8 Free & Simple Ways to Get More Customers From Top Sites

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8 Free & Simple Ways to Get More Customers From Top Sites

The beauty of the internet is how easy it is for people to share information, ideas and opinions.

In the past, our ability to share opinions was rather limited. If we were happy or disappointed with a product or service, the only people we could tell about our experiences were our friends and associates. While this word-of-mouth was powerful, and our friends may have told their friends, and their friends may have continued to spread the word – the scope of such interactions was rather limited, and usually, stayed within one circle of a few dozen, or maybe a few hundred people.

Today, things have changed. Opinions are now seen, not just in our own circles, but online and by an unimaginable number of people. Not only do people tell their friends, but complete strangers see those opinions and they tell their friends, who then, might also tell their friends, and so on. Thus, word-of-mouth has become word-of-web.

With over 350 million reviews and opinions on Tripadvisor, billions on Facebook, and millions of people visiting Yelp each month, it has become clear that online opinions are not only popular, they are here to stay. The word-of-web is clearly one of the most powerful influencers on peoples’ opinions of nearly everything, including your business.

As a business owner, it is irrelevant as to whether you agree with the opinions of your customers or not. Your business is online, your customers are online, and their opinions are seen by more people than you could ever imagine.

The good news is, although you can’t control what is said about your business, you can take proactive steps and ensure your business gets found and chosen online by current and potential customers.

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Below are some simple strategies you can implement absolutely free so your business’s online presence is working for you and not against you.

1. Make Sure Your Business Locations Are Listed and Claimed on Top Sites

Since 85% of consumers find local business information via Internet searches, sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and Tripadvisor are more important than ever.

Many of today’s top sites rely on consumer input and data feeds regarding your business, so even if you haven’t created your own listing, a generic page is likely in existence on Google, Yelp, and/or Facebook. It is your responsibility to “claim” your listing and take control of it.

If you are interested in seeing how your business looks online, you can use this free tool to check the status of your business listings on top sites.

2. Ensure Information Listed is Consistent, Concise, and Consolidated

Now that you’ve determined the sites you’re on, the question becomes: When a potential customer finds you, how will you appear?

If you were meeting a customer in person, you wouldn’t want to be wearing a shirt with wrinkles and a big stain from this morning’s coffee. No, you would want to look presentable and trustworthy.

The same concept applies when speaking with the customer. You would certainly want to make sure you effectively communicate your business’s value, and how you can solve his or her needs.

First impressions online are no different, and if your listings are inconsistent, unclaimed, or non-existent, you are missing out on a lot of free opportunities to earn more business.

Something many small business owners don’t know is there are companies that specialize in collecting data on local businesses, strictly for the purpose of distributing that information to local directory sites. They collect this data and “feed it” to sites like Foursquare and Citysearch, who require up-to-date business information to remain relevant in the world of local directories.

The problem for you, as the business owner, is the information published on these sites isn’t always accurate. Things like your phone number, website, and business address can often reflect outdated or outright inaccurate information. More importantly, the information given to these listing sites can be entirely different from site to site. There are even cases where conflicting information (say two addresses for the same business), can cause multiple duplicate listings to appear.

This confuses your customers and Google; and when customers can’t see when you’re open, where you are located, etc., they will simply give up on offering you their business. On Google’s end, your business will be downgraded in search results to avoid giving its users incorrect information and a poor experience.

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Because of this, it is essential for you to clean up any duplicate listings you may have online by first, claiming and taking control of them. From there, the hosting company will work with you to get pages merged or deleted. There are many options for managing your listings. If you have the time, you can do it yourself with or without online tools, or you can use a full service option that will do it for you.

3. Avoid Sites People Don’t Visit

In marketing your business, you want content to be featured where it will be seen and heard by consumers. As such, you wouldn’t pay to feature an ad in a newspaper that has one subscriber. Such a publication wouldn’t be seen by your customers, and therefore, wouldn’t provide a solid return on your investment.

This idea should also be considered when determining where your business should be listed online.

Some marketing companies tell their clients to be on as many sites as possible with a focus on sheer quantity. After all, why would you want to only be on 7-8 sites when you could be on 100?

In theory, this makes sense. You want your business to be seen in as many places and as often as possible; with the click of a button or the signing of a 12-month contract, your information will be fed to dozens and dozens of listing hosts; some you’ve heard of and many more you haven’t. And just like that newspaper with one subscriber, your customers haven’t heard of many of these sites either. Not only that, but because your customers don’t know (or care) about them, Google’s search algorithm doesn’t either.

