Are you running a successful business offline and want to grow it to a bigger? Or, you want to start a local store, but online? Then, stay here, and I’ll tell you how to do that step-by-step.
You know, in the last few years, the number of smartphone users has increased tremendously. Today, more than half of the world’s population have internet access.
If you are a local business using traditional marketing strategies, then you might suffer from getting leads and sales many times.
Everyone wants to grow his/her business but doesn’t have resources to compete with big brands.
Let take an example,
You are a famous restaurant in your local area, and people love your food items. You want to expand your business in other cities too but don’t have a big budget to buy or rent an outlet/shop.
What will you do?
Though there are some options like taking loan still, it becomes more expensive. That’s the problem with many small-scale businesses, and they fail to compete with big brands.
Don’t worry! Every problem comes with the solution.
If you are ready to take action, then I will tell you how to grow your business using digital marketing approach.
Many local businesses have one or more shops in a particular location. As a result, the reach and potential customers are limited. The outside people won’t visit those stores unless that city is either a tourist place or business hub.
Think about how much potential customers these businesses are losing?
Do you want to be one of them?
Definitely not, right?
So, you should move your traditional local business to the digital one. I call it transformation, isn’t it cool?
How to Get Your Business Online -Action Plan
You have decided to move online but what next? The web has billions of pages so that how can your potential customers find you in that crowd?
It’s not something to start directly with digital strategies. You can’t shut down your existing venture to move online. When you think to opt for digital, it’s better to combine your traditional strategies with digital ones, till at least gearing up.
Here, I’m going to reveal some simple strategies where you can start and expand your local business to the big empire. So, leverage all things you have and make your business grow faster.
1. Understand the Buyer’s Persona
It’s the first and most important step in digital marketing. When you move your local business online, many things need to change accordingly.
Your marketing strategies and sales related services like transportation, payments and invoicing, CRM, etc. everything changes with business transformation.
So, you should change your perspective when you think about traffic, leads, and sales. Understand buyer’s persona and put yourself in the shoes of customers to find what you need to do.
I think you are not familiar with this term buyer’s persona. Let me keep it more simple so that you can understand it in a better way.
Buyer’s persona means finding the ideal customer profile. You can see the best if you have access to the market research data. The most robust persona can be decided after studying the market trends, surveys, and case studies. Interviewing influencers in your niche can give you some insights.
To create a buyer’s persona, you must understand the following five components.
To create a buyer’s persona, you need to understand the customer’s geographic, demographic and psychographic data. Then, you can decide your targeted audience.
The second step is defining what people want, their goals and challenges. You have to work on the pain areas of your potential customers. And, finally, decide what preferred solution you can offer them.
Now, you have data about your targeted audience, their goals, problems, and estimated solution. So, you should think why people would buy from you and why not.
Find out the obstacles in your sales process. Learn ABCD of sales. It’s not something that you learned in pre-school, but it’s everything you must know to dominate your niche.
ABCD means acquiring leads, building rapport, closing leads into customers and delighting them. Just follow this strategy, and you will see the sales is growing up without investing too much.
Here, you should be aware of what you are doing. Make a plan on how to offer the product or service to your potential customers or pitch them.
If you know their pain areas, then it would be easier to you to convince them to buy from you.
Consider, you are not alone offering the same service (in the most cases) so that knowing everything about your potential buyer prior making offer will help you better communicate with them.
Actually, it’s not mentioned in most of the marketing books but see how critical this is. You might think it’s the first step where you define the buyer’s persona.
But, I’m not talking about that. However, it’s the time when you should offer people a solution. And, remember one thing, if you fail here, your entire marketing strategy will fail.
You have an excellent solution for the problem your most potential customers are facing.
What will happen if you call them at midnight when they are sleeping?
Another one is email scheduling. If you haven’t scheduled an email for the right time, then most of the people won’t open it.
- Negative Persona
There is another term called negative persona. It means those people whom you don’t want to include in your sales funnel.
The people who don’t want to buy from you, costly to acquire or retain, and unable to purchase your products and services due to deficiency of funds should exclude from your sales funnel. This is an unwanted customer profile you should exclude in your business.
2. Know the Buyer’s Journey
Buyer’s journey means how your potential customer move in your sales funnel.
The marketing process, where the stranger visiting your website reaches the destination of the delighted customer promoting your brand autonomously due to the value you have provided him is all about buyer’s journey.
The stranger visits your site, social media page and becomes a visitor. It means you are successfully attracting people and making them know about your business. The blogs, viral social media posts, etc. are great tools to attract people to your page.
If that visitor likes your content and products or services you are offering, he gets opt-in your list or calls for an inquiry. That’s the first place where conversion occurs, and you get leads.
The opt-in forms, highly optimized landing pages and contact details at prominent places play a major role in acquiring the leads.
