Unlocking Local Business during lockdown
Welcome to the post-Corona world! It’s more than evident that we are living in a brand-new economy. This looks like a gigantic experiment that ends up changing how we work and live. As this pandemic takes over the world, small businesses across the globe are facing bankruptcy…
You may be seeing hourly updates about travel bans, upticks in cases, and restrictions on day-to-day life – all of which are affecting local businesses. The food and entertainment sectors are hit especially hard right now… Let’s look at our relationships with our clients. I don’t know about you, but we have many clients consisting of local businesses. Yes, the same local companies are being forcibly CLOSED.
So what now? Some marketing gurus will tell you to switch your focus on e-commerce… But I don’t think that’s fair for all those small business owners that have helped tens of thousands of local consultants to flourish. It’s an unprecedented challenge for business owners to keep their staff (and themselves) healthy and the business running as smoothly as possible. They need help now, we’ve put together ten services that can help local businesses while in Lockdown mode.
Here’s a list of essential tasks you can complete while your business is in lockdown:
- Updating GMB (Google My Business) Profile
- Setting up a Website (or updating it)
- Email marketing for Small Businesses
- Helping Businesses with Online Orders
- Running Facebook Ads
- Reputation Management during Crisis
- Enquiring about a Business Insurance
- Seeking Government Assistance Programs
- Local SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
- Social Media Optimization & Syndication services
We’ll discuss each service individually, so make sure to follow through:
1. Updating your GMB Profile
Google My Business (GMB) is the largest business directory on the web. Even the smallest businesses have a listing – And if they don’t take the time to create a listing manually, Google makes it automatically for them. But with the recent developments around coronavirus disease (COVID-19), you need to ensure that your customers know if you’ve made changes to your daily operations. There are four main things that you should consider updating:
- Updating the Business Hours
The latest global pandemic development has likely made some changes in the business hours, ensure that you update the business hours accordingly.
- Update Description
When customers search for you on Google, one of the first things they’ll see is the Business Description. Update it to reflect any changes in the operations, delivery or product lineup post-Corona outbreak. Use this link to update the description.
- Creating a GMP Post
If you have some pressing issues to communicate with your customers, create a post. This will allow you to share detailed and timely updates about the business. You can create a new post from here.
- Updating Phone Numbers
During this time of crisis, you might want to initiate contact directly for questions and other information. We recommend that you establish Phone hotlines. But to do this, you will need to update the Phone number of the GMB listing.
2. Setting up a Professional Website
Since the whole world is moving online, local businesses will need a presentation website. Most of them have one, but in case they don’t… You need to help them create one as soon as possible. There are a lot of tools that will help you build websites for local businesses, here’s a guide on how to set up an online store.
When setting up a presentation website, make sure you include the products/services, the prices and the means of delivery. Customers are extra careful and will only go for options with minimum risk exposure. In case you want to go the manual route, follow the pointers here.
3. Email Marketing for Small Businesses
There’s no question that businesses may be slowing down for you during the COVID-19 outbreak. During this worldwide break, you need to consider creative ways to ensure that the clients of the business that you consult for don’t forget about that business. Here’s a guide that will walk you through the entire email marketing process.
Our advice is to maintain & solidify the connection with their customer base via engaging email marketing campaigns. It’s vital to keep this up until everything is back to business as usual. If you’re in this situation, you may be considering creative ways to supplement cash flow, such as reminding your loyal customers they can buy gift cards now to use at a later date.
You can also use email marketing as a way to supplement cash flow by reminding loyal clients that they can buy gift cards now (at a lower price) that can be later used once everything is back to normal.
4. Helping Businesses with Online Orders
One of the most critical aspects of this rescue plan is to ensure that your local business clients have a steady stream of cash flow coming to them while they are in lockdown mode. Easier said than done, right? Well, one way to do it is to help your clients get more online orders. Here are some ideas that will help you do this:
- Stay in touch with your customers
Superior customer service is the main key to increase online sales. Provide the clients with full information about the goods or services that you provide. Form a list of emails by asking each client for contact information. Ask the business owner if they already have a record of this.
- Use keywords
Making a website available on the first pages of search engines is a priority for any business. Relevant keywords can considerably assist you with this.
- Increase your online sales through social media
Using social media is one of the great ways to increase sales in retail. What is more important is that you can potentially do it without paying.
