The internet has changed the way businesses do business forever. The most successful businesses now market online. Even the biggest businesses like Walmart, Game, KFC and The care hire industry now have the facility for your to purchase their goods online. Online Marketing is no small “Flash in The Pan”. It is here to stay. Embrace it or lose. You can increase your turnover significantly by Marketing Your Small Business Online.
Before You Start Online – Fix The Offline
Online Marketing can, and if done correctly, will have a significant effect on your business, so before you embrace online marketing, ensure the basics are in place and that you have the capacity, or can grow the capacity as and when needed.
It starts with the very basics:-
- USP – Do you have a USP (Unique Selling Perspective). You need to have a properly formulated USP in place, have the branding up and the staff using it effectively. Simple is good, Check Nike – “Just Do It”. If you need help with your USP visit Best Small Business Tools.
- Training – Does your staff have the necessary skills to make your business a pleasant place to visit and do business with. Do they know what the USP is and how to use it? can they refer your customers to the correct department and person? Do they push your customers out of the way or ignore them because they are busy? Your staff/employees competency level can make or break your business. It can certainly retard your growth on or off-line. Training is something that should be addressed and taken much more seriously than is often the case. It is not just a cost to the company. It can really be a good marketing tool.
- Identify Market (Niche) – This is a very important step and you don’t want to get it wrong. Determine the demographics and build your site accordingly. Building a website does not have to cost a fortune but it does have to be done properly or you will just be throwing money down the proverbial toilet! You need a dedicated person to run your online business or the other option is to outsource it. If you employ someone to manage it, there is a way that you can build and host your site for free.
Create An Online Presence – A Professional Website
As I said above, the internet has changed the way businesses operate forever. The most successful businesses now market online. This is where the website comes into its own. A properly designed website can really Make a difference to your bottom line. Just as companies Like, Walmart, KFC and MacDonald’s. Why else would they have had one built?
Once you have decided to go this route, you need to consider a few things before you start:-
- Who is going to build your website, an employee or are you going to outsource it? You need to consider this carefully as there are other cost implications besides the Monthly fee or the cost to company for the employee.
- Websites are built on a cost per page after the initial 4 or 5 page package. Your site will probably require updating regularly. If you are not careful about the company you choose to use to create your site, it could end up costing you a whole lot of cash. You need to estimate how many new pages you require a month and get a fixed monthly fee for website maintenance.
- You will need a Domain Name. If you are an international company, you could buy a yoursite.com or a yoursite.org. If your market is predominantly local, rather choose a local domain like yourbiz.co.za or yourbiz.co.uk etc.
- You will also need a Hosting package, i.e. a service provider that will host your domain on their servers. They usually allow you limited space on their server and limited bandwidth. You will be billed for any extras. This can be avoided.
- SSL Certificates. These are necessary nowadays and most service providers charge for them. You can get them as an included item with some hosting packages.
- Email Addresses. How many email addresses will you need? This is also something that is sold in packages and if you need more than are included in your package, they will bill you.
- There are service providers that will host your site, give you unlimited disk space on their servers, Unlimited bandwidth, and unlimited Email addresses. These are not always suitable for businesses but there is one that gives you all of the above besides your domain.
- Cost of articles. Someone needs to write articles for your site and produce “How to” videos. You want to keep your site relevant and up to date. You do this by posting quality articles on your site that are relevant and helpful. The type of article that your customers will be searching for on Google. The type of article that gives him or her solutions to his or her problem.
This list is not exhaustive. It is just some of the issues you need to consider. Once you have considered these, you can then make a decision on employing your own website specialist or outsourcing the task.
Another way to get articles is to have competitions where your customers and or employees write articles to win worthwhile prizes. Posing the right competition will get you far more entries and articles than a run-of-the-mill competition.
Repeat Business – Your Email List = Cold Hard Cash
It is far cheaper to sell to an existing customer than going out to find and recruit new or prospective customers. With this in mind, it is surprising how many companies do not collect names and email addresses. The only email addresses collected by some companies is of their debtors and this, only to send out invoices. This is Shocking in the day and age of internet Business. Your Email List is truly equal to Cold Hard Cash.
Don’t write off your Old customer’s details’, even if it is only your old debtor’s list, if it has email addresses. It is far more costly to find new prospective customers, build up trust and convince them to buy from you than it is to just entice old customers, that have already bought from you. So, clearly, you have their trust and it is not necessary to “convince” them to buy from you.
Collect New Customer’s Details
You should have something to tempt every person that enters your store to leave their email address, without fail! I mean, they have been into your store and someone in the group should have bought something. Nobody should leave your store without a purchase. If they did not find what they wanted, there is surely something in your store/business that he needs, wants or could use. That is where your sales team’s training comes in, but we digress.
Your business should have something that entices everyone that enters your store to leave their email address. Don’t try to collect their pedigree. You want their email addressed and their name would be nice but, only their email address is important at this stage.
Target Prospective Customers
Remembering the cost of finding prospective customers, You should not have any new visitors to your business leaving have to be creative.
