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7 How to Drive Sales Offline With Local Online Calls to Action

One of the real underutilized opportunities these days is to use your online presence to drive local offline sales.

Call to ActionIn order to do this you must think beyond the content aspects of your website and start to think about ways to tap local buying behavior and enable local buying tools.

The heart and soul of this kind of thinking is the tried and true call to action. Marketers have been using the simple act now, buy now, call now language to get prospects to take all manner of action since the dawn of advertising.

As Internet use has become the primary way that even local shoppers find information and make buying decisions, it’s become essential for local businesses to integrate local calls to action into their websites.

It’s easy to think this is something that only restaurants and salons can take advantage of, but with mobile and search use so high almost any type of business, even professional services, can benefit from this idea.

Example calls to action

Free pass

Let’s say you have a membership type of offer like a gym. Put a “get a free pass” button and form on your site so that you can put a free trial offer in their hands before they come to your door.

A financial planner could use this same approach for a upcoming seminar on investment advice. Or you could allow customers to grab a “bring a friend” pass for an early bird sale.

The easiest way to handle this would be a button that linked to a print friendly web page, but you could also use a form so you could capture a little info and send the pass to their mobile device.

Coupons

People love coupons and coupons certainly drive sales. This is an approach you can update and rotate with all kinds of new products, sales and sample offers.

A restaurant could place a coupon for a free appetizer on Tuesday night, but an insurance sales person could also place a coupon for a free iTunes card with every rate quote.

You can create your own trackable coupons through services such as Coupontank and don’t forget to use the coupon feature on your Google Places page as well as locally focused networks such as Local.com and Craigslist.

Click to call or chat

Many times people that come to your website either don’t immediately find what they are looking for or wonder whether you have that cute little dress on your homepage in their size.

By adding services like LivePerson, BoldChat or Olark you can make it very easy for people to call or chat with your business and get that one piece of information they needed so that they jump in the car and come into your business.

Schedule now

Businesses that run primarily by appointment must start making it easier for today’s mobile enabled customers to book a time on the fly. This means adding appointment booking functionality to your website so that prospects can schedule when it’s convenient for them and see that you have that perfect spot open in two hours when they are free.

There are a number of click to schedule tools like ClickBook, GenBook  and Schedulicity.  Or use the tool set from a service like Agendize that allows you to add call, chat and schedule options all from one tool.

Driving call to action

In addition to you creating compelling offers and tools you’ll want to promote the fact that you have openings, coupons and special.

Pay per click – Using locally focused Google AdWords in conjunction with your call to action is a tremendous way to get terrific offline bang for your online spend.

SocialFacebook has a very robust local targeting mechanism that offline businesses have been using along with strong offers to act. You can also use tools like the Wildfire app to create calls to action right on your Facebook page.

Don’t forget to Tweet your Tuesday offer and drive customers to your site to get their coupon.

21 5 Ways For Small Businesses To Get In The Location Game

foursquareLocation based check-in type services are this year’s overhyped topic – with good reason. While you may not understand why someone wants to be the mayor of their barber shop, you do need to recognize the behavior that social location services such as Gowalla, Foursquare, Yelp! and Facebook Places represents for the local business.

Shoppers these days are using the Internet to find everything locally and increasingly using mobile devices, services and apps to effectively bypass even the web to find a merchant. What that means is that local small businesses need to find ways to tap into the behavior and not necessarily try to ride the hype wave to Foursquare fame.

Below are five ways the local small businesses can capture their own personalized version of social location behavior and tap what may be the ultimate online to offline combo to produce sales.

Create virtual rewards programs – Rewards programs such as those offered by most coffee shop via punch cards or large retailers like Eddy Bauer have been around for years, but smart offerings by folks like PlacePop are making the punch card concept an easy virtual or online play. Merchants can offer their own version of a check in and capture rich data on their most loyal customers.

Ride the group buying craze – If you’re not familiar with group coupon buying services like Groupon, then you’re probably not reading this blog. Facebook app maker WildFire offers small businesses the ability to create their own group buying offers and take advantage of the viral and social nature of this play to create local Facebook engagement.

Google Places coupons – When local shoppers do turn to a search engine for local shopping they often uncover your Google Places Page (or at least you should be working to make sure they do) Google has a handy coupon tool that automatically creates mobile versions of your coupons and offer. Here’s more information on Google Places Mobile Coupons

Advertise on mobile coupon networks – You can also place your ads on Mobile coupon networks and get distribution of your coupons across many local sites.

Make your own game – The game playing aspect of many of social location biggies is an aspect that should not be overlooked when trying to develop your own strategy. The web app SCVNGR is a tool that allows you to create your own game and have it related to verified checkins for a specific QR code. This would be pretty cool for a merchant association to use to create their scavenger hunt check in game.

And, of course, make sure your business is listed with the major players – Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places