Category Archives: small business online marketing

7 Ways to Improve EVERY Part of Your Online Marketing

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Businessman with binoculars looking into futureYou’re starting to get this whole online marketing thing. You feel like a master of your company’s social media. You’re gaining some traction in your efforts in terms of results, but…

Traditional marketing tactics can grow stagnant. National marketing tactics don’t target local residents that convert into potential customers.

Even the most solid marketing has some room for improvement—or an opportunity to take marketing efforts to the next level.

Make your website search engine friendly.

A company website is the only place where a company can tell their story. This is the only place to highlight products and services that potential customers might be interested in.

But are potential customers seeing it?

If the website is not optimized for search engines, the answer is probably no. Every website—especially websites of businesses trying to reach local customers—should be optimized for search engines. Website content should be written for search engines and the target audience. Websites should include quality images and video that makes it a top pick for search engines and online viewers.

To reach a local audience, take optimization a step further. Employ local optimization technology that can reach potential customers around the company location (or locations). (Use these tips to select a company that can get and demonstrate results.)

Start adding content to your website.

To search engines, regularly added quality content is a signal of a quality website. For customers, well-written content with excellent images is an efficient and easy way to get information to questions. Basically, regular and relevant content helps websites get higher rankings and earn awareness and loyalty with potential customers.

A well-executed content marketing plan can be implemented with some research. Content should be added to a marketing plan with scheduled dates and responsible parties. If the latter is an issue, producing content can be outsourced (affordably) to a marketing firm.

Use GREAT (not just good) images.

Visuals are an important part of any marketing effort. Statistics have shown that both online users and search engines prefer marketing pieces with high-quality images. Head into the next phase of online marketing with the images that meet (and exceed) customer expectations.

Fortunately, high-quality images do not always need to bust the budget. There are several options: in-house production, contracting with an image service, or outsourcing to a marketing agency. There are pros and cons of each option. Customized images are a unique perk of in-house production. However, there are costs (for equipment and staffing) for this option. An online image service is a great resource, though the cost and common images can be a disadvantage. The last option, outsourcing marketing to an agency, may be the most expensive option but comes with professional pieces with high-quality images.

Tap into the power of video.

Videos are a valuable addition to websites and social media, making it an effective marketing strategy. If cost is an issue, consider adding a live video to the marketing schedule. Choose an event worth live-streaming, such as a grand opening or a local community event.

The alternative is purchasing a video with content that won’t change for a time. This kind of content, called evergreen content, can be used on a website or as part of an effective social media marketing campaign.

Be more regular with social media posts.

Effective social media campaigns (that get results) have two commonalities: relevance and regular posts. The concept is that the posts and content are relevant to the target audience, and published on a regular scheduled that increases awareness. Some social media sites even give preference to brands that publish on a regular basis.

The optimal time and frequency for publishing depend on the industry, social media site, and target audience. Use social media insights, data from the experts, and a little experimentation to set an effective schedule; choose the right scheduling tool to make the process more efficient.

Earn more e-mail followers that buy.

E-mail marketing can be an effective marketing tactic IF the recipients are open to the messages. The latter is the key. Building a strong e-mail list isn’t complicated, but it does take a concerted effort. Simple additions, such as a website opt-in and in-person ask (or one of these ideas for building a solid e-mail list), can be the start of building a solid e-mail list.

Start protecting (not just promoting) your brand.

Negative comments and reviews cost businesses significant revenue every day. A recent study proved that potential customers do online research before purchasing; negative reviews tend to drive potential customers away. Instead of pretending that negative reviews don’t exist, take the offensive.

Protecting a company from online negativity isn’t as intimidating as it sounds, especially when using automated software. Because there are numerous sites for online reviews, automated software is a requirement for an efficient brand protection process. Brand protection software monitors for online reviews, allowing businesses to respond to reviews before they are even posted (contact a firm for more information on brand protection software).

Small Business Owners: 4 Marketing Terms You Should Know (& Use!)

business growth chart with people celebrating business growth from online marketingWhen you’re looking to grow your business, there are a lot places you can turn to: fellow business owners, consultants, marketing firms.  All of them can feel like you’re swimming upstream without a paddle and stranded in a sea of marketing jargon.  And the whole time you’re listening all you want to do is run and grow your business.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of marketing terms every small business owner should know and use to grow their business.  Or, more accurately, if you only want to run your business and not worry about marketing, what jargon to look for when you contact marketing firms about these online marketing tactics (otherwise known as jargon).

Website Optimization/SEO

It used to be that all you needed was a beautiful website to grow your business online.  Today a beautifully-designed website is not enough to get your business customers off the web.  Your website just sits without promotion—unless you optimize your website for search engines.

An optimized website starts with a well-built website, structured for search engines.  Your optimized website should have an easy-to-navigate menu system and fast loading speed, both for optimal user experience and search engine credit.  The next step is adding optimized content to your website, written for search engines and customers.  Make sure your contact information is clearly included on your website for customers and search engines to use.  Use compelling images on your website optimized for search engines and to get customers’ attention. Make your website mobile-friendly for the benefit of smart phone and tablet users alike (and a huge turn-off to customers and search engines if your website isn’t mobile-friendly). How can you tell if your current website is optimized well? Ask the pros.

To expand the reach of your optimized website, consider search engine optimization which is everything mentioned above with a technological boost.  SEO technology is offered by specialized companies that keep up with this evolving technology (more information here).  There are several types of SEO technology, but we’ve seen great success for companies that use local SEO to target a local audience.

Local SEO technology targets users that are searching online in your target area. Local SEO gets business websites at the top of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20, or 50 mile radius.  Think of it as a prominently displayed modern phonebook ad—without looking like an ad.  SEO gets your website in the listings below the ads, which is important when you look at the statistics. Today, 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore) and 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011). 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search engine results.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the equivalent of an online newsletter article posted online regularly, though it doesn’t always have to be an article.  Content marketing is the strategic producing of videos, images, and articles that give your customers/readers something.  That ‘something’ can be an answer to a problem, entertainment (when appropriate), or information.

All of this content is added to your website on a regular basis (several times a week, once a week, once every two weeks, etc.)  So how does all this good content (find out how to tell if your content is good here) help grow your company? If you plan your content and marketing of that content well, your blog posts can be a valuable asset to your customers and potential customers.  Your content can help them with their problems, build their trust, and entertain them (when appropriate).

Content marketing also has another benefit: it gives your website more credibility in the eyes of search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.  Adding content to your website adds more valuable pages (if you post excellent content) that search engines want to deliver to their users.  This in turn can help boost where your website is listed in search engine results when customers and potential customers search for your business.

Social Media Marketing

Social media is more than just a place to keep up with your friends.  It’s also a valuable place to market your business, so you don’t alienate your personal friends with sales pitches.  More than that, it’s an excellent platform to market your brand.

More than that, social media is an ideal place to connect with your customers even when they don’t need you.  Pictures of your staff (when appropriate) and day-to-day operations, entertaining memes, content that answers their questions—all these types of content give your business a face and a personal connection with potential customers (here’s how to build that social media following).  One note: marketing your business on social media is only effective if you post regularly so your connection is consistent (other signs of a solid social media presence are listed here).

Email Marketing

Sending emails to your customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your business—if you do it right.  Build a solid email list (here’s how to and how not to build an email list).  Write emails with strong headlines and content.  Strong headlines are not always sales pitches, they are creative attention-grabbers.

The content of a successful email is different for every company, but it doesn’t have to include a lot of text.  Give your customers value, like a discount or information that your readers want.  Make it worth their while to open your email—and to click on the links to your optimized website, social media marketing, and content marketing pages.