Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | April 19, 2022

6 essential steps for increasing foot traffic to your retail store with local listings

6 essential steps for increasing foot traffic to your retail store with local listings

We live in a world where comfort and convenience are everything, especially when it comes to shopping. So, it’s easy to see why many people prefer the online shopping experience. Who doesn’t love picking out the perfect product while sitting on the couch in their pajamas?

This poses one of today’s new challenges facing any retailer with brick-and-mortar locations — convincing consumers to visit your physical location.

To compete with the comforts of home, small, mid-sized, and enterprise-level businesses alike need to create exceptional experiences at every step of the buyer journey. Of course, it’s key to prioritize positive in-person shopping experiences. But to really win out, you have to take it online — even if your brand entirely relies on in-store revenue.

According to a 2022 consumer survey, 78% of buyers search online more than once a week to get information about businesses local to them. Searches include anything from store hours and location to reviews and star ratings. If what potential customers read about your store isn’t great, or they can’t find you at all, they’ll likely choose a competitor instead.

That’s why brands must build and maintain polished, up-to-date online web listings for every store location. Online listings are often the first impression you make to potential customers — and we all know the importance of first impressions.

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Whether searching for the “need-to-knows” like current addresses, or stand-out amenities like free wifi, squeaky clean bathrooms, or curbside service, use your listings as the perfect starting point to sell your brand.

But even then, it takes an in-depth online visibility strategy to convince buyers to get off the couch and into your stores. Get started now with six steps for building online listings that will improve the online-to-offline customer experience and boost traffic in no time.

Create Your Google Business Profile

To optimize your brand’s online listings, you need to create them in the first place! And today, that means making listings through Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly Google My Business (GMB) for each of your storefronts. This could mean building out tons of listings for large, enterprise organizations, but it’s critical for top visibility.

While we absolutely recommend that organizations also create business listings on Bing, Apple Maps, Yelp, and other online search platforms, Google is by far the most prolific with about 91% of the worldwide market share

Google makes it incredibly easy to set up your listings on Google Business Profile. Soon you’ll have a new, effective way to connect with your customers. But don’t head back to the couch yet, building a GBP is just the beginning.

Keep Online Listings Info Up-to-Date and Complete

If potential buyers can’t quickly find the basics about a location, don’t expect them to make a stop at your store. If the listed information is inaccurate, expect the frustrated want-to-be buyer to choose a competitor with accurate information instead.

Ensure your listings are up to snuff by checking that these seven key components of your online listing are 100% accurate:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Website
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Description

Once you have all your listing information online and current – it’s important to keep it so. Switch from winter to summer store hours? Holiday season coming up? Make sure you’re diligent about updates. Incorrectly listed hours or a wrong phone number could be all it takes to push a willing buyer away for good.

The goal here is to get the basics right and create a positive shopping experience from the first search to the first sale to their lifelong customer loyalty. If you’re successful, you’ll open the door to more positive reviews which helps your brand build a better reputation and increase your local online search authority.

Sound like a lot of work? For multi-location retail brands—especially when scaling—it is. That’s why more mid-sized and enterprise-level corporations integrate software specifically built to manage online business listings. These solutions save time, increase accuracy, and lighten the load for busy team members whose efforts are better spent on other key initiatives.

Take Advantage of Google Attributes

When customers are pressed for time, nervous about cleanliness, looking for accessibility options, or are worried about parking, retailers need to sell the in-store shopping experience. After all, your challenge is to convince people that the trip out of the house will not only be a worthy venture but a fun one as well.

Adding attributes to your GBP is a great way to do just this. Managed directly inside of your GBP and displayed on your business listing, Google’s attributes highlight details, perks, and offerings currently available at your store.

Attributes can vary depending on what category your business identifies with. For example, a retailer might choose to add attributes like women’s clothing, free parking, and wheelchair accessibility.

Other popular Google attributes include:

  • Curbside pickup
  • Pet-friendly
  • Women-owned
  • Free WiFi
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Good for kids
  • Gender-neutral bathrooms

Google attributes can also highlight what offerings are not available. For example, a retailer may not have a same-day pick-up, on-site parking, or cash payments. With Google attributes you set honest expectations from the start, so potential customers glean what they need to know at a glance — before they arrive at your location.

By displaying options, upfront, customers easily identify the perks to may push them straight to you.

Create Google Posts

A Google Post is a short, featured message and image that appears on your business’s Google Search and Google Maps listings. Google Posts are a great tool for retailers to communicate everything from upcoming events and big sales to general updates.

Once published, a Google Post displays prominently on your business listing. Posts that perform the best often include a sense of urgency with a clear call-to-action, an eye-catching image, or info about an upcoming promotion.

Again, make sure that all live Google Posts are accurate and current across all locations. If done right, it’s free advertising. If incorrect or outdated, it can damage your business’s trustworthiness. By integrating tools, like Chatmeter’s social suite, designed to keep your Google Posts properly listed, always know that your message is accurate and on-point for every location.

Increase Local Online Visibility and Credibility

With a staggering 99% of consumers saying they’ve used the internet to learn about a business near them within the last year, it’s clear that retail brands need to be visible and enticing to local seachers.

By specifically targeting those searchers with local online marketing efforts, your listings stand out through top-ranking visibility, great reviews, and the right kind of information on each location’s listing.

When it comes to visibility, begin with the three factors Google primarily takes into account when a shopper searches for a nearby business:

  • Relevance: How closely a local profile matches what the user is searching for
  • Distance: How far the searcher is from the store location
  • Prominence: How well known a particular business is online and off

While relevance, distance, and prominence aren’t the only factors, it’s a good place to start thinking about your online visibility.

Of course, you can’t do much to change the location of a store. But, by building a robust online brand and reputation strategy to boost visibility and by creating listings that give your ideal buyers the information they need, you’re taking a significant step in the right direction.

Easy ways to tailor your online strategy for a local audience include adding unique neighborhood details in your business listing description, using hyper-specific keywords, or creating social media posts profiling a local store manager or team member. These relatively light lifts increase engagement while attracting better buyers.

Implement a Photo Strategy

Any successful online local listings strategy for retailers includes adding fantastic photos of your store, products, and/or services. Accurate imagery provides potential customers with an inside look that contributes to trust and builds excitement around the in-store customer experience.

In fact, studies show that there is a connection between the number of images on a GBP listing and the number of website visits, phone calls, and direction requests.

First, take high-definition photos that accurately showcase your top products, services, offerings, and location. For example, an electronics store might take photos highlighting the inside ambiance of the space, popular tech items for sale, or a team member helping a customer.

By providing users a view of your in-store experience, they’ll grasp whether or not the vibe of your business is what they’re after. This matters more now than ever as customers want to know what to expect before leaving that cozy couch for an in-store excursion.

These six steps are the start to building a robust, revenue-driving local listings strategy that drives shoppers to all of your store locations. But don’t do it all on your own. Schedule a software demo with our experts to learn how the Chatmeter platform and support team can boost your online visibility fast!

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