3 Online Tools to Drive Traffic to Your Local Business - Page 2

By Jennifer Schiff | Posted August 03, 2011

Milo

Milo, a leading local shopping engine, which was recently acquired by eBay, is yet another powerful online tool to steer customers to your local retail business. Milo does this by showing consumers what stores in their neighborhood have in stock and how much it costs. This saves them time (and money), and it helps local businesses increase foot traffic.

And while comparison shopping is popular with bargain hunters, Milo founder -- and now director of Local for eBay -- Jack Abraham argues that individuals who go to a store because of Milo are more likely to purchase something when they get there and become repeat customers.

Using Milo -- specifically Milo Fetch, the free downloadable software for business owners -- "takes around two minutes to set up," said Abraham. "Just double-click on it, load it, and it integrates with your existing inventory and point-of-sale system. So you can get product data out onto the Internet -- and be present when customers are deciding what to buy and where."

Moreover, now that Milo is part of eBay, retailers who use Milo Fetch are automatically included in more than 2.3 billion product searches a quarter (the number of product searches performed on eBay last quarter) -- and will show up in the mobile applications of the software.

To further increase the chance of getting a sale, retailers can also offer coupons and promotions through Milo. However, unlike daily deal services, Milo Fetch is free -- "and it doesn’t cut into your margin," said Abraham. And the retailer is in control of how long a deal is available, as opposed to one day only.

Want to read more about how Milo Fetch Beta can help local small businesses get their products in front of online customers? Read Milo Bridges Gap between Online Shoppers and Local Retail.

Yelp

Yelp, as the company likes to say, is "word of mouth… amplified." The service connects millions of people (more than 53 million in June 2011 alone) with businesses serving their local neighborhoods -- or neighborhoods they are planning to visit. With a free Yelp Business account, small business owners can set up a business page with a detailed description, photos and timely information.

They can also see what visitors are saying about them and communicate with them both publicly and privately. And they can track how many people have viewed their business page.

Yelp also provides business owners with a free widget to embed on their main website. The widget lets people know that the business is listed on Yelp. "If someone clicks on the widget, it will take them directly to that business’s listing on Yelp, where they can view additional content, photos, reviews and any Yelp Deals the business may be running," explained Darnell Holloway, manager of local business outreach at Yelp.

More Web-to-Local Pointers

"Developing a Web-to-local strategy begins in the offline world…by creating a great customer experience," said Holloway. Within minutes of walking in your door, customers need to get a sense of your brand and your merchandise. They need to know whether you value them, which is typically demonstrated through great customer service by offering assistance and answering customer questions.

"If they have a truly great experience, new customers may turn into regular customers -- and may also become advocates of their business," he added.

Holloway also stressed the importance of having an attractive, user-friendly, search-engine-optimized (SEO) website "with great content and integrated with [the business’s] presence on social media platforms," another important component of any Web-to-local strategy.

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff is a regular contributor to Small Business Computing and runs a marketing communications firm focused on helping small and mid-sized businesses.

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