Everyone is talking about SEO – search engine optimization. When it comes to getting your small business noticed online, the practice of identifying and refining the path that your customers take to get to you and engage with you to generate sales, leads or engagement. So what about small business optimization in the real world? SEO principles may have meaningful translations to everyday practices.
From the Web to the Everyday
What if we apply some of the key principles of Search Engine Optimization to the everyday practice of running a small business? We can work toward small business optimization.
Measure, Test, Optimize
SEO experts stress that the process of optimization is a constant experiment, and one that ought to be repeated (or iterated) to test new ideas as they emerge based on the information at your disposal. If you make a choice to make a change – a new product, a new marketing effort, a revised pricing model – document the results. In a meaningful amount of time, look back. Did the choice make a positive or negative impact? Did some parts work, but others not? Asking these questions allows you to make small adjustments, then test again to see what happens differently. You’ll never know unless you commit to mindful bookkeeping and gathering of information.
Capture Key Moments
In a standard optimization model, people are said to first Discover your business through word of mouth, an advertisement, or some other effort you make to make yourself known. Can you tell which of these efforts is working best? Do you have a unique way to help interested parties discover you?
Customers then Scan to see if there’s anything interesting that might lead them to come in and take a closer look. They say that first impressions are key to forming a good relationship, and nowhere is this more true than online: however, think about the impression you make on someone who encounters you in the real world. Is this influenced by visual presentation? Location? Attitude? What methods can you use to influence someone’s decision about their scan of your business in a positive way?
They may then Interact with you to learn more about your business. What form does this interaction take? A browse through your wares? A phone call? An appointment? Where does the conversation start, and how is it built up over time to generate further interest? Can you see patterns in the way this interaction unfolds?
Your hope is that you Acquire the visitor as a customer both now and in future. The process of acquisition is typified online with the completion of a form or online checkout. In the physical world, this could relate to your payment processing. Is it easy for customers to use a variety of methods to make their purchase? Is there any incentive or follow-up offered that would encourage them to return?