.
There was a time when people would write emails and then wait for a response. Most people will not even care to write an email and those who do will not wait for even twenty four hours. This is the era of instant engagement. One could also call it the era of impatience. Customers and leads want to hear from companies straightaway. Whether you have someone on your website or checking out your social media posts, you should be available and ready to respond if there is any initiation.
The website itself should have instant modes of contact. There should be a live chat. There should be a phone number that one can call and at least one executive must be free to answer immediately. There may be a resourceful interface where a visitor may choose an appropriate question and get an already published answer. Email, phone number, instant chat, live chat, social media engagement and even messaging services should be employed to establish real time contact with all existing and potential customers. These contacts should be advertised well and they must be readily available on the website and other platforms. Do not expect the audience to search for such information on the website.
Small businesses are often associated with industry bodies. Such associations should be advertised. It instills a sense of trust. Many small businesses in the service industries are not that well known to any and sundry in the target audience. A badge, membership or association with credible authorities will establish familiarity. The Better Business Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce and industry specific regulator or associations are your assets. Highlighting such affiliations and ratings will establish confidence.
Not everyone who swings by your website is ready to sign up. They will shop around and compare services. Always retarget such potential customers. Stay in the reckoning throughout their quest to find the best service. Reach out to them on all devices, especially mobile since that is the most common device used these days to browse the net, not just on the go but even at home.