Tag Archives: online reviews

How to Bring Online Visitors to Your Store

people-walking-out-door-pan_12120It’s one thing to have an online presence so consumers can find your local business, but it’s another thing altogether to get those people into your local store or restaurant. After all, the heart of a local business is interacting with and selling to the people in your local community. But the act of getting those online fans into a retail store is a missing link in many local store owner’s advertising arsenal.

If you own a local shop, service business, or restaurant, you need to understand how to turn online visitors into paying customers. Here are five tips you can begin using today to get more customers in your door.

Create a Local Business Listing—but Not on Just any Local Business Directory

It’s a simple fact: in order to be found online, you must have an online presence. And these days, most business owners agree that the best way to do that is to create a local business in a quality local business directory. And be sure to pay attention to the word “quality.”

You see, there a lot of local business directories out there because most people today use them to find US local businesses in their area. But not all local directories are helpful to local business owners. Some of them are simply data bases, and those types of local business directories aren’t popular with consumers. Instead, they like to visit innovate directories like FindUsLocal.com because they offer a lot more than just local listings. For example, the directory offers local news, links to local concerts, plays, and sporting events, and inspirational quotes just for fun. In other words, if you want the best results, you will need to create your local business listing on a local directory that is popular with online visitors.

After You Choose the Local Business Directory, Create Your Online Listing

Now that you’ve found the perfect local business directory, it’s time to get busy and create a local business listing that will catch the attention of online visitors. To do so, be sure to include all of the obvious details such as your business name, phone number, address, and website address if you have one. It’s important to ensure that these details are exactly the same on every local business directory you’re listing in, otherwise the search engine spiders won’t recognize them as yours and all your hard work will be for nothing.

Now that You Have Your Local Business Listing, Make it Appealing to Visitors

It’s not enough to create a local business listing and move on. You’ve got to give the online visitors a reason to want to visit your business, and one of the best ways to do that is to have plenty of online reviews for them to read.

Recent studies show that people rely on online reviews to decide whether or not to visit a local business. But if your local business listing doesn’t have sufficient reviews, it might get ignored by people while they go looking for a business that does. In fact, almost two-thirds of the people surveyed say that they won’t even consider visiting a local store or restaurant without first reading a few positive reviews about it.

And don’t worry if you don’t have enough online reviews because that same study shows that 7 out of 10 of your customers will gladly leave a review for your business if you will only ask them to.

Use Your Local Business Listing to Communicate with Online Visitors

Once you’ve set up your local business listing and ensure that the details are right and you have plenty of good online reviews, it’s time to take it one step further. Consumers these day want interaction with the local companies they buy from, and most people assume they have to build large social media platforms in order to accomplish this. But luckily for busy business owners, that’s just not the case. Quality local business directories like FindUsLocal.com have a feature that allow business owners to publicly communicate with the people in their community via a “comments” section. With it, you can announce new product arrivals, sales, and even let people know when you have a job position open. And the great thing? The people in your community can communicate with you too because the feature offers a two way street, allowing both business owners and visitors the opportunity to leave live comments on the local business directory.

When people see your local business online, it’s great, but the real goal is to bring those people into your business so they can make in store purchases from you. And a local business directory like FindUsLocal.com offers a unique way to do just that. Have you set up your local business listing yet? If not, hop on over to Find Us Local and set it up right now. It only takes a few minutes!

 

Why Reviews are Important for Your Local Business—and How to Get Them

online-reviews-for-local-businessesIf you’re a local business owner, you understand all too well how important word of mouth is for business. These days, people don’t like to do business with shops, restaurants, or service businesses without first checking out the social proof from other people who have spent time in the business. For example, before someone finds US local restaurants to visit, they will first read the reviews that others in the community have left for it. The same is true for service businesses of all types, including hair salons, plumbers, accountants, doctors, and every other type of business where the owners perform a service for customers. And retail stores are no exception—most people want to make sure the shop carries great products and has good customer service before stepping foot in the door.

And where do people get all of this information? By reading local reviews left by other people who have visited the business on local business directories.

What’s the Big Deal About Local Reviews?

At first glance, it’s easy to overlook the benefits of online reviews because many retail business owners don’t yet understand the huge role they play in consumer decisions. Just to emphasize the role online reviews play in a customer’s decision to visit a store, here are some startling statistics you should know.

