If I were to ask, “What is the number one source of revenue for your business?” I’m willing to bet current customers would rank pretty high on your list.
When Constant Contact conducted a survey of small business owners, 82 percent cited loyal customers as their number one driver of new business.
It’s not a surprise.
After all, relationships are one of the biggest advantages you have over your larger competitors. And putting in the work to build those relationships will be the key to your long-term success.
But while repeat business will always be a centerpiece to the small business success formula, there is also the challenge of bringing in new customers, as well.
In that same survey, 30 percent of small business owners cited finding new customers as their biggest roadblock to growth.
Sometimes it can seem impossible to reach beyond the people who already know your business.
Luckily, today’s technology has opened a number of new doors for small businesses to get discovered.
Using the tools to your advantage starts with understanding how consumers are using them to find businesses like yours.
For an increasing number of consumers, it begins with an online search.
75 percent of consumers use a mobile device to get real-time location-based information.
If a potential customer has already heard about your business — possibly through a personal recommendation — they will search for your name directly.
In this case, there are a number of places that could show up in a search result:
- Your website
- Your social media channels
- Online listing sites
- Online review sites
- Other articles/blog posts mentioning your business
Your website and social media channels are web properties that you set up. Which means you should have a good grasp on the type of information people are finding when they land there.
Online listing and review sites will require a little extra work. Sites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and YellowPages pull information about your business from a number of different sources.
There may also be sites that your business is already listed on, and you don’t even know it! As a result, this information can often be incomplete or out-of-date.
Luckily, you have the ability to take control of that information and add new details to your listing — like menu items, a list of services, photos of your store or office, and even buttons to call or shop online.
If people haven’t heard about your business, they may start by searching for a topic and/or location.
If someone is looking for a particular service in their area, for example, the search could look something like this: “caterers in Boston, Massachusetts.”
They could also be more specific like, “wedding caterers in Boston, Massachusetts.”
Search engines like Google or Bing will then use a number of different factors to generate a list of caterers in the Boston area. They will then organize the caterer’s websites based on their authority.
The higher a website ranks, the more likely it will be clicked on by the person searching for an answer.
One recent report found that the top ranked site in search results receive 33 percent of clicks. The top three results, receive more than 60 percent!
One of the best ways to build authority is to create content related to the topics people could be searching for.
This is part of a process known as search engine optimization (SEO).
Focusing on creating SEO-rich content on your website or blog can help your business rank higher in search results.
This could mean more opportunities for you to get discovered and bring new customers to your door.
In addition to making it easy for potential customers to find you when they are searching for solutions, you also want to make sure you have a presence in the other places people are hanging out online.
Social media is a great example of this.
On sites like Facebook or Twitter, you can build an audience for your business by sharing content that’s interesting and relevant to them.
Customers can endorse you by becoming a fan or follower, and can help extend the reach of your content through simple social engagements. When people talk about your business or like, comment, and share your content, their network can see it.
It’s this visible engagement and the positive endorsements that can help introduce you to new customers.
And when you’re ready, you can extend your reach even further with paid social advertising tools, like Facebook Ads. These tools enable you to target potential customers by interest, location, and even purchasing behavior.
Now it’s time to bring it all together.
Taking steps to get your business found online is critical to bringing new customers into your business.
- Taking control of your online listings so that people can find the right information when searching for your business online
- Understanding how search engines generate search results and taking the necessary steps to build authority for your business
- Developing a presence on social media, and using the power of social visibility and paid promotion to reach the right audience for your business
Don’t feel like you need to do everything at once. Set realistic goals to start taking control, and helping your business get found online.
Have additional questions? Let us know in the comments below!