Can customers find you? In a 2019 survey, one-third of consumers indicated that they search for local businesses online daily, while another 16% said they searched for local businesses online multiple times a week. So how do you ensure those customers find you? \t 90% of consumers base purchasing decisions on information they found online \t 82% of consumers use their phones to search for products online before making a purchase \t 33% of consumer search online daily for local businesses (16% search multiple times each week) Your Small Business Website Is Essential Research shows that when shoppers are in a brick-and-mortar store, 82% use their phone to search for products before making a purchase. Despite this fact, 36% of small businesses don’t have a website. If you think that’s because your customers aren’t the type to look online, consider this: 90% of shoppers base their purchasing decisions on things they’ve read online. “It’s crucial to have a significant presence online because many potential consumers read posted reviews, scroll company pages, and shop exclusively online,” says Forbes. “Consumers also want to feel confident that their money is supporting a company with beliefs or values that they can feel good about and are likely to read your company's website to find out more about your brand.” Strategy: Make Sure Your Small Business Can Be Found Online Think about the last time you tried to find a local business, whether a restaurant. an electrician, or plumner. Where did you look? Did you pull out your phone? If so, you're like most consumer who use a mobile device to locate a certain type of business close to their current location. Millions of these searches take place each day. In fact, about 1/3 of mobile searches are related to the user’s location. Retail experts refer to these searches as “micro-moments.” And the best way to capitalize on such moments is to have a findable website loaded with relevant content. So how do you ensure your small business’s website can be found online? \t Start by capturing “near me” searches. Focus on Yelp, Google My Business, and YellowPages first, and consider geotagging your business’s videos on YouTube. This is one of the best ways to let customers know that you’re nearby, where you are, and when you’re open. \t Keep your online content and information fresh. As you consider your online facade, think about how brick-and-mortar stores look if they haven’t been maintained properly. When the paint’s peeling, the windows are caked in dust, and the sign in front has outdated contact information, it’s hard for customers to trust your business or care about what’s inside. Likewise, websites and social media channels need to be cared for and maintained. If there’s nothing new to read on your website, why would anyone go out of their way to read it? Search engines will also pass on your site, as they use the inclusion of new and relevant content as a major factor in how they rank your site. Determine a strategy that would help your business: a retail shop may want to feature a product daily while a child care facility might share weekly craft or learning-activity idea for parents to try. \t Create a dialogue and a community. Use your social media channel as a way to reach customers directly. Ask questions. Create a dialogue. Offer promotions for people who follow you online to help you build a community online. If you’re not sure what to discuss, look at businesses similar to yours online as a source of inspiration (just remember that you still need to create your own, original content). \t Develop a calendar — or even a reminder system. People search daily. While you won’t need to update your website or social media that frequently, be sure you’re updating your online presence on a regular basis. Your business “updates” can be as simple as carving out a small amount of time each week to post something new or interesting about what you do. “Your windows and facades may be enticing and inviting, but they are not enough to keep you competitive in these technological times,” says Forbes. “You also have to paint a pretty digital picture if you want your business to stand out from the competition. If it doesn’t, there’s a good chance that potential customers will stroll right past your business and on to the one that showed up in their most ‘near me’ mobile search.” One Last Step: See What People Are Saying about Your Business Once you’ve established yourself online, also consider your reputation strategy. When someone shares accolades, highlight their positive words so others will notice (be sure you ask permission first). When someone has a complaint, work diligently to resolve their concerns. You can even automate notifications for sites you’re not monitoring by setting up a simple (and free!) Google Alert. Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute business, legal, tax, or accounting advice. All information, content, and materials available in this post are for general informational purposes only. Readers of this post should contact their attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor to obtain advice with respect to any particular matter.