There’s no way around it—local businesses need to make an effort to modernize as customer expectations evolve. Not sure where to get started? The following guide will take you through a six-week journey of modernizing your local business.
Each week, give yourself a score between 0 and 10 for your level of digital integration. Choose 0 if you have no digital technology and 10 if you are fully digital. Re-evaluate this every week to track your improvement. While the rating you give yourself is unlikely to change overnight, you should be able to see a significant increase between weeks one and six.
Week One: SWOT Analysis
Start off with a simple SWOT analysis. As a refresher, SWOT stands for:
This is the perfect time to put your business under a microscope. Think about every aspect of your company and its approach to digitization and tech. Consider everything from your Google Business Profile to your referral program.
During the SWOT analysis, try to put yourself in the position of your customers. Go through the experience of searching for, finding, and interacting with your business online. Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes allows you to see what works well and what doesn’t.
At the end of the first week, you should have a good idea of what works and what you should change or abandon. You should also know what opportunities are worth pursuing and what threats or obstacles can impede your company’s journey.
Week Two: Essentials (Reviews)
In week two, take a closer look at the essentials of your digital strategy, specifically your reviews. You can never underestimate the power of reviews and ratings. People make purchasing decisions based on reading reviews and ratings, so it’s important to know what customers are saying about you.
Start by looking at your total number of reviews and your average rating. Pay attention to where your reviews are listed and how customers rate you on each platform. Depending on your industry, you may want to check Healthgrades, Tripadvisor, Cars.com, and other industry-specific sites. Locate where potential clients would go to learn more about you, and then check your ratings and reviews there.
Once you locate those websites, you can optimize the review process. Evaluate your method of asking your customers for reviews. Regularly changing up your methods can generate many more reviews. For example, asking for reviews via text maximizes the incredibly high open rate of text messages.
Week Three: Interaction Management
Week three should focus on interactions between you and your customers. Assess how customers reach you. What interaction options are you giving them? Is it easier for potential customers to reach your competitors?
If you don’t already offer text messaging as a way for customer to communicate with you, it’s time to change that. Over two-thirds of consumers indicate that they prefer texting to other methods.
Although texting is a great way to connect with customers, make sure you don’t neglect other channels. Consider how you manage messages from channels like Google and Facebook. You might also want to consider switching to a system that integrates all of your messages in a single inbox so that you never miss anything important.
Week Four: Website
In week four, focus on your website. Hopefully, your company already has a website, but if not, consider this the perfect time to make one. When creating or updating your website, make sure that visitors immediately know why your company will matter to them.
Start incorporating a little bit of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) into your website by using keywords people regularly search for. There will be more focus on local SEO the following week, but it won’t hurt to get started while working on your website.
At this point, make sure you set up Google Analytics. This free tool will track your website traffic and give you useful reports to help you evaluate its efficiency in marketing your products.
Make sure that your website ties in with your interaction management by making it easy for customers to contact you through your website. All your contact details should be accurate and easy to follow.
Week Five: Local SEO
Once your website is established, it’s time to dive into your local SEO strategy.
Start by working on your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). You can claim your listing and start setting it up in just a few steps. After claiming your Google Business Profile, make sure your business appears on Google Maps.
Once you’ve done the above, do some local keyword research and create content plans that incorporate those keywords. Claim your listings on other local directories and ensure your contact information and business name are consistent across all listings. Also, test your website speed for technical SEO.
Week Six: Marketing
By week six, you’ll be ready to focus on marketing through technology. Start by assessing how tech can be integrated into your existing marketing strategy.
Consider how your potential clients behave when searching for your products or services. Think about how you capture leads. Consider how you track those leads and how you report on your marketing success. Look into your use of social media and see if you need to update your marketing strategy for those channels.
How to Make the Most of the Process
Simply going through this six-week process will contribute significantly to your company’s digitization and modernization. Still, there are more things you can do to maximize the process. Here are a few more tips to help you out:
→Take Notes as You Go
As you go through the process, take plenty of notes. Write down your current systems and note all the changes you make. If you think of something you want to try in the future, jot it down to keep your focus on your current week’s objectives.
For example, if you are in week four and working on your website, you may find yourself jotting down notes about technical SEO, which you will do the following week. Or, even as early as conducting your SWOT analysis, you may have ideas about digital marketing. Taking notes will help you focus on your current task and allow you to go back to your ideas at the appointed time.
→Use Tools to Your Advantage
You don’t have to do all the steps on your own or manually. Make use of tools that can support you through the process. For example, you don’t have to manually text every client when asking for a review. You can automate the process with a messaging tool like Podium.
→Think of These Six Weeks as a Starting Point
Finally, think of this six-week transformation as just the beginning of a fruitful process. These steps will give you a head start on modernization and digitization, but note that there is always room for improvement.
In today’s world, every business needs to have a digital strategy. By following this guide, in just six weeks, your business can make significant progress toward digitization. By focusing on one attainable goal each week, you can make big accomplishments, become more customer-friendly, and set yourself apart from the competition.