Top 4 Ecommerce Website Solutions for Small Businesses

Ecommerce solutions for small business

Ecommerce solutions for small business

I have been doing some research on a new ecommerce website solution for my kids’ school’s PTA. The current website is so impossible to use that I’m the only one who knows how to update the darn thing – and barely, even though I update content on websites all the time for a living. So, I guess you could say the platform is difficult to use, but that would be a gross understatement.

Because I like nothing more than to share useful information, I figured I’d share the results of my findings with you. You’ll find them below, but first, I want to point out that these are hosted platforms, which means the company provides the ecommerce package and hosts the site for you on their own server. These platforms are relatively inexpensive and easy to use for the non-tech savvy.

Whether you are a small business looking to launch your first ecommerce site or just switch to a new one that might be a better fit for your needs, here are the 4 top hosted ecommerce website solutions for small businesses:

Bigcommerce

Biggest differentiator: Loads of built-in tools

Bigcommerce might have some big customers (ABC News, CNN, The Food Network), but they are great for small businesses too. Their solution has a lot of built-in tools, like SEO, marketing, analytics, product reviews and coupons. I also like their “abandoned cart saver” that helps you reach out quickly to people who leave your site without buying, and the fact that you can integrate with leading accounting, marketing, and investory management systems.

Shopify

Biggest differentiator: Most flexbility

The most popular ecommerce solution out there is definitely Shopify. As you build your site using one of their themes, you can increase your marketing capabilities by adding Shopify apps. Once you start selling, Shopify Reports lets you track and analyze your product sales, orders, and payments. There is also a built-in blogging platform and an easy-to-use content management system.

Squarespace Commerce

Biggest differentiator: Integrates with your current website

Do you already like the website you have? Then you’ll want to use Squarespace Commerce, which lets you add an ecommerce component to your website.  SEO and social media are integrated into the platform, you can view analytics in real-time, and you can even print packing slips or customize emails.

Weebly eCommerce

Biggest differentiator: Big mobile shopping focus

Don’t let the light-hearted name throw you off – Weebly means business. Your Weebly ecommerce site will work across all devices – desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone – and it includes SEO, mobile apps that let you manage your site while on the go, and display and merchandising options. If you feel like you need help getting started, you can sign up for their free, live training sessions.

What kind of solultion do you use for ecommerce? What do you like most about it?

Related Articles:

Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

 

Five Ways To Optimize Your Blog Posts For The New Google Algorithm

How to optimize blog posts for search results

How to optimize blog posts for search results

Did you know Google recently changed its search algorithm? Don’t worry – this is good news. Instead of Google looking at keywords in a phrase as separate entities in a phrase, it’s now looking at the phrase as a whole to decipher what it is you are actually looking for.

Why’s this good? Because we don’t talk in keywords, we talk in sentences – and we write in sentences in our blog posts. Here’s how to take advantage of Google’s new algorithm (named Hummingbird) to ensure your blog posts are optimized for search:

1. Use long-tail keywords

The term “long-tail keywords” is a fancy SEO way to say phrases. If you want to get ranked for “best craft beer selection in Washington, DC” then use that in your blog headline, page URL, and in the content of your blog.

2. Write attention-grabbing headlines

Don’t get so bogged down with integrating long-tail keywords into your blog post headlines that you end up writing boring headlines. If you want your blog post to get read and shared, it needs to grab attention. Use a list format, use humor, or shock your audience – but don’t bait them with a headline that has nothing to do with what the blog post is actually about.

3. Optimize links

Because search engines look at the links in your blog post, you need to optimize them as well. Make sure the anchor text – the word or phrase you highlight to link elsewhere – are keywords rather than meaningless phrases like “here,” “read more,” or “this blog post.”

4. Be thoughtful when adding tags

Yes, search engines look at the tags you add to your blog posts, too, so you have to give tags a great deal of thought. Tags will only work for SEO if they are keywords you want to be found for and link content – meaning, they need to be used consistently.

5. Add keywords to images

When you add an image to your blog post, be sure to add the keyword you want to be found for. In WordPress, go the image library, choose to edit the image, and then add that keyword in the alternative text, focus keyword, SEO title, and meta description boxes.

What else do you do to ensure your blog post is not just search engine-friendly, but reader-friendly?

Related Articles:

Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

Four Basic Ways Google Analytics Can Help You Improve Your Website

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How can Google Analytics help improve the performance of your website?