  • The majority of people—84 percent to be exact—place more trust in online reviews than they do a recommendation from a friend or family member. Just think about that. It’s a huge revelation, and that fact alone should make you want to get as many positive online reviews as you can.
  • Two-thirds of those people surveyed say that when they read positive reviews about a local business, it makes them trust that business. This means people take what others have to say about a local business seriously.
  • When your local business listing includes enough positive reviews, Google will sit up and take notice. The search engine spiders like to showcase local businesses with positive reviews, and they reward them by giving them higher search engine rankings. On the other hand, if your local business listing has a lot of negative reviews, the large search engines may not rank your local listing at all—or put you on pages so far back that no one will see it.
  • Almost all of the people surveyed, 90 percent, say that they want to read at least 10 local reviews before making a decision about whether or not to visit a shop or restaurant. That means you’ll need to be proactive in asking customers to leave them on your local business directory listing.
  • A shocking 87 percent of the people asked say that they would not consider doing business with a shop or restaurant that has negative reviews on their local business listings. If you have some negative reviews, you’ll need to do some juggling to ensure that the good reviews outweigh the bad. Better yet, strive to have the business insight to be so good and customer oriented that no one ever leaves a bad review for your business.
  • At this point, you may be panicking because you can’t figure out how you will ever get enough online reviews to make a difference, but the good news is that it’s easier than you think. In fact, in the same study we talked about earlier, 7 out of 10 customers say that if a local business owner asked them to leave an online review, they would do it. That means if you make it a habit to consistently ask your customers to go to your local business listing and leave an online review, they will. So if you ask every customer at the checkout counter to leave a review for your business, you’ll soon have enough good reviews to drive new business to your store.

As you can see, online reviews are an integral part of your local business, but you will have to work hard to get them. Luckily, there are steps you can take to add them quickly to your local business listing on your local business directory. If you don’t already have one in place, head on over to FindUsLocal.com, one of the best local business directories on the web.

4 Things About Local Business Directories You Probably Didn’t Know

If you own a local business, you probably already know just how important it is to create a local business listing on a quality local business directory. In fact, these local directories are the go-to places for local businesses to get the attention of new customers. That’s because those consumers now turn online when they want to find US local businesses, and local business directories are the perfect place for them to do so.

But even if you already understand the importance of these local directories, there are some things you may not know about them. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 7 things you need to know about them.

Local Business Directories Aren’t All the Same

At first glance, you may think that all local business directories are the same, but if you look a little closer, you’ll quickly realize that they’re not. In fact, listing your business on the wrong directory may not reap the results you need to get your business seen in the local search results. Look for a local directory that offers more than just local business listings. For example, FindUsLocal.com offers its visitors local news, inspirational and humorous features, and links to local sporting events, plays, and concerts.

People Look for All Kinds of Information on Local Business Directories

While many people look at local business directories to find US local businesses in their area, they are looking for much more than just the business name. Recent studies show that the local business directories that offer more information to consumers are the ones they prefer to use. For example, 40 percent of those searching say they want to find out if the business is currently open, and 50 percent of them want to find the business address. In addition, 60 percent of the people searching expect to find directions on the local business listing, or a “click to call” link. And what comes out of having a complete local business listing? 71 percent of those surveyed say that before they visit the business for the time, they check in with a local business directory to ensure they have the correct business address.

People Want to Read Online Reviews at Local Business Directories

These days, it’s hard to find someone who will try a new business without first reading some good reviews about it. And although you know it’s important, you may be wondering how to get reviews for your local business. Luckily, it’s not that difficult. One recent studies shows that 7 out of 10 people say they would leave a review for a local business if that business asked them to. And here are some statistics that show why it’s so important to do so:

  • 84 percent of the people asked in the survey say that they trust online reviews more than they trust personal recommendations from a friend or family member.
  • 74 percent of those asked say that when they read good reviews about a local business, it makes them trust that business more.
  • Having good reviews on a local business directory causes Google to place your business higher in the search engine rankings than those businesses that have poor reviews, or none at all.
  • You don’t need a lot of reviews to be effective. 90 percent of people read less than 10 reviews before making a decision about whether or not to visit a local business.
  • It’s important to have good reviews on your local business listings because 87 percent of the people surveyed say that they wouldn’t even consider doing business with a store if it had bad reviews.

It’s Easy to Set Up Your Local Business Listing

Finally, even though a local business listing can quickly bring new customers into your store, the process of setting it up isn’t difficult. To do so, simply visit a quality local business directory like FindUsLocal, and claim your business listing. Then fill in as many details as you can, remembering that consumers tend to prefer those listings that are filled with details. Then begin promoting your local listing by asking your customers to leave online reviews for it and directing them there to learn about sales and promotions. Frankly, if you’re looking for local business insight to propel your business to new heights, creating a local business listing is one of the best steps you can take.

