So you’ve invested in a functional, beautiful website that showcases all that your business has to offer: product and service information, hours of operation, testimonials, sharp images, location… you even have a blog and a nice little SEO effort. With that you can check “digital marketing” off your to-do list, right?
Of course not! (Bet you didn’t see that coming.)
While there are a number of reasons why a small business owner’s digital marketing work is never done, there’s one that often gets overlooked: the intersection of digital and real life. This is most evident in maps.
What’s one of the first thing people do after visiting your site? They look it up on a digital map. And to help with geographical context, they zoom down to street view (i.e., Bing’s Streetside or Google’s Streetview). Or maybe they go to a site like Yelp to read reviews and look at customer submitted pictures of the storefront. So your “address” isn’t just a number—there’s a digital representation of it on the web that potential customers are using to make decisions. The question to you is simple: are you putting your best foot forward to the digital world?
If not, it might be time to refresh your sidewalk look and policies. Imagine you knew that the Bing or Google street cam car was scheduled to come by in three days. You’d spruce things up, right!? But the thing is, you don’t know when the cam cars will come around. (Even I don’t.)
So to create a better digital representation of your business (which again, drives customer decision-making), why not make it a regular habit to keep your facade looking sharp. Could your place use a new coat of paint? How about an awning? Or should you rethink the ugly bags of trash you leave out on the sidewalk out front which also happens to be the prime car cam shooting frame? You do not want that big ol’ pile of garbage bags to be out the day the search engine’s camera car drives by—because it can be a year or more before that photo is updated!
Here’s a broader way to think about: Your business website is the one piece of digital marketing that you have total control over. But there are other entities orbiting your site that you don’t have total control over but still carry as much (if not more) weight than your site. Streetside or Streetview. Yelp reviews. User-generated photos. The thing is though, you can optimize your in-real-life footprint so that your “uncontrollable” digital content is what you want it to be so that customers keep coming in the door.
So look up what your storefront looks like on Bing or Google Maps. See what pictures customers have posted. If you don’t love what you see, chances are you’re missing out on customers.
Related: Shop-Window Science