Google only wants to display relevant content about your business to its users; content users will find interesting and keep coming back to Google to find again. When a data feed lists your information on unheardof.com and Google sees that the site is only getting a few hits a month from consumers, this factors into where the site displays in a Google search result (hint: it won’t be on page one). Not only that, when your information is displayed on 100 sites, how do you have time to ensure accuracy on all of them? How do you know your phone number is right? Your address? Duplicates? Oh, the headache you can give yourself and your customers making sure you are properly displayed to an empty audience.

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Unless you are managing your listings full-time instead of your business, you are going to want to limit the number of sites on which you focus.

4. Listen to Customer Feedback and Evolve

If one person leaves a review on Yelp saying your hours are inconvenient, clearly you would want to apologize to him. If 50 people say your hours are inconvenient and they will not offer their business to you because of it, you must not only apologize, but update your hours to reflect the needs of your patrons and earn their business.

Consumers love business owners who listen and address their needs. Reviews on top sites are a great way to see what keeps customers coming back and what keeps them away. By ignoring such valuable feedback, you ignore the reason you are in business (to support yourself, yes, but also, to service your customers’ wants and needs).

5. Leverage What Works for Competitors, Avoid What Doesn’t

Reputations are often built on the backs of those we rival. By attempting to replicate our opponents’ strengths and improve upon them to become better, we build better brands and earn the trust of consumers. For every Coke there is a Pepsi. For every Microsoft there is an Apple. These companies, while they rival one another, also help each other. They force the other to constantly improve and focus on customer needs. If one fails to do this, the other absolutely will not.

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Again, if you receive 50 negative reviews about your hours, but your competitor’s Yelp page shows the same customers leaving positive reviewers about how much they love your competitor’s hours, are you going to ignore that?

Hopefully not, as these reviews are showing a direct correlation between why customers are choosing another business over your own. If you are interested in seeing your customers’ reviews, you can use this free tool.

6. Respond to customer feedback

If a customer came to you in person with a compliment or concern, how would you appear if you simply turned from her and walked away? Proper online reputation management requires that you not only get reviews, but respond to them as well. Sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Google are where people are going to find you, and therefore, you should be there for them when they visit.

By responding to positive reviews, you show other customers who visit you online that you are engaged with your audience. This encourages others to post, as they know their efforts will be read and appreciated.

For customers who simply want to vent (with negative reviews), your response will hopefully address their concerns, and then, they may be encouraged to change their rating and opinion of your business from negative to positive.

example of why replying to reviews is important

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7. Get more reviews

A recent study by the Baymard Institute found that consumers trust businesses with a high number of online reviews over other businesses who have a five-star average with only a couple of reviews. In the study, which consisted of over 2,200 respondents, 62% of people said they would choose a product with an average of 4.5 stars because it had 12 ratings versus a product with a five-star average but only two ratings.

We can see from this that your online reputation is largely based on social proof in numbers. If a lot of people have reviewed you online, and your average has remained high, this shows you aren’t simply having one or two friends say nice things about you.

Getting additional reviews is something that can be done in a number of ways, but perhaps the easiest is just to remind people to look for you on Yelp, Google, or another site, either verbally, or by placing posters in your place of business.

8. Take Advantage of Google and Facebook’s Popular Times/Hours Features

Google and Facebook have both released a feature, available to business owners and customers that shows when local businesses are most popular.

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You, as a business owner, can use these tools to find your slowest times and offer special discounts to encourage your customers to come into your location at those times. For instance, restaurants could offer a late lunch promotion if they are slow on Wednesdays at 2pm.

If the chart shows your gym is missing customers on Tuesdays and Thursdays after 6pm, maybe you could set up memberships so people who come in only on those days and times get discounts.

This concept is similar to how movie theaters get more customers by offering discounted tickets earlier in the day and on evenings when they aren’t normally busy (Mondays and Tuesdays for instance). Many families have made traditions out of going to see movies on those days simply to save money and avoid the crowds. These are repeat customers who, if not given an option for cheaper prices at those times, may not offer theaters their business at all.

In Conclusion

Whether you take one of these tips and run with it, or, if you utilize all eight, you are sure to grow your business and get more customers by tapping into the power of public opinion and your business’s online presence.

We at Merchant Centric pride ourselves on focusing on what matters most, to your customers and to your business goals. If you are interested in a one-on-one consultation, we are happy to walk you through each free & simple step to get more customers.

Contact us today: (818) 889-1688

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