All About Local Business Directories and Your Local Shop

local-business-blog-375x270Running a local business is one of the most rewarding things you can do, but it comes with its own unique challenges. After all, unlike internet businesses, your customer base is limited to the people in your own city or town. And it’s not as easy to reach those people as it used to be. In the past, local business owners would simply need to run an ad in the community newspaper announcing the current sales or discounts, and have a display ad in the local yellow pages. Unfortunately for local business owners, these marketing tactics no longer are effective. Instead, local business owners should look to online advertising to bring in new business.

Why Should Local Business Owners Use Online Advertising?

It seem counterintuitive for local shop owners to reach out to potential customers online, doesn’t it? But the truth is, most people try to find US local businesses online these days instead of locally at local sources. For example, if someone were trying to find US local restaurants, they would look to their smartphone, tablet or laptop and enter the keywords into the search engine. That sounds simple enough, but what they often see is a mish mash of some local results mixed in with the websites of national chains, and articles about the topic.

Because of this, many consumers have become frustrated and turned to local business directories to find US businesses.

What are Local Business Directories?

To bypass the many issues people have trying to find US local shops and restaurants, local business directories were created. These local directories are designed to make it easy for people to find the local businesses they want. It works like this: a visitor is automatically shown only the results from their local area because quality sites like FindUsLocal.com use cutting edge GEO location technology to match the results with the visitor’s location.

Then, the visitor has the option of immediately looking for local businesses via the site’s search bar, or browsing through other features on the site such as event announcements, local news, and online reviews of the local businesses in their area. Keep in mind that not all local business directories offer all these features, but only quality sites like FindUsLocal.

How to Be Seen on Local Business Directories

As you can see, having your site listed on a local business directory is one of the best online advertising moves you can make. That’s because your business will be seen by countless local consumers who are looking for a shop or restaurant just like yours. But how can you ensure that your business is listed? Luckily, it’s pretty easy. Here are the simple steps you should take.

  • Decide on a quality local business directory like FindUSLocal. It’s important that your business is seen on local business directories that are used by consumers, and to do that, you’ll need to determine which ones are popular with them. One of the best indicators is what the local directory offers to its visitors. Some local directories only offer a search function, but others go beyond that to offer visitors everything they need in one location. For example, Find US Local offers local news, a place to leave and read online reviews, a listing of all the sporting events, plays, and concerts coming to that area—along with links to purchase tickets—and a comments section, which allows local business owners to interact in real time with local consumers.
  • Once you’ve decided on a few local business directories, go to the sites and sign up for a local business listing. Most sites offer these for free, and some even offer premium listings which will give you option of being seen even more by local consumers.
  • Complete your local business listing by including all of the pertinent details about your business. You should include your business name, address, phone number, website address, hours of operation, directions to the store, and photos if the local business directory allows them. It’s important that when you list on multiple directories that you enter the exact same information on all of them. For example, if your business name is ABC, Inc., you’ll need to determine whether or not to include the “inc.” on your local business directory listings. If you include it on some and leave it out on others, the search engine spiders won’t attribute the local listings to your business and that won’t help you in the search engine rankings. The same is true for your business address, phone number, and website—make sure the information you enter matches on every local business listing you create.
  • Encourage your customers to leave reviews on your local business listing. People typically feel a need to read a few good reviews about a local business before visiting it, and local business directories are the perfect place to read them. But most consumers won’t leave reviews unless they’re asked. Make it a habit to ask your customers to leave a review for your business every time someone makes a purchase. Soon, you’ll have all the local online reviews your business needs to gain the social proof new customers demand.
  • Interact with your visitors. Finally, when you create a local business listing on sites like FindUsLocal.com, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with your customers in real time by using the comments section on the site. This feature allows both business owners and visitors to leave comments about the business, which are shown in a live stream on the site. Visitors can tell others about the experience they had at the store, or give hints about products they’ve purchased there. And business owners can use the feature to announce sales, tell the locals when new products or services are offered, tell people about a new menu item, or even let the community know when the business is hiring. This feature can only be found on FindUsLocal.com and it’s one of those features that really sets the site apart from other local business directories.

How Local Business Directories Improve You Search Engine Rankings

In addition to providing a place for local consumers to find US local businesses easier, local business directories also help local businesses be found easier than on the large search engines. Remember we told you that local business listings are all too often mixed in with national chains and articles about the topic? There is a way to improve your chances of being seen, and of course the answer lies in local business directories.

It’s all about citations.

The large search engines rely on citations to determine how high up in the rankings to show local businesses. A citation is a mention of a business on places like local business directories. For example, if your business is listed on FindUsLocal, that is one citation that the search engine spiders will attribute to your business. Can you see why it’s so important to list your business exactly the same on all the local business listings you create? If they’re off just a little, the spiders won’t attribute them to your business, and you’ll miss out on the citation.

