The internet is the highway. Your website is the car. SEO and Online Marketing is the fuel. Without fuel, your website will be sitting along the side of the highway, looking pretty, but going nowhere.
It hasn’t been long that online marketing and content creation has been taken seriously. Within the past couple of years, corporations and small businesses began to see the value in content creation and invested accordingly. This trend continues to grow, and it certainly isn’t a phase. Millions of new blog posts will be created throughout this year and next, all with the intention of boosting their online marketing strategy for small business.
Lately the focus is driving more toward local goals. From Google rankings to Facebook, the internet is driving more local traffic to viewers. The internet is an incredibly valuable tool to get a business’s content into the hands of potential customers. Online marketing is often the fastest, and often the most affordable, way to attract potential customers from very specific target markets. But with increasing competition, online content creation isn’t enough to drive sales. A truly custom online marketing strategy designed for your specific business is crucial in today’s market.
Online marketing is a hot new expertise for a reason. There is an incredible amount of value that the right SEO and Online Marketing Professional will bring to your table. But if you’re looking to get ahead of your competitors and boost sales on your own, here are a few tips to stay focused on with your efforts.
Content marketing is the meat of your online strategy. Quality, useful and tempting online content isn’t a perk or a trend, it is a necessity. The content you create should be clear, concise, at expert level for your industry, and offer the solution to the problems of your target market.
The initial content you create will go directly onto the pages within your website. It can be highlighted with strategic keywords to help catch the attention of search engines, but still written for your human viewers. In other words, don’t try to trick the search engines by simply overloading your online content with keywords. Google and Bing will know what you’re up to and kick you off of their internet playground for not playing fair. So write for your audience, but keep Google and Bing in mind… as if you were leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for them to find you.
Start blogging. If you aren’t a blogger, hire one. Get guest bloggers who write within your industry. Target the blogs that will engage your potential customers. Then take you content to your audience. Get and stay active on forums and online discussions where you can talk directly with your customers and network with others related to your business.
Be sure to share chunks of your content marketing efforts on your social media avenues. Brag about your blog on Facebook. Tweet about your latest coupon. Pin images of your products on Pinterest. Email educational tips and tricks to your subscribers. Get creative on new ways to share everything you know about your industry utilizing your content marketing.
INFLUENCE & NETWORKING
Stop for a moment to think of the first person who comes to your mind as an influential person within your industry. Can you think of one? Can you think of two? Can you think of ten? Every industry has a certain number of people who command respect and have incredible potential to influence buckets of followers. They often tend to be experts within the industry, therefore their opinion is valued, trusted, and relied upon as reference.
Steve Jobs had an obvious influence on technology. Pop Stars, like Beyonce or Taylor Swift, have the potential to sway waves of fashion trends in the blink of an eye. Famed athletes can endorse any product, from athletic gear to cereal, with outstanding promotional success.
Okay, so you might not get Taylor Swift to endorse your product. But there are ways to get people that are within YOUR industry to take notice. It starts by engaging them on their platforms. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to their email lists. Comment, share, retweet… stay consistent until you get on their radar. People like to work with other people they recognize or have heard of. After a bit of engagement effort, it will seem a lot more natural when you invite them to talk directly or take a look at the complementary product you want to send them.
The larger their influence, the harder it is to network and build relationships. But they are truly valuable to stay steadfast in your goals. In the meantime, continue to work the same angles with similar people that might be on a less popular level, but still beneficial. Reach out to bloggers- They love samples. Invite them to try yours and write a few reviews. Offer discounts or even kickbacks for any sales that generate from their blog posts. Whatever you do…network, network, network.
Yep, it’s time to talk about your rep. Online reputation management, to be exact. Yes, your reputation matters by referral and word of mouth, of course. So stay on your best behavior, offer quality service and products, and encourage your happy customers to brag all they want about you. Word of mouth is a tried and trusted method of increasing business, so keep those efforts up.
But we’re talking specifically about your ONLINE REPUTATION. You’ve got great content and a schnazzy looking website, which is a great start. But when a potential customer takes the next step into digging around, the very next thing they’re looking for are your reviews.
Generating positive reviews about your company, your products, and your service is VERY IMPORTANT to an online marketing strategy for small business. This is especially true for those looking for local customers.
You’re probably aware that disgruntled customers are more likely to take the time to get online and leave a few very detailed tales of a poor experience they receive with a company. So even if most of your customers are simply tickled pink with your service, it only takes a couple of complaints to tarnish your reputation. In order to counteract negative reviews, you want to take an offensive position and stack the deck with positive ones. Your rep is at stake and has the potential to bring in, or scare away, future customers. So the next time your customers are beaming after working with you, ask them to show their appreciation with a review- On your site, on Google, on Yelp, on Facebook… whichever online format is easiest for them, and/or most commonly linked to your site.
You can also consider Reputation Loop as a tool to maximize positive reviews, and minimize the negative.
BUILD YOUR EMAIL LIST
If you’re not building your email list, you are consistently losing pieces to your puzzle. It is so important to stay engaged with your customers on a regular basis, even when they aren’t currently working with you. Find the balance between being a disappearing act, and being that annoying fly that just won’t go away. Somewhere in the middle is the perfect formula to remind them that you’re there when they need you.
Stay in touch with your customers with exciting updates to your company or product. Send them reminders for maintenance items that relate to your industry. Share your latest discounts, coupons, and upcoming events. You can even create pop-ups that offer free give-aways to entice them. Anything that lets them know you still appreciate their business and keeps you on their mind.
We love Facebook.
Facebook is more than a social monster that keeps people’s faces glued to their smartphones. Facebook is a very economical method of reaching specific target markets, and usually with fast results. It is, in fact, one of the most economical and targeted paid advertising mode available.
Did you know Facebook not only allows you to target your audience by age, gender and location, but also based on their purchase habits, interests and even the pages they like?
Facebook is a great way to test out multiple ad strategies with small budgets, until you find the ad formula that yields the results you’re looking for. For instance, try two or three ads, spending $20-$30 each. Make small adjustments to the text you use, the specials you offer, and the pics you choose. Eventually, you’ll start to see a pattern and decipher what is catching the eye of your target market. Once the results are in, format a new ad campaign based on that strategy and invest with a larger budget, gradually increasing as you start seeing the return on investment.
The significance of the online marketing strategy for small business is incredible, and is only increasing. If you want additional business TOMORROW, it’s important you start taking advantage of online marketing, advertising, and promotional avenues TODAY. It takes dedication and commitment to give your online marketing strategy time to yield results. And it is important to set check points along the way so you can reevaluate your strategy based on short term feedback, helping narrow the path of success for the next online marketing steps. But stay the course and with enough attention on the data that comes your way from these efforts, your online marketing can offer amazing promise for your business!
Which tip do you think you’ll try first? Which ones have you tried so far? Ask us questions and offer feedback!