The next step is when you close the sale, and a lead becomes your customer. This process may get long but nurturing lead through drip will increase your sales as never before.
Even, you want to make calls, be prepared with all required data and speak only essential things to get maximum chances of closing. Create a warm relationship with your customers and make them buy. Help in every step like payment, shipping, etc. if necessary.
The last but not least here is delighting customers so that they would promote your brand as a volunteer. Surveying & social outlook will help in understanding what people actually want from your products. Assist them in in every situation to get maximum value.
Resolve issues regarding the product or service with priority which makes you retain the existing customer base. It’s the step where most local businesses fail and lose the market.
3. SWOT Analysis
I’m not going motivational here, but it’s all about essential points you should consider in your business. The SWOT analysis is done to find out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for a particular person but here we are going to use this technique for the business.
- What Are Your Strengths?
Whether you have a strong influence on the local market or not, you have some strong zones where you can beat competitors. Find out those strengths and leverage them appropriately.
According to the type of business, experience in traditional market & popularity, quality of product or service, customer support, customer relationship, etc. anything could be your stronger zone.
- Find & Eliminate Weaknesses
No one can claim to be perfect so that you don’t have to worry about the weaknesses you have. But, if you are not trying to reduce or eliminate them, then this approach can destroy your entire business empire.
Weaknesses can be simple one to the very critical like not following time management. Set the priorities and remove every weakness.
- Opportunities Never Wait For Anyone
It’s not just a quote. If you are not taking benefit of present conditions, then you are not only losing them but making available to your competitors.
You already have the buyer’s persona, so that create potential opportunities. That’s the real skill of digital marketing.
List out the problems people are facing, preferred solution, which price is suitable for both of you, how much discount you can give, how much you can spend on the acquisition & retention, etc. And, once find out all things, think where you can beat competitors.
Sometimes, partnering with other brands provides positive results especially when you can’t complete them.
- Find Potential Threats
Business can’t be passive, Am I right?
First of all, you need to be active as a business owner so that your team will also work enthusiastically. Not being so is the biggest threat to your business.
The competitors are actually making you active and pushing up so, don’t call them as a threat.
The loopholes in your sales funnel, negative feedbacks, constant decline in leads and sales are the threats for you. Stay ready before the problem starts knocking your door and kick them away. (Usually, opportunity knocks door).
Remember, SWOT analysis is a continuous process, and you should do it at every stage of the business.
4. Create a Platform to Sell
Once, you understand the buyer’s persona; the next thing is to move your business actual digital form.
You can sell your products through online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Flipkart, etc. The mobile apps, social media product pages like Facebook shop, Google Shop are other few options here.
Though many options are available here, creating a sales-ready website is a no-brainer. You can do it by using either hosted platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, etc. or self-hosted ones like WordPress, PrestaShop, Magneto, etc.
But, among all of them, self-hosted WordPress is a powerful CMS super when you want to create a website for a small local business. The flexibility and control that WordPress offers are amazing.
You can think about the mobile app and other things later once you have set up a website or you can say it as an online shop/office.
Still, it’s not everything to set and forget. Your website must be productive, fast loading and secure and optimized to give results.
You can get the simple one for only $5 on Fiverr or other cheap places. But, think twice before going there as the website is the most valuable asset of your digital presence.
I’m not saying cheap is always bad, but you are wise to differentiate the quality of the website created for $5 against that of $500-5000.
If you are serious about your business, then follow some guidelines mentioned here.
Guidelines For Creating a Website For the Local Business
- The website is the second thing; your domain name should be memorable, short as much as possible and present your brand.
- Make your site load within 3 seconds because if you fail to do that, half of your potential customers abandon your site immediately or maybe never come back.
- The overall design matters a lot, don’t clutter your site. The headline, navigation, contents should be placed at appropriate places.
- Add your phone number & business address in a prominent place. Moreover, the pages like Contact, Shop, About Us should be in header area which is most likely display when the page loads.
- For local businesses, the mobile-friendly website is simply no-nonsense. As more visitors come from a mobile device, make sure you have 100% mobile responsive website and working fine on any device & browser.
- Images and videos make more impact on buying decision. So, consider adding relevant images and videos on your site. Use appropriate dimensions, quality, and placement of images. (See, my image optimization guide here).
If you are using video, don’t put it on auto-play mode which irritates most of the people. Instead, make the headline better and catchy so that people will open video themselves.
Though video marketing is trending in digital marketing, don’t upload videos directly on your site that can make site load slower.
Instead of that, use external services like YouTube, Vimeo or DailyMotion.
Overall video length is another crucial factor for a marketing video. 75-120 seconds videos work better. If you have enough time, then use other techniques to get more inbound traffic like how-to video, tutorials, etc.
