Outside of the meaning of life, no other question keeps business owners up at night more often than, “How do I get more customers?” 

With the advent of the digital era, the question of how to get more customers is now linked with the questions of how to get found online, and how to get found on Google.

Yes, online marketing can frustrate or even intimidate business owners. In addition, most business owners do not have the time or patience to implement proven digital marketing strategies. This is why we have created the ultimate free guide to retail marketing, which provides a step-by-step blueprint on how you can attract more customers by marketing your business online.

An overview of online marketing for retail

If you’re considering getting started with online marketing for retail, you may already be overwhelmed by too many tools, never-ending “expert” advice, and the many marketing myths presented as fact. You may be frustrated to find that marketing your business online is not as easy as many claim it to be.

You’re not alone.

If you’re like many Constant Contact customers, we know you’re busy trying to run and grow your business. From purchasing to merchandising to managing and more, you’re wearing many hats. You don’t necessarily have the luxury of time to figure out how to navigate the cluttered and noisy world of online marketing.

So here’s a good rule of thumb as you navigate the digital landscape: Be consistent, own your reputation, and welcome feedback. 

As you know, business is built on relationships. In order to establish strong customer relationships, your prospective customers need to be able to find you. Once they find you, it is your goal to establish a rapport and drive repeat business through brand loyalty. 

Get all the tools you need to quickly find new customers and grow your retail store’s sales.

Online marketing also allows you to strengthen existing relationships with current customers as you build new ones. Let’s look at how you can do this while balancing everything else on your plate. 

How to get more customers to find your business online

Word-of-mouth advertising has represented the backbone of successful marketing campaigns since the dawn of civilization. Eventually, spoken word-of-mouth advertising morphed into digital word-of-mouth advertising in the form of positive online reviews left by customers.

The key phrase here is “positive reviews,” as negative feedback left by your customers can lead to a decline in sales. How do you know what your customers are saying about your business online? The answer is to monitor the most influential customer review sites.

Review sites that matter the most

If you expect to get found online, you have to know which sites have the most influence for customer reviews. For instance, if you run an auto repair shop, you would not want to request reviews on a site like TripAdvisor or Zillow. 

When it comes to knowing how to get more customers online, it pays to know which review sites matter the most. A recent research study revealed the big three websites for collecting customer reviews.

  • Yelp
  • Google
  • Facebook

Yelp uses a filter that makes its reviews more trustworthy in the eyes of consumers. Facebook delivers the huge benefit of social proof.  When people see their friends and family members rating a business favorably on Facebook, they typically give the business the chance to deliver on its promise of delivering high-quality products.  And Google has the advantage of being the biggest destination for search in the world.

Google search results page
This is Google’s search results page (or SERP). It’s what customers will see when they are searching for a business or product.

Google, Facebook, and Yelp are the “big three” review sites that you should think about first, but they are far from the only ones. Let’s take a look at some more industry-appropriate review sites:

Directory review sites

Directory review sites are not as critical as the “big three,” but they are still important to your business’s digital presence because they show up on the search engine results page. These directory sites also play an integral role in your local SEO (search engine optimization) score.  Here are examples of some of the most popular ones:

  • Better Business Bureau
  • Citysearch
  • Superpages
  • Dexknows
  • Yellowpages

Expert tip: Check your listings around the web

Local SEO is powerful for your small business because it’s an effective way to promote your products and services your business through search engines. In addition to optimizing your Google My Business profile, it’s critical to make sure that your business information shows up consistently around the web. Google looks at key location data like name, address, phone, website, keywords, and more. If your information is not consistent on the different listing sites, then your ability to show up in local search listings is diminished. 

If you want to see how your business shows up around the web, check out this free local seo listings report.

Listings and review sites by industry

Depending on the type of store you have, the products/services you provide, and your location, you might want to invest time in your profile on these industry-specific sites.

Restaurant and dining review sites

  • TripAdvisor
  • OpenTable
  • Restaurant.com
  • MenuPages
  • Zomato
  • BeerAdvocate

Home services review sites

  • Houzz
  • HomeAdvisor
  • Kudzu
  • Angie’s List
  • Thumbtack
  • Porch

Healthcare and medical review sites

  • Vitals
  • Healthgrades
  • WebMD
  • Zocdoc
  • RealPatientRatings
  • Healthy Hearing

Real estate agent review sites

  • Zillow
  • Trulia
  • Realtor.com
  • Apartments.com
  • Homes.com

Auto and car dealer review sites

  • Cars.com
  • DealerRater
  • CarGurus
  • Edmunds.com
  • SureCritic

Auto repair review sites

  • AutoMD
  • RepairPal

But remember — of all of these different customer review sites, one site stands above the rest in my mind.