Do you use Google Analytics on your website? Great, because the information it provides is a treasure trove of information around how people use your site – and it can help you improve your site, too.

Here are four basic stats to look at and how to use the information you get to improve your website:

Bounce rate

What it is: The number of people who exit your website after just looking at one page.

What to do: If you have a high bounce rate on a specific page, it basically means that page needs help. First, check to make sure the content is relevant and easy to understand and navigation is straight-forward.

If you link to that page from an ad, make sure that page is delivering what you promise in your ad and that you are using the correct keywords.

Exit pages

What it is: The page where users leave your website.

What to do: If people are leaving your newsletter sign up or appointment page without taking action, reconsider the content. Is the call-to-action clear? Do you explain the benefits of subscribing? Do you remind them of the great service they can expect?

Social engagement

What it is: Google Analytics has a social plug-in that allows you to track social media engagement with your content.

What to do: Because you’ll better understand how people interact with your content, you can create more content that people like and remove social media share buttons that are not being used.

Device usage

What it is: The web traffic you get from smartphones and tablets.

What to do: Optimize your site for the devices people are using when they visit your site. If you don’t already have a mobile- and tablet-friendly site, you might want to consider one or both.

What other Google Analytics stats do you find really helpful?

Related Articles:

Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

How To Prioritize An Online Marketing Overhaul When You’re Not Made of Money

What can you do to overhaul your website without spending money you don't have?

What can you do to overhaul your website without spending money you don’t have?

I am currently working with a client, who we’ll call Bill, as part of a team that is overhauling his entire online marketing presence, from his website to his email marketing to social media. Because he does not want to spend a lot of money in one fell swoop (who does?), we decided to roll out this big overhaul in phases.

Here’s how we are prioritizing his online marketing overhaul:

Make quick, easy fixes first

Because his email and social media marketing are generating some engagement, we are tackling a few easy fixes on his website. All broken pages (aka, 404 errors: page not found) and links have been fixed. We are currently adding an SSL certificate to his shopping cart and a chat feature so he can answer any quick questions that web visitors might have.

Tackle messaging

One of my biggest roles in this project is next. I’ll be rewriting his messaging, which includes his value proposition, the benefits his free and subscription (read: paid) newsletters offer, and calls-to-action. A little known fact outside the industry is that main product messaging guides everything else, from branding to marketing to sales.

Have website redesigned

Once the messaging is complete, I can write content for a new website that will feature a clean, modern look – to inspire confidence and trust – easy navigation, and – most importantly – product pages that leave no doubt in any web visitor’s mind as to the value of subscribing to Bill’s newsletters or downloading his ebooks.

Retool email marketing

Around the same time the website launches, I’ll change the look and feel of Bill’s weekly newsletters to ensure they are consistent with his new site and messaging. Every week, I will write the content for his newsletters to ensure we stress the benefits and value of reading them.

Revive social media marketing

Like I mentioned above, Bill’s social media marketing is doing OK. He’s active on Twitter and Facebook, but not LinkedIn. One of the other members on the team will work to inject more energy and creativity into his social media marketing – but that is a story for another blog post!

Develop a solid content marketing plan

Last but not least, we will put together a solid content marketing plan to take advantage of the incredibly valuable and useful evergreen content he produces. We’ll sift through is content and pull together ebooks from blog posts. Some will be free, and some will require purchase.

Like I said, it’s a big overhaul! Doing everything at once is not feasible for most small business owners, so there is nothing wrong with doing one piece at a time in a logical manner.

What part of your online marketing program would you most like to overhaul? Why?

Related Articles:

Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

Five Steps to Daily Deal Success

Best practices on finding success with daily deals

Best practices on finding success with daily deals

Nearly two-thirds of restaurants that have used daily deals say that they produce a similar or better ROI than other marketing channels, according to a new study of key restaurant, bar, and café decision-makers commissioned by the National Restaurant Association and Groupon.

The biggest factor in determining the success of a business’s daily deal? The restaurateur’s commitment to staff preparation. Preparing your staff effectively, however, is just one of the top tips for daily deal success.

1. Practice makes perfect.

67% of restaurateurs who rated their daily deal experience successful said they trained employees to focus on customer service, look for upsell opportunities, and track deal redemption appropriately. Focus on staff preparation and you’ll be writing your daily deal success story in no time.

2. Schedule the deal based on your business needs.

Find more success by scheduling your deal so that peak redemption fits into the times your business needs dictate. Or, take advantage of Groupon’s flexible campaigns to bring in however many customers you need—whether you want to quickly reach a large audience or just a handful of new customers each month.

