If you’ve got a storefront, you’re probably thinking it’s a good idea to have it on a busy street with lots of foot traffic. And you would be right. It might cost extra to be on the high street, but you get more walk-ins and better turnover of inventory. And you won’t scrimp too much on making sure passers-by like what they see in the window.
Better still to attract customers to your location before they’ve even come to town. If you’ve got a good retail trade, you can make it into a regional destination. And the best way to do that is to work the virtual world so the real world comes to you. When was the last time you took a good look at your web site—or your social media activity?
Many business owners have a site that these days looks as dated as the rusty Olds that runs the groceries. Would you meet a client in a rustbucket car with a missing tail-lamp? If you’ve got a web site that looks several years old, or if you’ve got one you built yourself, be prepared to impress no one.
Visitors today spend serious time scoping out their destinations. Most of your traffic is not going to be the guy down the block. Nothing wrong with him, but he already knows about you and was going to come by anyway. Your growth market might be the day-tripper, mainly someone from a city or nearby town. They may not have the energy to wander up and down looking for something to do—often enough, they will have already planned their day.
You can become part of their plan, but you have to be ready. First, you need a site that looks as fresh as the new visitor you are looking to see. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune–but think again if you think you can have it done by an intern, or if a “free” service is going to buy you entry into the stream of commerce coming up the river. Your website is your most important online selling tool, make a small investment in having it turn visitors into foot traffic. If they see it, and they like what you offer, they may put it on their list of things-to-do. You become the destination.
But just building the site is has never been enough. People also have to find it. Using relevant keywords helps people find your site when they do a search on your town or region. Adding a social media component, and regularly updating your site, help your site stay prominent in search results. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and beyond give you more ways to reach out—and build a following. Targeted advertising and link-building can be added to the mix. If you want to understand whether visitors engaged with your site, and what they liked most, include a layer of digital analytics—a simple report can that tell you about traffic patterns, where your visitors are coming from (very useful if you advertise online) and what pages they’re exiting from most (you’d want to fix that page so they stay on the site and, even better, convert).
You might put attractive things in your shop window, but chances are you didn’t build the window itself. And you might have decided what to put on the sign, but if you constructed and lettered it all on your own, you should probably offer the service and make it a business. Most likely, you’re not doing that—and instead, you’re concentrating on what you know best: your own business.
If you want an online presence that not only looks professional but is managed with best-practices and the latest trends, hire a professional. Your website is your most important online selling tool and speaks volumes about your brand. Turn it into a platform for attracting visitors and becoming a regional destination. Building and maintaining an up-to-date site are required ingredients these days if you want to get beyond the pedestrian.