- Suggest diversified payment methods for your customers
If you want to improve sales with an online store, you need to provide your customers with more payment options. When picking up a partner for payment processing, consider all risks and be aware of which payment options they offer. Don’t stop with one partner as people like when they have several options. Credit card or debit card options are a MUST.
- Apply promotional codes
Promo codes serve as a powerful instrument to target new consumers. Promotional codes differ from discounts, and it is crucial to recognize the difference. You can advertise promo codes both on your web page and other sites as well. They are typically applied just before the payment is made. A promo code is one of the deciding factors of whether or not your clients make their purchase.
5. Running FB Ads
As we’ve already discussed, this CoronaVirus Pandemic ended up crashing the Facebook Ad Prices worldwide. Key markets that we’re bringing 40%+ of the annual ad revenue for Facebook are now on HOLD (Tourism and E-commerce), Ads got SUPER CHEAP as a result. This means that running super-profitable ad campaigns has finally become available for Small Businesses.
There are a lot of tips I could give you on Facebook Ads for local since I’ve been doing this for 10+ years, but that is a guide on itself (will be released at a later date). Here’s a comprehensive article that will walk you through every element involved in the creation of a successful Facebook ad campaign.
6. Creating an Online Funnel for LOCAL Business
Running Facebook ads just for the sake of it is not enough to make any sales for your clients. You need to take the time to create an Online Sales funnel that converts well for Small Businesses. Start by thinking about the process new customers go through when signing up for the service or buying the product.
From the moment they first hear about that local business, to the moment they inquire, to the consultation, to their buying decision. Try to picture it as steps in a flow chart. Do you have it?
Now think about this:
- How do I convince these customers to buy this service/product?
- What must happen before my customers decide to buy?
Now follow these 5 steps:
Step 1: Strategise
Every effective funnel has an end goal. When building your sales funnel, this is a pivotal decision: define your end goal. So before you continue down the list in planning the rest of your sales funnel, determine and write down the end-result you want to accomplish with your sales funnel.
Step 2: Plan your basic funnel structure
In the same way, you mapped out your current sales process, now map out the basic structure of your future sales funnel. There are a lot of things you’ll need to do: copywriting, list building, follow-up emails, ads, retargeting ads.
Step 3: Implement the highest priority items first
To get results fast, you need to install the highest priority items first, according to what category they fall under:
Make sure all pages of your website have the right content, CTAs (Calls-to-Action), and logical flow to convert prospects to the next step.
After you have a strong foundation, use it to build your follow-up strategy (retargeting, email autoresponder sequences, etc.).
After you have the foundation and the follow-up items implemented, you need the fuel to put in your engine that will make it all ‘go’ — paid advertising or inbound traffic.
And here’s a few tools to save you time for each stage:
Great platform for creating a website if you don’t have one yet because it has broad support among developers and makes it easy to manage pages and blog content.
- Soho’s Leadpages
Helps you quickly set up designed-to-convert landing pages by filling in the blanks.
- Active Campaign
Great for the follow-up stage with email marketing tools, marketing automation tactics, and a built-in sales & CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.
Step 4: Track and get feedback
You want to make sure you’re tracking the numbers so that down the line you can analyze then fine-tune the sales engine you’re building. Here’s how:
- Install your Google Analytics Funnel Goal
You’ll get a full visual of your funnel and a sense of conversion rates from every angle.
- Get feedback consistently as you make changes
This is the big one, ff you don’t get the advice of experts, you are just guessing. At AutoGrow, one of the things we specialize in is giving strategic feedback and reviews so you can hit your funnel goals faster.
Getting detailed feedback can be the fastest way to make profitable “connections” to fill gaps in your sales funnel.
Step 5 – Turn on the traffic (Inbound traffic or paid ads)
Now that your engine is built, there’s only one thing left to do: fuel up! You need to get traffic so that you can convert it. This next step is about getting eyes on your website. There are two ways to get traffic to your sales funnel:
- Paid Advertising
This includes Pay-Per-Click advertising, display advertising, or Facebook Ads. Facebook advertising is a common choice. While this will get you leads quicker, it will cost more in the end.
- Content Marketing
This means publishing interesting content (through a blog) to direct more traffic to your website. This will pay off more in the long run but will take longer to build.
Or do both:
- Use the presentation website as a content marketing platform
- Use the current FB Ad crash to run super profitable campaigns
6. Reputation Management for local businesses
As you move a local business online, expect a rocky start and prepare for it. No matter how smooth the transition, you will eventually be faced with bad publicity and public customer lash back that might damage the online sales of the business that you represent.
