In a world where everything from communication and research to banking and shopping is going digital, businesses are forced to adapt to a changing environment. More than ever before, consumers are using the Internet to search for products and services, but where are they going in order to obtain the best information possible? Recent research by 1&1 Internet, Inc., uncovers the most prominent places online where consumers are learning about local small businesses, like painting contractors.
Two-thirds of consumers find businesses through search engines. Purchasing decisions now start with a simple search on outlets such as Google or Bing! Appearing in search engine results pages will ensure visibility to a very broad audience. Research from Chitkita, Inc., showed that 96% of participants never looked past the first page of search results. Therefore, it is vital to understand how to properly optimize your site to appear on that sought-after first page. By embracing search engine optimization (SEO) through the use of proper keywords, you can improve your site’s chances of being prominently placed on the pages. To identify such keywords, try to think like your customers: What are they actually typing into search engines to find a business like yours? Terms such as “paint contractors” or “professional painting” are possible examples. Also, consider incorporating the locations where you offer services. Strategically placing these specific phrases onto relevant pages of your website will help your business avoid getting lost in the crowd.
Sixty-two percent will use a business’s direct URL to find the business. Though search engine searches are the most popular, customers place a high value on going directly to a company website. Still, a significant amount of businesses are not leveraging the opportunities that surround a professional website. It has become a necessity for painters to have a website available to their current and potential customers as the World Wide Web helps influence their decisions. To begin, create an informative and interesting website and a domain name that is memorable for consumers. If a client makes a positive referral about “Joe’s Professional Painting,” there is a good chance future consumers will head online and search for www.joesprofessionalpainting.com. Make sure your domain name is clear, easy to remember and relevant to cater to the expectations of the public.
Social media is used by 37% of consumers researching a business. As a business professional, it is smart to go where your potential customers are. There is no longer a debate surrounding the effectiveness and importance of social networks for businesses. Statements such as “Friend me on Facebook” or “Follow me on Twitter” are quickly becoming part of our everyday language. A social media presence will not only increase the likelihood of new customers discovering you online, but also allow you to build rapport and relationships with clients. You can capitalize on these platforms by creating specific and relatable content aimed at starting conversations and developing relationships with customers. One technique to consider is to launch a contest or promotional campaign through social media to increase website traffic and brand awareness.
Nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents are trading phone books in for online directories. Online databases allow businesses to present important company details like URL, address and phone number on outlets like Google Maps and Yahoo! Local. Newspaper ads and address books are quickly being succeeded by these online listings, as they offer more convenience and longevity to the placement. The process of getting included on these outlets may seem foreign and confusing. Therefore, take a look at services that some Web hosting companies may offer to aid in this method.
As a small-business owner, you may choose to continue utilizing only traditional marketing methods, but you will quickly discover the competition winning more business. Newspapers and radio commercials used to be the only options for small businesses to embrace, but the increasing value of the Internet can offer vast new opportunities for painting professionals. Utilize these tips as stepping stones to establishing a well-rounded online presence that may just become one of your biggest assets. APC
Kelly Meeneghan is a manager at 1&1 Marketing.