Marketing your business should be fun. Whether you’re hosting a unique event or reposting cool photos from your fans on social media – connecting with your customers (existing and potential) is the most rewarding part of this thing we call marketing.
But diving head first into the “fun stuff” can be detrimental if you don’t take care of the essential details first. Those essentials are most often what leads your customers to your business – both online and offline – and one essential you need to pay attention to is your online listings.
Right now, you might have your businesses information listed in your area’s phonebook, and you might even have key pieces of information – like your name, address, and phone number – clearly marked in your newspaper advertisements. But do you have your business’ information readily available online, where (and when) your customers are looking for you? These online listings are critical to getting found by your customers at the exact moment that they’re ready to choose you.
Think of setting up your online listings like building a home: would you set out and purchase colorful wallpaper without building walls? If your customers hear your radio spot or see your ads on Facebook, the next step they will take is to find out where you’re located – and when you are open. Without nailing down the basics like your name, address, and phone number, you could be missing out on ROI from all your marketing activities. Local listings may not be the “sexiest” aspect of your marketing efforts, but they’re one of the most essential.
Marketing gurus refer to the process of publishing your information online (and the upkeep process) as local listings management. Let’s get started with the four essential things you need to know.
1. You Should be Getting Listed Where Your Customers Are Looking For You
Back in the early days of the internet, the common approach to getting your information online was the “pay and spray” model: you would either go to all the sites you could think or pay a provider to splatter your information everywhere. This approach often ends in multiple errors (and can be expensive!): the more information you put out there, the higher the chances are for a typo, misspelled business name, and so on. As we explain in our recent guide, Your Guide to Getting Found by More Customers, an error on one site can damage your findability on search engines like Google and Bing.
Today, the best practice is getting listed where it matters – in other words, the sites your customers frequently use. For example, if you’re a small boutique clothing store servicing women ages 45-65, do you need to be listed on 50 different sites? Probably not. Instead, you should focus your efforts on the sites your customers use, such as Facebook, Bing, and Google.
2. You Should Care for Your Online Listings Just Like Your Storefront
In the same way that you change out your ads to have a seasonal flair, your listings need to be updated, too. There are multiple benefits of updating your online information: listings that are updated more frequently are considered more legitimate in the eyes of Google. Updating your information boils down to one simple thing: good customer service! If you have special holiday hours, make sure you provide that information to your customers – they rely on you to keep this information up to date, so make sure you take the time to look after it.
3. You Should Know What Your Customers Are Saying About You
Did you know 81% of customers say they seriously consider online reviews before visiting a business? First come the listings then come the comments – with a solid directory foundation you are providing your customers with a place to leave comments on their experience with you. Not only does this function as a place to receive authentic and valuable customer feedback, reviews and “star ratings” may impact your Search Engine Optimization ranking. Managing your business’ reputation through reviews requires its own full-fledged plan.
4. You Shouldn’t Be Scared to Get Started Now
Not sure exactly where you should start? That’s where we come in. We have partnered with many businesses to create a listings management plan that will help you reach ready-to-buy customers where and when they are looking for you. When we partner with you, we will:
- Contact websites to update your information
- Update your business hours for all holidays
- Monitor your incoming reviews from customers
- Provide monthly reports that show how well your listings are performing
ReachLocal’s Local Listings Management solution can help you get your business in front of new and interested consumers. With Local Listings Management, you’re investing in your web presence and streamlining your online information so we can help you get more customers to your business.