With the yearend holidays around the corner, people are about to travel to be with family and friends, in the process exploring cities and towns, looking for restaurants, entertainment and attractions, and places to stay overnight.
Local businesses will be happy to learn that it's not too late to drive traffic and bookings for the busy holidays. Although there may not be enough time to start a blog or redesign a website, just a few small improvements to your online presence can make a huge impact.
Here are some smart moves I've seen businesses make that have resulted in big differences in little time.
The obvious place to start is mobile. Because 92% of families own mobile devices, we can assume that's where most of these on-the-go visitors are going to be finding businesses, activities, and attractions. Providing an intuitive and pleasant mobile experience is therefore a top priority.
Many businesses that already have mobile-friendly websites still miss out on key features that customers want. Those features will work even if you haven't yet optimized your site for mobile-friendliness.
For example, here are a few improvements a local wine shop made to its site to make it easier for customers using their phones:
- Click-to-call: Making customers memorize a number or copy/paste it into their phone to make a call can be frustrating; when you add some simple code, your customers can simply tap a phone number to connect to your friendly and helpful staff.
- Google Maps or Apple Maps integration: Linked company addresses enable mapping apps to open automatically, helping customers find a business quickly.
- Correct keyboards: Asking someone to enter their phone number? Make their phone pull up the number pad. Asking for an email? A date? A password? You can make sure the right keyboard pops up for the right field.
- Compelling visuals: Images render clearly and videos play with ease across devices.
Such mobile accommodations are some of the easiest (and fastest) ways to substantially improve a site's user experience and deliver a great first impression to new customers. But smart, successful businesses don't stop there. They also have dialed-in website content that appeals to what customers might be looking for.
Recently, I spoke with a tourist-activity business in Florida that recently revamped its content strategy to attract more of the city's vacationers and visitors. The work it did, which others should emulate, included the following:
- Business hours: Website and business listings have current business hours. Google serves up that information right in the search results, and it even allows businesses to create season-specific hours.
- Events calendar: Upcoming events are listed with the day, time, and event information, and past events have been removed.
- Outdated information: If you have anything coming up, you should add them; but, more important, if there's anything listed that's from the past, remove it. There's nothing worse as a signal to potential customers that businesses either don't care about keeping their website current or are too lazy to do so.
- Friendliness audit: Family-friendly, pet-friendly, gluten-free, green, wheelchair-accessible, and other accommodations are listed prominently on the website.
- Reviews: Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google My Business, and Facebook reviews are linked on the site. Considering that more than 90% of consumers read reviews to learn others' opinions of a business, reviews should be easy to find.
- Driving directions: Customers coming from East, West, North, or South find turn-by-turn directions.
Ironically, one of the best ways businesses work on their online presence is to work on their offline presence. Hosting events or get-togethers with the neighborhood generates great foot traffic and increases the chances that someone will check in or leave a review. Another smart tactic is sponsoring an event or organization; it gets visibility to communities and typically results in a link that helps SEO and drive site traffic. After all, what you find online is put there by a person who lives offline.
The holidays may be right around the corner, but it's not too late for businesses to ensure their online presence is prepared.
My recommendation is to start thinking like customers: They will likely have their mobile phone nearby, and they are looking for a memorable experience (and might not know their way around your city). It's small shifts in thinking like these that will make a world of difference to potential customers. And when potential customers are around only for a few days, it might be the only chance a business gets to serve them.