There are few businesses that do not have some online presence. There are none that do not think they should have. The reality is that most are very ineffective in turning the online presence into increased sales or profitability.
WHAT IS THE DESIRED EFFECT OF ONLINE PRESENCE?
This is a valid question because not everybody wants to do online sales. In other words, just because you have a retail store and a website you do not need to sell directly online for it to be of value. If it is solely for informational purposes and to try to drive physical traffic to your brick and mortar store front you can still be getting a positive effect.
If this is your intent, you cannot simply make a couple static pages and then forget about them. That is the most common mistake. Your website should mirror your storefront. You change the window displays in your store with season or sale and need to do the same on your website. If somebody sees and print or media advertisement and decides to look your up on the web it should be the same message. Unfortunately, many times I have looked up the web address on the bottom of a print ad and found a website listing specials from a year or more previously. If you think this might be a time management mistake, think again.
It is no wonder that with this type of practice many decide it is just an expense with no value and “does not really work” or “my customers are not web people”. It is not the customers that are not web people. If you elected to go with a simple informational page and directions, then keep the information and current emphasis up to date at least.
TIMES OF EMPHASIS
Stop thinking of your web site as being different than other marketing. While some small differences obviously apply when trying to maximize effect the basic benefits can be achieved by treating it as a good-sized print media advertisement. This means when you think you need to push advertising more through traditional means you also do with the virtual storefront. Inventory reduction and clearance, change of season, and new product line are good examples. In all of these cases you would use other marketing to announce this. Simply reflect the same message on the internet.
Opening a new store or changing a location is a time to actually advertise your site some. If you lease a new retail store or location, then directing people to your website for detailed directions is an excellent way to get traffic into your actual store. People will find it far easier to find off written directions or a map plug in than to remember a street address heard on the radio. It also gives an opportunity to push a message of why they should make the trip while looking at the directions.
While a retail store may change locations or address, its website does not. Use this to maintain your customer base after a move, relocation, or even just opening an additional store. The continuity will help you and your customers.