The more citations you have, the higher up in the search engine rankings you’ll appear when someone is trying to find US local businesses like yours.

Be sure to use keywords specific to your industry when creating your local business listing because that will bring it up in the local search results. For example, if you own a furniture store, you should include keywords like chairs, sofa, table, beds, and other things people look for in a furniture store. That way when they type those keywords into the local business directory search engine, your store will come up in the results.

Don’t Miss Out on Local Business!

The way to run a successful local store has changed dramatically in the past few years, and only those store owners who keep up with the times will continue to draw new customers to their shop. Don’t be one of the local shops that has to shutter its doors because of a lack of new business. Instead, head on over to FindUsLocal.com right now and create your first local business listing.

4 Things You Should Know About Local Business Directories

LBM-logoOwning a local business isn’t what it used to be. In the past, it meant being seen in the local community and building a name for yourself, and while that’s still good marketing advice, the truth is that times have changed and successful local business owners understand that having a local business listing is one of the most important things you can do for your business. Let’s take a look at what they are and the 10 facts things you should know about them.

What are Local Business Listings?

A local business listing is like a free advertisement on a local business directory that all the local consumers in your area can see. But it’s important to ensure that your local business listings will be seen by taking some steps. Do this by optimizing your listing to give consumers all the information they need, such as your business name, address, phone number, and hours of operation.

Once you have created a stellar local business listing, you’ll soon see the results as more and more new customers walk through your door after finding you on a local business directory.

And speaking of local directories, here are 10 things you should know about how they can affect your business.

They Not all the Same

One of the biggest stories in USA business directory news is that not all local directories are the same. In fact, some are so far ahead of the game it’s almost embarrassing. Take, for instance, FindUsLocal.com. This cutting edge local directory makes it so easy for consumers to find US local businesses that it’s considered one of the hottest directories around. It uses GEO location technology to show visitors only the results from their local area. And that keeps them coming back time and time again. Wouldn’t you think having a local listing on a directory like that would do your business good?

They Can Boost Your Search Engine Rankings in the Larger Search Engines

In addition to helping people find your business when searching on local business directories, your local listings can also help you be seen in the results of the large search engines such as Google. How does that work? Because when the large search engine spiders crawl the information on the web, one of the things they look for is citations. These citations are mentions of your business, and the more of them that you have, the more seriously the spiders will take your business. That’s why listing your business on as many quality local business directories can help boost your sales so easily.

You Have to Optimize Your Local Business Listings

Some local business directories, like FindUsLocal.com, offer special features that help local business owners optimize their listing. For example, you can choose to use keywords related to your industry to help people find you. If you own a bakery, using keywords like cake, cupcakes and coffee could put your listing out front. And the local directory also offers other unique features like a comments section that allows business owners to interact with local customers in real time. This can be used to announce sales and discounts, thank special customers or post job listings. And when you interact with your customers, it helps build credibility and awareness of your business in the community.

They Give You a Place for Reviews

In case you haven’t heard, online reviews are one of the most important aspects of any online marketing you do for your business. Numerous studies have shown that most of today’s consumers won’t even think about visiting a local shop, restaurants, or service business without first reading some good online reviews about it. But that’s a problem for many local shops because they don’t have a website or other place to encourage their customers to leave reviews on. But local business directories solve that because most allow consumers to leave online reviews for the businesses they visit. And what’s even better is that recent studies show that 7 out of 10 people are more than willing to leave a review if they’re asked to.

Can you see how local business directories can give your business the boost that you’ve been looking for? Simply choose the right directory, optimize it to make the most of it, encourage your customers to leave online reviews on your local business listing, and then watch your rankings move in the upward direction on the larger search engines. It really can’t get any easier, can it? If you haven’t already created your local business listing on FindUsLocal.com, what are you waiting for? You could be missing out on new business this very moment.

 

5 Ways to Optimize Your Local Business Listings

optimize-images-in-bloggerWhen you’re doing all you can to promote your local business, you want to get as much out of your efforts as possible. And one the latest ways to market your local business is by creating local business listings on a modern local business directory like FindUsLocal.com. But when you create those listings, there are some steps you’ll need to take in order to ensure that they do you the most good. In fact, recent online advertising trends all include local business directories as more and more consumers are discovering just how convenient and easy to use they are.

If you haven’t already created your local business listing on a quality local business directory—or if you have an need to update and optimize it—here are 5 tips to help you make the most out of your local business directory listing.

