We’ve all heard it before: You only get one chance to make a first impression. And it’s true. Today, that first impression is more likely to happen before you ever have a one-on-one interaction with a customer. With so many ways for people to learn about your business—either through a visit to your website or an online review—you need to be sure that a great first impression is made at every possible entry to your company.
Consider the following data points about first impressions and how they may impact your small business:
- Impressions are formed in the brain based on what matters most to that person and include factors such as their own personal experiences, social values and pet peeves.
- Based on those impressions, people make relatively accurate evaluations in less than 30 seconds.
- Ninety percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know and 70 percent of consumers trust opinions posted online.
So how can you create a great first impression online? Here are three ways to do it:
1. Focus on attracting your ideal customer
Instead of trying to appeal to the masses, focus on attracting customers that are most likely to buy from you and will continue to do so on an ongoing basis. While one-off transactions will certainly contribute to your bottom line, it’s more expensive to market to random customers. Profitable customer relationships are those that are established over time when business owners engage their regular customers on a more personal level. The more the business owner knows about a customer, the more tailored the experience will be. And the more that a customer feels connected to a business and appreciated, the more likely he is to favor that business.
2. Be informational and conversational instead of promotional
Focus on writing copy that’s informative and is based on your customers’ interests and needs as opposed to pushing a hard sell or using industry jargon. To do this, think like a customer or a potential customer that plugged a few words into a search engine to find you. What are the keywords that typically bring customers to your site? Use those and surround them with simple, straightforward language.
3. Inspire your existing customers to share their good experiences
If your friendly and knowledgeable staff consistently delivers great service and your store is stocked with reliable products, you will create a steady flow of customers. Why not gently ask one of these steady customers if she wouldn’t mind writing an online review or posting a comment on your company website, your Facebook Page, Yelp or another online destination?
Of course, a customer’s desire to champion your business needs to come with no strings or incentives attached. If you have established good rapport with your customers, then they won’t mind sharing their experiences with others. This way, when potential customers come across your business online, they’ll find reliable, third party validation that will likely send them directly to you.