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If you are in business in a highly urban area, then you have probably heard about MerchantCircle, a well-positioned review and social engagement website that equips shoppers with a more interactive way to connect with local businesses. MerchantCircle provides businesses with another channel to further their marketing reach through online engagement.

If you have been undecided as to the level of effort and time you should invest into this platform, then we want to take a few minutes to highlight the tools available to you, and how consistent usage of these tools can help your business grow through engaging new shoppers and loyal customers.

MerchantCircle Answers Let You Tackle Immediate Needs

For many consumers, part of the shopping process is to locate a trusted expert willing to provide answers to specific questions without making a direct sales pitch. The MerchantCircle Answers feature equips shoppers with a platform where they can pose questions regarding a variety of topics, giving expert merchants the opportunity to provide their best answer and thus begin a relationship with a potential buyer. There is no greater opportunity to expose buyers to the depth and breadth of your knowledge without feeling pressured to engage in a paid relationship. This feature is a great way to secure new leads for business owners with highly specialized professions like contractors, remodelers, builders, and carpet cleaners.

Potential customers submit questions regarding feasibility, options, and cost, and several experts have the opportunity to provide their most persuasive answer. The drawback with this feature is that it may become labor intensive and not realistic for very small businesses. If you do decide to engage, then allocate a set amount of time and stick to it. Evaluate how this type of engagement is working for your business, and either expand your time allocation or stop all together if you don’t see results.

MerchantCircle Blogs Let You Broaden Your SEO Reach

If you wish to position yourself and your business as an authority on a particular topic, MerchantCircle provides an excellent forum by allowing registered merchants to participate in their blogging program. By regularly blogging, you are able to set the stage for future customers to find you in association with searches relevant to your business.

If you decide to move forward with blogging, then it is important to take time to conduct an in-depth analysis to help you identify topics likely to receive a great deal of traffic and convert into leads for your business. By this, we mean that you should not blog for the sake of blogging, but rather, be intentional in the way that you create content, always keeping in mind that the final goal is to grow the profitability of your business. 

MerchantCircle Enhances Map-Based Engagement

When it comes to brick and mortar businesses, proximity is key to success. MerchantCircle map-based search feature allows potential customers to get visual feedback for categories, helping identify the most proximal location to their home or office and validate the quality of their services by taking a look at their comprehensive profile reviews and star rating. Many studies have indicated that proximity and convenience are two of the most important factors when trying to develop customer loyalty. While this feature stands the chance of excluding customers if your location is too far from home, it also ensures that the people that do connect with you have a much higher chance of engaging in repeat business patterns.

MerchantCircle Lets You Push Deals and Coupons

The topic of deals and coupons is a very sensitive one, and one that must be handled with great strategic care. While it is true that it can bring new customers in the door, it also has the potential to impact your business by reducing profitability or bringing in deal seekers unlikely to become repeat customers.

On the other hand, a well-designed deal, coupon, or promotion can have a significant impact on the overall revenue and client acquisition for a business. By creating a coupon or deal that is highly attractive, accessible, and relevant, a business has the opportunity to introduce its products and services to new buyers while conveying a reduced risk. If in the past you have had success with promotional campaigns involving discounts, then the MerchantCircle deals and coupons feature is certainly worth a try, especially if competitors are currently featuring one. Don’t be left behind by leaving customers on the table for a competitor to take in. 

MerchantCircle Facilitates Forum Engagement

While forums may appear old-fashioned, they present a significant opportunity to establish your persona or avatar as someone who is accessible and knowledgeable on a particular topic or topics. Forum engagement allows for a back-and-forth interaction that creates rapport among your community and helps you understand the business climate or specific needs expressed by potential customers.

Like other content-based strategies on platforms outside your own website, engaging with forums must be handled with care and a sense of time management. Don’t sacrifice business operations for the sake of online engagement unless you are able to make a sound business case through tracking the leads generated via the forums. If you do decide to engage in a forum, then you might want to consider pointing potential customers back to your website, where it would be wise to feature a strong knowledge database that others can refer to, if needed. By diverting shoppers to your page, you start developing brand awareness and hopefully brand recall.

MerchantCircle is a nice opportunity for local businesses to engage at a higher level than they would normally do on traditional review websites. Moving forward with a full-blown MerchantCircle engagement strategy is a very personal decision that each business must make based on its unique business situation and how MerchantCircle influences those in the community. A good way to identify which review sites are the most relevant to your brand is to conduct a number of searches for your business name and then for your business category or services. If MerchantCircle has a strong first-page presence in your market, then perhaps you should consider running a test to evaluate the value that it brings to your overall marketing and review management strategy.

Crystal Shuller

Crystal is the Director of Customer Happiness for ReviewTrackers. She's known around the office for E-mails that make everyone smile, and she has a bag of tricks and tips to help businesses solve their problems and delight their customers.

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