If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. It’s an age-old phrase used to remind us that the proximity of the business is as important to your success as the service and products you offer. Most of the time people use the phrase to speak about the physical presence of the business, but it could just as easily be said of your online business presence. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re an outdoor retail store, a dentist, or tax accountant, every business has an online presence.
In the past, your physical store presence was central to the way your business attracted customers. Today, your digital storefront–your business listing on review sites like Yelp or your business profile on Google–is the key to attracting new customers.
The best location is the one nearest your customer
There are more smartphones in America than there are adults, meaning internet-connected devices are always within arm’s reach. With that in mind, online business listings are the most valuable piece of real estate, and small business owners can have it for free.
In the past, small business owners only had to think of “near” as the proximity to their prospective customer’s home. Today, consumers are constantly on the go. They look for businesses when they’re stuck in traffic. They’ll make a “near-me” search as they leave a competitor’s store because they didn’t find what they needed. They’ll make “near me” searches when they’re waiting for their kids to get out of soccer practice or during weekend errands.
In the age of the modern shopper, the idea of “near” has expanded drastically. People don’t mind making a trip across town to visit a specific business if they believe that store will fit their needs. These days, “near” is synonymous with being on businesses on review sites, because proximity doesn’t matter if they can’t find you when they go looking. After all, if you’re showing up on customers’ smartphones, that’s about as “near” as you can get.
The best location is one with the most foot traffic
One of the key points behind the location-mantra is to position your business in the path of shoppers, so you don’t have to worry about finding ways to attract them to your business. So consider this:
- 97% of people read online reviews for local businesses
- 75% of people will visit a store they find during that search
- 28% of those people will make a purchase
In other words, not only is there a heck of a lot of foot-traffic available to businesses with online listings, there is a lot of intent to buy among shoppers using review sites. To put it another way: review sites and online listings are some of the top locations for business owners looking to tap into more foot-traffic.
In the past, that meant you’d open your automotive shop in or near the industrial parts of your hometown. If you were a retailer, it meant opening your store as near as possible to the mall or local retail center. If you wanted to be a contender in your city for your industry, you’d make sure you opened shop in an area where the customer already knew to look. Business owners did this to make it easier for customers to find them.
In today’s world, customers already know where to look. Now, it’s up to businesses to get with the times and own their online business presence.
The best location is the one closest to your biggest competitors
There’s a good chance your biggest competitors are using online review sites. If you want to see for yourself, hop on Yelp, Google My Business, or TripAdvisor and see which businesses show up when you search for products or services like yours. But just as the idea of “near” has expanded, so too has the idea of a competitor.
Have you ever noticed that you rarely find a McDonalds standing alone? There are usually other fast-food type businesses nearby, too. A part of the strategy behind these other businesses placing their store in proximity to a competitor is related to the previous section of this post: they’re placing the business in the path of foot traffic. But there’s more to it than that.
Your competitors picked their physical location because it was the best place for them to be. This is true of their online listings, as well. They are online because they know it’s the best place for them to be if they want to attract new customers.
One of the best ways to remain competitive or to increase your competitive edge is to make sure your business shows up in every search result your competitors do. The best way to do that is to make sure you’re on the right review sites and have an updated and active profile that properly reflects your business.
It’s never been easier for local, independent business owners to improve the “location” of their business without moving at all. Every local business has access to free listings on popular sites that attract millions of potential customers every day. Sadly, too many business owners aren’t taking advantage of their best customer acquisition channel.
That’s why we do what we do. Our primary objective is helping small business owners thrive in the digital world. Womply provides the tools small business owners need to stay up-to-date on all their review and business listing sites. Our reputation management tools will make sure you’re always aware of any new comments, reviews, or recommendations, so you’re never caught off guard. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!