Thursday, April 17, 2014

Small Business Online Marketing Tips

Making strategic business decisions about where to allocate limited funds is a day-to-day dilemma for small business owners. For most, the budget doesn’t allow for the services of an online marketing firm. 
However, you are also savvy enough to know marketing can’t be ignored. Most likely, competitors are taking advantage of one or more marketing channels.  So, what can you do to improve results while staying conscious of your bottom line?

Here are the Essential Small Business Online Marketing Tactics to get your marketing moving in the right direction:

Explore Online Marketing Channels

Exploring marketing channels is a great way to expand the reach of your business.
First and foremost, though, identify what channels your target market is using, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or search engines.  Most likely, they are using all three.  Discovering where your competitors are focusing can also give you an indication of where to start. Perhaps they did the legwork for you.  By understanding where to focus your efforts, you can get up to speed more quickly on best practices and begin implementing. When in doubt, search for best practice content online (e.g. "Online Marketing best practices") to find well-documented how-to information.

 Optimize your website for traffic and conversions

You can optimize your website through a variety of methods.  Simple website optimization begins with the following:
  • Use targeted keywords within headlines, on-page copy and when hyperlinking phrases to deeper pages on the site.
  • Keep your content consistent. Make sure the information on the website is the same as the information in other communications material your company creates.
  • Make it easy for visitors to contact you by prominently displaying your phone number and address on the site. Also, include email options and a form on the Contact Us page.
  • Update your Web content regularly

    Search engines prefer new content over old, so updating Web content, blog posts and/or news releases helps with search optimization. Don’t know what to write about? Here are some suggestions for press release topics:
    • What’s going on in your company? Talk about an upcoming product release or webinar, a new executive hire, a customer success story, or anything that displays your company’s professionalism.
    • Do a Q&A with a company executive about a current industry trend.
    • Summarize and respond to industry news articles.
    •  Introduce people to your industry. For example: “What is cloud computing?” or “The benefits of Home Improvement.”

     Make it easy for people to find your material

    Link back to pages on your website in just about every e-mail, news release, blog, Facebook post, or other e-communication that comes out of your office.  Different influencers prefer content via different methods, so offering distribution through a variety of sources helps increase your visibility.

     Engage your subscribers

    Keep in touch with the people who already read your news releases and blog posts. Ask them what they want to see more of on your website and tell them that you appreciate their interest in your company.  Remember: these are the people who are most likely to spread the e-word about your company.  The more you engage and interact with your readers, the more likely they are to do you a favor such as share your content with their network.  Important to remember though, is to provide consistent and quality information before asking for favors from your audience.

    Leverage Local Resources

    As a source of inspiration for your press releases and other content, stay tuned into local news and events.  Write about upcoming local seminars, presentations and networking meetings.  Think about hosting your own event and inviting other local thought leaders to present or whenever you can; try to be a speaker or presenter at these local meetings.  Both of these ideas lend themselves to great press releases and blog content.  Local resources are also a great place to make connections and encourage people you meet to visit your website or blog.

    Know that you’re never done

    The Internet has made us all full-time communicators and marketers. Happily, it also gives us almost all the tools we need to do it well. Don’t know how to write a press release? Not quite sure how to maintain a blog? Literally hundreds of websites can tell you how.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Many businesses are prepared to spend money to build their fan base on Facebook

If you want to reach your Facebook fans, you’re going to have to spend money. Many businesses are prepared to spend money to build their fan base, yet balk at the idea of paying to get their posts into the newsfeed of their fans.

But, if you’re not prepared to spend money to show up in the news feed of your fans going forward, you should question the value of your business being on Facebook.
A recent article put it this way, “Facebook statistics show organic reach for your Business Page is dropping like a bowling ball off a high-rise.” And the only solution to this dilemma is for you to pay Facebook for promoted posts, and advertising.

Yes, in the early days of Facebook it was relatively easy to get your business page posts into the news feed of your fans. Today it is much more difficult, and good content won’t even do the trick for most.
What at one time was considered to be free, with the possible exception of building the ‘likes’ on your business page, has blossomed into something that more closely resembles traditional advertising, at least in terms of having to pay to get in front of your target audience.

But the reality is that what Facebook has done to date, and pretty much every other social network out there, is to build a market for their product. They’ve built their brand and they’ve done it by creating a product that many consumers love – and many others love-hate. And they’ve done it by leveraging the free service they provide to the average consumer, by monetizing the service they provide to business to reach those who use their service for free.

Of course, this didn’t just happen overnight. This was part of their long-term strategy – build a platform consumers love and use, give businesses a (free) taste of how they can reach this audience (think ‘lost leader’) and then, once business has experienced a taste of the exposure Facebook can give them, slowly wean them off free and into paying to reach new and existing fans.

As frustrating as it may be to discover the Facebook fan base we’ve built is no longer reachable, to a large extent, without putting out some of our hard earned cash, it is reality and it is the future. All the major social networks are heading in this direction, looking for ways to monetize their services to business.