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Online Marketing tips for small businesses

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March 25, 2015 4:14 pm

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As a small business owner, you need to wear a lot of different hats in order to manage all aspects of your business. When it comes to donning the marketing and advertising hat, some people feel so daunted by it, they try to avoid it all together.

This does not help your business to grow, and you could even be missing out on repeat business from existing customers.

Marketing does not come naturally to many people, and in this technological age, it can be overwhelming and confusing. What most small business owners want to understand is where to spend their marketing budget for a decent return, and how much they can manage themselves to save on costs.

Where to start

Depending on your circumstances, sometimes the best place to start is by revisiting your business plan and/or strategy. Focus on what is unique and better about your offering, who your target audience is and what online behaviours they have.

Presumably, your website should speak to your ideal customer already, and perform well on converting visitors to customers. If your website doesn’t appeal to your ideal customer, then fix that first before spending any money on marketing and advertising.

If you are clear on who your ideal customer is, and your website is good to go, then you’re halfway there to working out how to create effective marketing and advertising.

Where are my customers online?

Your customers are everywhere, and there are a number of ways to reach them. To gain an extra depth of understanding of your customers, try to find out what they do online. This may include how they buy online, what they buy online, how they look for your service or offering, what devices they use, and when they are online. You might already have access to some data through your current website or past campaigns.

ONLINE MARKETING AND ADVERTISING PLATFORMS

I am going to cover the 2 most common platforms for marketing and advertising – Google and Facebook.

GOOGLE

How can I get my customers to find me on Google?

A question on most business owners lips is ‘how can I be on the first page of Google?’. There are 2 avenues – Search Engine Optimisation and Google Adwords.

SEO is achieved through a combination of efforts – website optimization both from a technical perspective and a content perspective, website content updates (such as a blog), online directory business listings, social media activity, email click through’s, and links from trusted external websites etc.

Google essentially want to provide the best websites to their users after they have performed a search. Google’s idea of a good website is one that is technically solid and responsive, and one that can be trusted to provide correct, relevant and useful information (in order to offer a real solution to someone’s search query) as well as it being a legitimate and active business.

Google Adwords campaigns are paid direct to Google and you only pay for clicks you receive. Making informed decisions is key to a successful Adwords campaign, and can even work really well for companies that don’t have large advertising budgets. Google tools can help you pinpoint what search terms are popular and how much you might need to spend to get your ad in a prominent position. The system can be quite complex and therefore seeking expert advice might be a smart move to get your campaign up and running and optimized for best performance. The results are immediate, payments can be made when you want, and ads can be turned on and off at any time.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Which social media platforms would work for me?

Certain social media platforms can play to your businesses strengths, and let you connect with your target audience. The majority of small business owners will usually create a Facebook business page as it’s a platform they’re familiar with, but often miss out on some opportunities on other platforms, which I’ll cover in upcoming blog posts. But first, let’s look at Facebook.

FACEBOOK

Why Facebook might be right for your business:

– For most people, Facebook is easy to use to create, update and maintain a business page. If you sell your services to the general public or business owners, most of your target audience will be on Facebook. I’m making quite an assumption here without considering every profession, but generally speaking, people of all backgrounds, ages and interests have Facebook profiles

– You can speak directly with your customers, receive reviews, update business information instantly and run promotions on your page at no cost

– Your page can give your customers a real insight into your business ethics, core values and personality through the art of conversation, video posts and imagery

– The culture of sharing information, tips and inspiration on Facebook can allow your messages and branding to reach other like minded people – so if you have great, useful, entertaining or inspiring content to share, then you should gain traction

What about advertising?

– Advertising on Facebook is a sure way to reach a certain number of your target audience – including the people who have already Liked your page. I say this because not everyone who likes your page will see everything you post

– Like all online advertising (and arguably all online activity) it’s measurable, so you can monitor and improve performance each time you run a campaign and evaluate the impact it made on your engagement levels, website clicks and/or sales.

– By adding the pixel code for your ad on your website, you can re-target people who have visited your site, reminding them of their interest in your product or service. For more information about ads on Facebook visit the official page.

What are some negatives?

– Facebook is a busy place! Not only are people looking at what their friends are up to, or sharing their own news, but the newsfeed is full of promoted posts and ads. Cutting through this crowd requires you to create a post or advertisement that speaks to your target audience in a compelling way in order to stand out and interrupt what they are doing

– It’s time consuming managing a community and creating compelling content on a regular basis. You need to be prepared to take the time to plan, create and engage.

– Building an audience can be a challenge. It’s fine to ask your Auntie, your best friend, your best friend’s Auntie and their dog to Like your page to get started, but you need real genuine Likes from real customers, otherwise, what is the point! Don’t buy Likes! Running a paid promotion encouraging Likes from interested parties is a good way to get word out, but remember to use your other online touchpoints – your website, your email, newsletters etc.

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