Keep Your Customers Up to Date During COVID-19

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Small businesses and major brands have all felt an impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we begin to ease into May 2020, we’re seeing different states nationwide soften their “stay home” orders, and some businesses are beginning to reopen. Many consumers may continue to be unsure about whether or not your business is open or if you are offering services during this volatile time. Aside from making updates on your website and reaching out to your customer email lists, we’d highly recommend that you update the top seven online listings where customers may be finding information about your business.

What Is an Online Business Listing? 

An online business listing is often a free listing provided by search engines or directory services that provides helpful business information to consumers. These online business listings appear in the organic search results, oftentimes taking up high rankings for your business’s brand name. 

There are hundreds of online directories and free business listings available on the web. We recommend that you focus your efforts on the top seven searched online business listings. We’ll include a little information about each of them just in case you have not yet claimed your listing on one or any of these websites.  

Online Business Listing 1: Google My Business
Google is the number one search engine used for 70%+ online searches. Businesses spend time and money in their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts to rank well in the Google search engine. A basic requirement for local SEO is to ensure that your business owns your Google My Business location. 

Google favors showing its own entities at the top of the search results: YouTube.com video listings, Google images, Google Shopping and Google My Business listings. Having an optimized Google My Business listing is the best way to make sure you show up for the majority of searchers that are seeking what your business offers.

Online Business Listing 2: Bing Places

Bing is not nearly as used as Google as a search engine. However, it’s important to remember that Bing is the default search engine for Internet Explorer and Edge. These Microsoft-preferred browsers are still very integrated into Microsoft Office and desktop computers. 

Another cool feature of Bing Places is that if your business is already on Google My Business, Bing Places allows you to instantly import your business information. Save time as your business details are prefilled. You can edit after importing into Bing Places. Oh, the wonders of technology! 

Online Business Listing 3: Apple Maps Listing

Why worry about an Apple Maps listing when you’ve claimed your Google My Business listing? Because three out of four users of iOS devices use Apple Maps. And on iPhones and iPads, Apple is the default mapping app, not Google. Also when an iOS user does a web search for local business information on an iPhone or iPad, the top search result is typically from Apple. This is also true for users who utilize Siri for local business information searches. Make sure you’re servicing both your android and iOS users by claiming and updating your Apple Maps listing. 

Online Business Listing 4: Yelp

Since 2014, Yelp has touted itself as the most frequently used, most trusted and highest quality local reviews site, based on Nielsen survey data. If you want customers to find your business online, you need to be on Yelp! Along with claiming your online listing on Yelp, you’ll need to have your strategic marketing hat on and plan for review monitoring and response to keep your business information and reputation sparkling clean. 

Online Business Listing 5: Foursquare

Did you know that over 50 million people use Foursquare to discover great businesses and share what they love about them with others? If you haven’t, it’s time to join the nearly two million businesses who are already taking advantage of Foursquare to grow their business. Your business is probably already on Foursquare. Search for it and claim it today. 

Online Business Listing 6: Yellow Pages

Why would you list in the Yellow Pages? Don’t let the name fool you! Yellow Pages is not the three-inch-thick print slab behemoth that you once knew. It is now an online directory that serves their nearly 60 million consumers a month, as per their website. This listing is free, and if you have the opportunity to connect with a fraction of those 60 million consumers, it makes sense to claim and update this online business listing. 

Online Business Listing 7: ChamberOfCommerce.com

ChamberofCommerce.com specializes in helping small businesses grow their business online while facilitating the community of local businesses and more than 7,000 area Chambers of Commerce worldwide. ChamberofCommerce.com has more than two million business community members and is the leading online platform created for small- to medium-sized businesses to attract new customers while saving on the products and services they use every day. When you become a Chamber Member, you’ll get connected with the over 25 million customers searching ChamberofCommerce.com for products and services like yours every year.

As you can see, each of these top seven online business listings serve a different purpose and often reach a different audience niche. It is a strategic marketing move to ensure that you reach all potential customers where they are searching. 

Before you begin claiming and updating these local online business listings, you’ll need to know what business information you need to have on hand. These local online business listings allow business owners to publish and update the information, such as:

  • Address
  • Business description
  • Website URL
  • Hours of operation
  • Phone number
  • Review responses
  • Images of your business or products
  • Posts about business updates and offers

Almost every business has a Google My Business location listing, even if your business did not create it or currently own it. It’s especially important to ensure that your business leverages these free online listings as they increase the probabilities that searchers will engage with listings that have accurate information and messaging as published by you, not some other less informed entity. 

3 COVID-19 Strategic Marketing Optimization Tips for Online Listings 

During the coronavirus pandemic, publishing business updates has been critical to keep your customers informed or buying, despite shelter-in-place orders. Here are three strategic marketing tips to keep in mind as you update your online business listings. 

Strategic Marketing Optimization Tip 1. Change Hours of Operation

If your business hours have changed, update the times when you’ll be open or closed. Many of the online business listing websites are offering a temporarily closed option if your business has temporarily stopped providing all services due to COVID-19. When your business fully or partially resumes operations, you can reopen your business. If your business is open but has adjusted operating hours during this time, set special hours rather than mark your business “temporarily closed.” 

Strategic Marketing Optimization Tip 2. Add a COVID-19 Update Post

Online business listing websites allow you to create a COVID-19 post type to share more detailed and timely updates about what’s going on at your business. You can add information about:

  • Closures or reduced hours
  • Safety and hygiene practices
  • Availability of gift cards to support your business 
  • Shipping delay notifications
  • Out of stock items
  • Changes to service (such as if you’re only offering delivery or take-out instead of full-service)
  • Charity or relief programs your business is participating in

COVID-19 update posts appear prominently on your Google My Business location listing and Bing Places listing and are more noticeable to your customers. One important item to note: COVID-19 posts that include a phone number may be rejected, so leave phone numbers out of your COVID-19 posts.

Strategic Marketing Optimization Tip 3. Edit Your Business Description

During ordinary times, the description on your location listings should focus on details about your business instead of details about promotions, prices or sales. Here are items you can update as they relate to COVID-19:

  • What you offer: If your business is only available for takeout or delivery
  • What sets you apart: Extra services you provide to the community
  • Anything else that’s helpful for customers to know about delayed or paused services

These are challenging times for many businesses. We hope that by updating your location listings with these three coronavirus-pandemic optimization tips, you can help your business serve your customers with any available products and services. 

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May 13, 2020by kuulei hanamaikai

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