Practical Ecommerce

3 Phases to Engaging (and Retaining) Local Prospects

You’ve created a website for your business. You’ve set up your social media profiles, and you’ve even set up all your local business listings, such as your Google My Business listing. Now what?

Certainly a typical plan would be to start posting, which would entice the locals to engage with you on social media, and become customers. Unfortunately, that just doesn’t magically happen.

What you post on your blog and on your social media accounts is critical.

Think about a strategy that fits your local business. Present a consistent message across all of the social platforms and on your website. For example, if you have a back-to-school sale, describe it in a blog post, along with some in-store pictures of your back-to-school products. Then post those pictures and the same back-to-school descriptions on your social media accounts, too.

What you post on your blog and on your social media accounts is critical.

For your strategy to lure the right shoppers to your local business, first identify them. Develop a persona of your ideal customers. Identify their age, their income, and their interests. This will help decide what type of content to post, to reach them.

A successful local business marketing campaign consists of three critical phases:

  • Growing the followers of your blog and social media accounts;
  • Getting those followers to engage with you;
  • Retaining the followers.

Growing Followers

Certainly the first phase is critical. Without followers, all posts are meaningless, as no one will see them. In today’s social media world, it is difficult to get started if you don’t pay — especially on Facebook.

Take that persona you created, and start with one simple idea for content. If you were your ideal customer, is there something important in the local area that you’d want to know? Is there an event coming up? Maybe something related to the weather or getting prepared for upcoming season?

Your first post or first series of posts shouldn’t be trying to sell something. It should be useful and interesting — that readers would share with their friends — to expose your business to the community.

Once you have that first piece of content, that interesting thing that is shareable, post it on your blog. Then post it on Facebook and, keeping your persona in mind, boost that post (with as little as $5 to $10), targeting your local area. Narrow down the demographics and interests from your persona. It may take a few posts and a few ideas before you start getting followers and likes. But, again, the first phase should be not about selling. Build up the following first.

Engagement

The next phase, getting people to engage, will come with time. There won’t be anyone to engage — like, share, comment — on your blog and social media posts without followers. So, not constantly selling is key. When followers are ready to buy, they will remember you.

There are different types of posts that will help people engage with your local business.

  • Timely posts. This could include news or events in your community. Are the schools closed due to the weather? Is there a local concert coming?
  • Photos. A daily or weekly photo of your local business can be interesting. If it’s posted regularly, your followers will come to expect it. Are you a nail salon? Ask to post photos of your customers’ nails when they’re done. It might take 10 or 20 photos, but after seeing them repeatedly, a follower might get her nails done.
  • How-to posts. A major brand that I follow posts frequently on social media and on its blog. The posts that are the most viewed and most shared are instructional — how to do something. And they always get many comments.
  • Twitter. Use Twitter’s search to identify keywords related to your business and your city. If you’re in Dallas, Texas, for example, search for “Dallas.” Identify the top tweets — and respond those people that fit your persona. Demonstrate that you’re a real person. They will follow you. You’ll build a large following of people who will share, like, and retweet.
  • Google My Business. Google’s local maps and its Google My Business service has a few ways to keep things current. You can upload photos of your business. Doing that regularly, perhaps a different monthly photo of the outside of your business, can help. Keeping the information, such as business hours, up to date is helpful, too. And responding to all reviews, whether positive or negative, is key.
  • Blog. Think of the blog on your website more about keeping your company’s name in front of prospects. It’s not about selling. If you’re constantly posting about a sale, people will eventually ignore it, even if it’s a good deal. But if it’s interesting, they will read it and share it.

Retaining Followers

Finally, retaining your social media followers is crucial. Once you’ve figured out the content they will engage with, keep it going. And, if someone posts a comment, respond timely. Keep the conversation going if it’s appropriate.

Bill Hartzer

Bill Hartzer

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Comment ( 1 )

  1. Carlos Rivera September 15, 2016 Reply

    Great advice. Thank you!