According to McKinsey & Company, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) account for approximately 48 percent of the American economy.
However, with COVID-19 restrictions making it tougher for consumers to physically get out to shop, many of these SMB businesses might be forced to close their doors for good.
In times like these, SMBs are challenged to think of creative ways to stay in business by moving their operations online in order to continue servicing customers.
It’s a trend that’s in full swing today. According to Forbes, there has been a 129 percent year-over-year growth in ecommerce orders in the United States and Canada.
However, the move to online can be daunting and overwhelming for many local businesses.
Digital marketing agencies can help by offering necessary tools and resources to make the transition to online easier.
How to help businesses online
Some of the ways that marketing agencies can help businesses make the move include:
1. Build an ecommerce website
Ecommerce has many advantages over traditional in-store retail.
It helps break the barriers of being confined to and only doing business within a specific location. You gain new customers through the internet and it’s the first step to moving online.
When it comes to helping businesses build their websites, digital marketing agencies should keep four elements in mind including choosing a domain name, a secure hosting option, a content management system, and a website builder.
To add the capability of selling online, it’s also important to choose an ecommerce platform that enables the ability to build an online web store.
Finding separate tools to address each of these elements could be overwhelming for both businesses and agencies.
However, there are several all-in-one solutions that make this task easier by offering professional website templates that are ecommerce-enabled and come with plug-and-play functions.
These templates are also customizable and can be modified to suit specific business needs. The presence of easy-to-use visual builders like DiviBuilder eliminates the need for complex coding and makes customization simpler.
From there, all businesses need to do is add products and services to an existing template, customize if necessary, and start selling online.
2. Manage online presence
According to an Uberall survey, 82 percent of mobile shoppers conduct “near-me” or local searches for products and services on their smartphones.
Therefore, visibility on search engines like Google is essential for businesses to ensure customers can easily find them.
Digital marketing agencies can help SMBs manage online presence through local listings management -- a process where vital business information, like name, business hours, address, contact details, and website details are continually updated on online directories.
By using listing builder solutions, agencies can help businesses keep their listings information current, which can improve their search engine optimization (SEO) rank. This increases the likelihood of customers finding them through higher ranking on search engines.
Furthermore, agencies can also help businesses reduce the burden of tackling hundreds of online directories together and, by using add-ons, information can be updated instantly at all sources with just the click of a button.
3. Monitor online reputation
Constant monitoring and management of a businesses’ online reputation is essential because approximately 95 percent of customers read online reviews before making a purchase.
However, managing reviews for numerous websites can require a great deal of effort and constant monitoring. Failing to respond to even a single negative review may lead to permanent harm and the loss of current and potential customers.
Digital marketing agencies can help businesses overcome these challenges by offering reputation solutions to help manage reviews from multiple websites through one central location.
The aggregation of all reviews from numerous online websites in one location, and the ability to respond to them right from that dashboard, helps businesses save time and effort by eliminating the need to visit those websites separately to respond.
Businesses can see their average review score from all sources, compare that score with the industry average based on their competitors’ score, and take necessary action to improve.
They can also get insights into the keywords that their customers use the most in their reviews while talking about their business. For example, if the keyword “customer service” is associated a lot with negative reviews, it means that customer service is lagging.
Finally, businesses can keep track of answers to the questions that customers might ask about your business on Google. Often these answers might be outdated or incorrect, in which case it may lead to your business losing customers.
4. Social media management
A total of 79 percent of the United States population had a social networking profile in 2019, making social media an important tool for businesses to build and grow customer relationships.
It’s also an important platform for receiving constructive customer feedback on business products and services, as well as addressing their complaints.
But customers expect to get responses in under 30 minutes of posting, so it’s critical to stay on top of managing all social media platforms in a timely manner.
Doing so could be challenging for a business that has just transitioned online. Managing multiple social channels gets confusing and overwhelming, leading to lost messages and missed posts.
Digital marketing agencies can help businesses plug the gaps by using social media solutions to manage all channels from a single dashboard and schedule posts in advance so that you never miss a day if you’re away.
You can also analyze relevant metrics, like reach and engagement, to determine the posts that are working and those that are not.
5. Gather online customer reviews
Online reviews can have a direct impact on small business revenue. Therefore, a great way for businesses to get more customers is to simply ask existing ones to write a review about their experience.
According to Womply, businesses with more than the average number of reviews across all review sites bring in 54 percent more in annual revenue.
A case study on a local pizza restaurant explains how it was able to grow sales by 30 percent because of a 4.9 star online review rating. The restaurant was able to improve its rating because it sent review requests to its customers through Vendasta’s Customer Voice product.
Digital marketing agencies can use similar solutions to get more customer reviews for their business clients by creating personalized messages and connecting with these customers through either email or text messages.
Customers can then be directed to third-party review websites and social media channels where they can leave reviews on public-facing platforms.
6. Create and send email campaigns
Once they move online, SMBs can grow their businesses through email marketing campaigns by targeting customers who have purchased something from them in the past.
Forbes recommends getting repeat customers is the best way for business to grow, and email marketing can help build those relationships.
Email marketing solutions that send automated drip campaigns to customers are an effective tool. Plus, businesses can make use of pre-made customizable email templates without having to put in time and effort into creating new campaigns from scratch.
Local Business Online Toolkit
Digital marketing agencies can help their existing and future customers move their businesses online by using the Local Business Online Toolkit (LBOT).
The LBOT is a set of freemium (free and premium) digital solutions for marketing agencies where they can offer services including ecommerce website development, online reputation management, social media management, email marketing, and listings management.
Sign up for a FREE LBOT training course with Vendasta Chief Customer Officer, George Leith, who shares his expertise and shows you how to dive deep into each Vendasta freemium product.
Take the course today and help your business customers make the move to online and succeed.