Here are my top 10 tips on looking like a big business to attract prospective customers:
1. Domain-Specific Email Address
Nothing says “small business” quite like having a Gmail or Yahoo email address on your website! It’s not hard to set up a domain-specific email address and most domain registrars will give you a few for free to use in whatever capacity you’d like. I would suggest setting up YourName@YourDomain.com and Info@YourDomain.com to start with and then adding any additional email addresses that you need from there. Then, display Info@YourDomain.com on your website and use YourName@YourDomain.com for business networking.
Pro Tip: Set your old YourDomain@gmail.com address to forward to your new email inbox so that you don’t miss any messages from former clients and prospects that may still have your old email address.
2. Toll-Free Phone Number
Having a local area code is great if you’re trying to get local business, but if you’re targeting customers nationally, having a toll-free phone number is a great way to have your business look really professional.
Pro Tip: Call forwarding is also an option if you would prefer to use a local number.
3. Contact Us Form
If you have a website, you also need a way for people to contact you. Simply having an email address or phone number isn’t enough because some people won’t want to leave your website to get in touch with you. Instead, they want a way to get in touch with you directly from your website. In order to make contacting you as easy as possible, set up a contact form on your website so that people can get in touch with you to report a problem, ask a general question, thank you for a job well done, make a sales inquiry, or engage in any other dialogue with your business in a breeze.
Pro Tip: Use a captcha on your contact form to reduce the amount of spam you receive.
4. Live Chat
Live chat programs used to be reserved for big businesses, but now there are affordable and easy-to-use options for small businesses. Typically, you’ll pay per operator, which is great news for a small business that likely will only need one or two operators. Once you get your live chat installed, it’s fairly easy to man it while doing other office tasks, which means that you’ll be able to improve your customer service without sacrificing efficiency.
Pro Tip: Even if you never actively man your live chat, simply having it as an option for customers to use to leave a message opens up yet another way that someone can get in touch with your business, which makes your business even more customer-centric.
5. Remarketing Ads
Remarketing or “retargeting” ads are ads that will follow people who have visited your site around the internet as they browse and interact with other sites. This is a very powerful way to make your business seem bigger than it is because prospective customers will get the impression that your ads are plastered far and wide across the internet. The last company that I worked on used remarketing ads and we would get customers that would tell us that they saw the ads and assumed that we must be a very popular company to have ads in so many different places.
Pro Tip: Set a frequency cap so that visitors will see your ads enough times to reinforce your brand image but not so many times that they get overwhelmed and annoyed.
6. Homepage Slideshow
Bigger companies tend to showcase their products in fancy professionally designed slideshows on their homepage, but smaller companies can often achieve a similar look at a fraction of the cost and effort. Check with your ecommerce provider to see if they have a slideshow tool built into their backend that will allow you to upload a few pictures and have them rotate through on the homepage.
Pro Tip: Don’t make the slideshow too fast, or visitors won’t have enough time to see what the slides are actually supposed to be showing them.
7. Email Newsletters
Regularly sending out email newsletters requires commitment, but it’s a great way to stay in regular contact with your customers. Your newsletters can include anything you want really, but they should keep the same format (or a similar format) to make them more relatable. Using a template is a great way to make your newsletters look professional and encourage subscribers to read them every week, month, or quarter that they receive them.
Pro Tip: Crowd source your customers for content like pictures, testimonials, or reviews that you can use in your newsletters.
8. Company Mission Statement
A company mission statement isn’t something that you just do because a consultant or your nephew, the business student, told you to do. It’s a part of your story as a business, and it’s also a promise that you’re making to your customers. Write one and include it on your website. It’ll make your company not only look big, but also look like it cares.
Pro Tip: Treat this mission statement as a living document, not just something you did once and kept forever. Revise your mission statement as your goals or operations change to keep it fresh.
9. Gift Options at Checkout
We know that people don’t just shop online for themselves, so offering gift options should be a no-brainer. Provide the offer to have the order sent with a gift receipt and special message, allow shoppers to add-on a small bonus gift for a nominal fee, offer giftwrapping, or do anything else that makes the products that you’re selling “gifty.”
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that gifts typically need to get to the recipient in a timely fashion, so providing a variety of shipping options is an important pair to offering gift options.
10. Transactional Emails
People expect to receive certain transactional emails (like an order confirmation or order ship notification) these days because big companies like Amazon are so good at sending these types of communications. To be competitive, you have to provide the same reassurances to shoppers.
Pro Tip: Use an email software provider (ESP) that allows you to create transactional emails that will automatically send to shoppers at every step of their customer journey.
Keep in mind, these tips are aimed at making your business look more professional – not like making your business seem cold and impersonal like some giant conglomerate. Basically anything that lets your business show that it values its customers and can operate professionally and efficiently is always going to be good for business. That’s the aim here – to portray your business as positively as the work that it does.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and son and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!