With today’s global economy, the time and money spent on marketing needs to be stretched pretty thin, and results need to be tracked carefully so you know how to make the most of a limited marketing budget. Fortunately, we’re experiencing a worldwide revolution in the form of the way people communicate, share information, and how small businesses can reach their customers. The Internet has opened up huge possibilities, but the real question is how are customers finding YOUR business, and how can you make it easier to be seen.
There are plenty of venues for customers (and potential customers of course) to find your business on the internet, and let’s face it, that’s where they will be doing most of their research. On top of that, it’s possible to get saturation even when they aren’t specifically looking for you. Let’s go over a few major pathways that your business will want to be on to get the most out of your online marketing initiatives.
Search Engines – This is always the first one people think of. When anyone wants to find something online, they go to Google, Yahoo, Bing, or one of the many other search engines and simply search for it. The major search engines are getting very good at capturing relevant results, but if your business doesn’t have much of an online presence, there isn’t much they can do. Keeping a fresh, up to date website is the best way to combat obscurity on the search engines, and depending on your business and competition, investing in a Search Engine Optimization service or consultant can help you rank higher. Search engines are always changing what matters to them, but keeping your site up to date with fresh content is half the battle. The major search engines also have local business directories that you can authorize and customize.
Facebook – Although Facebook started out as a social network for college students, it now boasts over 800 million active users. Beyond that, Facebook has plenty of options for organizations, businesses and brands for getting in the spotlight. Business can set up Facebook Pages, run cost-effective targeted ads, and engage users to share and converse.
Twitter – Another huge social network, Twitter is very useful because of its simple concept and real-time search capabilities. Twitter is another way users can talk about and share your business. Businesses utilize Twitter to pass on information, news, tips, and more to followers, but sometimes CEOs and executives can utilize Twitter outside of the business account to make things even more personal.
Business Directories – Services like Yelp and Merchant Circle let you set up business profiles that often show up high on the search engines and are yet another way users can find you. Many of these services let users submit reviews – a bunch of good testimonials are a fantastic way to get people to do business with you.
LinkedIn – Linked In is a social network for businesses and professionals. If your company serves other businesses, Linked In can be a great resource. There are free and paid accounts for Linked In, you’d at least want to set up a free account for yourself so others can connect to you.
Email Marketing – This is more for your current clients and those who have already found you, but you should have a way for users to opt in to an email newsletter on your website. Even if you don’t have any intention to start up an email newsletter for a while, collecting those names and emails gives you a nice healthy list of prospects that when you are ready, you can market to. This is a great way to touch base and remind older prospects you are there and announce services and products they may not have discovered otherwise.
These are just a few of the main ways you can be found online, and much of it is easily trackable with analytic tools. Is your company utilizing social media and other online marketing? Have any success stories? Let us know in the comments!