Digital profile management is no longer optional for businesses looking to drive growth in 2021. Digital presence is an essential pillar of a business’ inbound marketing and consumer acquisition strategy.
Consumers are no longer following a linear purchase journey, which means, brands must strive to provide a seamless offline and online experience. Here’s where your digital profile can help you build a local and authentic brand experience.
An average consumer is exposed to anywhere between 20 to 500 touchpoints in their awareness, consideration, and purchase journey. Add to that the complexity of digital ecosystems – apps, directories, voice search, and more, meaning, brands must compete against not only smaller local players but also larger national or international businesses. While organic search and SEO are potent weapons – they are often expensive and time-consuming. So, what’s the solution?
In 2020, 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business with 34% searching every day. With Google dominating the search market with a market share of over 90%, consumers are more likely to base their future purchase decisions on your brand’s visibility and reputation on Google My Business (GMB). Similarly, your digital profile on Facebook and other listing platforms increases the likelihood of converting local prospects.
Digital Profile Management 101: The What, Why, and How
Digital profiles are a surefire way to optimize discovery on search engines. Your digital profile features information about your business like the address, phone numbers, operation hours, accessibility, photos, and custom fields specific to platforms like Google, Bing and Facebook intended to inform customers how and where to approach you.
Now, regardless of whether you are a large multinational with hundreds of stores/branches across the country or a single location business, your digital profile is a valuable resource to your prospects and customers.
Recent trends suggest that more than half of all Google searches have a local intent, as consumers look for products and services closer to their locations. Interestingly, however, more than 58% of these searches are unbranded, so, consumers are more likely to search for phrases like “accountants near me,” rather than “H&R Block near me.”
This is both a challenge and an opportunity for brands. Challenge because businesses will need to compete against their local competitors to drive visibility, and opportunity because brands now have access to digital profile and reputation management solutions that allow them to capture consumer intent and interest early on in their purchase journey.
With more business being conducted online, consumers also desire trust and transparency in their brand. Whether it is a winter coat or a lawnmower, consumers want to know what others think about the brand. Digital profiles enable brands to “own” their listings and build engagement with their customers and community online through reviews and information.
Improving Search Visibility with Digital Profile Management
The average customer looking for a beauty salon doesn’t realize that “Clip and Cut” is not the same as “Clip ‘n’ Cut” for search engine algorithms. They are just looking for a beauty salon. For brands to improve visibility, digital profiles are the best way forward.
Digital profiles often appear in the top ten search results. Businesses with active listings appear under searches with local intent. For example, people searching for beauty salons may find a Yelp entry. Under the listing is an entry for “Clip and Cut.” The salon ranks in the top search results by simply maintaining a listing on Yelp. With digital profiles, businesses don’t need to worry about search algorithms, instead, they can focus on ensuring that their listing provides prospective customers with all the information they need to make an informed purchase.
Ratings and Reviews: Why They’re Crucial for Everything Between Sales and SEO
P.T. Barnum may have had the greatest show on earth, but his adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity does not hold true. In the virtual world, your reputation image plays a crucial role in attracting buyers. Incomplete or inaccurate information comes across as indifferent and calls into question a business’s professional standing.
For example, a search for auto repair shops on Google returns a list of five local shops with locators on a map. When users look at the listing, they see one company has no website. They cross the company off the list. What reputable company doesn’t have a website?
They have four remaining options. Two businesses have a base listing that includes:
The remaining two repair shops have added images to their base listing. Potential customers see the facility plus before and after pictures of car repairs. But, only one has included customer reviews in its listing. The user reads the reviews and decides to contact the shop, which they can do from the profile listing.
Ratings and reviews are also key components of a brand’s share of voice (SOV). The conversations generated by a business around its product and services around channels like social media, search and other web content in comparison to its competitors contribute to the share of voice.
In the context of reviews, this means, a business’ reputation and brand awareness is a direct outcome of actively managed listings. Strong social proof like positive reviews can help attract and retain loyal customers. Your digital presence is a competitive advantage that influences the amount of trust customers have in your business.
Building a Community of Brand Advocates
Digital listings can do more than provide basic information. They can serve as a way to engage customers. By adding a link to their website, businesses make it easier for customers to contact them. For example, a restaurant could provide a direct link to their online menu so people can make their selections from the listing without leaving the profile.
Something as simple as adding images to a listing can increase customer engagement. Images are easier for people to process than lengthy text, so they are more likely to click on a picture. This action creates another point of interaction that increases the likelihood of a visitor making a purchase.
Managing Digital Profiles
Consumers not only use search engines to find businesses, but they also use more specific applications such as Yelp or Foursquare. Many companies look at industry-specific listings to decide if they want to do business with an organization. If platforms support reviews or rankings, customers are more likely to engage with those listings that include the reviews.
The explosion of business directories and listing services means that businesses must track and maintain their presence across a wide range of websites. The most popular ones include:
- Yellow Pages
Every company should have a profile on these sites. That doesn’t include the industry-specific or niche business directories that organizations should appear to lend credibility. How can an organization ensure that its digital image is a positive one?
“Own” Your Listings
Most listing sites create skeleton listings for companies. Often, businesses do not know they have a listing already. That’s why it is important for organizations to look for possible listings in general and niche directories. If a listing exists, the company can claim the listing and take control of the information.
Once in control, a business can add images, customer reviews, and links to websites. Companies can also correct any information that is incorrect or incomplete. Now the listing has become part of a marketing strategy for brand awareness.
Maintain Active Listings
Claiming a listing is only the beginning. Profiles need updating. Business hours may change, or products and services may expand. Companies relocate. All of that information needs to be reflected in an organization’s profile. Nothing irritates a customer more than arriving at a business only to find it has moved or it is closed.
How to Drive Continued Success with Digital Profiles
Digital profiles are powerful tools in a marketing strategy. They maximize visibility with minimal cost, providing for a strong return on investment (ROI). However, claiming and maintaining a growing number of listings can quickly overwhelm an organization. That’s why Synup exists. To help businesses maximize their online presence through the use of digital profiles. Contact us to learn how we can help.