Online contests in which consumers vote for their favorite local businesses give business owners a great opportunity to market their Web sites by asking their customers to go home, log on, and vote. In the process, business owners have learned to imprint their Web site addresses on almost anything you can think of—including customer receipts, business cards, shopping bags, and pizza boxes, to name a few. Playhouses now announce their Web site addresses during intermission, and bookstores provide ballots as bookmarks. The online contest enables business owners to build a connection from their Web site to their place of business. But you don’t need to be competing for something to use this best practice at your company. Motivate your customers to leave your place of business and visit you online and, at the same time, create incentives for your online visitors to come into your physical location. Here are some ideas:
• Place a code on your Web site that visitors can write down or print out and bring into your place of business to redeem a special offer. • Provide an area on your Web site where customers can write a review in exchange for your exclusive newsletter. • Release new product offerings, menu items, etc., online.
The goal is to build a cross-platform relationship with your customers, who are increasingly using the Internet to help them in their everyday lives. If you are successful in connecting with them online, you’ll find them visiting you offline in your place of business.
Josh Walker CEO CityVoter Cambridge, Mass.