Most of us don’t think twice about using Google or Gmail in our personal lives, but don’t know about the low hanging fruit for SMEs. Google has a plethora of tools for small businesses that can help locate new customers and drive new sales — and many of these tools are free. Here are some tips from Richard Flanagan, Head of Small Business Marketing for Google Australia & New Zealand, on how to make the web work for your small business.
You don’t need a website to be found online. The first step for any small business looking to develop their online presence is to claim their listing on Google. Google My Business is a free tool that allows your business to be found by people looking nearby on Google Maps, and gives you space to let people know about your opening hours, phone number, products, and can even host photos of your shop or products. A Business listing also provides analytics on the back end for those who want to jump into traffic analysis.
In a more general sense, Flanagan stresses the need for small business to understand the importance of mobile. Most people in Australia have a smartphone, and they are increasingly using them to search online for goods and services.
The average person goes online 160 times per day, and search for terms such as ‘café near me’
In fact, searches for ‘near me’ have shot up 50% over the past five years. If you want to be found by these potential new customers, you need a good mobile presence. Google My Business automatically gives you a mobile-friendly presence, and if you have a website this too should be a good experience on mobile. Google’s data demonstrates that a bad mobile experience will put customers off – not just your website, but your entire business.
If your number isn’t clickable on mobile, people have to copy and paste it into their keypad – and they just won’t do it.
They’ll choose the next option on the list. His final advice on digital hygiene is to be an investigator: ask your customers about your online presence. What information is missing? What could make it more helpful?
Showcase your space
Do you manage a bar or restaurant? A function centre? Got some slick new offices?
Any business that wants to show off its physical space should consider Business View for your premises. This is a 360º view of venue, navigable in the same manner Street View is. According to Flanagan, the service is still new in Australia, so could provide your business a bit of an edge. If you don’t already know one, find a photographer who knows how to shoot it from Google’s preferred supplier list, and you’re on your way. Flanagan highlights that Business View is a way to showcase your business as you want the audience to see it: bars that have their images taken on a full Friday night to show off the life of the place, for example.
Basic apps are business essentials
Flanagan explains how the Google Apps suite are frequently used as management tools by small business – because, he suggests, the base products are free, accessible via the cloud from anywhere, and don’t require any sort of installation. The basic suite of Google Docs, Sheets and Slides provide much of the functionality of traditional office packages, and its accessibility across devices adds flexibility for small business that might not yet have standard technology across their teams. Flanagan mentions the smart use of Google Hangouts by a Brisbane business owner and mother, who would catch up with her team as she picked up the kids from school.
Your online presence cheatsheet
√ Make sure your site is mobile optimised
√ Up to date information is key!
√ Showcase your business with imagery
√ Utilise free apps for management before you make a full investment in other systems
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