With a new found appreciation for buying local, small businesses have more opportunities now than ever to generate support for their business right in their own backyard. Consumers are inspired by compassion for the “little guy” during the challenging economic environment, and are happy to pass up the big box megastore in favor of a local vender. But it’s still your job as the marketer to make people aware that your business even exists.
Location Based Social Networks
Geolocation technology combined with an increase in smart phone usage makes marketing your business using location-based networks an extremely effective way to reach your local customer base. Research indicates that 32% of consumers use location-based apps more now than they did a year ago. On top of that, 58% of consumers with a smart phone say they use location-based applications regularly.
Check in on Facebook
When you set up your Facebook page as a local business or place, your fans will be able to check in on Facebook whenever they visit your shop. This lets all of their friends on Facebook know that they’re at your business and check-ins show up in your fan-facing engagement metrics on your page. Meaning fans can see how many people have checked in at your business recently. Facebook’s check in feature is nice because it doesn’t require users to have a smart phone in order to check in. People can check in from your page before or after their visit.
Foursquare is a social network, created for the sole purpose of allowing customers to check in at your business and rewarding them with deals and discounts. Foursquare turns checking in to your favorite places of business into a fun game with points, badges and mayorships. Foursquare keeps track of the number of times a person checks in somewhere and it’s up to you as the business owner to keep them interested by rewarding them for their patronage. For example, you can reward new customers with the Newbie badge, or returning customers with the Loyalty badge. Customers can then use their phone to show the badge to a staff member and redeem their reward in the form of a discount at your store.
No Brick & Mortar Business? No Problem
Even companies without a physical location are getting creative and finding ways to make use of location-based platforms. If you’re interested in using Foursquare to reach out to customers of your virtual-based business, think of a business with a brick-and-mortar location that is complimentary to your company, but is not a direct competitor. Maybe they have a similar customer base but for different products or services. Reach out to them and offer to team up with them on Foursquare, so that you reward customers for checking in at your complimentary business.
Online Review Sites
According to Econsultancy, 31% of consumers say they read online reviews before making a purchase. Additionally, a study by Reevoo indicated that 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates. Data also suggests that a mix of positive and negative reviews helps to improve consumer trust. In fact, the presence of bad reviews actually improves the conversion rate by 67%. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. I know if I see review after review saying nothing but positive things about a product or service, I start to question the legitimacy of each review. Did actual customers write these or was this merely the work of friends and family members of the business owners?
Here are a few really well-known review sites that you should consider establishing your business on:
As consumers continue to look for ways to survive the economic downturn, there has been a noticeable boom in online coupon and discount applications. These free mobile apps are great for the consumer as they offer value and savings toward their favorite products and services. But they’re also great for small local businesses, as they help you increase awareness and drive business to your company. As a local business owner or marketer, consider offering your own coupon through one of these apps to draw consumers into your store or place of business. Depending on the nature of your business, one of these apps might be better suited for you and your customers.
If you’re a small business trying to make a big impact in your local market, location-based social networks are a great way to do so, and they don’t require a huge marketing budget. Offer consumers some kind of incentive, and they’ll gladly spread the word about your business, either in the form of a check-in or a positive review.
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