If you are a small business owner, there is no shame in just trying to survive the secondary effects of the pandemic COVID-19. Showing up in person to your business is a risk many customers are not willing to take. What can you do to minimize the effects of COVID on your business? Let’s talk about how your online presence is more important now than ever.
If customers do not feel safe coming to your store, they need access to your products online. This can be done through images or better, try video. With the smartphone in your pocket or purse, you can record high-quality video and show your current and prospective customers your wares. Think about new arrival videos or image slideshows. The videos are preferred for multiple reasons you might not be aware of. Google and other search engines measure the value of your site based on how many people visit it and how long they stay on the site. Most people are willing to watch a video because it requires so little energy unlike text which takes energy. Video also keeps site visitors on your site longer. That’s ideal for moving you up the Google results line.
If you are maintaining and editing your own site, switching out videos and images takes just a few minutes. If you would like to do that but don’t know how, seek out some individualized training like you can get from EFP Technology Solutions. This small business owner specializes in teaching you how to maintain your own site to save yourself money. As a DIYer, you build skills and save money.
Now, whether you are maintaining your own site or paying someone else to do it, it’s imperative that you address the COVID situation. Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist. Use pop-up banners to let customers know you care about their safety as well as the safety of your employees if you have any. Let them know you respect their wants and needs and that if we all work together to keep one another safe, we’ll get through it. Think about offering COVID discounts to draw in new and loyal customers. Offer free delivery and curbside pickup. Minimize contact as much as possible, and let your customers know how efficient the process will be. Also, let them know what you are doing to maintain a sterile environment. Do you provide masks? Will you have hand sanitizer available? What will be required by all customers? What is recommended or merely a request?
I can tell you that I shopped in American Eagle Outfitters recently. All customers and employees had to use sanitizer upon entering the store to minimize outside contamination. All had to have a face mask as well. If you didn’t already have one, you could take one for free after sanitizing your hands. It seems they thought of everything. All customers had masks on which made me feel a bit better because I didn’t want to risk touching or purchasing clothing that someone coughed or sneezed on or touched with contaminated hands. It’s not failsafe, but it’s an improvement over nothing. The other stores I went into didn’t have any safety measures to protect customers or employees. As a result, I left those stores quickly just in case. Why tempt fate, right? Interestingly, I ended up going back to American Eagle and shopping some more. That’s what you want from your customers. You want them to feel comfortable and safe in your store. For customer loyalty, they need to know their safety is of utmost importance to you.
One of the best sources for new customers is a free Google My Business Profile. If you do not have one, get one. It’s free, and you can set it up yourself. Unlike Bull Durham, building it does not guarantee they will come. There are some things you need to get right to make sure your business name comes up when people search for businesses like yours.
Here are some pointers to help you out. If you don’t have time or aren’t sure you did it right, please call us at Xizzee to help you out.
Points to Improve Your Google My Business Local SEO
- Make sure you change your hours to reflect the current situation. If your hours are modified because of COVID, make sure your page reflects that.
- List all of your services and products, so when people type in your product as a search term, your business has a good chance of coming up. Be careful not to list every service available under the sun. Try to focus on your most important services that hit your most important keywords.
- You can post events and special offers. This is free advertising for you.
- To help your business out, Google has set up a support system, so you can get support from customers during COVID-19. You can encourage customers on Google to buy gift cards from and make donations to your business.
- If you need help building or tweaking your Google Business Page, Xizzee Web Design & SEO can help you out.
Social Media Can Save Your Small Business
With so many people out of work and not able to go out, more people are spending hours and hours on social media like FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok. Being present and visible to them is important for the life of your business.
Review your Facebook posts and consider setting up some ads to target your specific audience. Ever since Facebook changed its rules, you have to run ads to be seen by anyone who is not already following you. When you make your ads, be as specific as possible. Set your zip codes and choose the profile of your current and potential customers. Make sure you always include pictures. When you run a paid ad, Facebook provides free stock photos for you to choose from. Take advantage of this feature available whenever you place a paid ad.
If you have a presence on Twitter and/or Instagram, make sure you are posting regularly on those platforms.
I’ll post again soon about which apps help you post once and send the post to multiple social media sites simultaneously.
If there is a particular topic you’d like to read about in my blog, please note it in the comments section or shoot me an email.
For now, good luck and stay safe!
88% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations – Myles Anderson, SearchEngineLand
With 88% of consumers going online to find reviews, it is imperative that you collect customer reviews. Some small business owners are crafty and instinctively know how to collect customer reviews, but many of us are in the dark as to how to do this easily and efficiently.
Tips on Collecting Customer Online Reviews
This QR code will take you to the landing page of Xizzee.com.
The best time to get a customer review is before the customer leaves the business or shortly after receiving a service. I am going to focus on the former: getting customers to fill out a review while in your store or business.
One of the most popular ways to capture people’s attention and share information with them is to create a QR code. If you are serving food, and the customers will sit at tables, you can easily create a QR code that takes the customer to a site to leave a review. This can include Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google+, Angie’s List, Facebook, and more. If you want to increase your following by asking customers to “like” your business, “follow” you, or subscribe to your email list, you can use the QR code to take them to any site you want including Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. I’m sure there are many other sites out there that work like these, but I’ll focus on the most popular. If you want them to go directly to your website, a QR code can do that, too.