Here are some Reputation Management Tips for local that will keep those sales numbers high:
- Create a presence on any and all relevant web properties
Your company should already have Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin accounts, at minimum. If you’re in a highly competitive market and vertical, you may need to be active on some additional social media sites, as well — there are dozens available, some of which may be specific to your industry.
- Don’t neglect your social media accounts
With ongoing development, you can build your social media accounts to interact with customers and to increase your influence and engagement scores.
- Protect individuals associated with the business
Develop a strong social media presence for the founders’, owners’ and executives’ names, of the business that you represent – mainly if they are distinctive. Keeping a low online profile to preserve your privacy just leaves you wide open for any drive-by defamers!
Remember the adage that “the customer is always right”? Don’t be inflexible; come up with a creative way to give customers what they’re wanting without creating friction.
Being real and transparent in apologizing can go far toward diffusing a situation and moving the process along toward reconciliation or, at least, toward making a crisis situation come to a close.
- Don’t get into online arguments
The best approach is to diffuse situations and take communications offline to try to reconcile. Your professional responses may win more customers than being “right” in an online disagreement.
7. Opting for a business insurance
Business owners around the world are preparing for the worse right now. Become proactive for the sake of your clients and help them understand how business insurance works.
There are various small businesses that an average business owner takes out when opening up shop. Encourage your business clients to enquire about their package. Depending on the business that you consult and the area of the country of operation, you may be looking into tapping these policies now to get you through an unforeseen slowdown.
Check out this guide to the different types of business insurance and the situations they’re helpful for.
8. Seeking Government Assistance Programs
Local, state, and federal government agencies are announcing new financial assistance programs on a regular basis for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The federal government is working to pass a bailout package that will include relief funds for small businesses, though the exact nature of the relief funds has not been finalised yet.
These programs vary by an agency but tend to take the form of grants to help cover payroll and rent, and low-interest loans. Learn more about the different Australian government business growth programs available to small businesses by checking out this regularly updated guide.
9. Local SEO
Since you’re making all this effort into ensuring that the business you’re consulting is visible online, don’t forget to ensure that you’re sending the right signals to your big brother Google. We’ve covered some of the key things that help to achieve success in local SEO; now here’s an overview of all the local SEO services that can make a difference:
- Website ‘localization’
‘Localizing’ your website means including your city, county or region name naturally throughout your site. For businesses with several locations, this could involve creating separate pages or Content Hubs for individual locations. Other tactics include getting involved with local community events and featuring articles and information about them on the site.
- Citation Building
Ensure your site features on citation sites and online business directories. Not only will this help customers find your business, but featuring your company’s name, address, phone number and website URL (NAPW) on citation sites and adding extra information to business directories will help improve your search rankings.
- Claiming your Google My Business listing
Claiming your Google My Business page is a key step towards helping your business display on important Google services, such as local search results and Google Maps. GMB (and its Microsoft equivalent, Bing Places for Business) should always be the first online directory you take ownership of.
- Managing reviews and ratings
Genuine, honest reviews are critical both for showcasing the quality of your service and for sending signals to search engines that your site and service are trusted and useful. The number of reviews you receive, the overall quality of the reviews and the authority of the review sites themselves are all important factors for local search rankings.
- Getting quality, relevant backlinks
Naturally obtained backlinks from well-regarded websites help search engines recognize your site as a trusted source of information and boosts the ‘prominence’ aspect of the local search algorithm. Links from local newspapers, bloggers and business associations, as well as citations, can all help improve your search visibility.
10. Social Media Optimization & Syndication services
And finally, if you need to ensure that the business you’re offering consultancy services for survives, you need to make them shine on social media. But you also need to do it smart and efficient since you can’t afford to focus on a single business at a time. If you are ready to start optimizing your social profiles, there are numerous tips that will help you do so effectively. To get started, follow these social media optimization steps:
- Create a plan.
- Build out your social media profiles.
- Conduct keyword research.
- Post original content.
- Schedule your posts.
- Include social buttons on your website.
- Monitor your social media analytics.
For more information, follow this comprehensive social media marketing guide.
Digital Marketing Services
That’s it for now. Stay safe, keep fighting, stay in the trenches and this whole thing will be over before you know it. If you need a hand, please don’t hesitate to contact Soho’s support team for help.