Small businesses can compete online





 

(NC) — You're a small business owner. You work hard and wear many hats, including managing your online presence. Unfortunately, there are a few common mistakes small business owners make when it comes to this part of the job. Avoiding these mistakes with these tips can impact how you reach customers locally:

• Have you searched your own business on the Internet? Critical business information such as company name, address, telephone number, and email are often posted online, but many small companies haven't even secured a business email address. When customers look for a reputable business, chances are they will skip over yourbusiness@hotmail.com and choose theirbusiness@theirbusiness.com instead.

• Do you have a Google place page? This valuable tool can help your small business show up in local web searches by customers looking for a business like yours – and it's free. When you claim and optimize your page, you have more control over information listed about your business and you gain valuable real estate on Google search results.

• As a small business, there's a good chance a large majority of your client base is made up of local consumers. Companies not taking advantage of free, local online classified options like Kijiji.ca to gather new leads and make new contacts are missing a huge opportunity. Keep ads short and direct with all key company contact information in a bold font. Highlight special skills, areas of expertise, and list local regions where your service is provided.

• Social media as part of your online marketing strategy is the most recent, and free, resource available to small businesses for lead generation. You don't have to be a social media expert to jump on this train; the required time and effort is minimal. The potential reach for new customers and leads is unlimited and you can tailor information to a specific audience. Set up a Facebook page or participate in Groupon deals to reach more people online.

• What information do customers want? When businesses don't think like a customer they often miss the basic elements of any external-facing online properties. All public background information about your company should be readily available to customers with the click of a mouse. When looking for a skilled trade online, for example, customers want a credible expert with good references who delivers fast and friendly service. Referrals are the best way to get the word out about your good work and offering satisfied customers a free service call if they refer people to you online, is a great way to build your business.

When it comes to having an online presence, at a minimum you need to ensure critical company contact information is available and accurate. Integrating even a couple of the elements above into your marketing efforts will help you reach local customers to grow your business and improve your bottom line.

Scott Neil is the head of vertical business at Kijiji Canada. He is responsible for the strategy, operations and development of vertical businesses at the company, including Kijiji Autos.

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