The ever-evolving world of online marketing may seem intimidating for many small business owners. Just when it seems like you’ve mastered the ins and outs of a service along comes a new one with great new potential for reaching a wider, or perhaps more targeted audience. Along with that new potential comes another learning curve and the whole process begins again. But all of that legwork can pay off – with significantly lower costs than traditional marketing, online marketing can provide much higher returns on investment.
With 8 out of 10 Canadians now active internet users and 56% of Canadians in possession of a smartphone, online marketing has excellent growth potential for small businesses and is arguably the way of the future in the marketing world. Navigating the world of the web doesn’t have to be a difficult or daunting task. Here we have compiled a list of tips for maximizing the potential of the web for your business.
1. Build an engaging website. This may seem obvious but it’s worth mentioning that a visually appealing, interactive, and engaging website is essential to building your online presence. Although it can be tempting to create a basic site using a generic template with a few stock photos, it is essential to invest in a site that will accurately reflect your brand. Don’t forget, this is the main online touch point between you and your customers so it’s important to get it right.
Spend some time thinking about what you want your website to say about your business. Everything matters, from the colour scheme to the graphics. Your online presence should reflect your offline business. Are you a restaurant? Consider adding an online booking and/or online ordering feature. Are you a retailer? Adding an ecommerce component could generate a new revenue stream.
Studies show that consumers are 60-70% more likely to purchase a product online after viewing an accompanying video. Consider having a short video (or videos) created to demonstrate the benefits of your product(s) or service(s).
2. Build a steady stream of traffic to your site. Start offline by including your website address on your business cards, letterhead, email signature, and promotional materials. Make your site easy to find by all of the major search engines by optimizing your content. Be sure to include the important keywords related to your business that internet users might use to search for you online.
Google, Yahoo, and Bing offer advertising placements that come up above or beside their search results. Search advertising is very effective and ads can be set up to target specific demographics and geographic locations. The payment structures are flexible – you set the maximum daily budget and pay only for the clicks on your ad or for every thousand times your ad is seen.
3. Get in to Social Media. Social media is an excellent way to interact with your customers on a more personal level. An integrated promotional campaign using a variety of social media outlets will ensure that customers are reached directly where they are most likely to be engaged, across whichever platform they are most likely to use. According to examiner.com “Social media is not a fad, it is a way of life nowadays.”
The big players in social media are still facebook, twitter, Google+, Linked in, Instagram, and Pinterest, but there are many other social media and sharing sites out there. A little research goes a long way – spend some time examining the different options and which ones would be best for your business.
Also include sites like Foursquare and Yelp that can help customers find you locally. These sites also allow your customers to rate your business, write reviews, and share photos of their experience. This type of sharing can prove vital to increasing traffic to your business.
Looking to the future
Research on marketing trends shows online advertising growing at an exponential rate. The majority of businesses across all industries are increasing their annual online spending year over year. For any business looking towards the future it is essential to go online, if for no other reason than their competitors are most likely already there; But most importantly, because of the immense potential that the power of the internet presents in turning online spending into offline profits.
Manu Marketing specializes in creating effective online marketing strategies for our clients. Contact us for more information on how we can help take your business to the next level online.
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