Be Consistent

You can’t just create local business directory listings willy-nilly and expect any kind of success. In fact, you need to go about it methodically in order to reap the best results. One of the key factors you need to do to maximize your local business listings is use the exact same information every time. This is especially important when you input your business name, address, phone number and website address. For example, if the name of your business is ABC Tables of Main, Inc. you should decide whether or not to include the “Inc.” in your local business listings. If you include it in some of your listings and leave it out in others, the search engine spiders won’t recognize them all as yours and that will may actually hurt your rankings. Be consistent for each of these areas and you’ll rank higher—which means more people will see you and potentially buy from your store.

List the Right Information

Speaking of the details you provide in your local directory listings, be sure to include as much information as the local business directory will allow. Studies show that most consumers look for a local businesses address, phone number, and hours of operation, but if you have the opportunity to add more information do it. After all, you never know what consumers are looking for, and they’ll likely visit the local shop that offer the right information to them.

List in the Right Local Business Directory

Not all local business directories are the same, and consumers tend to visit those that offer more than just local business listings. For example, FindUsLocal offers humorous and inspirational features, local news, links to local sporting events, plays, and concerts, and a handy feature that allows local business owners to communicate in real time with are residents. Remember, consumers will try to find US local businesses on a directory that offers them everything they need—not just local listings.

Get Those Much Needed Online Reviews

It’s difficult to attract new business these days unless you have a good amount of online reviews for potential customers to read. In fact, recent studies how that most people won’t even consider visiting a local business unless they’ve read a few good reviews about it. But too many local shop owners think it’s too hard to persuade customers to leave online reviews. Luckily, that’s just not the case.

One important study shows that 7 out of 10 people say they would happily leave an online review—if only the business would ask. That’s why it’s important to ask each customer at check out to go to your local business listing and leave an online review for your business.

Interact With Your Local Customers

Finally, it’s vital that you interact with your customers so they feel like a valued part of your business. Ask any branding expert, and they will tell you that today’s consumers prefer to do business with a company that includes them in the conversation. And while most local business owners look to social media to accomplish this, the truth is that can take a lot of time and know-how. And if you get it wrong, it can actually do harm to your business.

Instead, FindUsLocal.com offers a unique feature that allows you to communicate with your local customers in real time so that the lines of communication will be open. It’s called the comments section, and currently, this cutting-edge local directory is the only place you can find it.

Having a local business directory listing isn’t enough to bring new business in the door. You’ll need to work to optimize that listing and then keep it current by using the comment section and encouraging your customers to leave fresh online reviews for your business. Follow the tips above and soon you’ll wonder why in the world you haven’t done this before!

Local Business Directories Can Boost Your Sales—Here’s How

sales-growthThese days, it’s vital that small and local business owners do all they can to be seen online. After all, it’s a proven fact that when today’s consumers try and find US local business, they turn to their smart phones, laptops, and tablets. But a surprising number of local business owners haven’t take the steps to build their online presence, and that’s resulting in a lot sagging sales, and unfortunately, closed doors. If you own a local shop, restaurant, or service business and haven’t yet built your online presence so consumers can find you, here are some things you should know.

Old-School Advertising Methods Don’t Work Anymore

In the past, local shop owners relied heavily on newspaper ads, phone book ads, or those mailers that were so popular in the day. But recent studies show that 90 percent of consumers look online when they want to find US local businesses. That means if you’re still relying on off-line advertising and marketing efforts, you’re not reaching the majority of the people in your community.

In fact, there have been some recent studies that show just how much consumer behavior has changed in the past few years. Consider these marketing statistics:

  • Almost three-quarters of consumers are likely to look on the major search engines when they are trying to find US local businesses.
  • When looking for local businesses, sixty percent of consumers use mobile devices to conduct the search. They use an app or search on their smartphones.
  • Half of people looking for US local businesses check the company website.
  • More than half of consumers search for local businesses online at least one time a month.
  • A full 91 percent of shoppers read online reviews before deciding to visit a local business.

Can you see how important it is for local businesses to be found online? If you’re not, more than half of the people who are looking for a business like yours will never find you!

Local Business Directories Can Help You Be Seen Online

What if you don’t have the resources to build a company website? That’s where local business directories come in. These local search engines are designed to help consumers find US local businesses without having to look through all of the national results like they do on the major search engines.

Before we tell you how local business listings can help you be seen online, here are some facts about how local business directories work.

