Marketing your business online will give your company a competitive edge and wider access to your target audience – without spending a ton of ineffective advertising dollars.
Today, most people will search the Internet first, even when they want to find a nearby shop or restaurant – so it’s important that local businesses increase their online marketing to reach these people.
A website is a logical place to begin your online marketing. Your domain name (the words that make up your web address) should tell customers what your business does rather than trying to create a brand name – as this will aid being found in the internet Search Engine Results. Websites should look professional, be easy to navigate and all of the links should work.
When marketing your business online, you should describe the products and services you offer and your company, provide contact information and make it easy to purchase online. Optimizing your writing to use keywords will ensure that your website appears in the search engine results.
Many business owners are challenged by the concept of marketing online, as they believe they are unable to give a free sample or demo. However, you can offer free samples and you would be surprised at the level of customer loyalty that can built in doing so. Examples of free samples / offers on some websites include:
- Square footage calculators (for freight companies);
- Cost analysis calculators;
- Color mixing examples (for paint or design organisations);
- A blog that provides useful tips and insights from you, the expert;
- Use the tips from your blogs to create downloable fact sheets;
- A video demonstrating the steps in a project – imagine being able to give your ‘instore’ demonstrations, ‘in home’ whenever your customer wants them;
- A podcast, a recorded audio program like a radio talk show, that can be downloaded to your website visitors computer or portable device…
Web marketing is about ensuring that your Target Audience recognizes your company’s name, giving people a reason to return to your website and helping your prospects (website visitors) make a buying decision that includes you!
Building name recognition (branding) online can be done by using Social networking (twitter, facebook, linked in etc), paid search engine advertising (pay per click), banner advertising on other websites, submitting your information to online trade organization directories and even by registering with web map services as a local business that will be displayed on maps searched in your area.
Email marketing is a tried and testing online marketing method. After ensuring that you have your customers or prospects permission to send email, spend time creating emails that are unique enough to make them stand out from all the other mail in your customer’s email box. When using email marketing, it is best to send a newsletter that has useful information and / or a coupon or discount voucher. It is important that you follow all government regulations regarding email marketing, which includes removing customers from your list promptly when requested.
Some of the best information for online marketing has not changed in many years and follows the same basic principles as marketing your business offline. Marketing your business online requires you to have a clear plan, research your market, product and competition and, of course, excellent customer service.