Do you currently operate a business?
You are simply looking at opening a business soon?
Whatever the case may be, it’s important that you read on as I take you into the most important factors that helps your business bridge the gap between what many consider the “online world” to the offline world.
Businesses everywhere are participating in many online platforms. These methods of exposure are because they wish to market themselves, bring about more exposure for their brand, get potential customers to become more familiar with the company’s brand and of course, ultimately increase more sales in order to profit.
Great isn’t it? But here’s the thing...
When businesses choose these online platforms, they don’t seem too concerned about the interconnectivity to their actual “physical” location. For most, it’s just another campaign to grow, expand their reach and target more potential customers.
No matter what type of business you run, which includes B2C, now more than ever, you need to master the concept of bridging any gaps that may mislead, misinform or misdirect customers in any way.
Why is this important?
The message that your business portrays online may be smooth and straight forward, but the expectations that are usually built around that for your potential customers is something to take very seriously. Don’t forget, other competitors are also competing for those same customers that you are targeting.
For this reason alone, brands need to keep a deep focus on providing and giving a clear message to their audiences that ultimately reflects the integrity of the brand when they come and shop at your physical location. The same standard is true for service based businesses, such as restaurants, doctors, physiotherapists, carpenters, roofers, mechanics, etc.
By being more clear and concise, here are the benefits that your brand can take advantage of.
There are several factors that customers look at when reading an ad. Sometimes, they just simply stumble upon it as you’re targeting them online. This means that you’re causing a distraction and diverting them away from their original focus. That focus may be that they were on Facebook or where looking at online magazines where you targeted them via the Google display network, for example.
Whatever the reason for your audience to come across your ad, you need to be 100% certain that if you are to drive them away from their original focus, that you deliver on your promise.
Let’s look at some of the most important elements when targeting your online audiences so that you may have more walk-in clients:
- Customers have an expectation. When they are online, in most cases they are searching for something. That search may be due to a concern that came across their minds or are simply looking for answers to a particular product or service.
- Your advertising copy needs to be clear and not misleading. Potential clients don’t like to be fooled.
- A unique selling proposition needs to be clearly highlighted. In most instances, a problem needs solving. Customers need reassurance that your product or service is better than your neighbor’s one.
- If you’re driving your targeted audiences to a business page on a Social Media site or are simply driving them straight to your website, you need to strongly emphasize on your brand value.
- Assuming that you’re collecting leads, what systems do you have “offline” where you take the time to analyze your customers and collect data that may potentially help in creating their ideal product or service?
- Another important element is the aspect of the frequency that your customers see you online, if you’re advertising. Is it congruent with your offline business hours? Does it matter?
- Platforms that have customers go through a loyalty program can sometimes increase more brand reputation. Of course, your business needs to be able to deliver on that loyalty and provide consistent value throughout the customer’s life cycle.
The above-referenced points are only some of the things that really matter when connecting both online and offline worlds. In order to further elaborate, we’ll deeply explore each topic to better provide a sense of clarity.
What are customer expectations and how do you make sure that your business always delivers?
When it comes to customer expectations there are a ton of different things to take into consideration. If for instance, you are offering a free hour’s worth of consultation for your law office, what are some of the promises that you are making to your customers?
Other elements can include a certain type of dish that your restaurant is offering. How much more different is it from other restaurants and why should customers choose you instead?
Being consistent with your online messaging and for the customers to get 100% of what was promised in your physical “offline” location is of utmost importance. Whenever designing an ad copy or are preparing content for the business pages that you have online, it’s important that you create a thorough checklist that clearly outlines everything about your products and services.
This helps avoid issues long-term and benefits both systems to stay in sync with one another.
Is your advertising copy 100% accurate?
Businesses are always advertising and pushing their products and services to their audiences each and every single minute. When your ad financially shows up in front of your potential clients, it’s important that it makes the most impact.
Make sure you follow what you promised on the advertisement.
Free Shipping for any order over $10, anywhere, if conditions apply it should be mentioned in the ad, or it does not build trust amongst your buyer.
And that the seeds are 100% organic seeds.
Remember that customers don’t necessarily have all the time to go through your ad. Sometimes, they simply look at the image that your ad is displaying and that in its own is enough to sway them away.
Consider creating unique, bold and vibrant images when designing your ads. In terms of copy, the most successful ad copies that the online marketing industry has recorded usually revolves around stories.
Although it may be hard to come up with a story idea from the get go, especially when your launching your business, consider talking about why you started the company and what your trying to solve. Customers have a higher tendency of sticking around if a copy persuades them to read on, especially if it mimics a story.
Also, it’s important that you don’t overdo it. Sometimes, some small businesses over emphasize on certain points such as “guarantees,” that when customers look at these, it looks extremely desperate and comes off like too much of a sale pitch.
The more realistic you are on your ad copy, the more genuine your brand comes off to your audiences.
What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
I’m sure you’ve already heard that term thousands of times, yet I can’t emphasize enough on its importance.
A lot of business owners are making the mistake of trying to copy their competitors when it comes to their USP and end up actually making it worse than it already is. Think about it for a second. Customers are already seeing your competitors and now if they come across your business, it may end up looking like a cheap photocopy.