  • The smarter local directories, like FindUsLocal.com, use GEO location technology to automatically show the visitor only the results from their area. For example, if someone from Los Angeles, California were looking for a furniture store, they would go the local directory and enter “furniture store” in the search bar and would see a list of furniture stores in their local area.
  • Some local business directories feature additional benefits so that people will visit the site frequently. For example, FindUsLocal.com offers local news, a comment section that allows business owners and consumers to interact with each other, links to local plays, concerts, and sporting events, and even some inspirational and humorous things to keep consumers engaged and coming back. And remember, every time they visit the local directory page, that’s another chance they will find your local business.

How Local Business Directories Help People Find Your Business

When someone searches for local businesses on a major search engine, they are often confronted with results that don’t fit their criteria. For example, if they were searching for that furniture store, they might see national chains and online stores in the mix. So to ensure that your store is seen, you’ll need a lot of citations so the search engine spiders will recognize and display your store.  And one of the best ways to get those citations is by creating local business directory listings on quality local business directories.

How to Create Your Local Business Listing

Creating these all-important business listings involves more than just haphazardly listing your business on directories. You’ll need to plan ahead and create your business listings in a particular way. Here are some tips to help you do it right.

  • Be choosy. You should list your shop or restaurant on just any old local business directory. Instead, look for quality local business directories like FindUsLocal. A good business directory will offer more to consumers and use GEO location technology.
  • Be consistent. You’ll need to ensure that your local business listings are all the same. Enter your business name, address, phone number, and website if you have one, exactly the same on every local business listing you create. Otherwise you’ll confuse the search engine spiders and the inconsistent listings won’t be credited to your business.
  • Be interactive. You’ll need to interact with consumers on your local business listing using methods like the comments section over at FindUsLocal.com. This keeps your business listing active and that will make it more visible to the search engine spiders.
  • Be proactive. Remember how important online reviews are to consumers? You’ll need to encourage your customers to leave them for your business on your local business listing. And don’t stop when you have ten or so reviews. Studies show that people like to see current reviews when deciding whether or not to visit a local business.

As you can see, having an online presence is one of the best things you can do for your local business. If you haven’t already created a local business listing, why not head over to FindUsLocal.com right now and do it? It’s one of the best things you can do for your local business today!

Sharing is Caring – How to Use Social Media and Local Business Directory Listings to Boost Your Business Online

iStock_000019661855SmallSocial shares are local marketing gold. That’s the word from nearly everyone who’s anyone in the business of small business marketing and advertising. While local business directory listings are the linchpin of an small business marketing strategy, any local business owner who isn’t considering their social media presence is losing out on some of the best opportunities to stay in touch with existing customers, entice new customers, and keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the community that affects their bottom line. Catching the attention of nearby customers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and, increasingly, Snapchat, is nearly a guarantee of seeing a boost in sales and clients. Here are a few ways that local business owners can get more social media shares and more attention to their business on the major social media networks.

Connect Social Media Profiles to Business Listings and Website

Start with a coordinated suite of online business pages. Every business should include its own website, its listing in a local US business directory, a Google My Business page, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. That may seem like a lot to manage, but they each only take a few minutes to set up. Once they’re set up and linking to each other, there are tools that automate many of the tasks associated with keeping up an active social media presence.

Claim Business Pages at Major Online Review Sites

Online reviews are a major driver of customers to local businesses. Statistics show that customers are more likely to see businesses with a lot of positive business reviews when they search for local services and products, and are more likely to trust those that are highly recommended by their friends and neighbors. Just like other social media driven sites, it only takes a few minutes to claim and personalize a business listing at the major review sites, and again, it only takes a few minutes a week to check in on the reviews and respond to them.

Encourage User Generated Content

User generated content, commonly called UGC, is a new buzzword among small business marketing specialists. What it means, in a nutshell, is find ways to get customers and potential customers to post stuff about businesses they like, preferably at the business’ site. UGC can include something as simple as online business reviews, which can be republished or referenced on the business’ own website and social media accounts – but some businesses get really creative with UGC. A restaurant, for example, might encourage customers to post photos of their meals or of parties at their venue, tagged with the business name in a Facebook mention. Real estate agents may offer to pose for a signing photo when clients sign the final papers on their new homes. Posting those photos and sharing them help publicize the business and increase their online visibility.

Get Listed in Local Business Directories

Businesses that are listed in a wide range of local business directories increase their chances of being found by customers and mentioned on social media. Directories maintained by local organizations are especially good for this kind of sharing, especially if they publish “Best of…” articles to boost their own online presence. Sharing links to those articles is a great way to advertise and encourage customers to share news about local businesses.

