All customers go through a series of steps before making a purchase. The goal as a local business is to understand those steps and make your company stand out. Otherwise, you may as well be advertising for your competition (and we know that sounds crazy!).
When you have a loyal customer, that individual has come a long way to trust and advocate your brand. For those of you who don’t know… they could care less about you when they started their journey.
So how the heck do you find and retain customers? Let’s walk through the journey.
The Customer Lifecycle:
Contrary to what many business owners think, the customer lifecycle does not end at the point of sale. Previous buyers have a massive influence on other customers when sharing their experience.
So ask yourself, do your potential customers know you exist?
The awareness portion of the consumer lifestyle depends primarily on a business’ ability to effectively advertise. Once they know about a business, they are much more likely to look for more information about you.
The ways in which consumers find out about local business has changed drastically in the last 10 years. There are constantly new forms of advertising for consumers to find and engage with.
However, the one thing that has remained the same is the need to grab the consumers attention.
Today, we have almost completely transitioned to digital advertising, which encompasses a variety of online marketing tactics. Now, we have social media marketing, search engine marketing, email marketing and much more to maneuver within the online space.
We are also seeing a transition in brands having to spend more on these digital mediums to get the results they used to get organically. Online platforms are now catering to brands who are willing to spend the extra cash.
We are seeing a much higher spending budget on things like Google Adwords, Google Display Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads.
Image Source: Vendasta
In return for brands spending more, these platforms allow for advanced targeting and analytics to easily track your ads performance.
These analytics allow business to see their ROI, which can crush any skepticism of whether your ad is making impressions.
Digital advertising and reporting has become so advanced that local businesses can create highly focused messages to be displayed in front of relevant audiences in ways that way never possible before.
This allows brands to ensure their eye catching content is being seen by exactly who they want it to.
Once a customer is aware of your business they still have a problem to solve doing research online searching for solutions. They start searching for brands. If a customer came into contact with one of your advertising efforts, can they easily find you online?
Regardless of what industry your business is in, it needs to be easily findable online. Why? Customers want to compare products, find your location, get a sense of pricing all before they even set foot in your store.
Buying decisions are more commonly being made online. Now, up to 88% of consumers now engage in research before entering a store.
Image Source: Vendasta
Every business should be concerned with how easily their customers can find their business online. In today’s world the business that wins is the most findable.
So what can you do to ensure your customers can find you?
Ensure your location is listed online
Include key searchable words in your websites copy
If you are redoing your website, ensure that the company you are using is up to speed on SEO.
Video Source: Zero Moment of Truth with Google Think Insights
As we have discussed, customers no longer go to the first business they see, they spend a great deal of time researching online before hand.
As a business you must be aware of the conversations which are surrounding your business and their potential impact.
The customer wants validation of their decision to buy from you, and you need to start earning their trust. There are two things you will have to monitor and be aware of when a customer is considering buying from you.
1. Online reviews:
Many customers take a look at reviews before they would consider buying anything. Having positive reviews will increase the likelihood that another consumer will purchase your product exponentially.
However, have a negative review that wasn’t responded to effectively and your customers won’t be able to run away fast enough!
2. Social Media Presence:
A consistent on brand presence on social media tells your viewers allot about your business. Being active on the relevant social channels shows your target market your personality and helps humanize your business.
It also shows that you care about customer service and value interacting with customers. It is such a powerful tool to frame your business positively.
Being active on social media, engaging with consumers with online conversation, and having a glowing 4-5 star rating online will set you apart from your competition and win you more business.
Image Source: EveryMerchant
Once a consumer has done ample research, they are probably ready to make a purchasing decision. When a customer reaches this stage, you want to make everything in the purchasing process simple and easy.
That way they do not get frustrated and abandon the transaction.
If a customer has made it to the point of sale and they are unable to purchase what they want on your website, they will often defer to your closest competition.
Not being able to to follow through with your customer lifecycle will have wasted your previous efforts of capturing customer attention and building trust. Essentially, promoting your competition.
Even if you are a small local business it is a good idea move purchasing services to your website. Especially, E-commerce options that allow for instant online purchasing.
More and more local business offer online storefronts to accommodate for online shoppers. Neglecting to do so will leave you several steps behind.
Once a business converts a web search to a purchase, the customer then has the opportunity to influence the customer lifecycle of others.
If the customer has a very negative purchasing experience, they are extremely likely to share this with others. Negative comments or review can be extremely costly to a local business if not dealt with in the appropriate manner.
Your best defence to these comments are offering an amazing customer experience every step of the way. Amazing customer service is one of a business greatest assets and best source of free marketing.
Here are the 5 steps again to win the hearts and minds of your customer:
These steps can take a few months to develop so if you want to get it right drop us a line if you need some help!
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