4 Ways to Stand Out From Your Competition | SMB Forum by Web.com

It’s hard for a local small business in a sea of competitors to effectively differentiate from others in your industry. Of course, you know what makes your business so special — but do your prospective customers understand? Here are four ways you can use Internet marketing to put your business head and shoulders above the rest.

1. Get good online reviews

Some 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. Consumers spend an average of 31 percent more with companies that have excellent online reviews. Google reviews are especially important for local businesses. When your Google Map location shows up in search results, your Google star rating and excerpts from reviews will show up, too. Encourage customers to write reviews by letting them know you're on review websites such as Google, Yelp, or relevant local or industry-specific sites. Make it easy for customers to write reviews by including links to your review pages on your website, in your marketing emails, and at the bottom of your email signature. Continually work to get more reviews — it takes an average of seven reviews before a customer feels confident doing business with your company, and outdated reviews from last year won't help boost your brand image.

2. Listen to your customers

Online reviews are valuable tools for improving your business. Pay attention to both positive and negative reviews to find out what customers love (and hate) about your business. Also pay attention to what your customers are saying on social media about your business and your competitors. What do customers think differentiates your business from the competition? Are there things your competitors do that you could do—or things they don’t do that you could add? Finally, do regular customer surveys on your website, your social media accounts, and via email to get customer feedback about your business. By listening to customers and acting on their feedback, you'll keep your business at the head of the pack.

3. Use Internet marketing to provide value

Whether you’re cultivating a new lead or building a relationship with an existing customer, the key to standing out from your competition is providing value. Create and share content that shows your customers how to do something better, save money, be happier or otherwise improve their lives. Use email marketing and Internet marketing to share this content with prospects and customers. Based on how customers and prospects interact with your content, you'll glean even more details about their behavior, interests and needs. Use that information to tailor special offers to their interests. Automated email marketing can help you stay in contact and provide value to leads and customers on an ongoing basis.

4. Get creative with your Internet marketing

Creativity in your Internet marketing campaigns helps you stand out from the crowd. Don't be afraid to try new things — Internet marketing is so affordable, it's easy to experiment. Conduct A/B testing using different email subject lines or different pay-per-click advertising keywords to see what works best. Above all, be authentic in your desire to creatively solve your customers' problems and serve their needs.

Giving your customers what they want is the key to differentiating your business from your competitors. Lead Stream can help by simplifying communications with leads and fostering relationships.