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DC small businesses: Here’s how to boost your digital presence amid the holiday shopping surge

Grow with Google Digital Coach Johnny Bailey shares four tips for local businesses looking to run sales or interface with customers online ahead of the new year.

How much online shopping did you do this holiday season? (Photo by Flickr user Marco Verch Professional Photographer, used under a Creative Commons license) on Twitter)
It’s that time of year.

Google consumer surveys found that 66% of shoppers plan to shop more at local small businesses this holiday season, because they know how difficult this year has been for so many of their favorite local retailers, restaurants and other businesses. However, 71% of shoppers plan to do a majority of their shopping online — so it’s more important than ever for D.C.’s small business owners to have a digital presence.

As a D.C.-based entrepreneur myself, I understand the challenges facing small businesses. And as Washington, D.C.’s Grow with Google digital coach, I’m here to help business owners — especially Black and Latino business owners — understand how free and low-cost digital tools can help them grow and thrive.

Here are my top tips for small businesses through the last surge of holiday season and as we look to the New Year:

Claim your Google business profile.

One of the most basic and most important ways to make sure customers are finding you via an internet search or on Google Maps is to claim your business profile on Google. Once claimed, update your business profile with information that makes it easy for customers to connect with you: hours, shopping options, photos and the like. It’s super savvy to add your business phone number and turn on messaging to quickly connect with customers who have questions.

While you’re at it, optimize your website with holiday-friendly keywords like “holiday gift ideas”or “fast holiday shipping” and make sure to create a sense of urgency on your sales pages.

Get ecommerce ready.

If you don’t have a strong ecommerce presence, Pointy from Google can help you get your goods online. By connecting information from a Pointy device or a compatible point-of-sale system to your business profile, shoppers can find your inventory online when they’re looking for specific items.

Use video to reach D.C. — and the rest of the world.

Create a YouTube channel, film an introductory video and explain your business. Add a quick video weekly or monthly — you could feature your product, an employee or just a happy customer. Video content helps shoppers discover your business on the world’s second-largest search engine. Don’t know where to start? Check out this quick help video on YouTube livestreaming:

Encourage consumers to leave reviews (and pay it forward).

Savvy customers are looking for good experiences and great products, so don’t be shy to ask your customers to leave a positive review on Google Maps. This boosts credibility for your business and will help you to attract new customers. While you’re at it, pay it forward and leave reviews for other D.C. businesses you love.

Companies: Google
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