Your Customers Will Be Asking These Questions in the 2021 Holiday Shopping Season

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As a local business owner, you have weathered so much in the past two years. You have risen every day to countless challenges and kept communities supplied. Now you can even make some dreams come true when people give gifts to one another as expressions of love, hope, and generosity of spirit this coming holiday season.

Local Marketing for the Holidays - Top4 Marketing

We’ve covered why there’s no time like the present to start preparing for the holiday shopping season. You can now further prepare your local business to be both popular and profitable in the 2021 holiday shopping season by identifying and answering six types of scenario-specific customer questions. You can then strategise where to publicise the answers as well! Check out this list to have a ready response for each customer for this year’s local SEO holiday success.

a. Do you have X?

It’s the most basic and obvious question at the start of every transaction. And yet the answer has become more complex in the past two years due to the pandemic and related supply chain issues. Customer satisfaction is now tied, more than ever, to simply communicating availability via the following methods:

  • Best-in-class e-commerce systems should warn customers if local inventory levels are low or items are out of stock. If your solution is lacking features, it’s a signal an upgrade may be necessary to keep customers happy.

  • Add your products for free to Google’s Merchant Center and be sure you’re keeping a good eye on them for accuracy.

  • Add products to your GMB and Top4 business profile as a form of virtual window shopping.

top4 profile for reaching local customers

  • Social commerce is on the rise, too. If your customers shop on Instagram or Facebook, you should be there. Meanwhile, purely informational social posting can help you signal the availability of desired merchandise.

  • And, of course, be sure every member of your staff is well-trained and has access to an accurate inventory database. This way walk-in, phone, chat and text-based queries can be quickly and correctly answered.

b. How can I get X?

Once a customer has established that you have an item they want, naturally the next question is how they will access it. Success now depends on offering multiple options. At-home local delivery by in-house or third-party drivers, curbside pickup and shipping make up the present norm alongside in-store pickup. In certain verticals, shoppers will also want to know if items can be bundled as a gift or gift-wrapped.

Accuracy and transparency are vital to setting expectations for these services and their attendant fees. And don’t forget to publish purchase-by dates to ensure holiday delivery! Publicise all of your fulfilment options here:

  • Product pages on your website and Top4 business profile

  • A holiday shopping guide on your website and Top4 business profile using the Article Post module

  • Shipping and service pages on your website

  • Customer satisfaction guarantee pages on your website

  • Sitewide or section-wide banners

  • Homepage

  • The Q&A section of your Google My Business listing is a great place to ask and answer those basic fulfilment questions (learn more here about the many GMB features you should be using)

  • GMB attributes can also quickly signal some of these services on your listing

  • Something special like beautiful gift wrapping could merit a GMB post. Use emojis to further set and lighten up the mood!

  • Social posting can bring further attention to your convenient holiday services

  • Via your all-staff training, be sure every team member knows how to communicate the many ways customers can access your inventory.

c. Where are you? And when are you open?

The holiday season is the most important time for your website and local business listings to contain accurate contact information and current hours of operation. Your customers will likely span a spectrum of those who are choosing to continue to shop in person and those who are firmly resolved to avoid public settings.

What they all want is to avoid inconvenience in these difficult times caused by driving to a wrong address for an in-store or curbside pickup, calling a wrong number to place an order or trying to make contact during hours of operation that has been incorrectly stated. Now is the time to be sure that:

  • You’ve done a complete review of all pages of your website to find a correct name, address, phone number, text line, email address and holiday hours anywhere it’s mentioned and edited it for 2021 accuracy
  • Your Top4 business profile should feature the above information that matches with the ones on your website

Farm land's top4 profile

  • Your social profiles should reflect this, too

  • You’ve reached out to websites, blogs, industry publications, news sites and other sources of unstructured citations if their information about your business is outdated.

d. What are your COVID-19 health protocols?

