Black Friday is the high water mark of the holiday shopping season, and for many small businesses, it opens the door to driving traffic and sales. Many small business owners, however, tend to feel intimidated and lost in the shadows of larger brands when it comes to Black Friday. Due to smaller marketing budgets and less recognizable brands, it’s easy for their message to get lost in the holiday fervor.
Thankfully, there’s something those small business owners can easily implement to help them during the holiday season and the rest of the year: local search. Local search levels the playing field for businesses of all sizes, taking away the advantages larger brands have over SMBs.
Sarah Matista is the marketing communications manager for Vistaprint’s digital services business and its social marketing suite, Pagemodo. I’ve asked her to provide her insight below.
According to Google, four out of five consumers use search engines to find local information. Of those searches, 88% occur on a smartphone, with more than half looking for directions to a local store. The requirement that a store be nearby automatically turns the tables, giving smaller businesses an equal advantage, as they’re no longer competing in an online popularity contest. Instead, consumers are more interested in where the product they’re searching for is located.
With that in mind, small businesses should take a few moments to make sure that their local listings are up to date and in top shape in time for Black Friday. Here’s how:
Back to basics. Begin by doing a simple search for your business – what comes up? One of the most important aspects of local search is ensuring that your business’ information is consistent and accurate across the web; yet almost 50 percent of SMBs have reported seeing inaccurate listings online. Outdated or inaccurate information can lower search visibility, making it even harder for potential customers to find you. Prior to the Black Friday madness, be sure to update any missing or old information so when the time comes, customers will be easily directed to your site.
Reach far and wide. Local search directories are still somewhat fragmented – everyone has their own favorite way to find local businesses. Keep in mind that not every customer uses a Google or Siri search, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket. To ensure that you don’t miss out on your best local customers, focus on creating detailed, current profiles across multiple sites like Yelp, YP.com, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and others. By doing so, your small business has a better chance of being seen by potential customers. This can be done site by site or with a centralized local listings service. Be sure each profile includes important descriptors—address, phone number, proximity and hours—as these are the most sought out.
Mobile matters. While many shoppers will get your address and directions and head straight to your store, others will shop around your website first to make sure you have the products they’re interested in. Your website is essentially the most important place for customers to learn about your company before they decide to move forward with a purchase. Since 18% of local smartphone searches lead to a purchase within a single day, you’ll want to make sure to impress shoppers with an attractive mobile version of your website that showcases your products and details front and center. Have a big Black Friday sale? Make sure to advertise that on the homepage. The easier customers can access this type of information, the sooner they’ll be walking through your front door.
Engage, engage, engage. Creating a strong relationship with your potential customers now means they’ll be far more likely to shop with you on Black Friday. Determine which social networks make the most sense for your business to reach consumers and share content your potential customers are likely to be interested in. Like any other relationship, you can’t rush engagement on social media. So take the time now to engage with your audience across all platforms. Whether your audience is most active on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, keep them engaged with quality content, helpful advice, and great customer support. Your online experience should match the experience you want shoppers to have in store. The more comfortable they feel, the more likely they will shop at your store rather than your larger competitors.
You don’t have to be a large brand name or business to get customers through your doors this holiday season. Set up your small business for success with these four local search tips, just in time for Black Friday.