It can be difficult to tell which marketing strategies are the most effective at attracting customers and driving sales. If marketing budgets were unlimited, businesses could just hire a robust marketing team and try out every new tactic that grows in popularity.
But since marketing budgets aren't unlimited, business owners need to carefully choose how they will invest time and money until finding the strategies that work best for their business. For small businesses that are trying to establish a brand presence online, here are seven tactics you can implement to launch an Internet marketing strategy for your small business.
1. Expanding Your Social Media Presence
More than likely you have your own company website, but today that's not enough. Attracting new visitors to your site is an important aspect of business, but normally, new visitors don't come on their own -they usually arrive due to seeing or clicking on an advertisement, by word of mouth, or because of a post on a social media channel.
And with social media, it's not about just doing the bare minimum. Facebook only reaches so many people, so if you only create a Facebook page you're missing the people who engage on LinkedIn. Twitter also has its limitations, as do Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, etc.
So which ones do you choose? As many as makes sense for what your business offers and where your customers spend time online. The trick with social media is to learn the proper ways to communicate through them. Instagram is a visual medium, so it requires high-quality, creative photos. Facebook requires more personal, memorable posts.
Twitter and other microblogging platforms allow for a higher frequency of posts, but require that your posts use clever, exciting, concise copy. Each form of social media has its own language. One must learn it, apply it to the business, and then create a new voice "tone" that distinguishes your business from others.
Adding a blog to your company's website is one effective way to improve your site's SEO rankings. By producing original and engaging written content for your site frequently, you'll improve the chances of ranking higher in keyword searches performed by potential visitors.
A blog is a great place to show off your company's culture or personality. It's also the perfect place to demonstrate your business expertise in your industry or field. Fresh, helpful content is the key to drawing visitors to your blog, and in turn, your company. The tone of your blogs should be strategically chosen to appeal your target audience.
The writing can follow a more professional and formal style, or you can choose to be personal and relaxed, depending on who you are writing to. It can be serious and straightforward, or lean more towards the fun and humorous side. The important thing is that the blog connects with potential customers. Know your audience, know your goals, and write to unite the two.
3. Optimizing for Local Searches
As a small business, winning the local audience might be the most important thing. It does no good to be a restaurant in Cleveland with a massive social media following in Dallas. Make sure that your business turns up on local searches related to what you offer. Effectively localized SEO efforts utilize keywords that people in the area would use. If your site is not optimized to show up in local search results, your business could be missing out on some easy sales.
4. Growing and Nurturing the Email List
So you finally attract visitors to your site and they sign up to your e-mail list. Great! But that's just the beginning. You have to stay in contact with them in a way that is engaging and does not turn them off, or push them to the point of asking to be unsubscribed from your list. Think of it this way: having your customers' personal contact information is a privilege and that privilege comes with responsibilities. Consider what you're sending out over email and how frequently it's arriving in their inbox.
No one has time for long, drawn out emails. Use your words sparingly and consider using email to send out coupons or event information if you're a small business. As you start to see what content is most popular with your email subscribers (email related metrics can be available from email marketing service providers), you'll be better able to tailor your email blasts in a way that is most effective with your particular customers.
Customers aren't just interested in what you can do; they want to know what you have done. If you win an award or hit an important milestone (e.g. 5,000th cake baked today!) make sure to let your customers know through social media channels. Don't be afraid to let them know that Business Daily ranked your business as one to watch in 2014, or that your product earned rave reviews at a local exposition. By doing this, people will start to build confidence in your brand, and will be more inclined to purchase your products when time comes. No matter how big or small, these things matter.
6. Encouraging Comments and Shares
Social media is a great tool that enables an easy highway of interaction between your customers and your brand. The obvious upside is that these users will share your content and interact with you through comments and allow you to gauge the level of interest and loyalty users have towards your business. Sometimes, you will even interact with enthusiastic people who become ambassadors of your brand and become proactive in getting your name out there.
7. Encouraging User Reviews
If you are confident that you have a great product and have all-around satisfied customers, encourage them to review your company on sites such as Yelp. These reviews will generate traffic and bring customers who are eager to tryout your products. Negative reviews may lower your ratings and repel some customers, but they offer feedback to make improvements to trouble areas.
The important thing for all small business owners to realize is that there are many ways of increasing your marketing efforts without burning a hole in the pocket. It's simply a matter of utilizing the right channels and speaking the right language to connect with your customers. The rest is just determination, hustle and sweat.
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