Online Content Marketing Supports Offline Business Growth

By Karl Anderson

08/03/15

To be sure, publishing original online content is an effective means for businesses to attract customers to online services or a web-based store. However, it’s also an effective approach to increase business with customers in person. That’s because content marketing is about more than making a sale; it’s about building long-term brand loyalty. If you have a physical business location, providing compelling content will help you bring in more foot traffic and keep those potential and established customers engaged over the long term.

In a recent article for Forbes, entrepreneur and consultant Neil Patel discusses some of the reasons why online content marketing can be a particularly successful tool to help companies increase their in-person business traffic, and therefore their revenue. “Content marketing can rock your brick and mortar business because customers start their search online,” he says. “Your customers are informed, online, and savvy. They don’t merely wander the neighborhood, looking for a store like yours. They wander online before they even put on their shoes.”

This viewpoint aligns with Touchpoint’s own experience helping clients build customer audiences, in the sense that content marketing works when it offers readers information they find personally interesting and beneficial, as opposed to being purely promotional. This content could include practical insight from experts, industry data that can help customers make wise decisions and consult your knowledgeable team, or an inspiring success story about another customer who had similar needs or goals.

Patel explains that people go online before visiting local businesses for three main reasons: searching for recommendations or reviews, finding a business with convenient geographical proximity, and looking for a way to solve a particular problem. As such, here are some tips to appeal to regional customers online:

  • Be active in relevant social media platforms. If your business participates in the social media sphere—through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, for example—you can briefly comment directly on positive reviews and feedback, thanking customers for visiting your business, thus demonstrating that you’re accessible and part of the community.
  • Draw web traffic by highlighting your location. Customers go online to see what services are nearby, so it’s wise to anticipate online search terms that include not only what you do, but also the name of the city or neighborhood where you do business.
  • Give readers solutions to their problems with a local angle. There are how-to articles online for just about any project, for the simple reason that wanting to learn how to do something is a common reason to search the Internet. If your content can address a how-to question that’s also tied to your business location, that can be a great way to stand out.
  • Highlight your contact info frequently and consistently. Make sure that your website, newsletters, social media posts, and other communications mention your company’s name, address, and phone number whenever they’re relevant, and make sure that information is consistent, particularly if any of it has recently changed. You want to eliminate any risk of confusion and make it as easy as possible for people to visit your specific location(s).

In the end, practical online content can benefit any business. “Your goal of getting visitors in the door has to start somewhere,” Patel says. “It has to start in the same place that the customer[s] themselves start. It starts online.”