Like many local merchants, Heather Zidell has seen the number of customers finding her business through Yelp climb over the years. She decided to take the leap into paid advertising on the platform as a way to ensure that her bakery was being listed ahead of competitors.
Almost half of small business owners say they’re being overrun by basic administrative tasks. When Roo’s World of Discovery owner Michelle Pollak Landwehr found herself in that same position, spending hours each week on basic administrative tasks like tracking member visits, scheduling classes, and managing recurring payments at her Washington-based children’s indoor play space, she began looking for digital solutions.
When consumers commit to joining a gym and paying a fixed rate each month, they’re indirectly confirming their loyalty to the business. But after years of working with clients at Gold’s Gym of Jersey City, sales manager Mauricio Calmet noticed that a secondary loyalty market exists, one that’s rarely tapped by businesses once they’ve signed customers up for yearlong contracts or memberships.
Collecting customer email addresses and generating Facebook “likes” are two tasks that are at the top of virtually every small business marketer’s to-do list. Edges Salon & Spa has a system in place to streamline this process and encourage customer loyalty at the same time. For the past seven months, it has been offering customers free Wi-Fi in exchange for the chance to learn about their behaviors and engage them on mobile.
Cold-calling techniques have a notoriously low success rate for hyperlocal vendors trying to onboard new merchants, but it was an unsolicited drop-in that led to The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen’s successful three-year relationship with ChowNow, an online ordering system and marketing platform for restaurants.
Data is changing the way large restaurant groups cater to their highest-value customers. Richard Sandoval Restaurants, the upmarket restaurant group with more than 35 locations worldwide, is looking for more strategic ways to use data for customer retention and acquisition. It has started harnessing its email database to make more data-driven decisions using tools like customer analytics and marketing platform Venga.
Local merchants in every vertical are relying more on social media marketing for customer acquisition and retention, but restaurants in particular have become heavy users of social platforms. This year, 50 percent of casual dining and fine dining operators said they planned to devote even more resources to social media marketing. Hyperlocal vendors like Perch are providing business owners with a way to consolidate most social marketing tasks in one centralized app.
The vast majority of mattress sales still take place in brick-and-mortar stores. However, America’s Mattress of Onalaska owner Dave Weinberger says he’s found that millennial shoppers are increasingly doing their pre-shopping research online. In response, he’s begun shifting his advertising budget away from offline channels and toward digital tactics, like call tracking and recording, search marketing, and online promotions.
Online scheduling platforms are supposed to save merchants time by automating client bookings, cancellations, reminders, and even payment collection. But when merchants stop trusting their own scheduling platforms, and start verifying individual bookings for accuracy, the benefits of online-only systems go out the window. For an exclusive Chicago salon, switching things up helped maintain buzz and business.
As London’s boutique Lanesborough Hotel began what would become a 19-month, multi-million dollar refurbishment in 2014, executives started looking for strategic ways to appeal to guests with luxury tastes. To go along with the newly renovated rooms, which reopened in July, the team decided to add a technology component that would be unlike anything travelers had ever experienced.