You have to know how to get found on Google.

How to get more positive google reviews

When you search for a business on Google, you will notice that on the right side of the screen, a box will appear with select contact information for the business, as well as a link that takes you to a customer reviews page. 

Example Google My Business listing
In this example, the box on the right side of Google’s search results page displays contact info and reviews for “Meyer The Hatter.”

All of this is set up by a Google My Business profile, which is one of the must-have components of a successful online marketing strategy. In fact, it is difficult to get found on Google, without first taking the time to create a Google My Business profile.

How to optimize your Google My Business profile

According to Google, when a customer searches for a product, service, or business category, the search engine favors the most relevant results for each search. Businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches. 

With that said, it’s important that customers know more about what you do, where you are, and when they can visit you. Provide information like (but not limited to) your physical address, phone number, and description. 

To optimize your profile, you’ll want to:

  • Fully populate your profile
  • Fill in your business description
  • Keep your hours updated
  • Choose the right business categories
  • Select all applicable attributes
  • Verify your location
Check out my free how-to video series on Google My Business.

Don’t neglect your online reputation — Google reviews matter!

There is a section of your Google My Business profile that covers customer reviews. It gives you an idea about how customers feel about the products and/or services your business offers and the overall experience they had in purchasing them. Growing positive Google reviews is one of the most important things you can do to get found online.

Google reviews example
Garnering positive reviews on a Google My Business profile is crucial to helping to attract new customers to your store.

Nearly 75 percent of consumers say that positive online reviews help them trust a business more. 85 percent of consumers consider online reviews to be just as important as receiving a business recommendation from a friend or a family member.

How to increase your number of Google reviews: 2 methods

Method #1

The old school way for soliciting more Google reviews is by simply asking customers to leave a review on the search engine giant’s review site. You can do this in-store by verbally asking your customers to search for you on Google and leave a review. You may also use the Google My Business short name. Some business owners will offer incentives to their customers that encourage them to take a little time to leave feedback about the business on Google.

Method #2

A second and more effective method for growing the number of your Google reviews (among others) is to enlist the help of a review engine. Like the engine of a car, a review engine drives customers to a service that actively requests reviews on Google, Facebook, Better Business Bureau, and others. My agency uses a review engine called MyReviewDashboard to encourage customers to leave positive Google reviews. Not only will your business get more reviews, but you will also receive real-time alerts about new reviews and be able to respond to those reviews within your dashboard. Going with a review engine service will allow you to promote positive customer reviews through your social media channels.

Positive Google reviews and email marketing

As an integral part of your online marketing strategy, emails can help you grow the number of positive Google reviews. Let’s assume that you have an email list of 100 happy customers and you were using a review engine service like our MyReviewDashboard. You could spend hours sending each customer an individual email with your new custom domain name, or you could leverage the power of Constant Contact’s email marketing platform to customize each email to deliver the much needed personal touch.

Here is an example of a personalized email that encourages a positive Google review:

Hi [First Name],

I want to thank you for doing business with [Company Name]. I’m reaching out personally because I want to ask about your experience with our team.

Were we amazing? Just OK? Terrible? In any case, I’d like to know.

We always strive to be better, and your feedback will help us accomplish that. If you’re willing, it will only take a minute of your time.

Thanks Again,

[Your Name]

[Button with a link to leave a review]

How to respond to reviews online

Now that you understand the importance of encouraging your customers to leave positive Google reviews, your work should be done.

But you know it’s not.

You have to spend the time required to respond to online reviews. Think of this in the same light that you view responding to customer feedback at your business. Active listening, using the right tone, and responding in a prompt manner all matter when responding to online customer reviews. We talk about customer review responses and so much more in our ultimate guide to retail marketing.

Putting it all together

Now you should better understand how local listings and online reviews pair together to help your business show up when prospective customers search for your products and services. Remember to continue to check on your listings and keep a close eye on your reviews to make sure you’re continuing to grow your online reputation and responding in a timely manner. 

Get Our Free Online Marketing Guide for Retail Businesses

Find out how online marketing can get your store found more often and drive more shoppers to your website and physical location.