- Use clear & appropriate CTA (call-to-action) button/s. Make sure they are clickable on a mobile device too.
- Don’t raise unnecessary opt-in pop-ups to get more subscribers for your newsletters. Use simple subscribe box and put into sidebar or footer so that only potential buyers will sign up for your list, not the garbage.
If you want more subscribers, then use opt-in forms in prominent places, but don’t forget to give value. Today, people want instant value when they sign up to your list so think over it.
Let me give you an example.
Suppose, you have a camera store, then give ebook like “10 Things You Should Consider Before Buying A DSLR” or “14 Camera Lens Setting Helped Me Getting Fine Tuned Shots”, etc. (Forgive me here as I’m neither a camera seller nor photographer).
For food stores and restaurants, you can give 20% off on instant booking or free home delivery in your city, etc.
- The site security is another important thing you should not ignore. Use hack-proof themes, SSL and privacy guard so that the audience will feel safer browsing your site.
If you are processing payment on your site, then using HTTPS is simply a no-brainer. Or, you can use online payment gateways like CC Avenue, PayU, etc.
- Focus on both on-page as well as off-page SEO.
- Optimize pages effectively for conversion, especially the landing pages.
- Remove distraction on landing pages and sales pages where the conversion has top priority.
- It’s no a final recommendation, think where you have a scope. Analyze your result (do A/B testing) and decide what is best working for you, though the best is subjective.
For the people who think creating a website/online store is a hustle, I have written a detailed blog post about how to create an online store using WordPress.
5. Promotion of Your Business
You already have everything set up but what is the next? Unless people are not buying your products or services, nothing is beneficial. And, that’s why promotion is essential for any business.
The traditional marketing which uses newspaper or TV advertisement, frequent outbound calls, banners & hoardings require a big budget to spend on these elements.
But, the digital is very cost-effective compared to traditional marketing. Using proper strategies and automation, you can promote your business to the maximum people spending a tiny budget.
Some of the digital marketing techniques like SEO, social media, content marketing are almost free but throwing a few bucks on paid advertising like SMM, Affiliate, or social media adverts can boost your traffic & leads instantly.
See, some effective local business promotion techniques and implement them for your business.
- Search Engines
When people search for a particular keyword, search engines display the most relevant results to them. If you are optimizing your site properly, then more chances are to be found in search results organically.
Though getting results from SEO requires enough time, you need to be patient and the most important, you must have proper knowledge of SEO.
In simple, SEO is how you optimize the pages for both search engines as well as visitors. There are more than 200+ major factors affecting SEO process.
The bottom line,
SEO is an ongoing process so you can’t set and forget it if you want recurring organic traffic.
This is all about free but if you want to see quick results don’t mind spending on paid ads. The people who search for a keyword are the most likely to buy that product or service. Unlike traditional marketing, digital ads can be targeted to get positive ROI.
The Search or Display ads are effective to get leads and for brand awareness respectively. Search the term “SEM’ on Google, and you will get a ton of resources to work with search engine advertising.
- Social Media
For the local businesses, social media is a non-avoidable strategy. According to the business type, create accounts on relevant social media to promote your business there.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and WhatsApp are the seven most preferred social media platforms for local businesses. Moreover, keep in mind that your most potential customers are using mobiles, so that optimize your strategies accordingly.
Still, this process is also slow unless you have viral content or large follower base.
So, using paid advertising on social media is another good option. Facebook & Instagram ads are better options in brand awareness and lead generation. This is a cheaper option than SEM but make sure you are taking people out from social media environment to your website’s landing page.
For social media marketing, targeting audience is very important otherwise it will make a hole in your pocket without giving a single lead.
Giveaway is the best option if you are opting the social media adverts. You can bait something people want in exchange for an email or the social media shares.
- Email Marketing
Do you know, every $1 spent on email marketing gives the ROI of $25?
Emailing people who have subscribed your list makes a huge impact on your marketing & sales. These people have given their email to opt-in your list so emails can boost the relationship,
If you use personalized campaigns, then it will help you in gaining huge publicity by word-of-mouth only.
While using emails for marketing purpose, focus on your open rate, CTR, and CVR. In case, you are not getting the good results, then use A/B testing with your subject line, email body, scheduling, landing page design, personalization, etc. and see what works great for you.
There is another option in email marketing called as cold emails which were previously considered as spam. Use this technique on your own because it’s risky and may lower down entire reputation in no time.
Using email automation features for lead nurturing and getting more revenue through upsells, cross-sells and down sells can be beneficial. This technique is called drip marketing where you nurture your leads by giving small value every time and educating them about your business.
Initially, some free tools like MailChimp, MailerLite, and SendPulse are great options and once you start to grow up, invest a few bucks in automated email marketing.
- Content Marketing
Traditional marketing is changing to be less effective over the time; as a forward thinker, you should know there has to a greater way.
