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How to Make Your Business Stand Out From the Competition and Win More Customers

AllBusiness.com logo AllBusiness.com 5/15/2018 Gail Gardner

a red umbrella in the rain © Warakorn- Fotolia.com   Anyone who operates an online business can’t survive without a steady flow of traffic. Facebook’s algorithm change, which devastated organic reach, is the latest in a long history of reasons why many sites go from thriving to dying.

Case in point: Render Media went from being the “second fastest-growing media company in America” in 2016 to “shutting down and blaming Facebook” in 2018, according to the Wall Street Journal. The women’s how-to site LittleThings also recently shut down, citing as well Facebook’s changes as the cause.

Google organic traffic declining, too

As the percentage of total traffic coming from Google has increased, the percentage of traffic coming from Facebook has declined. In this Wired.com story, a graph from Parse.ly shows the precipitous plunge of Facebook traffic coinciding with a steep rise from Google. Here is the data as of March 2018, reprinted with permission of Parse.ly:

a screenshot of a computer © Provided by E-PersonalFinance.com, Inc.  

Source: Parse.ly

But this is not good news. As Dr. Peter J. Meyers regularly reports for Moz, Google is showing fewer and fewer organic results. And if you thought the competition was tough to get a page-one listing, it can only get worse as results go from mostly Google’s walled garden to zero-result SERPS (i.e., search engine result pages).

So what can you do? One important strategy is to make sure your business shows up in searches for long-tail keyword phrases that are most important to your potential buyers.

What do your customers want from you?

No matter where your traffic originates, it’s important to provide your customers with what they most want. So the question is, how can you find out what that is? The easiest way is by finding out which keywords they use when they’re searching online.

Start with a good keyword research tool. While there are many premium tools available, a free tool like Ubersuggest fetches information from Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, and other sources without requiring any log-ins.

Unlike Google’s Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest provides an exact amount of searches instead of just a range. This is essential because Google keeps making changes to the Google Keyword Tool. Even if your account hasn’t been deleted for inactivity, the data it shows may be limited based on your ad spend.

As Google traffic for highly competitive keywords continues to decline, it is there for the taking for long-tail searches. So you must learn to grow your organic traffic by targeting the long tail.

Watch this excellent, short video from Neil Patel explaining five tools you can use to get more traffic to your site:

a person with collar shirt © Provided by E-PersonalFinance.com, Inc.  

As traditional sources of traffic decline, you must evolve your strategy. Be sure to read 14 SEO Ranking Tips to Keep Your Business on the First Page of Google.

But you can’t stop there. As challenging as it is, diversification is essential. Do not give up on Facebook and Google and other search engines—add to them.

How to grow your customers

The best way to bring in more regular customers is to increase your customers’ loyalty. When you have loyal customers, it doesn’t matter as much if your brand isn’t showing up in search results, since you have buyers who are looking specifically for you!

Social media is obviously one important way to build customer loyalty. Read 12 Unique Ways to Build Brand Loyalty Through Social Media for some tips on how to get started.

Customer loyalty arises from great customer service

The most important factor that will generate love for your brand comes from how you treat your buyers. Everything you do, both online and off, needs to be tailored to impress your customers.

One surly employee can cost a business sales and customers. This is true even if customers love the owner and everyone else who works there. Retrain or eliminate any employee who fails to provide exceptional service. It’s hard enough to retain customers without actively running them off.

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Become a destination

Do whatever it takes to become a destination that shoppers set out to visit instead of the place they happen to stop in because they’re in the neighborhood. Think about what makes a business stand out. Why do you pass on certain businesses and only buy from one particular brand? For some ideas, look at places where you eat out regularly.

In my case, I used to eat at a little bar in the middle of nowhere, located over 30 miles from the closest city (because I lived near there and they were the only local place to eat). This bar only served two things: hamburgers and french fries. In spite of that, people drove 30 to 40 miles to eat there because each order of french fries was made fresh from one huge russet potato, and the hamburger meat was purchased from a little old-fashioned butcher in the next town over. So even though the menu had only two items, both of them were exceptional.

Another place I went out of my way to frequent was a non-chain pizza parlor. The brothers who ran the restaurant made the best pizza I have ever tasted. They made the crust and everything else fresh every day from REAL ingredients. Any time I drove through their area, this is where I ate. And I even picked up their pizzas and took them to other people 30 to 60 miles away.

These reasons show why restaurants become destination choices instead of just places where people go to eat because they’re the closest or the cheapest. People like to eat where the food is excellent and where they like the people.

Thank your customers and offer them incentives

There are so many little touches you can do that can make all the difference. I still remember the name of the e-commerce store eCampus because they tucked little gifts into my orders.

My first order included a pen with the company name, URL, and phone number on it. I love a good pen, and theirs wasn’t one of those super cheap pens that’s not worth using. So I parked it in the cup on my desk, and every time I needed another book, or someone asked for a recommendation, they were top-of-mind. The second time I ordered, a T-shirt was included in the order with the company name on it. I wear a lot of T-shirts in the summer, so again, I was reminded of them regularly.

Another site I shop at often is Nuts.com. They always include a small sample of a product that I didn’t order. Doing this costs them very little, increases my loyalty to the company, and also boosts their sales—the next time I buy from them, I may end up purchasing more of the item they sent.

Every business should also use incentives and thank-you notes. E-commerce businesses can have their shipping department sign little personal thank-you notes and tuck one into each order; brick-and-mortar businesses can do similar things, too. Test different types of offers, discounts, samples, and thank-you notes. Believe me, your customers do remember the little extras.

Next steps

Encourage everyone who’s involved in your business to brainstorm ideas on how to stand out. Do some research online to see what other businesses are doing.

As traffic gets tougher to obtain online, focus on new ways to bring in visitors and income. Put customer service first. Build brand loyalty. Become a destination.

There is no easy way to grow consistently. Prioritize, focus on being amazing, and then keep adding new strategies and methods to increase demand for what you offer.

RELATED: Ten Tips to Build Customer Loyalty

The post How to Make Your Business Stand Out From the Competition and Win More Customers appeared first on AllBusiness.com. Click for more information about Gail Gardner.

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