The 3 Most Vital Things to Setup Online for Your Local Business
I just finished a two-week driving trip in UK in Aug 2013. During the trip, I threw my “internet marketing consultant” hat away, and really dug into the experience of a pure user. From another perspective, I felt even stronger about the things I used to suggest my clients do. I was begging – literally – that all local business should at least do these 3 things online.
These are all free if you can do it yourself, but it will reward you with great results over time.
1. Register your business on Google map
Google map is doing a great job in their navigation function, and it actually works better than a lot of the stand-alone GPS devices. (This was agreed by the lady who worked in rent-a-car.) So for me, the 1st thing i do when I decided to go somewhere, is to input the name of the place in the Google map apps in my iPhone. From there I could push a button and let Google do the magic and tell me how I could go there by car, bus (including other public transportation), or on foot, from my current location.
On the other hand, if your business name were not found on there, I then have to:
- Go to google or whatever source I have and search your business again and try to find your address;
- Copy+paste the address, which is a long string of text usually;
- Go to Google map again and input the address.
The switching back-and-forth was really pissing me off especially when I was already quite anxious about the things about the tons of things that could go wrong during a trip.
Register on Google map is free. Ask your IT guy to go here: http://places.google.com
2. Show the phone number and address upfront at your mobile-friendly website
Nothing is more annoying than the experience of trying to find a simple phone number but have to go through a complicated website that shows tiny letters on a smartphone screen.
A business website’s first role should be offering the most important info – which in most cases is the contacts. And nowadays more and more people will get on your website at the first time using a smartphone. So please make sure the your website can be viewed easily with small screen devices (best practice is by adopting a responsive design), and the phone and address are within a thumb-scroll away.
It’s a good idea to provide these info in text format:
- For phone number, most device can recognise a phone number if it is in text and people can click-to-call without inputing the digits.
- And for address, it’s easier to copy+paste if it is in text format. If you want to help the user even more, you could link the address to your Google map listing (mentioned above), so that people can click and it will forward them to Google map directly on their phone. (This is what I do for all my local business clients.)
So check out your business website with your phone, and see if you can find the phone number and address with ease. If it is still not phone-friendly, it’s really a good time to consider a redesign.
3. Don’t forget to list your business on TripAdvisor and push more good reviews.
When it come to finding good things near by, TripAdvisor is the best! It beats Google local, foursquare and other services. The platform did a great job gathering feedbacks from travellers, which is probably the best group to get feedbacks from.
This makes planning a trip extremely easy us travellers – all you need to do is take a look of the top rank attractions, hotels, restaurants of a city and read some reviews. All my visits to the top ranked places in my trip had pretty good experiences.
There may be another dominate player in your town (e.g. There is OpenRice for Hong Kong restaurants), but don’t forget TripAdvisor if you care about the travellers segment of your customer bases.
Bonus point: invest in a online booking system if it fits your business
For the travellers that likes to see “where the road leads you”, the ease to make a last minute booking that has a instant confirmation message really helps.
If you just have a small setup for your business, like a 5 beds B&B, you probably don’t have the capacity to be reachable by phone all the time. Invest something on the booking/reservation automation process can really help to take some load off.
Have you already done the above 3 vital things? What other things you think most local business should do? Please comment below.
Do you know any business that still could be improved on these functions? Share this post to them and help!