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Building your online presence and giving your customers a voice

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When it comes to running a successful business, it’s of the utmost importance to make your customers feel their opinions are being heard. They need a window into your business, a way of communicating with you, whether it’s to praise you or tell you something needs working on. A business with an effective online presence is far more likely to get customers through the door. In turn, a business which allows its customers a voice will get them through the door and ensure they return time and time again.

Advances in the social media sphere mean that business owners now don’t necessarily need to talk to each individual customer in person, but can acknowledge and respond to what they have to say from their online hub. Your online identity says a lot about your business, so make the most of it with these top tips.

Create a visible, customer-friendly platform

It’s crucial for a business to be visible online. It’s important to make it easy for customers to talk to you by making yourself known on review sites, such as Yelp. In an increasingly online sphere, people are keen to talk about your business on the web, whether in a positive or negative light. Strategically, it is far better to acknowledge this, and open the floor to allow them to talk to you, rather than only about you.

Creating an online profile allows you to be in control and ensure potential customers have the correct information and know all the best things about your business. Giving them the power to have their opinions heard ensures they feel listened to and valued, which will make them want to come back. Even a bad first impression can be salvaged by taking the time to respond and apologise, and complainers could (and do) end up loyal customers.

At Yelp, we’ve developed a free Revenue Estimator tool, to give business owners an indication of how much revenue is generated by having an online business listing, as a place from which to keep in touch with the buying public.

Tell a story

People like to know about other people. Tell your potential customers where you’re from and who you are, in order to really connect with them. If you talk to them, they are far more likely to want to talk to you, and ultimately make that all-important purchase decision. For example, your local family-run pub may have a lot of charm and character in the flesh, but if that isn’t put across to people beforehand, they’ll never make the decision to visit.

Businesses can create an online journey for their customers before they’ve even reached the door, without having to spend vast amounts of money on more traditional marketing methods. Creating a full website may not always be right for every business, but maximising social media and review sites really goes the distance in building an online presence with a personality.

Bring your business to life with images

Your online profile is the first thing potential customers will see, so it’s vital to really bring it to life and give it a personality. Images are a fantastic way to really showcase your business and some research we carried out at Yelp indicates that users stay over 2.5 times longer on business pages that have photos on them compared to those that don’t.

Pick photos that are colourful and vibrant, and make sure there are enough of them to really peak customers’ interest. It’s also imperative to keep these photos up to date, so if you’ve had a revamp or rebrand, be sure to pop up some photos so customers new and old know exactly what to expect. With review sites such as Yelp, users are also able to upload their own photos of your business, which adds a further personal touch.

Include as much information as possible

Even if a product or service sounds like the best thing since sliced bread, if a customer can’t contact you because of an out-of-date phone number, they’ll quickly think again. Any online profile for your business must include updated contact details at the very least. Additionally, include information on other aspects such as pricing, business hours and nearest public transport links. Make sure all details are easy to find and that your profile is easy to navigate. Ultimately, ensure you never leave your customers needing more information on your services.

Published on Monday 07 October by Editorial Assistant

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