If you have a store or any kind of brick and mortar business, one of the most important things you need is customers.
But getting customers is not always easy, as they have so many choices.
A great way to get more customers are to use online marketing – and this goes for any business or store.
In this article I will show you how to attract customers to your store by using online marketing. I will give you some ideas about how to get started and show you what your first steps can be.
This is something anybody can do and every store and business can benefit from using online channels. And you do not have to be a computer genius to do this, as you will see below.
Why all stores should use online marketing
I sometimes hear that store or business owners do not think an online presence is important for their particular business. This is in most cases WRONG.
An online presence is important for almost any kind of business and store.
Just think about – what is the first thing you do when you need to find any kind of information, look for new products, look for a service, or want to know what other peoples’ experiences are with a certain product?
– it is to search online.
People look for everything online. By being visible when people do the initial search, people will start becoming familiar with your name, and over time this will add up and you will start to build a brand people recognize and think about when they need products or services within a certain genre.
This is of course a simplified explanation. But the long term branding effect is very important, but also what is difficult for many to realize, as it takes time and sometimes you will not see the return of investment until quite a bit later.
This is not just about being found when people for example search for “flowers in [insert your city]”. It about being visible whenever people look online for anything related to this. This is where an online presence and branding becomes really effective and a great long term strategy to keep getting more customers to your store or boutique.
And let me just repeat – this can be applied to any kind of business.
Is online marketing difficult or expensive?
Now you have an idea why it is important to consider an online presence no matter what kind of shop or business you have. This does not mean that you should completely stop using other channels of communication that works well for you. If they work, keep using them.
But not including online channels can be problematic in the long run. And the great thing is that it does not have to be expensive or difficult to start attracting more customers through your online presence.
What does it cost to use online marketing?
The exact cost depends on a lot of things. First of all, it depends on whether you want to hire someone to do the work for you, or if you want to do the work yourself. If you hire an agency or a freelancer, it can become expensive.
But starting to use online marketing and creating an online presence does not have to be expensive. There are many small things that can be done for more or less no cost. Especially if you compare it to normal advertising costs.
So the cost is very much up to you, your budget, and what you want to achieve. But you can achieve a lot with small costs, if you are willing to do some of the work yourself.
Should you hire someone or do it yourself?
Some store and business owners become a bit scared when thinking about using online marketing. Mostly because they do not know much about it. Therefore, they think it can only be done by hiring someone else to do it.
This can be a good approach, but it has some big advantages to get involved yourself – and it is not only to keep the costs down.
I have worked for several online marketing agencies, and to be honest, even though there are many great agencies and freelancers, there are also many poor ones. And no matter how skilled they are, they will never care as much about your business as you, and they will never have as much specialized knowledge as you have.
This passion and knowledge you probably have about your business and your niche is reflected in the way you communicate online. Potential customers can sense this, and with a little practice and by learning a few skills, you can really connect to your audience, and this has a priceless value and can bring in a lot of customers.
So outsourcing can be great, but I have also been hired by people that are not involved at all, and does not have any real interest in getting engaged and that are not ineterested in engaging with customers. This does not give the same long-term results as it does to be involved as a business owner.
So if you have the budget, outsourcing can be a good idea, but in my opinion you should always be at least a little involved and be interested in how your online presence is. And it does not have to be difficult to learn some of these skills, as I will show you later.
Before we get to that, lets’s go over some of the online channels that are great to start with, so you can gain a bit more knowledge about these.
Ways to get customers into your store
There are many ways to build an online presence and get more customers to your store that way. The list below is some of the most popular and best places to start.
Website with great content
Having a website is a must for any business owner. If you do not have one, you should definitely get one. You can build a website in WordPress, which is a system that is fairly easy to use, and if get someone to build it for you, it is a system that you can easily learn to use to keep the website updated yourself.
However, having a good-looking website is not enough. The content is actually even more important, and this is something many people forget. It is not only important to give the potential customers an idea about who you are, and why they should come to your store or use your service.
The content is what will make it possible for people to find you online, when they search. For you to be found, there need to be content Google and visitors can read. It is therefore very important to create content that make sure people can find you on Google, by using search engine optimization (SEO). It might sound technical, but by for example just reading the article I just linked to and start using these techniques, you will have a very good foundation, and have a website that is more optimized than the majority of people.
The website is a very important foundation, when it comes to building an online presence. You can manage without by using some of the other channels below, but having a great website with great content will give you a lot of free traffic and potential customers in the long run.
Everybody talks about how important it is to be on social media. This can definitely also be a very important way to make yourself and your store visible online.
However, before rushing off and creating 10 different social media accounts/channels, be aware that social media can also potentially waste a lot of your time.
Do not get me wrong – I think social media is a very great way to promote products and services. But I have many times seen people just creating the accounts for the sake of having them, because they heard it was important. Then they end up having 5 different channels, but they rarely post on any of them and there is no interaction there.
