Well… Not only while traveling. This article covers the most important online tools every small business MUST hav. Those tools do what all software automation supposed to do: work for you when you are away from the computer or office and save you time, while helping you to book customers.
Isn’t website or Facebook page does it? That’s what you would ask first, right?
Not so simple. in today market most (77%) clients find business or service they need through so-called local search. Try to “google” “microblading miami beach” or “microblading miami”. You will see that the business I helped, i.e. Miami Beach Microblading comes in top three, if not the top of the page where Google shows local microblading places in Miami area. chances are the client click on those top 3 businesses.
But how to get to the top?
Here are some secret tips I am going to reveal.
1. Get your listings fixed
This is the most unknown area for the small business. You think that you have a website, Facebook business page, Instagram page, Yelp listing – you are covered?
No you are not. In order to be “discoverable” by clients, you need to be discoverable by search engines. Please do not confuse with general organic SEO, or trying to get to Google first page with certain keywords. It can take years!! and you may never get there.
But the good news you can get to the top of the Local Search.
How search engines, like Google or Yahoo or Bing determine who to show in the most valuable part of the local search section: the top three listings, aka “3-pack”?
Think of the search engine as a first time visitor to your city. Somebody approaches that stranger and asks: “Microblading Miami?”
“Hold on a nano-second, I need to check…”- replies Google. Then Google quickly checks with its own algorithm the business that are RELEVANT, i.e. has something, better REALLY SOMETHING to do with microblading. The question wasn’t about “where is the local nail salon?”, right?
Google, “hmm, I have 84 microblading places here… which one i name as the first 3?…. tough choice…. hmmm…. Let me get some help… I will ask “locals”: Yelp, Yellow pages, Superpages, Waze, MapQuest, ABlocal, EZlocal.com and 86 my other “buddies”. What they do? They are LOCAL DIRECTORIES. Who should know better than them?”
I believe you started to get the picture.
Local listings. The level of detail. Correct business data submitted and accepted by the most important directories – is crucial for local businesses to be ranked high.
But there are so many of them!!!. Yes. also there are so-called aggregators, big data companies that collect and redistribute info about businesses across data ecosystem. Four in the USA: Neustar/Localeze, Acxiom, Infogroup and Factual. It’s a must for the local business to be there too.
Luckily, you can use specific tools that do that job for you: CPRListing distribution will take care of aggregators, and CPRListings PRO (USA) or Yext CPRListings Pro – for the directories. Those tools do much more that simply submitting listings. They discover improper listings (sometimes address is recorded differently on different directories, sometimes there are double listings in one directory, or two businesses are registered on the same address (previous business tenant didn’t do a “digital checkout” properly, etc. etc.
2. Get review management under control
Online reviews are user comments that they post in review sections of Google, Facebook, or on special reviews sites like Yelp.
Usually, the customer can choose between 1-5 stars and add some free written comment. Sometimes they can add pictures that may reflect experience with a certain business, like the dish item ordered in the restaurant, or treatment healing results in cosmetic related office.
Those reviews are collected, other customers can read them one by one or get the average rating.
Reviews are extremely important for any small business. And not only because other customers can read them. Search engines use them in determining on how to rank a certain business within industry and geographical location.
Quality of the reviews matter. And number of the reviews collected matter too.
In fact, it is estimated that of over 200+ Google’s ranking factors, about 10% account for “reviews signals”, such as Review Quantity, Review Velocity, Review Diversity etc.
In addition to search engines, it goes without saying that the potential customers consider online reviews as well. According to research, 93% of consumers say online reviews have an influence on their purchase or booking decisions.
93% of the customers say reviews impact their decision making process. 10% of Google ranking factors is sourced in business listing online reviews
Many small business, understanding the importance of the online reviews, have little knowledge on how systematically collect, respond and manage the reviews.
It is important that you monitor and quickly respond to reviews, whether negative, neutral or positive. Timing of the reaction matters as well.
We won’t cover all the aspects of monitoring and managing the reviews, we can write the whole book about it.
But one thing we can state for sure: reputation management can be a full time job. Small firms cannot afford to spend the time much needed, what to say about hiring specialized companies for that important part of online marketing.
What to do?
