Groupon, LivingSocial and countless other daily deal sites promise businesses improved sales and customer traffic by offering promoted special daily deals. But there has been a lot of debate whether these are really a good deal for the businesses or just improved revenue for the promoter of the daily deal.
The complaints have been that the merchants are required to offer exceptional discounts, 50% or more off of the regular price, and then split the remaining revenue with the daily deal site. This leaves merchants with 25 cents on the dollar for every product or service sold to customers. And some question whether buying customers will actually be returning customers, though a survey conducted by LightSpeed Research found, “Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) said that they returned to patronize the businesses whose daily deals they had purchased.”
So why is now the ideal time to cleanup your local online business image? Most small businesses don’t even know what their online image and reputation is, and many without a website just assume they have no online presence…but they’re probably wrong.
Your business may already have online presence… without even you knowing.
Local online directories and search engines pull your business information from various sources; even your customers can also include your business in these directories without your knowledge. This business information is initially pretty basic, but it is up to you to make sure it is correct.
Let’s face it… consumers are looking for the best deal. It used to be that your customers looked to the newspaper to find coupons and in-store specials for the type of product or service you are selling.But yesterday’s newspaper is today’s online local search. The question is: Does your business or service come up when customers are looking?
Local search is key
To emphasize how important local online search results are for your business, Ezlocal.com points out that, “97% of ALL internet users in the United States gather shopping information online.” And, “51% explicitly characterize their behavior as ‘shop online, purchase offline.’”
So what does this mean to your business and sales? These location aware searches are finding businesses locally based on where consumers arewhen searching for you; with the growing majority searching from mobile devices.
The Team at FonGenie just launched our new user plans. This change reflects our goal to help your business improve sales by pushing new customers to your door. We also received a lot of input from current users who wanted to be able to conduct their business with customers without the feeling of being “on the clock.” Though the new plans have just been launched we have already been receiving positive feedback from users.
NO MORE PER MINUTE BILLING
The previous pricing plans were billed based on blocks of usage minutes, with overage minutes billed at 7 cents per minute beyond the selected plan’s maximum. The new plans are based on unique incoming customer calls into your FonGenie account (based on the incoming caller ID). If your account exceeds the customer call maximum for your selected plan the overage is billed in additional blocks of 150 clients (Standard Plan rates). This means you are not limited to call length after the call transfers to you.
It wasn’t that long ago local small businesses relied on the good ol’ Yellow Pages to let consumers know they’re out there. Now, if you’re not online you simply don’t get found. As 70% of online searchers will use local search to find offline businesses you can no longer ignore progress.
We’re talking here about the free local business directories like Yelp, CitySearch, Merchant Circle, etc., and if you don’t think they matter to your business then you are probably losing sales. Spears Marketing [spearsmarketing.com] found that 63% of Americans have substituted the internet and local search for phone books.
As the owner of a small or medium-sized business (SMB) you are already aware of the importance of your business presence on the internet. But is your business available to the rapidly growing number of customers that are using their smart devices as a means of finding products and services in your local market? If you are not thinking mobile you are losing business to your competitors!
Mobile phone customers are relying more and more on their phones and devices like tablet computers to provide them with information about the services they want to purchase. A recent survey by Search Engine Land found that only 15% of consumers surveyed have NOT used the internet to find a local business in the past 12 months (which is down from 21% in 2012). By taking advantage of the mobile technology that already exists, you can stand out from your competitors and directly target potential customers in your immediate location.
Why should you be concerned about key words and phrases? Simply put, search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, use keywords when they include your web content (website, web page, social network, etc.) in their search results. While most savvy businesses and web developers know these should be considered in a website (via Meta tags), it is also important to use them directly in your written text content, content headings, and online “Daily Specials” and promotions.
Keywords and key phrases should always be considered for your website, though most businesses (SMB’s) don’t even think about them in their blog, social network (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and business search page (Yelp, CitySearch, Google Places, etc.) posts. This includes the promotions and specials that you are allowed to post on these sites which directly improve your visibility and sales.
Implementing a social media strategy for your business can be a little daunting when you’re first starting. Not all business types discover an out-of-the-box solution that just feels right on Facebook, Yelp, and other business search pages and social network sites. A business such as a dental office, might find this is especially true. But there is an avenue for almost every type of business in this media that will benefit by improved visibility and achieving an edge over their competitors.
It is now widely accepted that using social media is an important strategy for small and medium-sized business marketing. Where it gets cloudy is how to best position the business for maximum, and appropriate, results.
FonGenie Promoter uses the broad resources of the internet to effectively promote your business locally. But does promoting your business locally extend beyond improving your sales?
As a business owner needing to improve sales you have been told how important the broad expanse of the internet is for your business; but the fact is most of your customers are probably local in your community. With the internet we are all now consumed by information from every part of this earth, but we are still local creatures. We eat, drink, sleep, recreate locally. Consumers are inundated by big-box stores, virtual sales and “fast shipping.” But by letting your customers know you are nearby you are giving them the option to do more than just buy a great product or service. Your customers are local and you need to help them to improve their own community.
We have recently made changes to the menu selection modes that our FonGenie users offer their calling customers. In the past our users have either used the “Basic” menu mode choice, that lets callers hear the customized Greeting, a Flash Sale (if turned on) and then the action of Transfer the call, go to voicemail, etc., or the “Advanced” menu mode that gives the full menu choices following the Greeting/Flash sale.
The new “Hybrid” menu mode option is now available for all FonGenie users. This is the best of both worlds. With this callers will hear the same call flow as in the “Basic” menus, but before the call is transferred the automated voice will give callers the option, “Press 9, for the Virtual Concierge,” which will allow them to hear and select the additional menus (“Submenu”) choices normally found in the “Advanced” mode.