Whether you’re an electrician, plumber, gas engineer or tree surgeon, there are many options available to you when trying to attract new customers to your business. The kind of ideas popping into your head right now may include an advertisement in your local shop or radio station, a personal client recommendation or featuring your company name and telephone number in the local directory. These have proven to be successful marketing tactics in the past, but nowadays there is a much stronger method that millions of tradesmen are already utilising.
The Power of the Internet
The internet is a wonderful creation used by billions of people across the globe each day. It was first thought of way back in the 1960s but created until 1983 – when Arpanet created the TCP/IP system on January 1st 1983. It wasn’t immediately popular though and didn’t engage much interest until the internet took its more noticeable form in 1990 with the growth of web pages and the world wide web. It may not have been popular when it first came about, but it certainly is now.
It is predicted that around 40% of the world's population now has an internet connection in 2015. If you go back 20 years earlier to 1995, this stat stood at less than 1%. The first billion users was reached in 2005, the second billion in 2010, followed by the third billion in 2014. Here in the UK there were 59,328,669 internet users at the last count, and this has increased by an average of 2 million each year.
So the big question is – are you utilising the power of the internet? If you’re not and you’re looking at these internet statistics, then you know what you need to do in order to get your business name out there in front of millions of potential customers across the big wide world of the internet. But how?
Websites and Blogs
A great place to start is by creating your very own website or blog. There are many ways to do this and it is entirely up to you what you choose. Depending on the time you have and the budgets you’ve set for your online marketing and advertisement, there are two ideal options – do it yourself or get a professional in. There are many different companies and website creators across the internet who will be more than happy to help you. By finding a trusted and experienced website designer, they will be capable of creating a company website for your services. Perhaps start by simply Googling ‘UK website designers’ to see thousands of designers pop up in your search, then it is up to you to decide on which web guru you like the look of – it’s always worth doing research about each company though, especially checking their reviews from previous clients if they have them.
However, you don’t always need a professional web design or developer, as there are many websites that allow you to create your own website and blog by yourself. An extremely common website for this is WordPress. Its famed for it ease of use, there are thousands of templates (also known as themes) which you can download. Whichever route you choose, for your professional looking website or blog, then the hard work begins.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the technique that boosts your chances of being listed at the top of the first page on your potential customers Google, Yahoo or Bing search results. Without SEO, your chances are unfortunately very low in succeeding on the internet and being seen. It’s an extremely important process – SEO is the bow to your neatly wrapped present. Even though you’ve got a good-looking website, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be on the first page of Google immediately. A quality website with good website content, regular updates and with new, and interesting content regularly being added will enhance your chances of being discovered by potential customers. Again, there are many SEO companies out there who can help and give your website the SEO boost it requires. There's also plenty of blog articles on line if you want to find out how to do your SEO for yourself. Now you have a website and it’s becoming SEO friendly, what else can you do to ensure you’re reaching your target customers?
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Vine, Instagram – embrace them all and get you and your business name across all of them. It’s important that when you do sign up to different social networks, you try and link your pages together. You should link from Facebook to your website and your website to Facebook, encouraging your readers to follow you.
Social media is extremely effective in attracting new clients to your services. It’s also very easy to get to grips with. Setting up a profile on these sites is hassle free – you often just need an email to sign up, as well as some of your personal details. Once you have a page it’s important to keep your clients informed or entertained by posting on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter. If you don’t have time to post, you can use services such as Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule your posts for you. This allows you to interact with your customers on a regular basis, at the prime times of the day when they will likely be online – usually lunch time and the evening.
Customer recommendation still happens today, but it tends to be in the form of a tweet or post on Facebook. Being on social media means that if a customer has had a good experience with you, they can post their experience for all to see. This can be extremely encouraging for your other potential clients to consider your services in the future. Such tweets and posts, can reach hundreds of people in minutes. Although obviously don't forget that individuals can also post negative views as well.
To find out more about the benefits of social media and how to effectively manage your pages, we strongly recommend reading our previous blog post: Electrical Tools vs Smartphones
Trusted Tradesmen Sites
Creating online profiles across the internet is a key way to making sure that you stand out – but for companies to truly succeed, it’s important to be reviewed by your clients. A great way to do this is by being listed on trusted tradesmen websites, such as Which? Trusted Trader, Checkatrade.com, TrustMark, RatedPeople and Trustatrader.com. Signing up to these websites is generally easy, although some only list you as a trusted tradesman if a client of yours recommends you to them – this applies to Which? Trusted Trader.
Alternatively you can register your company with review sites such as Yelp or TrustPilot. Using these sites is a good way of getting you name out there as people will often do research about your company before committing to anything. If there are some good, authentic reviews about you, then they will more likely opt to use your services.
Create a Buzz for Your Service
The key to utilising the power of the internet is to ensure that your company is being seen. Although this sounds simple enough, it can take months of work to start seeing results. With the development of Smartphones, it is now even easier to manage your website and social media pages, allowing you to do so in your home, in the office and on the move. You can regularly update your pages, interact with your followers and directly contact customers through your Smartphone.
To truly stamp your authority on social media you need to create a buzz for your business, website and/or social media pages. There are a variety of ways to do this. The important thing to remember is that people love originality, creativity, fun and worthwhile deals. Maybe start by trying to create a buzz by advertising or posting about any deals that your business is offering. If you're lucky and what your offering is catchy, you could even start a trend on social media.
Our final point to succeed on the internet and improve your online presence is patience and commitment. You may not see results in the first few weeks, but over a period of months and years you will.
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