I was shocked to discover that the 2012 Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed that only 43% Australian businesses reported having a web presence, and only 1/3 of businesses with four employees or less has a web presence.
No matter what type of business you have – manufacturing, service or retail – you need to embrace the huge shift in customer behaviour and have a well-planned, informative and up to date online marketing strategy. That’s where people are searching for you!
Claire Hatton, head of local business at Google Australia, said the ABS figures showed the opportunity for businesses that came from having an online business.
"Having a website is more important than having a phone now. You need to be there for consumers where they are looking for you, otherwise they will find your competition," she says. "Whether you're a pizza restaurant or the newsagent around the corner; it's never been more important to be online."
No longer can you afford to focus your marketing efforts (and budget) on ads in the local papers, yellow pages advertising, letterbox drops, radio ads, billboards or public relations campaigns. The world of marketing as we knew it has gone forever.
Alarming Local Business Research Results
Recently (late 2012) we conducted online research of several popular local business types- services that everyone uses – to see how many had websites. The results were alarming.
- Of 500 Brisbane hairdressers only 44% had a website.
- Of 548 Builders in SE Qld only 14% had a website
- Of 3000 NSW/ACT plumbers – only 12% had a website
Considering that 97% of people look for local services like these services online, this shows that the majority of hairdressers and builders in Brisbane and plumbers in NSW/ACT could be missing out on a lot of business in their local area.
True – they all have a free listing which has been generated for them by Google, Yellow Pages or True Local or some other directory, but most of them have not even optimised this listing. This means that anyone clicking on the listing will see nothing more than a phone number and address. How will potential customers figure out if they’re any good or not?
Answer – they won’t. They’ll quickly move on to someone else that does give out the sort of information they’re after.
Customer Buying Behaviour has Changed Forever
Whether you sell your products and services to consumers or to other businesses – people are still the buyers, and the way they search, evaluate and buy just about anything has changed dramatically, even in the past few months.
By the time they contact you, they have done their homework online and are armed with information about your company, you, your staff, your products or services, your customers and your competitors. This is true whether they plan to get a haircut, hire a plumber, buy a car or book the annual corporate retreat.
The more information you provide to help these buyers make a decision about who to trust and who to contact, the more leads you will receive.
And of course - it goes without saying that they need to find you online in the first place!
Online Marketing Success
The small businesses who are getting all the enquiries and building market share are those who
- use a variety of methods to drive traffic to their website or to make the phone ring
- stand out from their competitors
- have a really interesting website (not just an online brochure) which is focused on the needs of the customer – not their own boring story
- provide interesting, original and valuable content REGULARLY using a variety of media
- market themselves so people can get to know them – ie: develop their personal brand
- work hard to build trust and reduce customer risk
- develop clever social media marketing strategies and campaigns
- respond quickly to enquiries and comments
- use professionally created email campaigns to stay in touch with their prospects and customers
- adapt their offerings and services to meet what the market really wants
- work hard to keep customers once they have them.
More to Come . . .
I’ll be exploring each one of these topics in further detail in upcoming posts, so why not subscribe and receive them automatically as soon as they’re published.
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