Post Business Videos

Surprisingly, slickly produced videos aren’t the most engaging ones for local business customers. People like to feel like they know the owners and staff at their favorite businesses, and slick production values don’t offer that same personal feeling. Focus instead on giving potential customers a peek behind the scenes – “Check out the pouring skills that give our barista Mark his championship edge!” or “How excited were we to get our new shipment of luxury yarn? Just watch!” Facebook , Instagram and Snapchat make it simple to go live and post videos that customers will love – and share.

Do Something Good in the Neighborhood

Sponsor a local basketball team? Post pictures of special moments. Hosting a paint night at the venue? Make a Facebook event from the business page and share it, encouraging friends and customers to share it as well. Follow up with photos of attendees posing with their finished masterpieces – and don’t forget to tag them in the post. Tags ensure that the photos – posted by the business – will show up to their friends and encourage them to share in the fun next time.

Talk to Local Reporters and Bloggers

Get established as a local expert on relevant industries and topics. When reporters want to feature a quote about new home prices, be the one they call. If they need a quote on wedding trends for a bridal article, volunteer a quote. Wellness coaches can opine on health and nutrition topics, retailers on the hottest new toys for the holiday season and so on. Ask the reporter to drop an email when the article is published so that the business can share it on their website and list it alongside other honors in the business directory listings.

All this may sound like a lot of work, but it takes far less time and energy than many other marketing efforts – and the price can’t be beat. In most cases, everything listed here will cost a business nothing but an hour or two of time, requires surprisingly little skills, and have a big payoff in increased business and new customers.

How to Market Local Businesses to Gen Z And Why It Matters

millennials_in_a_groupGen Z – those kids that all the old timers wish would get off of their lawns – is starting to drive business decisions for major brands like BMW, Sephora. They’re also an increasingly important demographic for local small biz interests that want to increase their customer base and profits. This pocket generation, born between 1995 and 2002, are the first generation to have grown up completely connected – they’ve never known a time when the Internet wasn’t a primary source of entertainment and information. These are kids who may never have seen an actual paper local telephone directory, who think of their phones as the ultimate local business directory, and who are used to consuming everything from their favorite meals to their favorite television series when they want and where they want. As the oldest Gen Zers hit legal age and beyond, local businesses will have to adapt to the way they work, live, play and buy if they want to thrive.

What Motivates Gen Z and How It Plays Out in Local Online Marketing

While many think of Gen Z as being a subset of the Millennial generation, there’s pretty clear evidence that they’ve got very different priorities, beliefs and habits than their older brothers and sisters. They’re more entrepreneurial, more independent and – conversely  – much more influenced by what their peers are doing. They’ve grown up in the era of big data, where their every move and preference is recorded somewhere and used by online marketing specialists to target them with very personalized ads and experiences. Big money marketers use all that data to target the younger set for their products, using their mobile browsing, search and viewing habits to drive marketing and buying habits. This could be a huge downside for local small businesses, but it doesn’t have to be. It just requires some thought about how to reach the youthful, connected generation and which messages appeal to them.

Embrace Mobile Optimization

One of the first things to understand about Generation Z is that they are mobile – not just in theory, but in practice. According to marketing research, this generation is more likely to use mobile devices to consume media of all kinds than any other type of screen. They expect websites to look good and be accessible via their mobile device screens, and any business that ignores that will miss out on their patronage. The simple fact that is that no matter what platform a business chooses as a website, optimizing for mobile devices is usually pretty simple these days, so there’s no excuse whatsoever to have a website that’s not optimized for multiple screens. This may seem to have nothing to do with local business marketing, but user experience is an important factor in everything from customer preferences to Google rankings.

Get Listed in Local Business Directories

USA business directories power local business searches more than nearly any other factor. As Google has invested more time and research into search intent, business directory listings have taken on more importance as signals. Every listing in a local business directory counts as a local citation, sort of like a directional beam that tells the search engines where a business is located. When someone searches for a lawyer, an Indian restaurant, or just about anything else, the search engine decides that they want to find someone nearby to deliver that service – and that’s where local SEO comes into play. The search servers run through their databases, sifting through local business directory listings and other web pages to find appropriate businesses within the right geographic area and bubbling up the most likely ones to the top of the listings.

Deliver Immediate Gratification

Gen Z kids are used to immediate gratification, and they want it to be convenient. By optimizing local directory listings, businesses can score high with a whole generation. Even something as simple as making sure that the phone number, address, and hours of operation are accurate can increase the number of customers who follow up a search with a visit and a purchase. Don’t make customers dig deeper to find basic information about the business and products ; put it in every listing, and make sure that it’s right.

