- Four Tips for Marketing Your Small Business Online - October 10, 2014
Marketing your small business online can be profitable!
For most businesses, successful marketing translates into better sales. But with limited resources, small businesses don’t always have the budget to hire a full-time marketing manager. Luckily, effective marketing efforts don’t have to be extravagant or costly. These simple methods can help drive awareness, increase sales and bolster your reputation as an industry expert.
Identify Your Audience
This initial step is perhaps the most important in any marketing plan. Your business name might reach a high number of people, but if these individuals are not interested in what your business offers, you can expect a low return on investment. Instead of focusing on quantity, think quality. Put in the extra time and effort to make sure you are reaching people who will take action when they encounter your business. As a starting point, try identifying your target audience’s age, lifestyle, goals or location.
Master Social Media
Effective use of social channels builds both brand presence and trust—all without spending a dime. But it’s not enough to just launch a Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest account and post a rebate every once in awhile.
First, build an online presence by following and starting conversations with others in your industry. Then, use your position to build relationships. This process involves engaging with your audience and providing valuable content. Instead of posting about how people should come to your business, show them why you are the industry expert.
Post educational articles and helpful tips that will appeal to your audience. You can also post before and after photos to showcase your work, which could serve as starting points for conversations. When you regularly use your social platforms as opportunities to build relationships, your audience will start looking to you as a trustworthy expert—and your sales will reflect this positive perception.
Get Customers to Your Website
There are numerous websites that allow you to create visually appealing, functional websites—most are even free or require a small fee for more features. To name just a few, try WordPress, Wix or Squarespace.
Once your website is live, make sure it is easy to navigate, and that customers can quickly locate your contact information. A successful website shows customers why they should choose your business above any other. You can accomplish this by creating a gallery tab that showcases your work, a tab with industry tips or a section with insightful information about you and your employees’ work experience.
To increase exposure, it is also vital to optimize your website for search. Think about what potential search terms are most important to your business and build your website content around them. Instead of naming a section of your site “About Us,” try “About Our Sandwich Shop.”
Connect Through Email
Proofreading e-newsletters may sound like a given, but letting this step slip to the back of your agenda can take a toll on your credibility and professionalism. Before you distribute emails and e-newsletters, ensure that at least two to three people have checked for factual, spelling and grammatical errors.
To reach a larger online audience, offer an incentive to sign up for your emails. People are more likely to give their information when they receive something in return. A downloadable PDF with educational content or industry trends is just one idea. Your email list will expand, but more importantly it will include more people who are already interested in what your business has to offer.
These marketing tactics can take some time, but when your business prioritizes building relationships with the right target audience, your return will be well worth the effort.