The entirety of your COVID-19 safety precautions is a source of vital information for customers. If you want to prove your local business cares about staff and customers alike, be sure to communicate all the public health proceedings. Vaccine requirements, mask mandates, sanitation, contactless services, self-imposed closures, etc.

The news and social media tend to focus on individuals flouting safety. But let’s be honest. Our real lives are filled with vulnerable loved ones. Children with autoimmune diseases, elders at high risk, friends with asthma. The local brand you are promoting can evince its care for the whole community. You let people make an informed choice about the security of shopping with you by publishing your pandemic safety measures. Here are some good options:

  • Create a COVID-19 policy page on your website and practice strong internal linking to it from relevant transactional and informational pages

  • Post a public safety policy on your Top4 business profile through the Galleries feature
  • Your policies can also be good topics for Top4 article posts and Google Posts

  • Include a form for customers to report failures of staff or other shoppers to adhere to the published policy so that you can take steps to correct these instances
  • Be sure you’ve selected as many attributes as are applicable to your policy in the Health & Safety section of the dashboard so that these appear on your GMB listing

  • Your Google My Business description is a great place to summarise your public safety policy

  • Put your policies into question form. Do you require masks? Is your staff vaccinated? Do you require proof of vaccination? These along with other similar questions are ones you can publish and answer in the Q&A section of your GMB listing
  • Use social media to further disseminate your policy

  • Get in touch with local reporters to get them writing about the positive side of businesses like yours taking as many steps as possible to keep people safer

e. Are you listening? How well?

Real-world service and online reputation are inextricably linked. Near Media’s Mike Blumenthal recently published an important study of how Walmart’s online review counts went up and ratings went down in conjunction with customer disappointment over inventory shortages. Unfortunately, supply chain problems can be completely beyond a local business’ control. But what is almost always achievable is communication with customers who are taking the time to complain.

67% of consumers say they are more committed to shopping small than they were pre-pandemic, and 91% say they prefer SMBs because they trust these businesses to treat them fairly. Any local business you’re marketing can do a better job than Walmart proves that you are listening to customers’ needs and concerns simply by responding to their reviews as quickly and compassionately as possible.

Reviews and testimonials from your customers help your local SEO efforts

Note that there is no indication that customers expect perfection from local businesses. They expect fairness and fairness starts with listening well. Good communication in return can reassure a customer that you care. It can even inspire them to edit a negative review to express an improved opinion of your customer service, even when something has gone wrong. Your review corpus, complete with owner responses, provides a constant, ready answer to potential customers who want to know how well they can expect to be treated by your brand.

f. Do you care? Is there affinity?

You have one more major opportunity to persuade people that choosing you is the right choice for them, and this lies in publicizing the work you are doing to demonstrate an affinity with the culture and needs of the communities you serve. Even in the midst of a crisis, many of your customers are continuing to actively advocate for solutions to local, national and global problems.

Every part of the world is now being impacted by Climate Change, for example. If your local business has made the commitment to being part of the essential change to protect the planet, what you publish about your activities can help you and your customers make the journey together.

For other customers, lived experience and allyship could be making other issues top of mind. Racial and gender equity, human or animal rights, localism, LGBTQ+ advocacy, the cure of disease, support for elders or the chronically ill could all be worthy causes of great importance to community members. Share a commitment to progress on issues that matter most as businesses have a role to play in the ongoing work and a story to tell that will have meaning to customers.

Your website, Top4 business profile, social profiles, local or national media, and industry publications are all excellent places to shine a light on your activism, advocacy, sponsorship and philanthropy. On Top4, for example, you can show the causes you support through the Galleries feature.

Jabiru Nundah's profile on top4

The core goal of such work should be to move important causes forward by showing businesses can be part of necessary change. But an additional benefit of taking public stances can be winning new loyal customers not just for the 2021 holiday shopping season, but for life.


To find out how we can help you with your Website + Marketing, using our unique location marketing platform called Top4, get in touch today at www.top4marketing.com

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Source: Moz

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