Internet marketing can still be a new idea for small businesses. Most still fear taking the risk for their advertisement budget. Several choose to stick to traditional marketing like newspaper classified ads posting, display advertisements on billboard, and TV ads. Majority fail to explore and realize the wonderful opportunities in online marketing – budget-wise and audience-wise.
Talk about social media promotion and people will only see Facebook and its social attributes, not its marketing potential. Talk about SEO and they wouldn’t understand a thing. Let’s face it, small businesses are still afraid to thread through the internet marketing world. So, I’m hoping this concept of “easy as 1-2-3 or ABC” would shine some light on the benefits of internet marketing.
My model can be summarized into three steps:
1. BUILD AUDIENCE
In the internet marketing world, audience is also referred to as traffic – every single potential customer that will visit your business website. There are many ways to capture your desired audience and build traffic for your website. Eventually, you will understand that the concept of social media promotion and search engine optimization (SEO) are not distant concepts.
So, how do you build traffic online?
• Increase Traffic via Search Engines like Google
There are about 2 or 3 major search engines, start with Google – the top search engine which boasts of a search market share of 66.5% as of April 2013. Ensure that your business can be found on the primary results page using the search terms (or keywords) you indicated. Hiring an SEO specialist during this period can cut your study time in half. They can assist in making your website pages as search engine-friendly as possible.
• Claim Your Business via Google Places for Business
This is one important tool that shouldn’t be ignored. The best thing about it is—it’s FREE! (I have a tutorial about this on “Google Places for Small Business Internet Marketing – How to Get Listed and Rank on Top”.)
Your Google Places page contains all the vital information about your business. And since Google loves all Google products, there’s a higher probability that it considers your profile when providing results to local searches. Moreover, apps powered by Google Search can generate local traffic for your business via Google Places.
To strengthen your Google Places page via local citations, build backlinks from other legitimate business directories and websites pointing to your Google Places page. You must ensure that good quality links are being passed to your Google Places page to avoid being penalized. For added credibility, encourage previous customers to post a review about your business on your Google Places page.
• Build an Audience via Social Media Promotions
Social media is a free tool that could generate heaps of traffic for your business website. Creating business pages on networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can give your business considerable online presence. Each of these social networking sites has its own metrics on how their users interact with your profile. This only means that each one has a corresponding marketing strategy to fully utilize its functionalities in generating leads for your business.
For your visual digital assets like videos and images, you can create a YouTube Channel for videos and Pinterest boards for Images. The only key here is to post “worth sharing” media files. If you’re not savvy in creating catchy images and videos, hiring a graphic designer can erase your worries. No time for posting updates? Lack time to market your business on the multimedia social media platforms? A social media manager can do everything for you.
Bear in mind that all of the above traffic generation schemes should be targeted –meaning you might only pay for traffic that has a higher chance of purchase.
2. BUILD A GREAT WEBSITE
A great website can be a subjective point of view. Website layouts depend on who will actually use it. This is why having a website designer is necessary. He or she guarantees that whatever you have in mind for your business website is implemented.
• Landing Page
The landing page, as it name implies, is where most of your search engine and social media traffic are directed. Aesthetics play a vital role to create a good first impression to visitors. Functionalities will then guide your visitors on what to click whenever they want to do something, especially when buying in.
To help you, Formstack published what could have been “The Anatomy of a Perfect Landing Page”. This contains suggested landing page designs with complementary functionalities ready for users in a single click. The bottomline is, your website must provide a good user experience. Your visitors must feel that they are in the right website and they will get what they are looking for. Traffic is only useful, at least in business terms, if they will be converted to sales. And your website is the bridge to make this come true.
Please be reminded that there is a crucial balance between a great landing page and website’s loading speed. No matter how excellent a site looks, no one will waste valuable second waiting for it to come up. Website loading speed is always part of a great website design.
