Internet marketing is essential to building your brand online and increasing your leads and sales. Most successful businesses have a dedicated team of marketing specialists who run their daily marketing operations, but most small businesses can’t afford such specialist staff.
With a few helpful tips, small business owners themselves can control their internet marketing and start to build their presence online.
1. Website Evaluation
The first place to start is your own website. Try and put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself a few questions,
What is the first thing you notice?
When a visitor lands on a website, their attention span will usually last about 30 seconds, so you need something on the site to grab their attention and give the user value. You need to give them a reason to browse your site, so your site needs to offer something they will want.
What is your website about?
You have a limited time to get your message across, so make sure that your site structure is well thought out and that your homepage is clear as to what you offer and what your strengths are.
Where do you want them to go?
The worst thing a website can do is to confuse the user; you need to help guide them to where you want them to go. Throughout your pages you should think about the overall journey of a user, where have they been and where do you want them to go? A user will get more out of a website experience if the site can guide them to the answers they are searching for.
2. Understanding your competition
It is important to understand your competition and there online presence.
Who is your main competitor?
What are there strengths/weaknesses?
What forms of online advertising are they using that you are not? What are the keywords they are targeting on Google and other search engines?
Once you understand your competition, you can then start to plan a strategy to beat them.
It is important to research what keywords are popular to describe your particular product or service.
Which keywords have the highest search volume?
Which keywords are my competitors using?
How competitive are your chosen keywords?
Once you have identified which keywords you customers will search for, you can tailor your site to these keywords, increasing the relevance between keyword and your website, which will you help your search engine rankings.
4. Google Organic and Adwords
Google is the most popular search engine in the world and is starting to replace traditional paper based directories (Yellow pages, Thompson Local etc) so it is vital that you have some presence on Google. Google Adwords (PPC Advertising) is a great short term way of getting business as it can be up and running in a matter of minutes. Google organic rankings are more of a long term strategy, which will increase over time if you put the right amount of effort in. There are many factors in Google’s ranking algorithm which include the quality of links back to your site, the placement of keywords in your site structure (page titles, headings and sub headings) and the right amount of keyword placement in your content.
5. Local Business Listings
If your product or service is something that people search for locally, then you can take advantage of Google Places. This is a free listing in their local business directory which will appear in the search results when a user searches for a keyword and location that will trigger your listing.
It is great exposure for your business and sits alongside your Search Engine Optimisation.
6. Social Media Marketing
Social media sites are a great way to drive additional traffic to your website. Sites like Twitter and Facebook allow you to build up a community of followers that you can interact with. You can reach out to your customers like never before and engage them in polls and activities and keep them up-to-date with the latest news from your business. Social bookmarking sites like Digg and StumbleUpon are good websites to post any interesting articles or blog entries because they can get a lot of exposure very quickly (so long as you are offering value to users, give them something they will want to read and share.)
Best of all, all these sites are free!
7. Email Marketing
Email marketing is a great way to connect with your existing customers. If you send out emails on a regular basis then it reminds the customer of who you are and keeps you in the forefront of their thoughts, should they want to buy what you have to offer. The trick is to plan an email marketing strategy and create content that is relevant and of value to your customer.
These useful tips will hopefully give you enough to get started with some Internet Marketing of your own. Remember it will take time but you will get a return in the long term, it is hard to expect instant results so don’t get too frustrated if you don’t see a return straight away.
The key thing is to plan your internet marketing strategy, this way help you to identify long term goals that are achievable and you will be able to monitor the success.
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