Engaging with consumers online is a useful way to market your company and further your brand image. A website can be a central place for customers to interact with your business online. It can include valuable information and can give your business a noticeable online presence. In addition to this, email and review websites are other meaningful ways to connect with customers online. Email can further the relationship with previous customers while review sites can help bring new attention to your business.
Create a website
Having an online presence for your business is important for maintaining current customers and attracting new ones. A website is a worthwhile investment to promote your business and track how many customers you’re reaching. Learn more about creating a website.
Connect by email
If you have an online presence, try communicating with your customers through email. Here are a few methods to get started.
- In-store: Use a simple, printed template or point of sale (POS) device to collect customers’ email addresses. In exchange, they’ll get emails with special offers from your business. You can also take the eco-friendly route by offering to email or text customers their receipts.
- Online: Encourage customers to sign up to receive email updates with a pop up option when they first visit your website. If customers are able to purchase your products through a website, give them the chance to sign up for emails from your business after checking out. In many cases, you can get more customers to sign up if you offer a discount code in exchange.
For some small businesses, frequent, ongoing emails can make customers aware of your product and remind them to shop with your business. To send regular emails, start by building an email calendar, with messages, topics and deals related to the season. Email topics may include details about special sales, contests, event invitations or reminders to connect on social media. Here are some tips for creating emails that are sure to get your customers’ attention:
- Provide exciting content that speaks to your customers’ needs; this will encourage them to click.
- Keep your email communications short, clear and well-organized. Your subject line should be short and catchy, and your email should end with a call to action that tells customers what you want them to do.
- Use marketing apps and programs, such as Campaign Monitor, Aweber or MailChimp, to test how well your email campaigns are reaching customers, then adjust them as needed to make them more successful. You can determine if you want to track how many people opened the email, clicked a link or made a purchase. With online metrics, you can easily see how many consumers opened, clicked on or unsubscribed from your emails. Many email marketing tools integrate with your customer relationship management (CRM), social media accounts and other analytics tools to help you measure engagement across all platforms.
- Send emails no more than a few times a month, and only send emails when there is important information to share. Too many emails can frustrate customers rather than attract them.
- Protect yourself by speaking with an email marketing professional to make sure that your opt-in, use and unsubscribe practices comply with local laws.
Register on review sites
You can also reach new customers by creating a profile for your business on a variety of review sites, such as Angie’s List, Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, Facebook and more. Remember that your company profile should be easy for customers to find, and should cover your overall business and the main products or services you offer. Include your business website and links to social media if you have an online presence, and keep your business’s information up to date. If a review site allows photos, include them whenever possible. The more places your business appears, the easier it is for people to find you.
To stay competitive, you’ll want to seek online reviews that are positive, original and current. Use the opportunity to show that you respond quickly to reviews and comments and that you’re dedicated to making sure customers have a positive experience with your brand. New clientele will notice, and if done well, this can help build your reputation and make more people aware of your offerings.
Encourage current customers to review your business and your products. People you know who are fans of your business, and your social media friends and followers, are the perfect audience to ask for a quick review. When customers leave a review, remember to thank them for their feedback. Showing you’re thankful for your customers and keeping communications friendly can do a lot to build your reputation. Learn more about reputation management.
Creating and passing out business cards can help get your name out there and build your network. You can use business cards to connect with potential customers and to give out at events or your place of business. Your card should include your business’s name, address and contact information.
Newspaper ads can appear in national, local or community newspapers. If your goal is to attract local customers, then advertising in a neighborhood or small local newspaper is a great way to reach your target audience. The price of your print ad will depend greatly on the newspaper's popularity and the size of your ad.
Magazine ads can appear in regional and national magazines. The price of magazine ads generally depends on the size of the publication and size of the ad itself.
Posters and banners are great advertising options for small businesses because they don’t cost much to make. These can be printed and hung at your place of business or around your community to promote your company or a specific product or service.
Consider creating, printing and passing out flyers in your community as a way to promote your business. You can place them on windshields, insert them into newspapers or hand them out at local markets or businesses.