Online & internet marketing, a website, social media and a presence in search engines are all fantastic ways of driving traffic (and revenue) through the doors of a new and unknown or existing cafe or business. In this post about maximising your business presence online we have teamed up with our partner website Caffeinated Marketing @ caffeinatedmarketing.net to help provide business owners with some strategies and services that make online marketing a pain free process.
Caffeinated Marketing have developed a fantastic guide to online marketing which could prove to be an invaluable resource for you, if this is your first venture into the world of websites and social media & we encourage you to make the most of this free resource. We have taken some pointers from this guide to help make them a little more relevant to anyone who may be an existing or new cafe owner & will take a look at some simple steps to ensure your customers can find you online and that you have a working marketing tool to provide value to your business.
We are making social media our first point as this tends to be everyone's favourite online marketing tool - lets take a look at how to maximise this resource.
It's Not Your Website
It is becoming increasingly common for businesses to base their online presence solely on social media such as Facebook. This in itself poses a number of challenges and weaknesses, for example you rely on that service - what if it closes down or loses popularity? Social media is excellent as a form of networking - after all it is where your entire list of friends is often based & where you can easily interact with them. We would encourage you to not let this platform dominate all of your attention online.
Social media is an excellent way of engaging with your customers and allows you to build a community around your brand, however there is immense value in having a central and controlled location for you to base your content such as menu's, blog postings, news & contact information. This is where your website comes in - use this as the mothership, a good platform will allow you to push information out to your social networks and it acts as the central location for everything relating to your business online.
Claim Your Name
This is as simple as setting up an account on all of the social networks that you will be using. You want to claim your business name on these services to stop someone else getting it, that way if someone searches for your business they get served the correct and most relevant listings.
Social Media Services to be considered include, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus & Foursquare along with any others that may be popular or relevant in your area.
Find the Best Fit
While it is important to claim your name on all relevant social media platforms as well as be active on these services, it is important to find the best fit. Foursquare for example lends itself extremely well to physical businesses where people gather such as cafes and has benefits to business as a discovery tool for customers.
Someone new or unfamiliar with an area will use a tool like Foursquare to find good recommendations and what is nearby to discover a suitable establishment for them - use tools like this to ensure that establishment is yours!
The availability of a website as a tool to customers is often under appreciated by small business owners and viewed as an unnecessary cost. The truth is, a listing in the yellow pages or yellow pages online doesn't cut it any more. Customers are looking for and need more comprehensive information than your name, address and phone number, this is where your website comes in! Now the great news here is that you don't need to be a master of code, or even hire an expensive developer if you don't want to.
How is this so? Services such as Squarespace make it so simple to create a fantastic looking website that you can't go wrong. They utilise an array of templates as a starting point, and allow you to customise these to suit your application. With incredibly easy blog management to photo galleries, location information, event promotion and for certain countries commerce is available for you to create an online store to sell your goods. Because their prices are so reasonable the excuse of delaying a website because of cost is no longer an option.
A domain name or URL is the address of your website on the internet, our's is guide2coffee.com. This is an important step in setting up your online presence and just like you have claimed your name on social media - you need to do the same here. It is necessary to do this as soon as possible as this can be a bit like a name gold rush. So we recommend using a domain name registrar like Domain.com to register your domain name.
Where domains are currently un-owned they are typically inexpensive, and it is suggested that you purchase these for the longest duration of time that is financially viable. This proves to services like Google that you are there for the long haul and that your domain is going to be around not just for next week but for the next couple of years.
Once this has been secured it is a few simple steps to link it up with your website to start sending traffic your way.
Keep it Updated
Websites with static information, such as menu's or contact information can become static very quickly. These kind of pages do not provide a return visitor much in the way of 'food for thought', this is ok if you just want a presence and location on the web for your customers to find out a bit more about you.
By implementing a simple blog on your website you can keep your website fresh with new information, this is valuable for your website visitors as it gives them more to view and reasons to keep in touch with your brand but returning time after time. It also helps to keep your website fresh in the eyes of search engines. By utilising this tip and keeping your website updated with relevant, useful information you will attract greater organic traffic through search engines - in turn increasing your exposure to potential customers!!
Another Revenue Stream
Why limit sales of your goods to your physical store? You can capitalise on the reach of your website by utilising e-commerce solutions on your website and making your products available nationwide. This enables you to take advantage of another revenue stream for your business by getting your products into the hands of more customers than you otherwise would've had access to.
E-Commerce can be complicated and clumsy to implement - if you let it. If you are in a supported country such as USA or Canada, at this time services like Squarespace make setting up an online store stupidly easy. In the meantime if you are not in a supported country for the commerce features of Squarespace, there are alternatives that also make it just as simple to integrate an online store into your website. From well designed storefronts, mobile stores, shopping carts and flexible payment options services such as Shopify fit right in with your website. If you would like to try this out for your business, click on the image below for a 14 day free trial of Shopify to see how it works for you.
This is the last point in our how to guide and is definitely not the least important. Analytics refers to the ability to analyse and monitor what traffic is flowing through your website and provides information such as what a customer searched to find your site, or if they were referred from another website. They are also great for understanding what content on your website is popular.
Data is king at the end of the day, if you have a strong understanding of what drives customers to find your brand you will be in a better position to continue providing relevant and useful information. This assists in building recognition of your brand in the mind of your customers as well as increasing engagement and ultimately growing your revenue with repeat, loyal customers.
Tools to consider that provide these services are offered either for free as is the case with Google Analytics and if nothing else you should consider implementing at least this platform. There are also more comprehensive options out there or options that suit different needs, a personal favourite of mine is Woopra which provides real time information about visitors to your site. Either way it is incredibly useful to have a form of monitoring your performance, especially if you plan on utilising paid advertising or certain campaigns as analytics allows you to track your success and ROI on these campaigns.
In full disclosure, we include promoted links to services within this post. We do so to provide recommendations for services that we use, trust and feel offer value to our readers. Should you chose to take advantage of these thank you for your support & we hope you find them useful.