Marketing is fundamental to small business success. Doing it right means promoting your product and service to the right target audience in a compelling way. This will make your customers want to buy from you, which is the end goal of every business. But in the age of the Internet, marketing has to exist in more than just newspapers and magazines – it has to be online, as well.
Despite this, new entrepreneurs and small business owners often don’t know where to start or what tools to use to make their digital marketing campaigns effective.
In my 20 years of experience as a digital marketer and CEO of a successful marketing firm, I’ve learned a lot about effectively powering your online campaigns. Here’s an overview of the most important digital marketing components you should invest in to take your small business to the next level.
Some studies claim that half of small businesses don’t have a website, and many business owners say it’s too expensive or not applicable to their business. However, having a website helps to connect your business when people are searching online, and makes it more likely that your business will be discovered.
If your business is a hobby or if you’re just starting out, there are lots of tools that you can use to build your website by yourself. But if you can budget for the expense, it may be better to have a professional web developer build a website for you, as there are a lot of factors that you have to take into account, such as search engine optimization (SEO).
When deciding on your URL or domain, try to include your business name and a word that describes what you do – this will help you get found.
People research buying decisions online. If they don’t find you, they’re probably going to find your competitor. Having a well optimized website is the best option to making sure your target audience can find you on the web.
If you can’t afford to have a website optimized for search engine results, or if you have no time to build one, make sure you’re listed on Google’s business directory and make sure you’ve claimed your listing, as that shows you are open for business.
To help your site show up in as a search engine result, make sure you’re using the right keywords on your site (the words people would use to search for your products and services), and use them in the content, meta descriptions and tags (the code that tells Google what your site is all about) and HTML headers, as well as in your social media posts.
Your email address should be professional and unique to your domain. For example, if your email address is from one of the free web-based email systems like Google’s Gmail, it looks like your business is less established or professional.
For the good of your brand, use a proper email address from your own domain, such as email@example.com.
As a small business owner, we all juggle limited resources. Many of us don’t have time to manage multiple social media accounts, but the good news is we don’t have to.
Choose one or two social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook, and run them really well. What platforms you choose will depend on your audience. Use the ones your customers are most likely to hang out on.
There are also tools like Hootsuite that automate social media posts for you, which saves you time that you’d otherwise be spending posting manually, but the best way to build your audience is by spending some time on there in person.
There are lots of different ways to use the Internet to advertise your small business. The good news is that it’s much less expensive to advertise online than it is to run traditional ads in a newspaper or magazine.
Online ads reach more people, are more targeted and it’s much easier to measure your success with the help of free or affordable web analytics tools. You can advertise on social media platforms, such as using paid advertising options on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, among other options. You can also run search engine ads using Google and other platforms.
It’s common for people to use their email more regularly than social media. If used right, email campaigns can have a huge return on investment (ROI). Tools like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor make it easy for small businesses to set up email campaigns.
The most important thing to remember is to make sure you have the express permission from the person you’re emailing before you contact them or add them to your email list list. Here’s a link to a useful site to help you comply with the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation.
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