Eliminate website and social media sins
Bruce Bjorkman -- Casual Living, April 3, 2013
It's shocking how many hearth and Barbecue retailers are ignoring two of the most important promotional tools available to them. I'm referring to your store's website and Facebook page.
As a retailer operating in the 21st century, you can no longer ignore the absolute importance of having a properly updated website and Facebook presence.
The list of "sins" I see on retailer websites and Facebook pages astounds me. Unfortunately, it's also costing you new customers and the ability to position your store as the "go-to" business in your community.
One of the most important components of any website or Facebook page is fresh, relevant content. You're making a huge mistake if you use these two media platforms as strictly advertising devices. Both your website and Facebook page should be updated on a consistent, frequent basis. Use them to pass along useful information. By keeping your content topical, timely and current, your site and Facebook page can become valued information destinations to customers and potential customers. Cross-link updated information from your website to your Facebook page and vice versa.
Here are some of the most common "sins" I see being practiced:
1 Not having a website or Facebook page. In today's technologically advanced consumer society, not having either one of these avenues of exposure makes you invisible to the consumer. People of all ages are using the Internet to do their research before they make their purchases. If your store doesn't have a website or Facebook presence, you're out of sight, out of mind to the consumer. There is no excuse not to have both of these information portals for your store up and running.
2 Having a website that is tired and old in its appearance. If it's been more than two years since you redesigned your website, you are woefully out of date. If you don't have the money to hire a firm do the redesign, explore having a college or university student in graphic arts, website design or marketing work on your website for class credit.
3 Misspelled words and bad grammar detract from the image of professionalism you should be exhibiting. You can never have enough spell-checkers look over your copy to help you catch these mistakes. Likewise, regularly review your site to catch misspellings and grammatical errors.
4 Making it difficult to find your phone number or business address on your website. This should be prominently displayed on the front page of your website. Make it easy for consumers to contact your business. Otherwise, they'll move on to a retailer who makes it easy for them to contact.
5 Expired sales event information. It's unfortunate how many retailers have an August sales event still being promoted on their website in March! Set-up a reminder to take expired sales event information off your website and Facebook page the day after the sale ends.
6 Infrequent or non-current blog entries. If you want people coming back to your website, you must have up-to-date content. Otherwise, why should they even come back to your site?
7 One of the biggest "sins" is the Under Construction notice consumers oft en see on un-completed websites. Believe me, consumers won't come back to the site. Instead, put up a "splash page" with a photo of your store, hours of operation, phone number and product logos. This will at least give you a temporary presence, rather than turn off an interested consumer.
8 Failure to promote your website on all printed matter and advertising associated with your store.
9 Insert a Facebook "badge" on your website to cross-promote your presence in this social media.
The same holds true with Facebook. It's a wonderful promotional tool, which allows you to interact with your customers. The trick to successfully using Facebook, or any social media, is to post frequently with useful information - not just sales notices. Add photos of new products, of in-store events, etc. With today's smartphones, there's no excuse why you can't upload the most current happenings associated with your store.
One of the worst "sins" you can commit is to establish a Facebook page with minimal information and think you're done. You've only just begun the journey. Retailers who are most successful in using Facebook add new posts on a daily basis, hold contests, conduct "quick polls" and simply provide a community where you and your customers can get together virtually and interact.
Yes, this takes some time and effort. If you're unwilling to provide fresh updates to your website or Facebook page, then assign the task to a technologically savvy employee. Just be sure to monitor what they do, because it is your store and public image they are handling.
This interactive technology is part of our daily life. By embracing it, and using it in a proactive and positive manner, we are able to reach new customers, keep in contact with our current customers and establish ourselves as experts in our fields. We cannot escape it. Ignore it at your own risk.