The online domain is growing faster than many businesses can keep up with.
‘Posting’ is now considered a verb meaning to upload online content rather than the sending of old-fashioned snail mail.
And the age-old tradition of reading a newspaper over a bowl of cornflakes has been replaced with scrolling through social media feeds upon waking.
Implement a successful digital marketing campaign, and your analytics will tell a ‘happily ever after’ story of you smashing your competitors out of the water and leaving them chasing you in a cloud of dust.
But, get it wrong, or don’t do it at all, and you run the risk of leaving your business exposed, vulnerable, and falling behind in both sales and reputation.
If you own an offline business, the digital world can be a deep and often daunting realm to inhabit. So much so that it’s easy to underestimate your need to appear online.
Perhaps you specialise in a trade such as a plumbing or bricklaying.
Or perhaps your retail shop or restaurant deals solely with walk-in trade and has no need to advertise online.
Whatever the nature of your offline business, while you might believe an online presence is unnecessary, you may be missing a crucial opportunity to build and grow your business.
If you’re still not convinced, here are seven reasons your offline business needs an online marketing strategy.
1. Customer service
Your customer is impatient.
And that’s not a slur on the personality of your target market. It’s because they currently have the whole world at their fingertips and that level of immediate attention is what they’re used to.
They don’t want to fill in contact forms and wait 48 hours or longer for a reply.
They don’t want to be placed on hold in a call centre for hours at a time to talk to a ‘real person’.
They want instant, live chat with a company representative who responds to their query immediately.
And social media and online chat facilities are the way to give your customer the level of service they’ve become accustomed to.
That’s not to say your customers are high maintenance; it’s merely today’s culture.
Only five or so years ago, business contact details were often restricted to phone numbers and maybe an email address. These days, if you’re not offering multiple channels for your customer to instantly reach you, you’re missing a pivotal element of customer care.
The customer needs to have access to you in a way that suits their lifestyle, and regardless of the nature of your business, online chat needs to be at the top of your priority list.
With thanks to that little green ‘available’ button and the three accusatory bubbles that tell someone you’re typing; instant customer service is a necessity.
If that option isn’t available, it won’t be long before your customer goes somewhere it is, regardless of how much they love your product or service.
2. Build your brand
Your customers are glued to the internet.
They receive worldwide news on their iPads mere seconds after it happens.
They connect with friends and loved ones through social media on their laptop.
And through a variety of apps accessible on the mobile phone that’s permanently in their pocket, they carry out everyday tasks such as banking, grocery shopping and accounting.
What better way to get your brand’s voice, logo, colours and messaging in front of your target market than by having a strong, sturdy online presence?
Savvy digital marketers will use your buyer matrix to find out where your ideal customer is active, and they’ll put your business in front of them.
You’ll appear in search bars as people read the news.
Your logo will show on headers and footers as people habitually reach for their phone to check the weather.
Your brand promise will become so familiar with your ideal buyer that by the time they need your offline product or service, you’ll have built up such a strong online presence you’ll be their obvious and only choice.
3. Build your credibility
Social media, your website, and Google my Business are easily-accessible for existing clients to leave detailed reviews of their experience with your business.
Your digital presence on multiple channels will give potential clients the opportunity to build up a picture of the quality of your service and product. You have a platform to provide examples of your work, and you can showcase your excellent reputation.
Through favorite social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram, you can also publicly engage with local businesses and influencers in your industry to further build your online reputation.
4. Local SEO
You might not use the internet or need an online presence to do your job, but your customers need it to find you!
Local SEO is a digital SEO strategy that, when implemented effectively, gives your business the best possible chance to appear at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) at just the point your target market is in your area and ready to buy.
“How much does it cost to paint a wall in Perth?”
“Where can I find heat treatment services in Brisbane?” (Actual question typed into a search engine leading the internet user to offline business Heat Tech)
“Plasterer Gold Coast”
These are all examples of real search terms that customers of offline businesses have typed into search engines.
Internet searching is the most convenient and accessible way for the population to find the products and services they need.
A powerful digital presence in the form of a website, social media, and online campaigns will all create an active profile that will mean your business is displayed consistently and ahead of your competitor.
5. Encourages potential customers to buy
Your customers aren’t stalkers, but they are watching you!
Whether you know it or not, 24-7 access to the whole world means your customers are making decisions on who to choose long before they pick up the phone.
Online, you have access to multiple avenues to provide information that will help your customers form opinions of you.
If their searching leads them into a big black abyss, they’re less likely to choose you and more likely to select a business providing customer testimonials, directions to their store or office, and details about the services they offer.
This level of details isn’t available in offline directories or through word of mouth, but it’s critical for customers who are in the middle of the decision-making process.
6. It keeps working for you even when you stop.
Your digital footprint remains long after the campaign is over.
Your online efforts will show up in Google searches for years to come. Online campaigns work in synergy to build a robust online personality that is hard to undo.
Once you’ve implemented a campaign, you can sit back and reap the rewards long into the future with little more effort or input.
7. It helps to build relationships.
OK, one cliché coming up!
People will forget what you did, but they’ll never forget the way you made them feel.
An effective online marketing campaign will help you tap into the emotions of your target market. Using email marketing specifically, you can get to know your audience and give them the opportunity to get to know you.
Deeper relationships are built by drawing customers into an online sales funnel.
Analytics and data will confirm the type of content your audience responds to. This specific information will help you improve your offering and make sure you’re delivering an offline service in line with their wants and needs.
Regular online contact provides a mechanism that helps you get so close to your potential customers they become a close part of your business’ family.
We live in a day and age where a lack of online presence is simply bad for business. If you want to stay ahead of the competition and offer a unique point of difference, an effective digital marketing campaign is non-negotiable, whatever your niche or industry.
If you think your offline business needs some online attention contact a local digital marketing agency for some quality advice
Media Shark – 11 April 2018