The digital age presents more opportunities for small businesses to market themselves and spread their wings farther afield than the general locality. Even on a limited budget, you have options to raise brand awareness and connect directly with clients. Here are a few suggestions.
Social Media Networks
By far the most effective and cost-efficient means of online advertising is through the use of social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Social media marketing however takes time and a little know-how. The key is to engage rather than sell, so be patient and get to know your customers.
It’s worthwhile checking out a few of the lesser known social media sites as well as the better known names. Facebook in particular are limiting the amount of messages that reach your followers otherwise charge to advertise. Digg, Tumblr and Pinterest are good alternatives.
The most successful businesses have a good page rank, but to break into the top ten takes time and requires you to add quality content to your website on a regular basis – twice a week ideally. Adding blog posts is the best way to improve your SEO and also gives you the opportunity to market your products and services and underline you as an authority in your field.
Blog posts should be readable and engage visitors, either by offering them information, explaining how to do something, advising readers of something new or entertaining them through good story-telling or humour. If you are not a good writer and it is advisable to hire a professional content writer.
The most cost-effective way of direct marketing online is through email, but it is not without its limitations and restrictions. There are certain legal conditions that must be met otherwise you will be picked off as spam and possibly banned by ISP’s. Therefore never include links back to your website, but explain who you are in your message.
Emails should be kept as brief as possible so get to the point and explain what the offer is and the benefits to the prospect. You should also address the email directly to the receiver if it is available on their website.
If you have a marketing budget of say £50 or more, you may want to consider PPC advertising, otherwise known as Google Adwords. These are the small adverts that appear in boxes and are based on keywords and related sites. PPC can be expensive and not every business is successful with them, but if you have a niche market it is worth trying out. If nothing else it is a good way to get click-throughs to your site and build your page rank.
Before your start online marketing
Before starting an online marketing campaign you should determine your objectives; to generate traffic to your site, raise brand and product awareness or to collect contact details from prospects. By choosing your goals you can decide which marketing tactics will work best for you.
It is also worthwhile taking the time to research what your competitors are doing; are they using search advertising, group buying programs, videos. What social media strategies are they using if any?
Online marketing is a cost-effective way of attracting more business and improving profits, but it does take time to build a profile and a following so be patient and don’t use it as an alternative to offline marketing. For more information, speak to one of the experts at Gordon Ferguson.