Get Social

Connect with younger customers where they live – on social media. Just remember that Gen Z are not Millennials, and they don’t frequent the same social media. Get visual with Snapchat and Instagram, including Instagram Stories on Facebook. Unlike the typical video ad/engagement for a business, Snapchat and Instagram videos don’t have to be professional. In fact, Generation Z embraces the imperfect, and they love getting a behind-the-scenes peek. A five minute “visit” to the kitchen as they prep for the dinner rush can be marketing gold.

Ask for Reviews

More than any generation before them, Gen Zers believe in being heard. If asked, they will leave reviews for a business they like – and often, they’ll do it even if they’re not asked. Those reviews are a growing factor in local search metrics, and the more reviews a business has, the more credible the business appears. Take every opportunity to garner positive business reviews – and always, always, remember to say thank you to the customers who leave them. They’re the best advertisement and brand ambassadors in the world.

Making Online Business Reviews Work for Local Businesses

changing-online-reviews-from-negative-to-positiveOnline business reviews, once a neat novelty, have become the gold standard for today’s word-of-mouth advertising. Where people once turned to family and friends for recommendations of restaurants, lawyers, local stores and more, they’re now more likely to pull up an online review site or local business directory like Find Us Local that offers business reviews. In fact, in a recent survey, nearly 90 percent of people surveyed said they trust online recommendations as much as recommendations from friends and family.

Online Reviews – The Good, the Bad and How to Deal with Both

Customers who read positive online reviews are more inclined to trust a business, and more inclined to shop or buy there. Unfortunately, customers who have a bad experience are far more likely to leave a review. What’s a business owner to do? Obviously, the trick is to encourage happy customers to leave reviews while minimizing the damage from bad reviews. Here’s how.

Ask Customers to Review Your Business Online

One of the first lessons a new salesperson learns is to ASK FOR THE SALE. The same goes for getting more positive online business reviews. Different types of businesses will use different strategies to solicit online reviews and testimonials. One of the most effective is to follow up with a satisfied customer via email, asking them to write a review or recommendation and providing a link to the business profile on online review sites and local business directory profiles. Retailers may print a request for a review on their customer receipts, or slip a postcard or flyer into the bag when bagging purchases.

Offer an Incentive for Providing Reviews

Marketing research shows that the more online reviews a business has, the more trustworthy customers find them. Some businesses increase the number of reviews they get by offering incentives, such as a discount on the customer’s next visit, or an entry in a monthly prize drawing.

Thank Customers for Reviews

Acknowledge positive reviews with a thank you, and an invitation to return. Businesses that respond to online reviews appear more engaged and genuine, and are more likely to inspire loyalty in their customers.

Don’t Delete Bad Reviews

It may be tempting to delete bad reviews, but most customer relations experts say that’s a very bad idea. In fact, customers are more inclined to trust a business that has a few not-so-stellar reviews than one that has nothing but rave reviews. Even worse, some customers will go on to complain in other venues about a business that can’t be trusted to keep their online reviews honest.

Acknowledge and Address Poor Reviews

A customer had a bad meal? Had to wait too long for service? Found unsatisfactory conditions? It’s easy to take complaints personally, but getting defensive or angry – especially publicly – can seriously damage a business’ reputation. Instead, politely acknowledge the complaints and try to work out a satisfactory resolution. Experience shows that when business owners respond to bad reviews and address the issues, reviewers are likely to give the business another chance – and many become loyal customers because the business owner is responsive.

Get More Mileage Out of Positive Reviews

Don’t be shy about spreading those good reviews around. Share them on social media and in email promotions, link to them from local business directory listings, and write about them on the company’s website or blog.

Use Reviews as a Feedback Tool

Many businesses pay big money to consultants to help them improve their customer relations and overlook this incredible free source of actual customer feedback. Savvy business owners think about their reviews as market research, and utilize the feedback to make improvements in the way they do business. Take note of what customers rave about and do more of it – and don’t be shy about using it to market the business to new customers. If nine out of 10 positive reviews mention knowledgeable staff, make sure the friendly, knowledgeable staff get a shout out when creating ads or PR. If, on the other hand, several customers complain about long waits for service, figure out why it’s happening and make adjustments accordingly – add more staff or create a better work flow so that all customers get prompt service. It’s a fundamental aspect of your local marketing and advertising.

Business Reviews Are More Important for Small Local Businesses Than Any Other

The number of online business reviews – from multiple sources, including local business directories and major review sites – influence about 10 percent of a company’s online ranking in local search.

Finally, the best way to get great online reviews is to provide excellent customer service. Less than 60 percent of customers say that they regularly leave reviews for local businesses, but 100 percent of customers who make $100,000 a year or more say that they will leave a negative review if they receive poor customer service.