How to Ensure Success for Your Service-Based Business in an eCommerce World
When is the last time you picked up your phone and called in an Amazon order? What about a Walmart Pickup? If you’re shaking your head at the thought of having to talk to another person over the phone to place an order, it’s because that sounds about as foreign to the modern consumer as using a telephone did a hundred years ago. There’s no questioning the fact that, at this point, the modern marketplace operates online — at least as far as products go.
What about services, though? Ordering a service such as a tutor, a consultant, or even a housekeeper is quite a different animal from ordering the latest iPhone. However, just because ordering service is a more complex task than ordering a new pair of shoes doesn’t mean it can’t be done online. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you successfully take your service business into the bustling, profit-promising online landscape.
Dominate Local SEO
Even if you’ve heard of search engine optimization (SEO), you may have written it off as something exclusively for companies that are entirely online. As a service-based business, though, some or even most of your services may take place off the cloud.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to ditch SEO. In fact, if you’re a landscaper, a contractor, a housekeeper, or any other “boots on the ground” kind of service, it’s still well worth your while to work on your company’s SEO — you need to focus on a local angle.
You can optimize your local SEO by doing the following:
- Fill out your Google My Business Listing.
- Make sure your business is listed on as many local listing sites as possible.
- Include local, geographically-focused keywords throughout your website.
- Build a (primarily local) social media following.
While there are many ways to optimize your site, these are great places to start. They’ll help you get discovered by potential local customers whenever they begin Google searching for a solution to their problem that you are uniquely qualified to fix.
Another item that should be considered when it comes to optimizing your SEO: reviews. Customer reviews provide social proof that your business is trustable and can often make or break a customer’s decision regarding patronizing a business. In fact, according to a survey by BrightLocal, 91% of younger customers trust reviews. Even bad reviews that have been appropriately responded to can help — in fact, having a perfect review rating comes across as disingenuous.
Also, reviews allow you to demonstrate active listening. You can address customer pain points by responding to reviews and build customer loyalty by showing empathy, understanding, and a willingness to be the best solution to their problems.
From reviews on Google My Business to other third-party sites like Angie’s List and even the Better Business Bureau, look for any ways to recruit and respond to reviews regularly.
Set Yourself Apart
Next up, it’s important to use your online efforts to build your brand. Powering up your brand’s message through online channels (like a blog, social media platforms, or email communication) can have a huge effect on your business.
For instance, if you have a well-known brand, it will naturally increase your authority within your niche. By extension, your customer’s trust in you is an elusive yet critical element for service-based companies to find online.
Also, building your brand helps to set you apart. For example, the landscaping company Structure Studios has developed an app that incorporates augmented reality to allow customers to literally see what their lawn will look like after landscaping changes have been made. This powerful marketing tool naturally helps to set the service company apart from its competitors.
Provide Plenty of Information
If you provide a service, it’s important to include as much information online as possible. This will help to make up for the lack of tangible products that the customer can typically consider. Reviews obviously go a long way in providing actionable information for prospective clientele, but you should also include any other form of quality content if possible.
For instance, if you’re a construction-service-based company, maintain a blog that helps build authority in your industry by providing content that educates your target audience. Create how-to videos for small projects a customer could do, and you wouldn’t turn a profit. Build out reference pages with definitions of industry-based terms.
Food e-commerce, another service-based online industry, is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the economy. To continue pursuing growth, all food e-commerce players — from the mom-and-pops to the giants like Instacart and Amazon Fresh — must provide a slew of updated information about the products and services they can deliver right to your door. Without current prices and delivery times, they would flounder.
There are many different ways to go about building your service-based business’s online presence. However, the most important thing that you can do is track the success and failure of each marketing effort. From reviews to local SEO, unique selling propositions, and company blogs, make sure to find ways to measure if a certain online marketing tactic is working or not.
You can utilize tools like Google Analytics on your website, include questionnaires for past clients, or even ask for direct feedback via email. However you go about it, if you gather information as you go, you can tailor your online strategy to ensure that you’re getting the best results for your e-commerce efforts.