Maximize your website
Large businesses think of their websites as an extension of their business, not just a window sign – which is a mistake many small businesses make. Though 62 percent of small businesses use their website to outline products and services, only 32 percent of them allow visitors to actually purchase goods online.
Setting up a website has become so easy in recent years, there’s no excuse not to have an e-commerce component. And that doesn’t apply only to physical goods. A sales page can also be a place where your customers schedule appointments, request demos, or more information.
For customers experiencing a problem, 49 percent of small businesses have a website portal to customer service. That’s great, but it means more than half of small businesses don’t have a feedback form, email address, or phone number designated for support clearly displayed on their sites.
If you don’t offer an online customer service touch-point, you need to – and it can be as simple as adding a “firstname.lastname@example.org” email address. If you already have a customer care protocol in place, be sure it’s obvious to your visitors.
But it’s not just for matters of support – contact info is a basic necessity that some small businesses aren’t providing.
Don’t make finding your business a scavenger hunt
Oddly enough, only 51 percent of small businesses have contact information on their websites, which is puzzling indeed, as not having this info renders your business basically invisible online.
Consumers often consult a business’ website before heading to a brick-and-mortar location. If you don’t provide an address, map, directions, or a phone number to call and ask about business hours, for example, they’ll just skip to the next company on their list. You’d never see a large company not include this info on their site, and it costs you nothing to include it on yours.
And here’s something else large companies use that costs you nothing – social media.
Stop pretending social media is optional
Though at a certain level social media analytics can become costly, simply having a presence and consistently contributing to the social conversation is free.
Luckily, overall use of social media platforms among small business owners has increased – 80 percent have joined the social revolution. But still, only 34 percent are using social platforms to respond to consumers’ complaints and praise – which means they’re not making the most of their social presence. It’s not just about having a profile with “likes” and “follows.” You’ve got to interact, and build relationships with your followers.
Understandably, small businesses may not have the budget for the dedicated marketing and social media personnel large companies enjoy. Wasp found that only 12 percent of small businesses outsource their social media marketing, which means most small businesses are trying to manage social media themselves, or not even bothering.
The latter is not an option. As for the former – it’s doable, with a little help. There are plenty of affordable (or even free) platforms for managing social accounts – Hootsuite, Buffer, Brand24, and more. And remember – you don’t have to be everywhere. It’s better to have a rockin’, active presence on one social media platform than be barely active on a bunch.
Big businesses aren’t easy to compete with, but small businesses needn’t add to their challenges by failing to do the things they CAN do as well as the “big guys.” The Wasp report has a ton of insights that will benefit small businesses, but even making a few small changes can make a world of difference. And when you start seeing a return from employing the tips above, you can take things to the next level after that.
Maybe before you know it, your small business will be big after all.
This post originated from Business2Community.
Image Credit: VIKTOR HANACEK
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New Orleans, LA