Converting Offline Marketing Strategies to Online Sales Returns
Whether or not an e-business maintains a brick-and-mortar presence has not influence on the importance of developing a strong and versatile offline marketing strategy. These are the traditional promotions that have served business well for hundreds of years ranging from flyers and print ads to demographic targeted mailers and business cards.
Many clients that invest thousands of dollars in developing a web-based presence miss the important connection between multi-pronged offline advertising activities. But while the internet opens doors to a global consumer base, local outreach is critical to driving traffic to your site and obtaining critical feedback on what is and is not working for you.
First of all, make sure that your site is well designed and incorporates keyword SEO strategies. Site traffic is one of the key factors to search term placement, thus one must invest in developing an online presence that employs all of the critical elements of site optimization.
Any effort to develop demand in your own market opens doors to heightened search results. Local word of mouth is likely to spread much more quickly than online searches alone, thus establishing and maintaining regional offline promotions are much more likely to return valuable and immediate results than your online promotions.
Many startups or businesses striving to take their company to the next level miss the importance of offline branding. Member groups, such as your local Chamber of Commerce, are great ways to deepen your reach into the local community and get to know your local competitors. And offering discounts to local customers can be the call to action that delivers immediate and lasting results.
Call to action messages offer the most value when they are short-lived and tied to other local business promotions. For instance, if you offer landscaping services, the time to promote is in the spring or fall when big-box stores are offering sale prices on irrigation equipment and plant materials that inspire your target market to make the investment in a beautiful garden.
Developing relationships with your local consumers also offers opportunities for immediate feedback on the services that you offer. Here is a treasure-trove of potential client referrals as you tap the rich pool of local consumers with which you can personally connect and drive site traffic.
Business cards are a critical part of any business development and promotion, and in these modern days it is important to include your electronic contact information on your cards and other promotional materials. Print your website and your email address on your cards in an effort to drive those new acquaintances to your site and improve your traffic ratings.
Online communication and sales activities are much more user-friendly for the small business owner. Many transactions can be concluded in a matter of minutes and the process optimizes your efficiency. You can field inquiries, process orders and conclude your transactions in a fraction of the time it would take to close the sale on a face-to-face sales call. This also helps a firm manage overhead costs by minimizing the number of staff required to process sales and serve clients.
Feedback from satisfied customers is critical to building an online sales presence, so make it easy for your clients to post their valuable comments. Many successful follow-up strategies include discounts for future transactions if the client has provided positive feedback that can be posted to the site. New clients are more likely to be swayed by a strong history of client satisfaction surveys, so the slight discount offered to return clients pays off exponentially in repeat business and referrals.
There are still a limited number of consumers who are uncomfortable with online business transactions, but these hardened few are often the most likely to convert to steady customers who will promote your services over and over if they are pleased with the outcome. These are the customers who are driven to your doorstep with your more traditional promotional efforts, but they are well worth the investment.
And a strong PR program is a low or no-cost approach to expanding the effectiveness of local promotions that maintain repetitive reminders of your business and its services to the local audience. Sending press releases to your local magazines and newspaper increases the opportunity to build market awareness about the services you offer, establishing credibility and the impression that yours is an expert in its field.
Challenge your potential consumer to consider how your services can improve their life. Use hard evidence: cost savings, time efficiencies and quality comparisons. Tell them what sets you apart from your competitors and, when possible, back up your products and services with money-back guarantees that tell your audience that you are willing to stand behind your work. This will often sway even the most cost-conscious consumer to dip into their wallet and give your business a try.
Drive offline traffic to your site by offering online specials that only apply if the sale is processed through your website. This strategy can be particularly effective if you offer other discounts for face-to-face customers to ensure that you don’t offend those few who are unwilling to make their purchase online.
Offer an online community wherein your customers can establish dialogs about the nature of services you provide. This is a great way to set yourself up as an authority as you monitor the topics of discussion and offer informational blogs that address the trends and provide problem solving tips to your growing audience. Blogging is a valuable way to increase your site tags and heighten the chance that your site will be visited by online consumers searching for a reliable authority on the subject matter.
Online advertising strategies often partner with the big boys – Google and Yahoo, for instance – to improve site placement in search results. The difficulty with this heightened exposure is that competitive firms may “lift” your strategy to boost their own site promotion. The key to making this type of collaboration work over the long-haul is to switch it up frequently and limit your best ideas to more controllable promotional pursuits.
Keyword tagging strategies are much like defining your unique business name. They need to be simple, specific, relevant and proven to produce the results you seek. Grabbing the interest of web surfers searching the net for a specific service or term does more harm than good if your site utilizes an obscure or proprietary interpretation of the term. Rather than driving your placement in internet search results, you’ll be marked as a badly tagged site that will drop like a rock in those critical search returns.
Make sure your site is designed to support heightened traffic or all your hard work will end up just so much water under the bridge. Your website professional will review the potential for site traffic and will counsel you on the appropriate hosting agency and minimal bandwidth requirements to ensure that your site still performs beautifully when the hoards storm the portal.
In summary, drive your online business through a well-thought-out and implemented offline promotional strategy.
o Offer local discounts.
o Advertise in print media and on local radio.
o Promote your site through business cards.
o Maintain a stream of press releases to your local newspaper, radio and television stations.
o Join local business groups.
o Offer regular online blogs and a site-specific networking platform.
o Optimize your online site keyword tags.
o Make sure your site can handle the traffic.
If you utilize these key elements to cross-platform promotions, you’ll likely spark an explosion in the success of your business.