Ways to start marketing your business online now!
Over the years I have had the opportunity to own my own business, as well as work for others to grow their businesses and let’s face it, marketing can be difficult, time consuming and a“Big Old” money suck. Time and time again I am confronted with small business owners who are all for marketing their business online and even begin the process only to be overwhelmed and not prepared for the long haul. With a little planning and foresight, marketing your business online doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
I know everyone spouts it but very few small business owners manage to plan for marketing. It is important to invest the time in organizing a strategy for online marketing before you begin. Second only to creating a strategy is creating a schedule and sticking to it. Lastly, delegate tasks to other employees that show interest in the process. Start off slowly and build your online marketing efforts over time.
Below are some simple things you can do to start building your online marketing arsenal.
Take Advantage of Email Marketing
I am not a big fan of prospect email marketing. I personally hate getting emails in my inbox that I have not opted-in for so I do not recommend it, however I do believe in and love promoting opt-in email marketing. It is inexpensive and doesn’t require an expert to do something basic. Mailchimp offers 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers for free. They also offer templates and an easy step-by-step system to help you build your emails. Even if you do hire a company to create and execute your email it is still an inexpensive option compared to other marketing avenues.
Leverage Social Media
You don’t have to try and be on every social media platform from the start for it to be successful. Create a Facebook page if you are a B2C organization, or a LinkedIn account if you are B2B company. If you are a visual industry, and have images to share, I would also setup Pinterest and Instagram accounts. I do recommend that all companies work toward having at least a Facebook and LinkedIn account but the purpose of this article is to build your online marketing over time.
To promote regular posting I am suggesting starting off with one social media outlet and increasing your social media presence as you become more comfortable with the process and have the manpower to be consistent. For this reason I am not recommending Twitter. Unless you have the time and the fortitude to tweet multiple times throughout the day, focus on the other social media platforms first. Begin with posting, at least once a day, relevant information (articles, videos, blogs) that will engage your customers and potential clients. Save the selling for paid ads on your chosen network. The key to the posts is to build brand awareness and trust. Oh, almost forgot…also start a Google + account; this will help you with your local listings that I will discuss below.
Set-up and Maintain Local Listing
Local listings are often overlooked by many businesses. However, from my personal experiences I have gotten burned by wrong information time and time again from businesses not taking the time to at the very least keep their Google listing correct. Two weeks ago I was meeting a friend of mine at a Thai food restaurant for Sunday lunch. My husband being a Sunday lunch professional (we go to out to lunch every Sunday after church) commented that a lot of Thai food restaurants are not open on Sundays. My friend texted us that she had checked and it was open and proceeded to the destination only to discover it was indeed closed. Rather than calling, she had simply checked Google, and Google had the wrong times of operation.
If you are unaware of local listings, they consist of browsers and other online listing services that will have your business name, address, phone number, hours of operation, reviews, and bios. Some of these include but are not limited to: Google, Yahoo, Bing, Mapquest, Yelp, Citysearch, Superpages, Whitepages, Where To?, 411.com, MojoPages, Local Pages, and Foursquare, etc. There are a lot of them and most business owners never check the accuracy of the listing. Having a Google + account will help because a lot of the local listing sites will grab from a browser’s information.
There are many companies online that will offer local listing fixes but they can be expensive and many require a monthly fee. However, this is one marketing technique that is a bit time consuming if you do it yourself. You will have to go to each search engine, as well as each local listing site to check and see if your information is correct.
You will need to claim your business on most of these sites and prove that you are the business owner. I have found that many businesses have been claimed by employees working at the business but they either leave the company or don’t remember the login information, making it almost impossible to make updates on your local listing unless you hire a company to do it for you. When claiming your business for the first time make a spreadsheet of all the sites and the logins for updating purposes and keep it with all of your other important logins.
In past articles I have written extensively about how important an up-to-date professional looking, easy to navigate website is. What I would like to tell you about is the importance of a website that works on mobile devices for your organization. Being able to work on mobile means more than just showing up on a mobile device. It must be easily to navigate and have good functionality. Having to zoom in and out of a regular website on a mobile device is frustrating and may not function well. To address this some companies have opted to create two sites, one for mobile and one for desktop, while others have taken the responsive website design approach. If you are unaware of responsive web design it is a website design that will automatically adjust to fit on desktop, tablet and smartphone.
I opt for the latter even though a bit of creative freedom will have to be sacrificed to do it. Responsive design is more cost effective than creating two separate websites and if your site is already a well-functioning site, you can make an existing site responsive (like we are in the process of doing to our site). Responsive sites generally have excellent user experience whether you are on a desktop, tablet or smart phone device. Finally, Google recommends it and goes so far as referring to it as an industry best practice. Need I say more.
If you are interested in diving into online marketing, we can help. Give one of our friendly direct marketing experts a call at 561-350-8146 and we will be happy to assist you.