Letting your customers book appointments with you online is a huge opportunity. Once you have a presence on the internet, the number of people who can find out about your products and services, and then book an appointment with you will jump massively. Where in the past you could only capture new business through word of mouth and expensive advertising, today you can attract new customers for virtually nothing.However, many SMEs struggle to capitalize on this opportunity. It can feel as if the internet is saturated with websites, many offering a similar proposition to your business. So, standing out, getting people onto your site and, ultimately, booking an appointment with you can be very hard indeed. However, with some planning and research, you can boost the number of people booking appointments on your website.Let’s look at three things you need to begin with.
Whether you’ve been in business for years, or are just starting out, developing an idea of your target audience and how to reach them online is essential. You therefore need to create a set of 3-4 personas which describe your ideal customer. Your persona needs to answer key questions about the customer – where they live, what age they are, what they might need your service for, how much money they have to spend on your offering.Let's see what this might look like:Lindsay offers one-to-one yoga classes in Miami. She develops a persona of her ideal client, describing where they live, their age, gender, income, and personal timetable. Perhaps her ideal customer is a middle-age woman living in a wealthy Miami suburb who works full time but is free most mornings before 8am. Once the persona is in place, Lindsay can then begin developing her website and online presence to attract that client – placing ads on LinkedIn targeted at her demographic, emphasizing on her website that she can provide lessons in customers’ homes early in the morning.With a clear idea of who she wants to work with, Lindsay is then able to develop a strategy to get those people to book appointments via her website.
Strategy Once you have developed a series of in-depth personas, you next need to develop a strategy to reach them. For different kinds of businesses, this will involve very different activities. Nonetheless, once you have a strategy, you can then follow it regularly to ensure that you are marketing yourself consistently and professionally. An online marketing strategy needs, at the very minimum, a smart website (it doesn't need to be huge, just functional), social media marketing and email campaigns.Let’s see what this would look like: Hank runs a consultancy which works with small businesses in the Mid-West. He develops a strategy built around a concept he calls ‘Hank says…’ which provides advice to the kinds of clients he works with. A key part of Hank’s social media strategy is to write one Tweet each day with a piece of ‘Hank says…’ advice. On his website, he writes a more in-depth ‘Hank says…’ blog every week. And, once per month, he sends a ‘Hank says…’ email newsletter to his existing customers.By following a consistent strategy and using the most powerful tools available for marketing himself, Hank builds up his reputation in the minds of existing customers, while fostering interest from potential new clients. This should lead to more bookings through his website.
Make your unique selling proposition (USP) clear and easy to understand Whether you have a revolutionary new idea for a business, or are carving out your place in a crowded market, to get more bookings through your website, you need to make it clear why you are unique. This will involve some work. You need to think long and hard about what you do that is different, why you are better than your competitors, and why your customers should hand over their hard-earned money to you. There might be numerous reasons, but you need to boil this down into a simple statement to place on your website that customers can easily understand.What would this look like? Maria speaks English and Spanish fluently and runs a translation business in California. She works with various businesses and clients on various types of translation. However, she needs to boil this down to one unique statement. By reviewing all the existing clients she works with and the projects she enjoys most, she is able to define herself uniquely. Perhaps with a statement like: “friendly, fast and professional Spanish-English legal document translation in San Jose”.Once published on the top of her webpage, on her social media profiles and in the footer of her emails, this kind of statement means people visiting Maria’s website immediately understand if she provides the right service for them.Make it easy for people to book with you.