Again this year, Amazon Prime Day brought with it a swell of packages on front porches, making it look like the holiday season was upon us. Indeed, for two straight days in July, grown adults became giddy at the sight of the Amazon delivery person driving around their neighborhood.
For retailers, this so-called “Christmas in July” was a reminder that the holiday season is right around the corner—in fact, it seems to come earlier every year. (Note the Halloween decorations on sale in the hot summer months.) Indeed, retailers’ foot traffic and online traffic alike will see a spike come November, so, given the prevalence of online reviews, now is the time to make sure customers have nothing but good things to say about your business.
With Cyber Week looming, we’ve compiled a short to-do list to kick off your preparatory efforts.
Wield the power of social media to improve and engage
Ever wonder what your customers really think? They’re more than willing to let you know; in fact, they probably already have in online reviews.
Now more than ever, customers are ready and willing to share their opinions online about everything from the lighting in your dressing rooms, to store cleanliness, to customer service. All this feedback is priceless—not only to you, but also to other consumers. Taken to heart and addressed, you can create a gold-star customer experience.
And, social media works both ways: It’s not only an opportunity for you to listen to your customers’ feedback, it’s also a great way for you to engage with them and let them know that you care about their experience. In fact, According to BrightLocal, 45% of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business if it responds to negative reviews. In the end, your reputation and your bottom line benefit greatly from a two-way conversation.
Double-check for accuracy in your online listing
You can’t benefit from online business listings if your information isn’t correct—especially given that more customers are visiting Google My Business pages than the actual brand website. So, before the holiday season hits, make sure your phone number, address and hours of operation are correct online.
Also note that, the more data included in your listing, the higher up your business will be in the search results. Consider adding information like whether you have extended sizes, are handicap-accessible or offer complimentary Wi-Fi.
A high ranking in search results is important for mobile and voice searches as well. Remember that the advent of the smartphone means that most customers can access the internet whenever and wherever—customers aren’t saddled to their home computers when they’re researching where they want to do business. Because there’s much less real estate on a mobile screen than on a laptop screen, only the top three results—the “three pack” —will be displayed.
The best way to show up in the three pack is to request reviews from customers (igniting the silent majority), which increases positive reviews so that star ratings are high, which is tied to an increase in revenue. (In fact, with every full-star increase, you can expect a 5% to 9% increase in revenue.) This is especially important for voice searches, as customers will only get one result, versus several for a mobile search.
Make sure your website is globally optimized
Mobile and voice searches are popular and prevalent, so don’t gamble with customers’ patience, as it’s ironically scarce during the stressful holiday season. Optimize your site for mobile so that it loads quickly.
As mentioned in the last piece of advice, make sure it’s also optimized for voice search. While the number of words typed into a search are few, voice search can include many words with many details. Here’s where a long list of attributes will help your search rankings.
Remember also that visual search is not that far behind either, so posting pictures of the items you sell will prepare for the advent of visual.
Engage in hyper-local marketing to foster authentic customer relationships
The importance of hyper-local marketing cannot be overstated. Find ways to draw in shoppers from each location’s immediate area with special events. For example, if your stores sell cooking equipment, offer cooking classes a couple times a week. In doing so, you not only drive more customers to your store, you build authentic relationships with them and more easily elicit feedback through surveys.
Despite the current 90-degree weather, the holiday season will be here before you know it, so take some time to make changes now in preparation. But these tips aren’t just to get ready for the holidays. Following them consistently will help you build a solid business with a good reputation that draws customers year-round.
Reputation.com specializes in digital marketing services, including reputation management, branding, search optimization and customer reviews.