3. Calculate the deal’s financial impact.

Profits don’t have to be the primary reason for running a daily deal, but companies should at least be aware of the impact the deal will have on their core business. Work with a Groupon representative to estimate the ROI you can expect.

4. Use the daily deal company’s tools to measure your success.

Restaurateurs who succeeded with daily deals were more likely to monitor the number of deals sold using tools provided by the daily deal website. Make sure to use your Groupon Merchant Center to monitor not only the deals sold, but also key customer demographics and statistics, such as the average bill total and overspend.

5. Focus on creating repeat customers and building loyalty.

Successful restaurateurs go above and beyond for all of their guests, regardless of what marketing method brought them in. Make an effort to wow your new guests and you’ll reap the rewards of repeat patronage. Successful daily deal users were also significantly more likely to use rewards programs to entice customers back for another visit, so be sure to look into available loyalty programs or consider creating your own.

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Four Ways to Use Online Marketing to Attract New Customers: Restaurants

Utilize all the resources you can, including a website, SEO, SEM, email marketing, and local search directories, to attract customers to your bar or restaurant.

Online marketing has become a “must-do” for any bar or restaurant seeking to attract loyal customers. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Website

Creating a basic website for your bar or restaurant doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time, but it will help you attract a lot of new customers. When looking for a place to eat or go out, many people go online to search for bars and restaurants, to look at menus and pictures of mouthwatering dishes or thirst-quenching drinks, and to read reviews.

At minimum, your website should include your bar or restaurant’s hours of operation, phone number, address, and a photo of your location. Ideally, add more information such as a map or directions, an email address, multiple photos of your interior and exterior, drink specials or appealing menu items, you and your employees, and your menu. Depending on how sophisticated you want to get, you can add features such as daily specials, coupons, or discount codes, the ability for customers to make their own reservations online, information about catering, articles or blog posts about events, videos, and links to your bar or restaurant’s social media accounts.

It is critically important today, particularly for bars and restaurants, to make sure your websites are mobile ready. Consumers are increasingly searching on their smartphones and tablets from home as well as when they’re mobile. This means, among other things, that you can’t use Flash on your mobile site. Fortunately, it’s simple (and free) to find out if your site is mobile ready.

2. SEO and SEM

Search engine optimization (SEO) improves your website’s position in natural or “organic” search results (as opposed to paid search results). To do this, make sure your site uses words and phrases consumers are likely to use when they search for businesses like yours. For instance, if you own a Thai restaurant in San Francisco, you’d want to use general keywords like “restaurant” as well as more specific keywords and phrases such as “San Francisco Thai restaurant,” “best Thai restaurant San Francisco,” and “pad Thai North Beach.” Use Google’s keyword search tool to find the most popular keywords.

In addition to keywords, adding content helps drive SEO—especially when you frequently refresh the content. (The “secret” formula seems to be adding new content at least three times a week.) Don’t let this intimidate you. You can include posts on topics such as food trends or cool new drinks your bar is serving, recipes, videos of your chef preparing a popular dish, or archives of your email newsletters.

Search engine marketing (SEM) includes paid search advertising as well as SEO. You can buy PPC (pay-per-click) ads, wherein you pay only when a user clicks on your ad, on search engines such as Bing or Google. Advertising on Facebook is another option and lets you narrowly target your ads. For instance, if your Italian restaurant is trying to attract young families, you could target local moms who enjoy Italian food and have children under 10.

Use the Google Analytics tool (it’s free) to get information about your website visitors and measure the results of your SEO and SEM efforts. For example, if analytics show that most of your visitors are coming from a particular review and rating site, you can focus more of your marketing efforts there.

3. Local Search Directories

Getting your restaurant or bar listed in as many places as possible on the Internet is key to successfully attracting new customers. Local search directories, which feature local businesses, should be an important part of your online marketing strategy. Popular local search sites include Bing Local, CitySearch, Google+ Local (formerly Google Places), and Local.com; there are also typically niche sites for bars and restaurants and for your city or region that you’ll want to be listed on.

Visit each site to see if your business is listed; “claim” your listing, making sure that the information about your bar or restaurant is accurate and matches what’s on your website. Then optimize your listing with extras such as photos, maps and directions, menus, coupons, or special offers—the same types of things you put on your website. Monitor your listings regularly to keep them updated. Some local search sites also include ratings and reviews (for more on these, read our article about social media).

