CHICAGO — Even for dry cleaners comfortable with technology and marketing, going online to find new customers and communicate with existing ones can be daunting. Still, there are online tools available that, with a bit of effort, could lead to exciting outcomes.
Generating these digital leads was the focus of a recent online webinar conducted by the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute. Presenting “Four Digital Lead Generation Strategies that Drive Serious Results,” Cohen Wills, founder and CEO of Cleaner Marketing, and owner of Tampa, Florida-based Sage Cleaners, offered the following steps cleaners can take to connect with today’s consumers:
No. 1: Google Business Profile Optimization
“The best thing that you can do, the lowest-hanging fruit that anyone can do, is having a fully optimized Google Business Profile,” Wills says, noting that the majority of this effort costs little or nothing.
One of the reasons Wills believes this is so vital to a drycleaning business is that the Google Business Profile gets, on average, three to four times the traffic as the company’s website. “So, if you’re not giving three to four times the effort to your Business Profile, you’re selling your opportunity short.”
The first step for business owners optimizing their Google Business Profile is to claim that page and set up locations, business hours and other information that potential customers would appreciate having. Gaining access to the business page profile also allows cleaners to join categories and subcategories for ease of search, provide photos and videos, generate a question-and-answer section and provide details about services available.
One of the most effective ways for dry cleaners to optimize their Google Business Profiles is to gather reviews.
“If you don’t have some sort of automated solution to request Google reviews built into your business, I guarantee you that you are two or three steps behind one of your competitors,” Wills says. Modern POS systems, he points out, can automatically ask customers picking up their items to leave feedback.
These reviews are critical because Google’s algorithm adds visibility to a business when a customer searches for their services. Wills notes that when a map is pulled up from a search such as “dry cleaners near me,” cleaners who have paid for higher search results are favored, and then the top three cleaners with the most — and best — reviews are highlighted.
“If you don’t have at least a 4.7-star rating (out of 5) and more than five Google reviews per month, you’re likely missing out on Google Maps’ ‘three-pack,’” he says.
No. 2: Converting Website Traffic
“Everyone knows that having a website is important, but I challenge you to think what the purpose of the website is,” Wills says. “Generally, we think the purpose is to get as many people to the site as possible. I would rather 10 people go to my website and clearly understand how to take the next step with my business than have 10,000 people go to my website and have no idea how to continue doing business with me.”
He believes that cleaners shouldn’t think of a website as a blank web page — they should consider it a sales funnel.
“This is a tool where you try to guide a customer or prospective customer through a journey to, first, convince them that you’re trustworthy, and then come into your business,” he says. “Once they are there, you can send them to your other profit centers and convince them to come in more often.”
Using a popup — a small window on the site that appears when the customer first visits — is an excellent way to interact with them, Wills says. Here, a new customer can enter their email for a discount on their next order. This can also be used to give customers information about the business or tell them about other services offered.
Wills also suggests that cleaners run online specials on their websites to help make a journey easier. Keeping these online specials and updates short and to the point is essential, he says, so that the new clients get the information quickly without having to work for it.
Offering the ability to webchat, Wills says, is one of the most effective ways to interact with customers. Here, customers can ask questions directly from the website and get an answer from the store. Wills offers that the best way to run a service like this is to ask the customer for their phone number so they can receive their answers via text. This allows the staff to answer the question immediately, plus gives the business the customer’s phone number for future contact.
“Because we have the opportunity to text them back, we also have the opportunity to contact them and clarify any questions,” he says. “It’s a really powerful tool.”
Come back Thursday for the conclusion of this article, where we’ll examine two other steps that will make the most of your digital marketing efforts.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].