dreamstime_m_29486446Many small business owners struggle with creating a great online destination for their customers.  If you are a small business operating in a physical location, you likely have a Facebook page, Twitter profile, website and blog.  Deciding where to send your in-store clients can be tricky.  If you send out a postcard mailer, rent a billboard, or even have a sign in your business, you need to communicate an online destination.

Send them somewhere sticky.  One benefit of online traffic is that it can be sticky, meaning people will come back over and over.  If you pay to send someone a postcard, after it’s seen and thrown away that is the end of the relationship; you only get one interaction if you are lucky.  On the other hand, you will have the opportunity to interact with a person for years to come if you send him or her to your Facebook page, and he likes it.  If you get an email address or subscription to your website’s RSS feed, you can send information until the person unsubscribes.

The stickiest thing to get is an email address.  In today’s world of new media, there is really no question that the most valuable piece of online data you can have is a customer’s email address and permission to email.  I would recommend sending people to your website if you have an active web presence (meaning you update your website weekly) and using an email subscribe box or even a pop up subscribe box to capture their email address.

Once you have the email address, make sure you send out emails regularly (at least once per week) with some kind of updated information and, also, with links to your social media profiles.

Make sure you have an easy to remember and type URL.  I have seen domains like “my-business-in-this-city.com.”  Not only is this impossible to remember, but it is also too difficult to type out on a smart phone.  Get a short, memorable domain for your business.

Get a custom URL for your Facebook page.  When you go into your Facebook page settings you can request a custom URL for free.  So instead of reading:  facebook.com/page10956748, yours would read:  facebook.com/transactionexpert.  If your name is already taken, I recommend having your web designer create a forwarding URL from your website (such as yourdomain.com/facebook) that forwards to your Facebook page.  This way you can print an easy to remember URL on marketing materials.

Get a QR Code for your domain and your Facebook page.  This is something that can be done for free at a website like bit.ly.  A QR Code is simply a fancy bar code that smart phones can read through the phone’s camera to automatically bring up your domain or custom URL.  Perhaps at each table in your restaurant you might have a marketing piece saying, “Like Us on Facebook” with a QR Code so your customers do not have to type out the URL.  (Always have the URL below the QR code so people like me who don’t use QR codes can type in the URL the old fashioned way.)

Hopefully these tips will help you figure out where to send your online traffic to build the best long term relationships.  Where do you currently send your customers online?  Do any of you use your Twitter profile as your primary online destination?

Have a great day!

James Shepherd

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