By Soo Young Kim
The Honolulu Cookie Co. began as family-owned business in 1998 serving over a dozen varieties of pineapple-shaped shortbread cookies. To grow beyond Hawaii, they looked to increase their online presence by purchasing digital ads, using Google Analytics to fine-tune their marketing efforts based on where their web traffic is coming from, and with online videos to share their products. They now have over 400 employees, 17 retail locations, and international distribution through wholesale partners.
Baking is a big industry, but it’s driven by thousands of small businesses. According to the American Bakers Association, the baking industry contributes over $300 million to the U.S. economy and employs over 1.7 million Americans. An increasing number of buyers look online to fill their stores and serve their patrons. When it comes to getting found by customers, your online presence matters. Google helps millions of businesses grow, and here are five helpful tips to help improve your presence online.
- Get found on Google and post with your news. Nearly one-third of all mobile searches are related to location, and that trend is only increasing, so it’s critical to have your business appear in results for local searches. This is managed through the Google My Business product. Posting through Google My Business now lets you publish your events, products and services directly to your listing on Google Search and Maps. By creating posts, you can place your timely content in front of customers when they find your business listing on Google.
- Encourage your customers to leave reviews. Online reviews are today’s word of mouth. You can turn your best customers into advocates with free marketing materials from our Small Thanks Hub, where you can print and share your favorite reviews as custom posters and social images.
- Learn how your website is performing. Google Analytics helps you see what’s working and fix what’s not on your website. Understanding your website visitors helps you better evaluate the performance of your content, products, and more. Google also has a free Analytics Academy that helps you learn about Google’s measurement tools so that you can grow your business through intelligent data collection and analysis. You can find the Google Analytics Academy by doing a Google search for “Google Analytics Academy.”
- Use video ads to tell your story and reach customers on YouTube. Video ads are an authentic and engaging way to reach your customers and show them what makes your business unique through the power of video. To help every business leverage YouTube’s power and reach, we created YouTube Director onsite to shorten the time and cost it takes for businesses to advertise on YouTube. When a business commits to spending at least $350 advertising on YouTube, we connect the business owner with an expert to film and edit a 30-second professional YouTube video. This video service—which typically runs anywhere from about $1,000 to $5,000—is free. Businesses only pay to promote their video ad on YouTube.
- Learn more by attending a “Get Your Business Online” workshop. If you want hands-on help and learning opportunities, we have partnered with thousands of organizations across the country who offer free help and workshops through our Get Your Business Online program. You can find resources and a workshop near you at gybo.com.
Across the country, bakeries and dessert businesses are seeing results from Google’s free online tools. In Columbia, SC, My Dessert Bar owner Shennice Cleckley found that digital ads and search engine optimization would be the answer to her business needs after her brick-and-mortar storefront closed. Today, business is booming.
In Wisconsin, O&H Danish Bakery, a family-owned bakery, used their Google My Business listing to attract local customers with appetizing photos and glowing customer reviews, which have helped bring in customers across the world. Even after six decades in business, O&H Danish Bakery continues to enjoy double-digit annual growth, and ships their pasties to countries all over the world, reaching all seven continents.
Whether your business is big or small, old or young: your online presence matters and Google’s free tools are here to help.
Soo Young Kim is manager of small business marketing for Google.