Small business owners are beginning to understand the need to shift their focus online for their marketing efforts, or at least integrate it with their traditional marketing strategies.
Google, the world’s largest search engine, is reaching out to such businesses with offers of free websites and analytics to understand their target audiences and improve their campaigns.
Yelp, a local directory service, lists businesses with accompanying reviews from people who’ve already availed of those businesses’ products and/or services. It also has a community that lets people discuss the flaws and merits of those businesses, so the online buzz surrounding a company can greatly help its reputation (or destroy it).
10 Effective Online Marketing Strategies Your Business Should Try
Aside from these two examples, you can start your own online marketing campaign for your small business with the following 10 strategies:
1. Create a Website/Blog
It should come as no surprise that the first step in creating an online presence is to have a website or a blog dedicated to your business. Either one will be the hub of all the information regarding your entire company, from the story of how it was built to the price tag of your products.
In fact, it’s better to have both with the website serving as the main relay for everything business related and the blog serving as the means to communicate with your audience through helpful tips and compelling anecdotes.
2. Apply Basic SEO
SEO or search engine optimization helps your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher you rank, the better the chances of getting more traffic and consequently, more sales.
Think of the keywords your target audience will be using to find the products/services you’re offering, then use them for your titles, internal links, and in your text-based content.
Speaking of content, you want to ensure that the info they’re providing matches with the info in the rest of your marketing materials.
Provide your contact details in a way that’s immediately apparent to visitors. Besides optimizing your site, it also helps tell visitors that you are transparent and can be trusted.
3. Create Relevant Content
The old saying “content is king” is somewhat true, but adding the adjective “relevant” to it makes it undeniable. People browse the Web for information they’re interested in, and they look for the websites that deliver the best. You can’t just create any kind of good content that doesn’t fit your target audience’s interests and expect to get much traffic.
4. Consider Keywords Carefully
Yes, they’ve already been mentioned earlier, but their importance in reaching out to potential customers and clients bears repeating. You need to perform some research to find out which keywords gets you the most traffic. Think of the product/service you provide, how specialized is it, where you’re located for local searches, etc. You should also know which keywords are too competitive for you to use, and which ones have untapped potential in garnering attention for your website.
5. Listen to Your Audience
“The customer is always right” is a saying that’s always right. They are the very reason you’re making any money, and to keep making money, you need to know what they want and give them exactly that.
Use analytics tools to see which pages and contents attract the most visitors, and give them more of those things while fixing those that don’t get any attention.
Make them feel welcome in comments sections and in the emails they send you, and take into serious consideration their suggestions for bettering your product.
6. Join Relevant Online Communities
A part of getting your business in the minds of your target audience lies in interacting with them through their communities. Register in online forums and message boards that discuss the industry you’re in, and get to posting. Of course, you don’t want to be seen as nothing but a spammer so prove yourself to be a useful contributor. Just having your business’ name for your handle, signature, and what have you will be enough.
7. Focus Your Efforts
Although there are multiple platforms out there for you to reach out to customers, you can’t waste much resources going for all of them especially as a small business with limited funds and capabilities. Find out which social networks your target audience uses the most, and concentrate on the channels that will reward you more.
8. Give Away Giveaways on Social Media
People like freebies. People like social media. Combine the two, and you’ve got a recipe for marketing success. Either run a small contest that gives simple prizes to a large number of people or just give away promotional items. What matters is that you integrate it with social sharing. The end result is an immediate boost in your visibility throughout social media.
9. Build a Community
Giving your audience a place where they can get together to talk about your products/services, as well as whatever shared interests they might have, is a great way of fostering a community that will be loyal to you and will act as your brand’s supporters.
Social media is the best platform for this as it is made to connect people. You can also check out your customers’ blogs and join their networks. The key is to engage so that you also build trust among your audience.
10. Measure Your Success (and Failures)
Implementing all sorts of strategies would be a waste of time if you didn’t know how well each one actually helped your marketing campaign. Some strategies might work out well in the beginning but not so much later on when a shift in the industry happens. Use analytics to measure the effectiveness of the techniques you applied, so you can either continue doing what’s working or change up your gameplan if necessary.
3 Online Marketing Mistakes You Should Avoid
For every good online marketing method to try out, there are big mistakes that you should avoid. Here are three particularly bad ones that will hamper your efforts.
1. Failing to Track Your Advertising
You’ve already got a great number of tools available online for keeping track of your advertising’s results so there’s absolutely no reason to gloss over this crucial part of your overall campaign.
It also pays to not just be content with knowing how much traffic your website is getting. You need to have a good idea of your visitors’ actions once they come to your website. Are they inquiring for more specific information? Are they checking out other related pages? Are they actually buying products?
2. Not Optimizing Your Website for Conversions
Tying up with the previous item is that you might be leaving your website in its original un-optimized state where people are less prone to take actions leading to sales. Getting a lot of visitors won’t matter if only a small portion of them stick around to read more, subscribe to newsletters, comment on blog posts, etc.
3. Being Ignorant of the Competition
After your audience, it’s your competition that you need to give the most attention to. Not even having a simple idea of what strategies they’re using can very well lead to your business getting left in the dust as they implement an innovative technique or make a breakthrough in engaging with consumers. Observe and learn from their accomplishments and mistakes so you can repeat the former (with a brand new spin) without replicating the latter.
Armed with both effective strategies and mistakes to avoid, your business is now on its way to utilizing social media to its full advantage.