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Educating the industry: Have you walked in your customers’ digital shoes?

December 22/29, 2014; Volume 28/Number 13

By Christine Whittemore

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.54.25 AMHave you ever walked in your customers’ digital shoes? The majority of your customers will start the purchase process online even though they purchase in-store. You must ensure they find you online as they do their research.

Identify your customer’s persona.

Chances are you have several categories of customers. Let’s focus on homeowners or, more specifically, first-time homeowners. Think through her needs and how to address them through your flooring business.

Let’s name this persona type “Prospect Patty.” She’s digitally connected, doesn’t know much about flooring and hates to waste her time.

Detail the keywords Prospect Patty will use to search for you online.

Prospect Patty is busy. She has multiple digital devices, is often chained to her desk, yet needs to update the flooring in her home. She can’t imagine life without a search engine and begins her flooring mission online. The words she uses need to bring her closer to you and your business.

Think about the terms she will use. Some are general as Prospect Patty gets the lay of the land for flooring and options available. They become more specific as she learns about product categories and even brands that are specific to your business. Don’t forget your company name.

Think of Prospect Patty’s buying process as a funnel.

This list of search terms, once organized, will represent a type of funnel. At the top, where the funnel is widest, the search terms are most broad. Toward the middle of the funnel, the terms are more specific, and at the bottom of the funnel the terms indicate purchase intent.

Now it’s time to imagine yourself as Prospect Patty online.

Search using those terms in a private browser window. In so doing, you search without your own online history muddying up the waters.

For each search term, take a screen grab; paste the image into PowerPoint so you have a point of reference. Explore the entries. Who shows up in the organic results? In the paid results? Do you? Your competitors?

You’ve walked in her shoes. Now what?

First, do digital cleanup on your own or with the help of your IT department. Make sure you like how you appear in search. If you don’t appear in search, think of how to add Prospect Patty’s search topics on your site.

Check out each entry where your business appears. Claim directory listings. And don’t forget social profiles.

Develop an ongoing content plan so you regularly publish fresh content—ideally via a blog, but also through ongoing website updates, content offers, visual content—and in your store. Completely integrate what you do offline with what happens online since Prospect Patty does the same.

On to Prospect Patty’s brick-and-mortar experience.

Prospect Patty’s in-store experience should seamlessly integrate with her digital one and vice versa. If she finds you via search on her mobile device (because your website is responsive and user friendly), she can easily complete a form or dial your number to speak with you.