Local businesses often feel like social media just isn’t for them. But blogging is still a good way to make money, even if you never want to make money from your blog. Small local businesses can see a huge increase in sales through blogging and other social media tactics driving customers to your physical store.
Let’s say you have a retail store selling children’s shoes.
How will customers find you online?
Either they’ll search for children’s shoes or they’ll listen to what their friends are saying on Facebook and search for your store. Of course, you can do traditional advertising, too.
Searching online requires your store show up on the first page in Google (or some other search engine) because consumers rarely look beyond the first page for options and being on top of the results page has a tremendous impact on sales in your store. Strategies to get you there are called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Generating a buzz about your store on Facebook, or other social network, requires consumers willing to talk about your brand or share your messages with their networks. We call this SMO (Social Media Optimization).
Lately, these two aspects of getting your store noticed have blended because Google changed its search algorithm so it’s using social media buzz as part of what determines where your business shows up in an organic search (ie. When you search for children’s shoes, rather than XYZ shoe store).
How you can make money blogging using SEO principles
No one knows exactly what’s in Google’s algorithm but SEO experts play around with different tactics (actually experimenting and carefully monitoring results) to find out some things that have a big impact on where you show up on the results page. Here are just a few things we know help you show up higher in search:
- Fresh content on your website
- Having more people visit your website
- Keywords match search terms
- Engaging consumers in social media
How you can make money blogging using SMO principles
Here are some things you can do in social media that encourage consumers to create buzz about your store:
- Share interesting facts about your products
- Talk about consumers
- Have consumers help create new products or services
How a blog helps you make money
While some of the things that get you first in search results can be done without a blog, some can’t and ALL of them can be done with a blog. Here are some examples of things you can do with a blog to make money in your retail store:
- Blog about material in your shoes, where your shoes come from, or fun facts about shoes such as how they impact development or foot health. This increases the keyword density on your site and likely brings traffic from folks who don’t need shoes right now, but will remember you when they do.
- Take pictures of customers who come in for shoes or collect pictures of them wearing your shoes in interesting places and post them to your blog. You can even have contests to encourage more submissions. Maybe they have to hold a picture of your store or a sign about it to enter the contest. This encourages consumers to share the pictures with their friends meaning they’re also spreading the word about your store.
- Ask customers to suggest new products or services and get their friends to vote for their ideas. Again, you’re spread the word about your store through your blog.
- Create a cause for your local business. Maybe you’ll donate shoes like Toms or talk about sustainable practices in your store or some other cause marketing efforts. For instance, McDonald’s supports the Ronald McDonald house that has nothing to do with their business, but is appealing to their target market — families with kids.
- Of course, even if you decide not to blog on your blog, you can turn it into an ecommerce site with less expense and effort than if you had created a static website. All you need is a plugin and there are several available at low cost or free. It will also be more dynamic – meaning you can change products or layouts much more easily than in a static website.
While your blog is your home base online, other social media tactics help bring traffic to your site. Here are just a few options local businesses should use to bring more traffic (and money) into their business:
- Google Places – claim your physical location and link it to your Google+ page and your website. Google returns websites located nearby since searchers often want local businesses.
- Yelp and other rating sites are great to ensure folks find your local business. Encourage patrons to rate your products and services and share their ratings with their Facebook and Twitter networks.
- Facebook and Twitter are, of course, nearly mandatory given the huge number of users of these social media platforms.
- Develop relationships with other local businesses and link your sites together. For instance, other retailers in your mall or shopping center might create an online shopping venue supporting all the local businesses. At a minimum, these local businesses should cross-link their digital properties.
Hausman and Associates
Hausman and Associates publishes Hausman Marketing Letter and the monthly email newsletter of the same name. We also provide cost-effective marketing and social media through our virtual agency concept. We welcome new clients and would happily provide a proposal to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE.