Thursday, January 12, 2012

Merchant advice from "Retail Visioning"


FIRST…a website.

written December 2011
by ChristineMoynihan
 
I am all for Social Media.  I love Facebook and Twitter. But first you need a good looking and search engine optimized (SEO) website.  Too many retailers have jumped over the need to have a good website and headed straight to a Facebook page or Twitter account.  For ease? For cost?  Whatever the reason, if YOU skipped this step I would encourage you to rethink the value of a website.   Research shows that the website is where it all begins!
Social media certainly appears instantly valuable to small businesses like retail stores because it is FREE and because you control it, pushing offers out to “followers” or “friends” when it suits YOU.   Social media does help build loyalty – a desirable yet elusive characteristic of customers these days – but it does not reach NEW customers.   Recent research shows that in early 2011 social media accounted for only 1% of the information people got about local businesses.  If you include restaurants, nightclubs and bars that increased to 3% but that is still fairly insignificant.   For more information you can read an article about this athttp://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2011/12/research-says-social-media-is-not-the-place-people-get-local-business-data.html
So where do they get information?   Search engines.  Google, Yahoo, Foursquare, etc. are STILL the places people go to find what they want.  And how do YOU get found through these search engines?  With a website that understands and makes good use of the words customers will search for!   There are other website characteristics that will also move your site up in Google or Yahoo rankings.   Some of those include how long you have had your website up, how rich the content is (with images, videos, etc.) and how many links there are to your site (even a link to Mapquest for directions to your store will help!) – but start thinking about what customers might be looking for and be sure those KEYWORDS will direct people to your site.  The more specific you are the higher the likelihood will be that the “searcher” will convert and become a customer.   For example from weak to strong:
Apparel…Women’s Apparel…Women’s Large-sized Apparel…Women’s Large-sized Apparel Newton, MA
I would encourage you to pay attention to what social media tools might work best for you and learn about how you could link a Facebook page or Twitter account to your website and make offers to those customers who DO find you.    But check out your own website for good quality SEO and help them find you FIRST!  For more information about keywords talk to your web developer or check out www.wordtracker.com or www.wordstream.com *
*Any suggestions to investigate resources for more information should not be construed as an endorsement of those sites, publications or products by either Christine Moynihan or RetailVisioning.

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