4. Email Marketing

Once new customers try your bar or restaurant, use email marketing to keep them coming back. Collecting customers’ email addresses can be as simple as including a form with the check, having a sign-up sheet at the hostess station, or encouraging servers to ask for email addresses. Put a privacy policy on your website that tells customers how you protect and use the emails, and always follow CAN-SPAM laws when sending out emails (learn more at the FTC website).

Email marketing can take many forms. You can send a quick email about an upcoming happy hour at your bar, email an invitation to a five-course dinner at your restaurant, email an announcement about your new chef, email special offers and coupons, or email a monthly newsletter. Provide useful content so customers feel intrigued rather than annoyed by your emails. For instance, a restaurant newsletter could spotlight a new menu item, encourage customers to make reservations for Valentine’s Day, and showcase photos from a recent wine tasting. Email marketing services (such as Constant Contact, Campaigner, or Infusionsoft) can help you send out emails, comply with FTC regulations, and provide analytics you can use to track results.

To learn more about Groupon’s merchant solutions and how to work with Groupon, visit www.GrouponWorks.com.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for her free TrendCast reports.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

10 Tips on How To Use Daily Deals for Health & Beauty

Become a daily deal expert and you’ll not only attract new customers but keep them coming back as well.

You’ve tested the waters of using a daily deal site such as Groupon to market your health-and beauty-business, and you know how powerful a tool it is to send new customers your way. Now it’s time to multiply that effect to become a daily deal pro. Try these tips to maximize the power of your daily deals:

1. Work with a well-known and credible daily deal site that offers guidance throughout the process. For instance, at Groupon, your health-and-beauty business is assigned to a dedicated account manager who helps you create the best deal for your business and answers all your questions before, during, and after the deal. The daily deal site you choose should also guide you through creating artwork and copy for the deal, as well as provide you with a checklist of steps to make sure you’re prepared to manage the results you’ll enjoy when your deal goes live.

2. Use daily deals to boost sales and capacity when you need it. For instance, if your nail salon is typically bustling on Saturdays and Sundays but not so busy during the week, consider designing a mani-pedi deal that’s good only Mondays through Thursdays. If your spa is packed in the spring and summer but empty in the cold winter months, create an enticing winter facial package to offer from December through February.

3. Use daily deals to achieve sales goals. Sophisticated daily deal marketers use deals to attain a variety of sales goals, including moving slow sellers or selling more of certain high-margin items. For example, if your beauty supply store has too much of a certain brand’s hair-care products, create a deal offering discounts on that brand. If you’d like to boost profit margins at your hair salon, craft deals that give customers discounts on easy-to-provide but high-margin treatments such as shine treatments or single-process color.

4. Be prepared. You want daily deal users to say good things about your health-and-beauty business, so ensure you have adequate staff on hand to support the extra customers and that all your employees are well versed in the deal details so they can handle the transactions without a fuss. Additionally, be adequately stocked with supplies so you don’t run out of the products you promoted or the treatments you need.

5. Engage. Your employees should engage with daily deal customers to build rapport and relationships. Ask customers how they heard about your health-and-beauty business, and ask whether they’d like to sign up to receive emails and special offers from you. Always remember that the customer experience is paramount to the success of your spa, salon, or store’s daily deal offering.

6. Use analytics tools. Analytics allow you to measure the success of your daily deal and gather valuable customer information. Reputable daily deal sites provide you with free online analytics tools to track results. For example, Groupon’s Merchant Center allows you to:

  • Learn your customer’s demographics (age, gender, and ZIP code/location)
  • Read customer feedback (from post-purchase surveys)
  • View performance measurement across campaigns
  • Track customer acquisition and incremental customer spending
  • Determine the ROI from your deal

7. Reach out. Follow up after customers visit your health-and-beauty business by offering them an incentive to return. This can be done in person when they pay for products or services or via email if they sign up to receive offers from you. Ask your daily deal provider what they offer in this regard. Groupon, for instance, offers a loyalty program—Groupon Rewards—that helps to encourage repeat business.

8. Get social.  An Ipsos study found that nearly three-fourths of Groupon customers bring friends along when redeeming their deals, and a Nielsen study found that more than half of users tell others about the Groupon purchase. Encourage customers to spread the word about your business by following up with an email offer that’s quick, to the point, and makes it easy for to forward to friends. Make sure the email includes links to your social media accounts so that customers can connect with your business and stay updated on new promotions, treatments and services, and upcoming events.

