Making the switch from offline marketing to online marketing has been tough for many local shop and restaurant owners. After all, they wonder if it’s really necessary to cater to online shoppers when their business is likely located only a few miles away from them. But with the advent of local business directories, that thinking has gone away.
Why? Because having a local business listing—along with all the online reviews that come with it—is the core foundation of a quality and effective online marketing campaign for local businesses.
Let’s take this theory apart and find out how you use can leverage online marketing and online reviews to attract more customers to your store.
Why Do I Need to Use Online Marketing for a Local Business?
You would think that it makes more sense to use offline marketing tools to reach local customers, but that’s not the way the world operates anymore. In fact, studies show that almost 100 percent of shoppers use local business directories to find local shops and restaurants.
That means if your local business can’t be found online, chances are you’re missing out on a lot of business.
The change came about once people realized that they could go online to look for the things they wanted to buy. At first, local marketers were afraid that would be the end of local business sales, but it turns out that’s just not true. Studies show that people still want to shop locally, but they just go about finding all those wonderful local stores differently than they did in the past.
The Old Vs. New Way
Not that long ago, it was common to pull out the local Yellow Pages when you wanted to find a local business. People would thumb through the book to find that local furniture store, dress shop, or bakery. But then came along the internet and everything changed.
People quickly realized that by going online to find what they needed, they could save time and sometimes money. So, they began to look for local businesses online.
But there was a problem.
The large search engines weren’t that great at helping people find local businesses. In fact, people used to have to tell the search engines what city or town they were looking in. For example, if someone from San Antonio, Texas wanted to find a local car repair shop, they had to enter “San Antonio car repair” into the large search engine.
But they typically got more than they bargained for. Instead of seeing a list of San Antonio car repair shops, they also saw articles about car repair and even books on major booksellers about the art of car repair. Oftentimes, they ended up frustrated.
But then came along local business directories. And what happened next changed the way local business owners find and attract new customers.
Before we tell you all about local business directories, check out this quick video that sums up why local marketing is so important to your local business.
What is a Local Business Directory?
Local businesses need a way to replace the old Yellow Pages that consumers had always relied on to find local businesses. Clearly, the large search engines weren’t the best way to find those shops and restaurants because it was too frustrating, no matter how many changes the large search engines made to their algorithms.
And that’s when some genius came up with the idea of local business directories. A local business directory operates just like a large search engine, except it only shows searchers the results they’re actually looking for.
For example, if that person from San Antonio logged onto a local business directory like FindUsLocal.com, they would simply type “auto repair shop” into the local directory’s search engine bar and they would instantly see a list of all the auto repair shops in San Antonio.
That’s much better, don’t you think?
So do all the consumers who use local business directories on a daily basis.
What About Those Online Reviews?
We started this article with a promise to tell you why online reviews are so important to owners of local shops and restaurants. But we felt it was necessary to give you some background so you would understand how local business directories play into our explanation.
You see, when consumers stopped using offline methods of finding local businesses, they quickly adapted to some other methods of evaluating those local shops and restaurants to determine whether or not they wanted to visit them.
And that’s where online reviews come in.
In the past, people would ask their friends, family, and neighbors to give them a recommendation for a local shop or restaurant. But today’s consumers trust online reviews even more than those personal recommendations. That’s what the latest studies show.
Nowadays, if a local business doesn’t have a good amount of online reviews, shoppers are hesitant to take a chance on them. They want that social proof that shows others have had a great experience with the local shop or restaurant they’re thinking about going to.
And having plenty of complimentary online reviews is the best way to get that social proof. But it isn’t very effective to ask your customers to leave online reviews for your local business without having a place to point them to. Otherwise, you will have a few online reviews here and a few online reviews there, which add up to a lot of social proof.
The alternative when asking for online reviews is to point your customers to a local business listing so all your reviews show up in one place. This local business listing can become your local shop or restaurant’s hub of business and it can dramatically increase your sales if you handle it correctly.
Before You Ask for Those Online Reviews
Before you begin asking customers for online reviews, you need to set up your free local business listing on a reputable local business directory like FindUsLocal.com. You can do this in about ten minutes. Simply log onto FindUsLocal and click on the “Add My Business” button located in the top right hand corner.
Next, fill in all the applicable details about your business. Be sure to input the correct business name, address, and phone number. And don’t forget to include important details like your store hours, directions, what types of payment you accept, and the brands you carry—or the food you serve.
How to Get Customers to Leave Online Reviews
Now that you have a place for customers to leave your business online reviews—your local business listing—it’s time to drive them there to leave those all-important reviews.
And here’s the most important way to do that: ask them. Studies show that customers are more than happy to leave online reviews for businesses is they’re asked. Train your cashiers to ask every customer at checkout to leave a review. You can also leave flyers around your store or post a sign asking people to leave your business an online review.
Are You Ready to Boost Your Local Business?
If you’re ready to take the next step in your business, it’s time to create your free local business listing and put your business in front of all the shoppers who look online for local businesses. Why not take the next ten minutes to do something that could put your local business on the map?