5 Things Your Internet Presence Must Include

In today’s world, an online presence is critical. Consumers are online and they use the internet to find places to eat, shop and fuel. Whether they are searching from home or while on the go, customers and potential customers take to the web to find their next stop.

Not only does a company’s online presence have the potential to attract customers, but it can also attract employees. Your online reputation could be hurting your recruitment efforts. You have to monitor what’s being said about your company, said Mary Ellen Adams, director of association partnerships at Career Co., a NATSO Chairman’s Circle Member.

Customers and potential customers expect businesses to have a website, but Brice-Rowland said that an online presence goes beyond just a homepage. It is all encompassing and includes a company’s social media accounts and reviews and photos on third-party sites, such as Yelp and Google.

There are five key components operators should focus on to get the most out of their internet presence.

 1. An Informative Website
An attractive website can serve as thejumping off point for a company’sonline branding. “It is important tohave one place where you control allof the information about your locationand make it accessible,” Brice-Rowland said. “The better your siteis in terms of SEO—search engineoptimization—the more likely you are to turn up in people’s searches.”

To find the right language to include on a site, which can drive SEO, Brice-Rowland suggested operators look at Google Trends to see what is being searched in their area.

Adams suggests operators add a career section to their websites and feature employee profiles to help attract quality job applicants. “Showcase the career path of someone who has been with you or do a ‘day in the life,’” she said. “It gives people a peek under the hood and it is an opportunity to spotlight your employees. It lets job seekers know you value your employees.”

Because so many truckstop and travel plaza customers will be searching for stopping points from their mobile devices, it can be useful to have a mobile-friendly site, Brice-Rowland said. “The latest trend is scrolling websites so you don’t have to click anything, you just scroll,” she said.

Some locations have also added virtual tours, which give potential customers a greater understanding of what the business offers. “You can walk through the inside of the truckstop and show everything you have to offer,” Brice-Rowland said.

2. Photos on Google Maps
When a potential customer searches for a business, one of the first things that comes up is Google Maps. Google Maps shows photos associated with an address, and those photos can be an excellent marketing tool when used correctly.

“Drivers have told me if they’re not familiar with a truckstop, they’ll go onto Google Maps and look at the maps and see what the location looks like,” said Darren Schulte, vice president of membership at NATSO. “Some drivers are visual and they look to see how many parking spaces you have and where they can park.”

Schulte said that unless other photos have been added, Google typically shows the Google Street View. In many cases, it can be an old photo. “I’ve seen thriving businesses whose photo showed the location when it was under construction. Typically, the photos users add will be treated with a greater priority than Street View images,” Schulte said.

Adding photos is an important marketing tool that is easy and free. It shows customers what the business offers and gives them a feel for the location. “It has become even more important given how many people turn to Google Maps or their phones to find a place to fuel, eat or shop,” Schulte said.

Schulte uploads photos of NATSO member locations after every visit he makes. In less than a year, his photos have been viewed close to 2 million times. He said the photos with the most views are those of restrooms. If photos of restrooms photos aren’t available, shots of food are typically the most viewed pictures.

Brice-Rowland said operators should avoid using stock photos when adding images. “It looks like you’re hiding something when you do that. Upload good pictures that actually represent your truckstop,” she said. “The internet is a virtual outpost of your truckstop and it should mirror what your truckstop actually looks like.”

3. Social Media Accounts
There are over 3 billion internet users—and over 2 billion of them haveactive social media accounts, whichmeans social media can present cost-effectiveways for operators to markettheir businesses and reach customers.

Adams suggests operators create social profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. “Roll out positive content and publicity on a regular basis,” Adams said, adding that operators should respond to social media posts and reviews in a timely manner. “Solicit reviews from happy employees and customers.”

4. Accurate Information
Operators should check out Google, Yelp and other third-party sites to ensure their information is accurate. That information can include the location’s address, phone number, operating hours and amenities.

5. A Voice in the Conversation
Brice-Rowland recommends operators do a search of their truckstop or travel plaza to see what pops up. “Don’t be upset if there are bad reviews or negative information. Go in and respond to people’s comments and their reviews. Thank people for the good ones and apologize for bad ones. That way people understand you do care,” she said. “It is a reflection of your customer service.”

via Business Feeds

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