Have you ever passed a business on the way home from work and then struggled to find it online? Or visited its website only to discover it’s just a landing page with no clickable info and very little helpful content? If a business doesn’t have a decent online presence, does it really exist? In the 21st century, the answer is not really. It doesn’t matter if your customers are millennials, middle-aged, or mature seniors they are all online. A strong digital presence is about more than having a webpage. It’s about having a plan. Here are five online marketing strategies for small businesses.
1. Polish the Page
Let’s start with your website. If you relied on DIY services like Wix, then congrats on saving time and money. The downside is your site likely resembles thousands of others. Some people hire housekeepers so they can focus on keeping the nooks and crannies spotless. Your self-built site should be a similar starting point. Hire a graphic designer to make it brighter and more eye-catching. You can rely on your network for recommendations or visit freelancer portals like Upwork or Fiverr. You’ll be able to use positive customer reviews and exemplary portfolios to find a designer, then negotiate their payment.
Visuals are a significant component for websites. So are tabs that seamlessly deliver you to everything from a short bio or company history to a separate contact page. Although WordPress is a simple solution, again you may want to hire a creative professional who can make your copy sizzle. Staying in your lane is a good idea here. Unless you own a world class web services firm, chances are site creation isn’t in your wheelhouse. The money you spend on the site will come back in the form of new customers and expanded business.
2, Search Engine Matters
The joke is that the best place to bury a body is on the second page of Google’s search results. The truth is if your company doesn’t pop up on the first page when someone enters its name into a search engine, you don’t really have an online presence. Understanding the role Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays in your success or failure is a vital part of online marketing strategies for small business.
The hard part comes from the fact that pretty much every business is already trying to maximize their SEO. Fortune 500 companies have whole digital departments with budgets that exceed your gross annual sales. That’s why the mom and pop self storage company you passed on the way home doesn’t appear in search results but the huge company you don’t want to use does. Just as with website design, boosting SEO is a job best left to professionals. Creating informative content is a great start –– hiring blog writers who will repeat the title of the blog and info about your company can help you rank higher in search engine results. So will backlinks –– when another site links to your company because of the information or services you provide.
3. Get on the Map
Google in particular provides location search marketing which utilizes the company’s mapping function. This means your company’s phone number and address along with your website can pop up when a nearby potential customer enters relevant search terms. You’ll want to check and make sure this is happening. After all, it can help you compete on a more level playing field against businesses with larger digital ad budgets. This is one way the biggest search engine company in the world is helping the smaller businesses compete against larger ones.
4. Work That Social
On a personal level, you may have mixed feelings about social media. Certainly one company seems to always be in the news for privacy violations. The thing to remember is that by and large social media companies were not created to benefit individuals who post and maintain profiles. They were designed to benefit the companies hoping to sell to them. So use this to your company’s advantage. Spend the money to advertise on Facebook and exploit their granular demographic information. Know your platforms and play to their strengths. If your audience is mainly in their teens or twenties, then you need to be on Snap and TikTok. For Snap, short fun ads (ideally with music) are perfect. Offering a fun, informative video that’s way less than a minute is tailor made for TikTok. You can also use social to become a voice of authority, offering complex advice on FB blogs and answering customer questions or concerns on Twitter.
It’s probably not surprising that last year’s lockdowns spiked internet traffic 30% and increased social media usage. So take advantage of the opportunity. If you dislike social or are uncomfortable with it, you need to contract this job out. If it feels like a chore, you won’t succeed.
5. Email Isn’t Dead
It’s funny but Gen Z seems to view email the way my generation viewed snail mail. Don’t be fooled. Email remains a cost-effective way to nurture potential customers while growing your base. There are companies that will help you but the big thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t just be pitching a product. Instead, offer free content that informs and entertains. I think financial services companies were way ahead of others with this –– beginning with the physical newsletters that were once mailed to millions and now appear in inboxes. These newsletters often had paid subscribers –– that’s how successful they were at offering valuable info along with a sales pitch.
Having a dynamic online presence can grow your business in a way that a brick and mortar store can’t. That’s because you have access to literally billions of customers. Just as you wouldn’t leave your physical store unattended for days or weeks at a time, you need to check in regularly with your website. Otherwise you might as well hang up a digital “Gone Fishing” sign and call it a day.
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