Having a website these days is only half the battle. For businesses to be discoverable by the millions of people searching online for service providers every day, business owners must think about ‘discoverability,’ or simply put, how people will find them online. As both general and niche recommendation websites such as YellowPages.com, Angie’s List and NextDoor, grow in popularity, having a strong presence on each is an important step for anyone who wants to be where their future customers are.
A recent survey of 803 US homeowners conducted by Invoice2go and Zogby Analytics explored how everyday consumers find independent service providers for jobs around the house. We asked consumers, “Where do you turn to find service providers for home projects?” and here is what they revealed:
It’s no surprise 55% of people turn to offline recommendations from friends/family and watercooler chat, but there’s a host of online sources that people take into account when deciding who to hire. It’s worth taking the time to create a profile on each website that’s relevant for your business, as each one represents a new set of potential customers you can tap into.
Top tips for bolstering your online presence
It’s not just a thick book of numbers anymore. Today, YP has an extensive website and a mobile app. And with a highly credible and recognizable brand behind it, 36% of homeowners say they turn here first. There is a lot to maximise with a free account on YP – add your business name, location, category and other detail. When your business page is set up, upload images, add your website and social media links and then, receive and reply to reviews. You also choose to spend a minimal amount to advertise on YP.com. This will make a big difference in how many people see your listing.
It’s one of the leading (and fastest-growing) service review websites online. Creating a listing is free, and you can list your business in specific service categories and geographical areas, making it an economical and easy way to advertise to a targeted group of customers. Avoid any industry jargon in your ads that customers won’t understand. Beyond the free listing service, Angie’s List has helpful tools like LeadFeed, which delivers job leads via email to your business so you get the jump on your competition. Of course, Angie’s List is best known for its reviews, so the more positive reviews you get, the better you’ll stand out. Getting these can be tricky, however, so encourage satisfied clients to leave a review shortly after you finish the job and provide them a direct link to your business profile.
The world’s number one social network is a trusted source for business recommendations. Setting up a business page is free, and with over a billion users, it’s a great way to reach potential customers. Targeted ads can be purchased for a minimal cost, and can reach very specific clientele depending on age, location, interests, etc. Be sure to keep the page active and engage with your customers by frequently posting announcements, promotions, related articles and photos. Plus, Facebook is a powerful platform to show your business’ experience and credibility via customer reviews. Encourage customers to leave a review on your business page as it’s an easily accessible platform for potential customers to find you and a great insight of your small business’ performance.
Provider of an online network for neighbors to advertise items for sale, events, safety issues, NextDoor is most importantly know for business recommendations and classifieds. If you have a service like babysitting or tree trimming, NextDoor is a fantastic and free way to advertise locally. It also has the added benefit of letting you get to know your neighbors better, which is something often lacking in this digital age.
Building trust & credibility through online profiles
74% of homeowners said “experience” is the top thing they look for when deciding whether or not to hire someone. Look for opportunities to showcase past projects and referrals from customers, whether it be through a customer quote, or via an online review.
If you are using a review site that offers a star rating system, take care to respond to negative reviews in a helpful, transparent manner. Doing so could pleasantly surprise your customer, and in turn encourage them to change your rating for the better. Even responding to positive reviews shows you are engaged and committed to the customer from beginning to end.
Also consider the more subtle ways to build trust. A well cared for profile can go a long way in establishing credibility in the eyes of your future customer. Things like leaving fields blank, making grammatical errors, or failing to include a photo can lead to lost opportunities.
Word of mouth still rules
Having an online presence is a necessity for any small business, but never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth referrals. 55% of the people surveyed still depend on offline recommendations from friends, family, and coworkers. Referral programs are a great incentive for this. Offer clients a discount for every person they refer to your business. Always encourage your network to tell others about your services. And if you’ve also got them engaged online, your presence will grow exponentially. Visibility means more clients, better cash flow, and a secure future for your business.