Whether the emphasis is on products or services, a robust web presence is essential for any local business. The website for a community-based shop should be a visual representation of the business itself in order to be an effective marketing tool. Your website can be your most powerful, 24/7 employee on staff as it works to attract new clients and build strong relationships with existing customers. Whether you have served the community for years or are celebrating your grand opening, we have some tips that will help you take your web presence to the next level.
It takes about 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about your website and 75% of consumers admit to making judgments on a company’s credibility based on the company’s website design. Your website design should be working for you, not against you. It should help you establish and build your brand.
A website design that reflects your brand personality can help convey the exact ambiance and feel of your business. Since new clients haven’t seen your actual location, it’s important for your website to convince them to stop by and enjoy the shopping environment you offer.
Visually appealing colors will catch the viewers’ eye and communicate with potential customers at a subconscious level. People tend to determine subconsciously whether or not something is interesting and colors speak the language of the subconscious. The color palette you choose for your site should follow brand protocol.
The simpler the layout the better as it will present information in a user-friendly way. Establishing a visual hierarchy will help existing and potential clients make sense of your website. Intuitive navigation also positively impacts the user experience of your site. A bright, easy to find, and easy to use call to action can help increase conversion rates. Style choices aside, your website layout and navigation are not areas in which you should get unique. A site that meets viewers expectations is the safer route to take.
Responsive and Friendly
Mobile friendly, mobile optimized, and responsive design are related and yet distinct concepts. Visitors will expect a consistent experience in regards to viewing and navigating around your website, irrespective of what type of device they are using. Visitors will quickly leave your site if it doesn’t meet their performance expectations. For more on this topic, see our article:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a blanket term for any series of strategies used to help a website rank higher within search engine results. One method of SEM is the process of search engine optimization, also known as SEO. Search engines rank and display websites according to an always evolving algorithm.
While specifics of a search engine’s algorithm are not entirely understood, we’ve learned many vital aspects over the years and search engines, like Bing and Google, continue to share more detail with each major update. Each time a new iteration comes out, your website may need some tweaks to make sure you are giving yourself the best opportunity to rank well in the search results.
Satisfied customers are the best promoters of any business. Positive reviews from existing customers are an excellent marketing tool to help generate new business. Customer reviews provide reassurance of quality to potential customers and should be prominently featured on your website. By offering this sort of social proof, you build consumer trust and convince site visitors to complete a purchase. BrightLocal found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Other online reviews and ratings are also major factors that influence consumers and shape the way they interact with businesses. Reviews posted on sites like Google allow customers to compare products and services based on other people’s experiences. 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. The content in online reviews can be the difference between the success and failure of a small business. 62.7% of consumers believe online reviews are important or very important when choosing a local business.
While online reviews are a powerful tool for sharing information, they also tend to over-represent extreme views and are highly polarized. Just remember that frustration leads to negative reviews so being proactive in how you deliver your products and services will be well worth the effort on the front end.
Highlight Special Promotions
Whether you are featuring calendar-related specials or “evergreen” specials (year-round), know that consumers like to believe they are getting a deal. Include dedicated banners or pages to visually communicate the offers. Do pay attention to what you have posted so things are kept current and you aren’t advertising a Mother’s Day Special in August. Be sure to educate your staff on all available offers so there is no confusion or frustration for your customers. Posting your in-store promotions and specials on your website is an excellent way to drive traffic through your doors.
Provide Contact and Other Information
While the youngest generations may appear to be Internet-based, a study by BrightLocal found that 60% of consumers actually prefer to contact small businesses on the phone. Visitors to your website should be able to easily and quickly find contact information including a physical address, any necessary parking information, a Google Maps link, a phone number, e-mail address, and other types of contact details available. We recommend including contact details in the header or footer of your website so it is available regardless of which page a visitor is viewing. BE sure to also include current hours of operation and address any changes in hours for holidays or other special occasions.
Provide an Online Booking Option
If you are a service-based business, you may want to consider adding a component to your website that allows customers to book appointments online at a time that is convenient for them. Online booking should be a quick and comprehensive process. Consumers should be able to identify appointment availability and apply any membership benefits or promotional discounts during the booking process. Use of online booking software also allows front desk staff more time to interact with customers at your physical location which increases the level of customer service you provide.
Make Gift Card Purchase Available Online
People on both the giving and receiving end of gifts often prefer the option of gift cards over actual items or specific, predetermined services. Many businesses find that buyers return fewer items when they have control over what is being purchased. In the same light, customers often spend beyond the value of the gift card they receive when they book their services. An option that does not require businesses to create physical cards, such as Squarespace Gift Cards, gives each gift card has a unique code so it may conveniently be emailed to a recipient.
Include Relevant Photos of Your Brick-and-Mortar Location
Photos of the outside of your building will provide clients with a visual clue to quickly identify your location upon their arrival. Images of the inside of your space help you communicate the ambiance, cleanliness, and all that you have to offer clients. Before-and-after pictures of existing clients help users identify with the experiences of previous customers. Pictures of customers interacting with your brand products can also help potential customers envision themselves using your services.
Show Your Involvement in the Local Community
Use part of your website to show how your business is involved with local charities such as food banks, shelters, or animal rescues. Feature information when you sponsor a local event like a charity race or t-shirts for a Little League team. Be sure to sponsor causes that will be meaningful to you and your customers. Participate in local business groups like the Chamber of Commerce or your town’s business association and provide links to those community groups. Build symbiotic relationships with other local businesses and then team some of your marketing efforts and feature that information on both businesses’ websites. For example, a sandwich shop and ice cream parlor could offer a percentage off with a same-day receipt from the other establishment.
Include Staff Bios on Your Website
Include an “About Us” section on your website that offers a brief biography and areas of expertise of your staff. Highlight the aspects that make your business stand out from competitors and help visitors to your site understand who you and your staff are as people. Offer the opportunity to digitally meet the people behind the business humanizes your brand and will increase brand loyalty.
Your website will best serve your local business when you:
Have a modern website design that is responsive and friendly.
Optimize your site for search engines.
Offer customer reviews.
Highlight current promotions and specials.
Provide information regarding contact, hours, etc.
Provide an online booking option if you are a service-based business.
Make available online the purchase of store gift cards.
Include relevant photos of your location.
Show your brand’s involvement in the local community
Offer information about yourself and your staff.
The experts at Strategy Driven Marketing have extensive experience in the development and creation of engaging websites for organizations of all sizes and across a number of industries. We understand the important role a website plays for local shops and would love to learn more about your business so we can help you offer an effective and engaging website that will let you maximize your revenue potential. Contact us today – let’s get started!