How to Create a QR Code
Many people know what QR Codes are or look like, but how they are created is a mystery to them. It’s like using a telephone; I know how to use it, I just don’t know how to create it.
Well, here are some tools to help you create your first QR code. My favorites are QuickMark and Kaywa. Each of these works differently and has different features. QuickMark is a Google Chrome extension while Kaywa is a website.
How does QuickMark work?
QuickMark is a Google Extension that works on the Chrome browser, so it works on devices like desktops, laptops, and chromebooks. You must be working in Google Chrome for this to work. Here are the steps you will need to follow:
1-Go to the Google Webstore.
2-Search for QuickMark in the top left search bar.
3-Look under the section marked Extensions and click the blue + Add to Chrome button to the right of the extension or in the top right corner of the pop-up window if you clicked on it first. If you have pop-ups disabled, you’ll have to enable them for the Google Webstore.
4-Click the “Add Extension” button in the second pop-up window.
5-Look for the QuickMark icon to appear at the top of your Chrome browser. This is a Google extension, and it will sit to the right of your URL address bar. As you add more extensions, they will add themselves to the right of this extension.
6-Click on the extension to learn how to use the extension. Be sure to scroll up and down to see all of your options.
7-Go to your small business website on your browser. Right click anywhere on the page and look for the QuickMark icon in the pop-up menu. Choose Encode next to the icon.
8-A QR code will pop up on your screen. At this point you can right click on the QR code and choose either “Copy image” or “Save image as.”
9-Once you have the QR code saved, you can paste it into any document or file you are using. You can add it to your business card, your menu, your coupons, your flyers, your magazine adds, a store poster, a stand-up sign on your counter or table, etc. The list goes on and on.
Another valuable Chrome QR code extension includes Quick QR Code Generator.
If you would like to insert your logo into the QR code, try out the QRZebra chrome extension. Here is what my QR Code looks like with my logo in the center:
It doesn’t matter which QR code generator you use so long as you are using something to reach out to your customers and get more customer reviews. The data support it, and you should, too.
If you would like support creating your first QR code, feel free to contact Eileen at Xizzee.
Empowering small business owners is what Eileen does best! If you found this blog helpful or would like to leave a comment, feel free to comment below or hit one of my social media links at the top and bottom of the page and leave a review. Thanks and remember to #harnessthepower of social media!
Being a teacher of 27 years, I approach problems differently than most people (to the chagrin of my husband). You see, I am a problem fixer. If something is broken, I analyze it, break it down, and fix it. Having this skill was very handy in education because if a student didn’t understand something, I would figure out a way to help him understand.
“What does this have to do with helping customers create copy for their website?” you ask. Well, I was recently working with a client to create her website copy (that’s a fancy word for website content). This client is full of words. She can talk to anyone anywhere about anything. Strangely, though, when it came to her talking about what her business had to offer, she came up short.
What’s the problem? Well, could it be she doesn’t like writing? Perhaps she doesn’t feel like she is a good enough writer. Maybe she is the type of person who doesn’t feel comfortable tooting her own horn. Maybe she talks better about other people than about herself. Maybe she doens’t know what people want to know.
What should she put on her website? That is a great question, so let’s begin at the beginning. All SEO aside, the first job of a website is to share information with customers and to get them to stay on the site long enough to read what is there for them. Following these simple steps will help you get over your writer’s block. Guaranteed!
Content Creation Exercise for Customers
Step 1: Make a list of all the questions you get about your business. This can be a team or individual effort. The longer the list, the better.
Step 2: Organize the questions into related groups.
Step 3: Name each group – these might end up being the names of your pages or headings for your FAQ page. It’s okay if you repeat yourself. This can get cleaned up later.
Step 4: Answer each question either on paper or by talking. Yes, you can talk your way through the entire process without ever picking up a pen. Read on.
Using Technology to Help You Write
Use your smartphone to record your website content.
With so much technology around, it is easy to forget the powerful tools at your fingertips. How many business owners own a smartphone? In my totally unscientific research, I’d guess a pretty large percentage. A voice recorder is pretty much standard on a smartphone, so grab your list of questions, hit record, and start talking.
Using this method does require you to pick up a pen and transcribe what you said, but the next method will actually turn your speech into text. Read on!
Speech to Text Apps and Add-ons
There are plenty of speech-to-text or voice-to-text apps available for both iOS and Android phones, but not all of them are reliable. Check out these reviews from Computer Business Review and Entrepreneur to help you narrow your focus and target a reliable tool from the start. If you are more comfortable on a laptop or desktop, move on to the next section.
Smartphones – Not the Only Game In Town
You can @harnessthepower of Google by allowing it to type as you speak!
If you have access to a Google account, you can access Google Docs which has a Voice Recorder in its Tools menu. I just tried it out, and the accuracy was amazing. It even corrected itself when it thought I had said one thing but had actually said another. There is also a Google Add-on for Speech to Text that you can download for free. Directions for how to do this can be seen at the Xizzee YouTube channel.
So if you are coming up short when trying to generate content for your site, try these quick and easy steps. Your webmaster will thank you, and you will be able to move forward. For more tips like this one, follow us on Facebook.com/xizzee and on Twitter @xizzee. Good luck to you, and remember to #harnessthepower of the web.