9. Practice makes perfect. A study from Rice University says that the more deals businesses run, the more profitable the campaigns become. And the companies that offer deals frequently report that each deal brings in new customers (80 percent), of which one-third become repeat customers.

10. Remember the basics. No matter how many times you run daily deals, always keep in mind that the keys to success are quality products, a pleasant experience, and excellent service.

To learn more about Groupon’s merchant solutions and how to work with Groupon, visit www.GrouponWorks.com.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for her free TrendCast reports.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

Four Ways to Get New Customers with Online Marketing: Health & Beauty

Business websites, SEO, SEM, email marketing, and local search directories are essential tools in attracting customers to your health-and-beauty business.

Online marketing has become a “must-do” for any health-and-beauty business seeking to attract loyal customers. Here’s what you need to know:

 1. Website

Creating a basic website for your spa, salon, or store doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time, but it will help you attract a lot of new customers. When looking for a place to buy health or beauty products, services, or treatments, many people go online to search for beauty supply stores or to read reviews of local spas and salons.

At minimum, your website should include your hours of operation, phone number, address, and a photo of your location. Ideally, add more information such as a map or directions; an email address; photos of your location, you, and your employees; and a list of treatments or services. Depending on how sophisticated you want to get, you can add features such as coupons or discount codes, the ability for customers to make their own reservations for treatments online, articles or blog posts about health-and-beauty topics, videos, and links to your company’s social media accounts.

It is critically important today, particularly for local businesses such as beauty supply stores, salons, and spas, to make sure your website is mobile ready. Consumers are increasingly searching on their smartphones and tablets from home as well as when they’re mobile. This means, among other things, that you can’t use Flash on your mobile site. Fortunately, it’s simple (and free) to find out if your site is mobile ready.

2. SEO and SEM

Search engine optimization (SEO) improves your website’s position in natural or “organic” search results (as opposed to paid search results). To do this, make sure your site uses words and phrases consumers are likely to use when they search for businesses like yours. For instance, if you own a hair salon in San Francisco, you’d want to use general keywords like “hair salon,” but also more specific keywords and phrases such as “San Francisco hair salon,” “best hair salon San Francisco” or “hair extension specialists North Beach.” Use Google’s keyword search tool to find the most popular keywords.

In addition to keywords, adding content helps drive SEO—especially when you frequently refresh the content. (The “secret” formula seems to be adding new content at least three times a week.) Don’t let this intimidate you. You can include posts on topics such as hot-weather hairstyles (for a hair salon), photos of popular nail polish colors (for a nail salon), or archives of your email newsletters.

Search engine marketing (SEM) includes paid search advertising as well as SEO. You can buy PPC (pay-per-click) ads, wherein you pay only when a user clicks on your ad, on search engines such as Bing or Google. Advertising on Facebook is another option and lets you narrowly target your ads. For instance, if your spa is trying to attract more customers for sports massages, you could target local men and women who participate in sports and express interest in massage treatments or fitness topics.

Use the Google Analytics tool (it’s free) to get information about your website visitors and measure the results of your SEO and SEM efforts. For example, if analytics show that most of your visitors are coming from a particular review and rating site, you can focus more of your marketing efforts there.

3. Local Search Directories

Getting your health-and-beauty business listed in as many places as possible on the Internet is key to successfully attracting new customers. Local search directories, which feature local businesses, should be an important part of your online marketing strategy. Popular local search sites include Bing Local, CitySearch, Google+ Local (formerly Google Places), and Local.com; there are also typically niche sites for health-and-beauty businesses and for your city or region that you’ll want to be listed on.

Visit each site to see if your business is listed; “claim” your listing, making sure that the information about your spa, salon, or store is accurate and matches what’s on your website. Then optimize your listing with extras such as photos, maps and directions, treatment details, coupons, or special offers—the same types of things you put on your website. Monitor your listings regularly to keep them updated. Some local search sites also include ratings and reviews; for more on these, (read our article about social media).

4. Email Marketing

Email marketing is an effective way to keep customers coming back. Collecting customers’ email addresses can be as simple as including a form when you present the bill, having a sign-up sheet at the reception desk or cash register, or encouraging cashiers to ask for email addresses. Put a privacy policy on your website that tells customers how you protect and use the emails, and always follow CAN-SPAM laws when sending out emails (learn more at the FTC website).