• Website’s Browser Compatibility
Every page on your site must not only look appealing but it MUST also be compatible with different browsers. For desktop and laptops, you should check for your site’s compatibility to Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and IE. And with the growing number of mobile devices, your website must have a mobile version as well. The tricky part of a website’s mobile version though, is that it loads faster and shows the most important functionalities of a website in easy-to-touch icons.
• Updated Website Content
Face it, there are endless possibilities on how a user behaves upon reaching your website. Some users might have that “impress-me personality”. In such a case, you need to establish your authority in terms of the topic niche of your website. In a product/service-oriented business, showing them information how you have satisfied your previous customers produce positive impact. Some visitors might consider the timeliness of your business products/services. You should assess if your products /services are not only applicable today but are also state-of-the-art. Use this information as the content of your website and create a statement that will boost for marketing opportunities. That is why most websites put a website blog where they can post an official public announcement or informative publications about the business category ( or niche) where they belong.
Now we have a working definition of what it takes to have a great website. It must be aesthetically-appealing, have all the important functionalities, compatible to device browsers, and lastly, it should always be updated with informative contents for its target users.
3. CLOSE THE DEAL
Closing the deal might not be new to you as a business owner. Every marketing effort can be justified with how many sales it has delivered for your business. But online transactions might be new to you, right? In internet marketing, closing the deal is called lead conversion – converting your website visitors as buyers.
How to close the deal for internet marketing leads?
• Lead Handling
Lead handling is also called lead nurturing – skills and strategies of taking care every lead generated. Lead handling is more like guiding customers to proper channels of your business website for whatever they need or might want to happen. It is very important in influencing customers to repeat their purchase, draw positive impact for the business, and attract new buyers from referrals.
Customers usually start with a query about the business. If you have accommodating staff who can handle sales, they could just exchange emails on as to what the customer wants. Remember, good customer service always puts customers first. So aside from a simple “Thank You” for every query or purchase, you might want to offer them discounts and freebies should they decide to buy additional items.
• Payment Options
After closing the deal, every customer will always look for a mode of payment at his convenience. Most online transactions are either using PayPal or Credit Cards. For local markets, paying upfront might be the common way. But for your business to be flexible in terms of payment transactions, customers should have the option to either pay upfront or pay online. With the advent of legitimate money processing services, doing payments online has never been so easy.
• Leads Tracking
Leads tracking; in this sense, refers to gathering information on the leads generated out of your online advertising campaign. Usual information you might want from your customers include how they reached your website, what pages convinced to purchase, and how they made payments.
How they have reached your site depends on how you build your audience – through search engines, social media, Google Places page, or from other websites. Plus direct traffic (meaning they typed your website in the browser’s address bar) which might have come from referrals is a bonus. Although you can only get this information if the customer discloses it, Google Analytics is an efficient way to track the origin of your visitors.
What convinced them to buy pertains to which content influenced your customers buying decisions. From then, you can narrow down your content options to which ones are working effectively. You can determine this by asking them directly. If not, still Google Analytics can provide you the pages with most number of visits.
Mode of payment is also important. Why? It gives you valid advice on how to speed up the purchasing process. Through determining which payment option is frequently used by your online customers, you can arrange terms with money processing services to devise a more accessible payment scheme.
As you can see, closing the deal is not merely getting new sales – but getting more “repeat sales” over and over again.
ON THE SUMMARY…
Small business internet marketing can be as easy as 1-2-3, only if you know how to channel your online advertising campaign properly. If you’re hesitant on the amount of knowledge you posses, you might probably need an expert:
- BUILDING AN AUDIENCE POOL – You might need an SEO Specialist and Social Media Manager to run your traffic-generating campaign.
- BUILDING A GREAT WEBSITE – You definitely need a website designer, a graphics designer, and a content writer to make your audience feel that great user experience in your website.
- CLOSING THE DEAL – You need a sales staff for this if you can’t do this yourself.
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