The Internet grabs many business owners attention because of the allure and promise of what this global business tool can mean for their business. That very promise is the reason many start and run a business exclusively online. One wave that is slowly gathering momentum is that those who have online businesses should not forget about attracting customers offline. The two worlds can merge in a way that will increase the bottom line and gravitate your business towards greater profits.
The Internet is becoming such a widely used tool for banking and for shopping for goods and services and also for finding information that just about everyone living in the age of technology has been exposed to the power of the Internet. All ages now have the ability to learn about and use computers by taking community classes, through schools, colleges and universities and also through employment. Consumers are looking at the Internet as a means for not just buying goods and services but as a method for being able to find the best prices, the highest quality and certainly the best deals. Business owners must understand that the Internet is a tool consumers are becoming more aware of and are also becoming better at using in order to find consumable products and services. Neglecting to assure that their business is findable online can seriously cripple their bottom line. This goes for business that are exclusively online as well as those located only offline and those companies located offline but who already have an online presence too (a brick and mortar address/store and a website or web store). There are two ways to merge offline and online business tactics so that both customers and owners win.
Way #1 Reach out to the consumer where they live and work by making sure they can find your online business while they are offline.
An online business can invite consumers who may or may not have computers at home to visit their business online through various advertisements and promotions done using offline media like newspaper classified ads, TV promotional spots, radio spots, seminars/workshops and printed advertisements such as flyers and billboards.
Computers are readily accessible in a world that is increasingly enamored by the Internet and becoming more reliant on being “connected to each other”. Consumers without a home Internet connection can easily access the Internet from local libraries and community centers offering this service. Consumers often use computers at a friend or family members home if they do not have access to a computer at home. It is important for businesses to reach out to the consumer where they live and work because this is the common thread of all consumers (having a home or place of work). Even those consumers who are not working outside of the home still drive past billboards, read newspapers, listen to the radio or watch television.
Way #2 Make Sure Consumers Can Find Your Business When they Search Online
An offline business can reach out to anyone searching online for a product or service that they offer by setting up at least a one page landing page that gives consumers basic information such as the name of the business, what the business offers consumers in the way of products or services and multiple ways of contacting the offline business such as a phone number, mailing address, street address, email, and online contact through Internet Messaging (IM), a live chat form, or through another online message system such as SKYPE. Giving customers choices for contacting the business is like casting a fishing net wide over the entire lake making sure that no fish has the opportunity to escape your message or loses the chance for being in contact with you.
An online business can take advantage of the many promotional avenues online such as classified ads sites, Adsense ads, PPC advertising, forum posting and message boards, as well as article marketing to bring online traffic to their website or web store. It is important for both online and offline businesses to understand the power of keywords and keyword phrases to online searches. Learn about search engine optimization (SEO) so that you can use keywords to help consumers find you online.
Tips for increasing your business by advertising offline
Advertise using flyers
WebDecal for your vehicle
Ads in a local paper
Leaving your business card on a restaurant table, on local bulletin boards, in rest rooms and in outgoing mail.
Include your online business URL, email address or logo on printed documents such as your letterhead, envelope, invoices, thank you cards, reply cards, note pads etc.
Use coupons for discounts or freebies for visiting your website or web store
Offer a freebie such as a free report or ebook for visiting your website or web store
Tips for promoting your business online
Have one central web presence where you can promote all of your products and services even if it just leads customers to separate sales pages for each of the items you sell or services you offer.
Interact with customers by setting up a informational blog about your service or product line so that customers and visitors can comment, ask questions or just exchange how they use your stuff and how well they like your products or services.
As for “word of mouth” promotions from your current and past customers by setting up feedback forms on the site or by sending out a newsletter that contains letters from customers.
Affiliate programs where customers can become sales people and earn money by promoting the services and products they use and like is a win-win situation.
Seek out places online where your customers gather such as newsgroups, forums and chat rooms and become an active member.
Know your target market well by getting to know their habits and needs by way of research and by getting to know what problems they encounter and provide solutions by way of your products or services.
Use keywords that are based on what you know about your target market – what are they searching for (solutions to problems, gifts, accessories etc.).
A domain name with target market keywords attracts traffic that is targeted to your products or service.
Make sure your website is monetized for online success by installing Google analytics, by designing a welcoming site that is user friendly.
Have a keyword-rich meta-description.
Your website should be content-rich that gives the consumer what they are searching for (your keywords and keyword phases).
Your website should have a home page that answers basic questions consumers have about a company, product or service and an “about us” page that makes your business seem more personable to the consumer. The site should also have a product or service page explaining what you offer and a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page that will satisfy and give answers to what consumers is most often asking about your business. Every website must have contact information that is obvious on the home page or landing page and if you have a multiple page website you should have a contact page that contains multiple ways for individuals to contact you.