You’ll quickly find there’s a group of people who embrace the culture of journaling their life online via check-ins and photo-sharing. These people usually feel happy and appreciated when they get asked questions about it or acknowledged for doing so because they’re doing it out of their own interest. So don’t worry about being obtrusive or appearing nosey. If you approach it from the mindset of engaging customers so you can better serve them, they’ll be happy to talk about their online preferences.
You can also add a sign reminding customers to check in at your location. Yelp and FourSquare in particular have many marketing items you can get for free including window stickers and QR codes to educate and remind people.
Watch Your Local Profiles
To get the most from your local profile, you need to manage it. Train your managers to check the profiles daily or at least once a week to respond to new reviews. If there’s a negative review, you want to immediately reply to the customer to turn the situation around.
For example, if a customer writes that he received poor service, apologize, assure him that’s not your company’s culture, and offer him an incentive to return and try you again. When others see how you handled the negative comment, they’ll see it as an isolated incident and not the norm. Conversely, if they see negative reviews with no resolution, they’ll think you don’t really care about customers.
Likewise, when you receive positive reviews, thank the person for visiting and encourage him to return. Use it as an opportunity to reinforce your brand and your company’s image in the community.
Post an Offer
Incentivize people to check in, post a picture or interact in some other way by offering a discount or other perk. Some ideas include a free lock or box, 10 percent off a retail purchase or anything else that would be of value to your customers. Realize that for most people, their smartphone is an extension of their personality and it’s something they carry with them at all times. When your incentive pops up on their app, you’re keeping your company in front of your customers and they will take action, especially if they feel rewarded for doing so.
Small Steps Yield Big Results
Using local platforms to engage and interact with customers is a way to influence offline behavior using online channels. For many people, it’s a new way to look at online marketing, especially since it’s not designed to generate online sales. Therefore, you need to view it as one component of a comprehensive promotional strategy. When you embrace online local marketing as a tool to influence offline sales, you’ll reap the rewards of an integrated marketing campaign.
With more than seven years in Internet and social media marketing, Allison Nuanes is the director of off-site promotions at Volume 9 Inc. She focuses on identifying opportunities for brands to expand their footprint online. Volume 9 creates custom-search marketing campaigns for clients. For more information, visit www.volume9inc.com .