Unique selling propositions need to be realized long before your business ever hits the online platforms. This means, initially when planning and strategizing your business, focus and work hard on developing your USP and emphasize on its key characteristics.
The more unique your solution, the higher the chances of having any considerable impact when placing your business online.
What is the impact of your brand to your potential clients?
Similar to your unique selling proposition, how strong is your brand?
It’s obvious that national brands and big companies have a lot of advertising, public relations and media budget to keep their brand consistently in front of their audiences. And, not only do they do a good job, but they have a team of professionals who have years of experience manage their campaigns for them.
For small business owners, this may be a bit of challenge at the beginning when first starting off. You’ll probably need a good amount of money to invest in terms of brand awareness. And that is just the start.
Eventually, you’ll also need to formulate a long-term marketing strategy that drives consistent customers through your door. To do this, you’ll need to give it time and focus. It’s normal to expect to continuously invest for a good 6 to 12 months before seeing any meaningful results.
There are some web and marketing agencies that may promise you otherwise, but it’s important that you stay realistic and within reasonable expectations.
When it comes to collecting leads online, what are the systems that your business has in place to nurture, accommodate and service them?
We always talk about systems but what does it really mean when it comes to lead generation?
Your customers go through a series of life cycles. At first, they are potential customers. Then, they become “qualified” leads, which leads you to pitch them the ideal product or service. In order for you to do that successfully, you need to develop and fluent and sustainable system that guides, nurtures and eventually sells the ideal product to them based on their needs.
Small business owners always ignore this step. I strongly urge all businesses, small or big, to have a lead generation and nurturing system. Having something solid in place will help strategically create better and more profitable products or services.
All it takes is an online system such an email marketing service provider to collect the lead and follow up thanks to the many automated systems that are readily available. And, once the lead has been successfully collected, given that you have all the necessary information to follow up through a proper personalized communications channel, such as a phone call, it’s important to do it within the first 24 hours.
Those businesses that fail to follow up and contact their potential leads within the first 24 hours, will generally have a harder time trying to reach them and ultimately have no response when it comes to email open and click through rates. If that were the case, what does a business do?
The great thing about lead generation and having online systems to help facilitate that is that when a lead becomes cold, you can always repurpose them. How?
Repurposing a lead simply means that you want to address any questions or concerns that they may have. It may sound complicated as you’re probably wondering on how you can analyze the customer’s behavior without even getting in touch with them in the first place.
There are many tools that offers in-depth analysis of a customer’s behavior online prior to them sighing up as a lead. When studied thoroughly, you can look at the events that took place when and how they signed up and address their concerns based on specific factors. Tools like CrazyEgg helps in analyzing these patterns and behaviors.
Following this in-depth and thorough system will not only help you convert your potential customers better, but will also give guidance in creating solid solutions that are tailored around live data and audience statistics.
When you advertise your business online, is it congruent to your opening hours?
You’re probably wondering how that even matters. Here’s the thing, when you operate a restaurant for example, customers need to see your ad at specific day time hours that have the most impact.
Typically, restaurant opening hours vary, and when it comes to live targeting and having the frequency of your advertising show up, it’s probably better off if it displays an hour or so before a meal time.
Unlike large corporations with millions of dollars in advertising and marketing budget, small businesses need to be more frugal at the beginning and need to focus their effort on targeting clients at specific times that have the most impact.
Eventually, the same clients that you have previously targeted for a good duration will automatically think of your brand, right before eating, if done right. Obviously, this may work for restaurants, but it is not always the case for other business types. Food in general is a good feeling type of ad.
What if the ad was related to stopping bill collectors? Clients won’t obviously have the same “feel good” feeling as they did for food, but it becomes necessary to nurture the pain points of your target audience, especially at the right time.
If for instance, you have a standby customer service representative that is working in your debt management business, ideally, you’d like to target clients at times where they are free to call and a live agent can answer them. This becomes extremely effective, especially if your ad copy clearly states that it’s a quick and easy step to have a discussion. Again, focus on being congruent and having the most impact at the same time.
How are your loyalty programs managed? Are they accessible both online and offline?
This brings us to our final point. Loyalty programs are the most consumer-friendly initiatives that businesses can offer to their loyal client base.
Yet, very few are offering rewards or loyalty programs to their customers. Going back into the lead generation topic, if you’ve taken the time to systemize an online platform to collect and nurture leads, you need to be congruent and affluently build one for your “offline” location as well.
The most ideal thing would be if you connect these two major systems so that they work side by side simultaneously giving you more conversion and long-term loyal customers.
Gift cards worked great in the past but was not incentivized enough. Customers are getting smarter and are become more and more aware of discounts, rewards and incentives that are available elsewhere. The playing field to retain customers is becoming more and more competitive. If you’re a small business owner, it’s imperative that you strategize and plan a strong loyalty program that connects your online world to your offline store or shop.
By doing so, customers will more at ease, especially if you make the sign-up process easy. Clients don’t want to spend too much time on something that they can simply avoid doing. The best thing to do is to work on strategies that simplifies everything and takes the “hard work” off from your clients. Ultimately, your clients will appreciate it.
Based on the points mentioned on this post, small business owners can start utilizing these strategies to fill the void between their offline and online properties. Once executed, the possibilities are endless.