So social media are great to consider as a part of your online presence, and they are becoming increasingly more important. But I would suggest to just choose 1 for a start. Get really good at using this, and then you can expand later.
Google My Business
If you have a local business or store, Google My Business is a place where you should definitely create an account. It is one of Google’s own services, and it is free to use.
It is also sometimes called Google maps, because it makes sure you are listed on the maps that show up, when people do local searches.
These results show up above the normal search results in most cases, and it is therefore very important to be listed hear. It is also a way for people to easily be able to use their phones and maps to get direction, if they want to go to your store.
To increase your chances of being listed at the top of these list, make sure to fill out all the info you can in your Google My Business account, make a unique description there (do not just copy it from your other channels), add images, and if possible get reviews.
As just mentioned, getting people to leave a review of your store on Google can affect where you show up, when people search online. It is furthermore something many people look at, before deciding which service to use or which store to go to.
So reviews are important for many reasons. And it is not only reviews on Google that are good to get. It can be reviews on your social media channels as well.
Getting reviews can of course seem tricky, and most people do not like to ask for them, which I fully understand. But a way to get more can simply be by putting up signs making aware of it in your store, letting people know about on your social media channels, putting a link to the review sites on your website, or letting people know when you send out a newsletter, if you have one. There are also tools like for example Get Five Stars that can help you to make a system for it, but that will take a bit of investment.
Make it easy for people and link directly to where they can leave reviews, so they do not have to spend time finding out, where they can do it themselves.
I just want to mention that in my opinion reviews should not just be seen as a way to get attention or as a promotion method. They should also be seen as a way for you to improve your business by listening to your customers. If people leave a review, make sure to always reply them, as most review sites allow this. Also, if someone leaves a negative review, still reply and give an explanation. Maybe they customer is right and something is not working properly in your store. This is great to know, and by recognizing them, they feel you listen and this gives you the opportunity to learn and others can see what you are about.
But do also not obsess, if somebody leaves a negative review that is not justified. It happens at times. Just evaluate, try to reply the best you can, and if the person wants to go into a long discussion – do not do this. Just encourage the person to write an email and take the discussion away from the public review forum.
Some people hate ads, but they are nonetheless still an effective way to get customers right away.
One of the most popular kind of ads online are Google ads through the use of Google Adwords. This makes it possible to show ads when people search on Google, you can display ads on YouTube, on other peoples’ websites and more.
Social media ads are also very popular, and a great way to get attention and customers. More or less all social media channel have their own ad platform (that is how they make money). Local social media ads can also be a great way to increase walkins in your store, as you can show ads to people while they are in the neighborhood.
The great thing about using ads is that you will see the results right away, and you can decide the budget yourself. Using Adwords takes a bit of practice, so you need to be willing to have a learning curve here, but if you do a google search, you should be able to find an Adwords coupon that will give you around $100 to use for free, so you have some learning money.
If you want to start with online ads and take care of it yourself, I would however suggest to look into social media ads for a start. Especially basic Facebook ads are not difficult to use and can get you some really good results.
However, be aware that ads of course cost money, so make sure you are willing to spend some time and money to learn how to do this. If you are willing to do this, it can be a great way to get instant results and start getting more customers right away, whereas some of the other methods can take more patience but are also cheaper/free.
Where to start?
Above you can see several methods you can use to build your online presence and attracting more customers. But what is the best place to start, and how do you get started?
I think that the best long term plan is to start by making sure you have a website with great content that makes it possible for people to find you when they search. This is the foundation for long term success, as it eventually will generate a lot of free traffic to your website, which will lead to more customers coming into your store or ordering your services. This is a continous process, but after the foundation has been built, you can then start using some of the other methods as well to scale it even more.
But no matter if you want to learn how to do this yourself, or if you want to hire someone else to do it, I encourage you to learn more about how online marketing works and how everything is connected. Even if you hire someone, this will make it possible for you to keep an eye on what they are doing, because there are unfortunately people that deliver very poor online marketing services, but the customers just do not realize this and waste a lot of money (I know this from experience by working as a freelancer in several agencies and seeing what methods are being used some places).
If you want to learn more and understand how everything works, I am myself a member of an online learning platform that teaches everything about building an online presence step-by-step. If you join this platform, I will be there to help you every step of the way and answer any questions you may have.
You can even join and try the platform for free and get access to 10 free lessons.
If you are looking to attract more customers to your store or business, you should definitely start using online channels.
This can give great results no matter what kind of business you have. Without being visible online, your store and business will in general become more and more invisible, so it is something every business should look into.
It does not have to be expensive or difficult. You can of course hire someone to do the job, but you can also learn to do many of the tasks yourself. This will not only save you money, but also make it possible for you to make sure you get value for money, if you decide to hire someone else to do some of the work.
So no matter what, I encourage you to keep learning more about how to promote your business online. Maybe I will even see you at my favorite learning platform.
If you have any comments or questions, I would love to hear from you in a comment below.