And, that’s content marketing.
It’s a strategic approach focused on creating and distributing the relevant and valuable contents on a consistent basis to attract and retain the targeted audience and ultimately drive them into your sales funnel.
More than 80% of buyers research before making a purchase decision and about 60-90% are already aware of the brands where they buy products or services.
So, educating them about your business has not remained optional.
You can use content marketing here to increase brand awareness, brand preference and reach a lower cost. Before that, you must know the buyer’s persona and buyer’s journey which I have explained earlier.
Instead of being salesy and pitching your products or services directly, provide beneficial and relevant content to your prospects and buyers.
Blog posts, case studies, cheat sheets, infographics, ebooks, presentation slides, white papers, and videos are a few types of contents you can start using.
Strategically plan how to use these all things to get maximum leads and sales without spending a lot of budget on marketing. Due to the inbound approach associated with content marketing, you can expect the maximum potential customers that need.
Remember, video marketing works great for local businesses, only you need to be smart about what you are publishing.
Digital PR is another technique associated with content marketing where you have to integrate all digital elements like SEO, social media, emails in a stronger marketing weapon.
It has not remained the traditional press release only. Try to repurpose your content by putting value every time you share on any digital or traditional publication.
Finally, it’s all about maintaining a relationship with the audience. So, learn everything you need to implement successful PR strategy.
- Business Listing
People mostly search directories to get to the local businesses so you must be visible there.
There’s no need to pay them to keep yourself on the top but for the competitive niche consider premium memberships.
For the merchants from India, Justdial, IndiaMART, Yellow Pages, Trade India, etc. are good options for business listing. Google Business is another powerful option for getting visible for local searches.
Listing on Google map will also helpful for people who are searching for local businesses using map features especially the smartphone users.
Find relevant other options that can help you boost the visibility of your business.
- Other Promotional Strategies
There are some other techniques to get more focus toward your business.
- Attending trade shows
- Affiliate tie-ups
- Sponsoring events or even small giveaways
- Commenting & guest posting on other relevant blogs
- Giving samples for testing purpose and asking for the review
- Reaching to the influencers and interviewing them
Leverage power of crowded online sources like Reddit, Quora, Advertising platforms, Job listing, and E-commerce platforms to increase your traffic.
6. Sales Process
Everything mentioned about is for one & only ultimate goal of making a profit. Unless you sell something, there is no benefit of doing that all.
Here, you need to close leads into customers. Selling is easy for services where physical products are not involved. But, for local restaurants, flower shops, and even carpenters, there’s a lot of physical involvement like the traditional business. So, they should follow digital with traditional.
You have a famous pizza outlet; then you can get customer orders online and deliver pizza to their doorstep. All payments will be collected via PayPal, credit/debit cards or net banking and shipping will be in a traditional manner as home delivery.
You may continue with your existing outlet serving customers to enjoy their pizza.
The benefits of digital amazing. You will require fewer sales people & resources compared to traditional marketing as you already know who is your customer and what he wants.
And, the main advantage of digital sales is no geographical boundaries to sales process so making it least expensive.
Don’t you think so?
7. After-sales Activities
Once, you get successful in sales, that’s not all. You must monitor the market for the performance of your products or services.
Your work does not complete with closing. The customer satisfaction is the most critical part of your overall sales process. So, you should help customers even after you have sold the product or service.
To understand the performance of your business, ask customers to review and testimonials. The data from some review sites and social monitoring will help you here.
Try to get at least dozens of review for each product but never pay people for talking positively about your brand. However, invest those resources in improving the quality of your products.
The conversation with customers will help you find the loopholes in your sales process. And, if you are doing well, don’t forget to ask people about testimonials. Place them on your site so that other people will also make a firm buying decision.
Solving customer queries with priority and helping them after sales will improve the overall reputation of the business. That will help you in building a stronger & popular brand.
8. Analytics of the Entire Sales Process
If you do not measure your activities, then you may not know how your digital strategies are working.
Only profit or loss is not a business, am I right?
So, start measuring results for your every action and find where you can improve. Right from getting the massive traffic to the repeated and consistent sales, all things can be measured, and you have to.
Implement solutions immediately and if you are not confident, consider hiring an expert to work on your behalf or consult your team.
As digital works better than the traditional approach, consider success when you have great plans and proper implementation.
Learn everything required to grow your business and train your team too. It’s not something you learn today and generate a massive revenue from tomorrow. It needs time and proper implementation.
If you follow the above techniques, I’m sure that you will see the difference in your sales & revenue.
Still, you want to know more about how to move local business online successfully, don’t hesitate to put your queries in the comment box below.
Have you any local business transformation? Share what strategies worked for you.
And, if you like this article, share it with your friends so that they can get benefit from it.