Luckily technology comes to help. Of course in a thin area that involves customer emotions, none of the software can replace human involvement. but it can help to do “boring” job: monitor reviews, send timely signals to the business owner, help him to come with timely and correct response, act as owners “secretary” by sending reminders to the customers, prepare weekly, monthly reports, keep an eye on competitors etc.
CPReviews has amazing tools at affordable prices. After reading this article I highly recommend to check them out in CPReviews section of SEOCPR.com
Everybody knows that the website is important. But everyone knows that it can take a lot of time and special skills to create a good website.
Moreover, the Internet is full of offering “free” website building services like wix.com, web.com and alike.
Advice: don’t do it.
Website, is not only your shopping window to the world, advertising your services. It structure, features, content, links will be analyzed over and over by the search engines. Based on their verdict, depends if your website is worth to be shown in top 3 of the local listings. If its “off-the-shelf” or ‘semi-of-the-shelf” website, listed on wix servers, chances are that Google bot won’t vote for your site being a winner. Google bot is looking for the “star” websites, original, bright, lightning fast, the ones that don’t use generic structure, stock photographs, the ones that has interesting content relevant to your business or the relevant to the certain keywords.
Our advice: invest a few hundred dollars into your own website, with your own controlled domain and controlled hosting. That investment pays with huge return. and pays rather quickly – in the matter of weeks.
It goes without saying that the website should be built by the professionals who not only good at the design part of it, but who are very familiar with SEO-oriented rules, know how to run specific tests, know what DA (domain authority) or PA (page authority) means and how to handle them etc. etc.
Search engines recently pay extreme attention to how mobile-friendly and “social networks-friendly” the websites are. so if you opt for the cheaper solution, one of the options is to use the auto-tool that can build the full website from your Facebook business page. Such a site will definitely “wins”, in Google eyes, over the template websites that use the generic stock pictures.
4. Get live chat/chatbot system and add it to your website
Last but not least. You read previous key factors of making your business shine online, rank ahead of your competitors. What it brings you? correct: free traffic. Is it enough? It depends. If your business is located in highly populated million-plus metropolitan area – you will get substantial traffic for free if your website will rank in the top 3 on local search. But you still may consider pay-per-click ads driven traffic, extra activity on social networks like Facebook and Instagram. that can drive traffic as well.
But you pay for it, even if you do it 100% yourself, even you rely on 100% organic traffic – you pay with your time and skills.
In this chapter I want to discuss how to convert that traffic into actual paid customers, into leads, into bookings, into “bodies through the door”. that is the ultimate goal of any service oriented small business.
You can have 500 visitors a day on your website, but if they don’t buy your service, it won’t matter that much.
What is the solution? Let’s look at the history of small business booking process.
Turn of the 20th century: magazine/newspaper/brochure ad – visit
1920s-1990s: any advertising activity – phone call – booking
1990- 2010: internet advertising – booking on the website or through a phone call
2010-2017/18: internet marketing/social media marketing – website clients forms, online booking, landing pages with lead generation tools – call/email/text – booking.
2018 – going forward…
Newest trend is so called conversational online marketing. The website forms that collect customers names/phone numbers/emails are not dead yet, but it actively started to be replaced by website live chats, website bots, Facebook messenger bots and even new breed of marketing activity: conversational landing pages or conversational forms.
You don’t believe me? Try any website that offers software services for the business, chances are that you will be offered to start a chat conversation. The future is already here!
What will be a solution for small business? There are live chat solutions, they can be anywhere from free for small limited version to $200 a month. but they are not very compatible with bots. You literally have to be on 27/7 answering mode or hire a “chat/call center” that won’t be able to answer all the customers specific questions.
You can find a bot solution, many of them are for FB messenger and not very friendly on your website. And not very compatible with “live agent” pick up mode.
I did extensive research, tried more that 20 chat/chatbot systems. Not happy with any. Either they have a good bot element but weak on design features and not capable of sending rich media (pictures, gifs, charts, etc). Some are good on bot and design, but extremely difficult to build and operate bot. Some are good with visual bot builder but don’t have a good notification method to pick up by the live agent after bot conversation is finished. Or too expensive – some are $400/months.
If the business doesn’t reply to the potential customer in 5 min, chances of booking drop 400%! According to survey of 433 B2B companies, just 7% responded within 5 minutes. 55% – took 5+ days to respond or never responded at all
We are working to create best in class tool for small business owner that will be available on the site very soon. Please keep checking or write to us: you will be first to be notified and use that software.