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5 Questions to Ask About Your Online Marketing

With the end of the year approaching, it’s a good time to look back over 2018 and think about what worked and what didn’t in your marketing strategy. An online presence has become increasingly important for businesses. If you have one, it’s important to look at your online platforms to make sure it continues to be effective. Here are five questions to consider.

Can you improve your website?

According to a 2017 survey by BrightLocal, 97 percent of consumers look online for local businesses in 2017. When consumers are looking for a place to shop, they usually go online first to find the appropriate business. If you don’t have a website, you practically don’t exist. If you do have a website, is there a way to make it better? This could be your customers’ first impression of your store, so make sure it is a good one. If you’ve had a website for several years, compare it with the websites of other retailers to see if it needs to have a fresh look. Just like your store interior that goes a long time without a makeover, a website that hasn’t been updated for a while could start to look worn and outdated.

Are you checking your online reviews?

Consumers can leave reviews of businesses on sites such as Google, Yelp and Foursquare. Make sure you know what customers are posting. According to the BrightLocal survey, 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Additionally, 73 percent of consumers trust a local business more because of positive reviews. If someone leaves you a negative review, it’s important you respond right away. You can also ask customers to leave a review of your business, which can boost your overall rating. The BrightLocal survey found that Yelp and Facebook are consumers’ most trusted review sites, followed by Google and BBB.org.

Are your messages appropriate to the medium?

Advertising on social media shouldn’t be all about promotions. Balance messages about special sales with personalized or fun messages about staff or about what is going on around the store. Videos work well too. These posts can be very simple, but they should make your social media followers feel as if they have a personal connection to your business. Other types of advertising, such as circulars, will focus more heavily on price promotions.

Is your brand message consistent?

Look at all of the places where you are marketing your business, whether it’s your circulars, emails you send to frequent shoppers or your Facebook page. The brand message needs to be consistent across all mediums. A consistent brand message will minimize confusion about your mission and make it easier for customers to remember who you are.

Is it time to try something new?

If you feel you have the perfect formula for generating new business and for staying in touch with existing ones, then sit back and relax. But if you’re like nearly everyone else, you’re always looking for a way to do something better. One of the best ways to start is to start looking around at what other retailers are doing. Attend seminars at your wholesaler markets to find ideas. It may be as major as jumping on to a new social media platform, or as simple as trying to do more videos on your Facebook page. Create a goal, then create clear and achievable goals.

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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