Email marketing can take many forms. You can send a quick email about an upcoming sale at your beauty supply store, email an invitation to a couples’ massage class at your spa, email an announcement about your new hairstylist and her specialties, email special offers and coupons, or email a monthly newsletter. Provide useful content so customers feel intrigued rather than annoyed by your emails. For instance, if you own a spa, use your newsletter to spotlight a new treatment, encourage customers to buy gift certificates for Mother’s Day, and showcase photos of a new aromatherapy line you sell. Email marketing services (such as Constant Contact, Campaigner, or Infusionsoft) can help you send out emails, comply with FTC regulations, and provide analytics you can use to track results.

To learn more about Groupon’s merchant solutions and how to work with Groupon, visit www.GrouponWorks.com.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for her free TrendCast reports.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

10 Tips to Maximize Daily Deals for Your Restaurant

Become a daily deal expert and you’ll not only attract new customers but keep them coming back as well.

You’ve tested the waters of using a daily deal site such as Groupon to market your bar or restaurant, and you know how powerful a tool it is to send new customers your way. Now it’s time to multiply that effect to become a daily deal pro. Try these tips to maximize the power of your daily deals:

1. Work with a well-known and credible daily deal site that offers guidance throughout the process. For instance, at Groupon, your bar or restaurant is assigned to a dedicated account manager who helps you create the best deal for your business and answers all your questions before, during, and after the deal. The daily deal site you choose should also guide you through creating artwork and copy for the deal as well as provide you with a checklist of steps to make sure you’re prepared to manage the results you’ll enjoy when your deal goes live.

2. Use daily deals to boost sales and capacity when you need it. For instance, if your restaurant is typically bustling on Friday and Saturday nights but not so busy during the week, consider cooking up a dinner deal that’s good only Mondays through Thursdays. If your bar is a hit at happy hour but empties out as the night wears on, mix up a daily deal featuring enticing drinks that is available only in the wee hours.

3. Use daily deals to achieve sales goals. Sophisticated daily deal marketers use deals to attain a variety of sales goals, including moving slow sellers or selling more of certain high-margin items. For example, if your bar has purchased too much of a certain winery’s wine, create a deal for a special wine tasting featuring that vintner. If you’d like to boost profit margins at your restaurant, craft deals that give customers access to a limited menu of high-margin dishes.

4. Be prepared. You want daily deal users to say good things about your bar or restaurant, so ensure you have adequate staff on hand to support the extra customers and that all bartenders, wait staff, and hostesses are well versed in the deal details so they can handle the transactions without a fuss. Additionally, be adequately stocked with supplies so you don’t run out of the drink special or menu items you promoted.

5. Engage. Your bartenders, wait staff, and hostesses should engage with daily deal customers to build rapport and relationships. Ask customers how they heard about your bar or restaurant, and ask whether they’d like to sign up to receive emails and special offers from you. Always remember that customer experience is paramount to the success of your bar or restaurant’s daily deal offering.

6. Use analytics tools. Analytics allow you to measure the success of your daily deal and gather valuable customer information. Reputable daily deal sites provide you with free online analytics tools to track results. For example, Groupon’s Merchant Center allows you to:

  • Learn your customer’s demographics (age, gender, and ZIP code/location)
  • Read customer feedback (from post-purchase surveys)
  • View performance measurement across campaigns
  • Track customer acquisition and incremental customer spending
  • Determine the ROI from your deal

7. Reach out. Follow up after customers visit your bar or restaurant by offering them an incentive to return. This can be done in person along with the check or via email if they sign up to receive offers from you. Ask your daily deal provider what they offer in this regard. Groupon, for example, offers a loyalty program—Groupon Rewards—that helps to encourage repeat business.

8. Get social. An Ipsos study  found that nearly three-fourths of Groupon customers bring friends along when redeeming their deals, and a Nielsen study found that more than half of users tell others about the Groupon purchase. Encourage customers to spread the word about your business by following up with an email offer that’s quick, to the point, and makes it easy for them to forward to friends. Make sure the email includes links to your social media accounts so that customers can connect with your business and stay updated on new promotions, menu items, and special events.

9. Practice makes perfect. A study from Rice University says that the more deals businesses run, the more profitable the campaigns become. And the companies that offer deals frequently report that each deal brings in new customers (80 percent), of which one-third become repeat customers.

10. Remember the basics. No matter how many times you run daily deals, always keep in mind that the keys to success are great food, great drinks, and excellent service.

To learn more about Groupon’s merchant solutions and how to work with Groupon, visit www.GrouponWorks.com.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for her free TrendCast reports.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.