Most businesses have little coffee bars and cold drink & Snack kiosks, Have a Huge sign at the entrance to your store offering all new visitors a cup of free coffee if they complete the visitor’s slip with their name and email address. Be creative in your methods to collect details’ and build your prospective client lists. Make it easy to do, worthwhile and make it clear you will never spam or sell their details’.
Use Social Media To Your Advantage
There is a huge market out there, just waiting to be tapped into. All they are looking for is something that is interesting, useful and often funny. Many people buy on impulse so it does not even have to be something they need. It could be something unusual or funny. Maybe something they could give away as a present.
When people are on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest etc, they are often relaxed and just surfing for something interesting with no intention to buy. In this frame of mind, people are receptive of ideas etc. Use social platforms to get your name out there. Let people know about your expertise, how you can help them and what you have that can help them. Don’t forget to entice them to your web page with a special offer. Encourage them to leave a comment on your post and your website.
Co-sponsor an award or giveaway with one of your suppliers. Run a contest with a really valuable prize. Let it run for two or three months so that you can get good exposure and make the cost worthwhile and to ensure that you collect enough entries.
Connect with others on LinkedIn groups and contribute with advice, answering questions etc. Joining a relevant online community and contributing will also build trust and get your name out there. Your customers should see your name in as many spaces as possible.to keep you always in their thoughts.
Show Off Your Expertise – Provide A How-To Page Online
Providing an online how to service is a good way to keep people coming back to your site. If you publish a “how-to” item every week, showing, in detail, how to make or do something using one of your products It will draw people to your site. Get your suppliers to give you instructions on using their products and use them in your “how to” article.
The more in-depth and informative your article is, the better it will rank on the search engines. The higher it ranks, the more likely it is to reach people which in turn leads to more sales.
Imagine if your article leads to someone wanting to build a table for his wife, as an example. If you offered an online store where he could order the material online, pay online and you deliver to him, how likely is he to order from you. Especially if you sent him the E-book with step by step instructions and plans!
Create useful video tutorials on YouTube.
YouTube offer is a great resource for marketing your business on the web. Make or have how-to videos made to add to your YouTube channel. Having a video in any of your articles really draws visitors. If they can subscribe and get the How To ebook from you all the better.
Videos do not need to cost you a fortune if you cannot make them yourself. Get your loyal customers that use your products to make them for you. You could sponsor the material or a small piece of equipment. Even larger equipment in exchange for a specific number of videos or even articles for your website.
Take advantage of E-Commerce
There are so many items and products available today, it would not be practical for anyone to sock one of everything that is available. This does not mean that you cannot sell it all or a lot more of it, without even keeping stock. Consider Affiliate Marketing for both items you stock and items you don’t Stock. You can then sell to a much larger market. The supplier takes care of the payment, dispatch, and delivery. They even pay directly into your account. It is definitely a paying proposition to set up an online store.
Consider Outsourcing Your Marketing To Experts
Outsourcing the management of your online presence and marketing to a professional is important. At the risk of telling you what to do, I would definitely recommend outsourcing your website and its management to a professional. It does not have to cost you a fortune and it would be cheaper than employing your own designer.
By going this route you can cap your cost monthly and ensure the results that you pay for. Designers and SEO experts keep up to date with the latest market trends and can keep you informed and your website up to date and effective.
Increase revenue by focusing on proven strategies
The internet is changing all the time and it is extremely important to make sure your marketing is current and that you are not making use of outdated methods. If you are employing your own website designer or you are managing your own site, you really need to ensure that you keep up to date, read the market literature and attend the relevant course when needed.
Keeping up to date means a lot of reading, online and offline. Books, magazines, and websites are an important source of relevant information but it takes time, so if you or your employee are managing your website, ensure that you have sufficient time to research and learn to keep up to date.
Do You Want to Double Your Traffic in the Next 30 Days?
Just having a website is not sufficient anymore. You either have to pay for advertising or get organic traffic or both. Traffic is what makes your site successful. No traffic, no sales. Nobody wants to pay out money when it can be avoided or even less for something that does not bring in a return. Doing a half job on your website is not an option. If you are going to have a website, have a proper, effective and successful website.
A Successful website must achieve the purpose for which it is designed. Some websites are built to drive customers to your store or even your customer’s stores. The more people that buy your product from your store or your customer’s stores, the more sales you have.
If your site is designed to bring people to your store, then that is what it must do. If it was designed to get people to sign up to your Ezine or to get free how-to videos online then that is what it must do. If you designed it to send traffic to your online store then that is what it must achieve.
To achieve any of the above, your site must rank on the Search Engines, and not lower than page three, although page one is better. To active this, you must understand SEO (Search engine optimisation). Unless you have the skills, have an expert manage your SEO, If you look around, you will find one or two that will Design and host your website, with SEO, and site management, and they are not all mega companies. Remember, these mega companies employ newly qualified people to do the work, so it is not necessarily true to say those big companies are best.
Use Strategically Targeted Landing Pages
When People search for a specific Item, for example, a Ryobi Wood Lathe, Chances are that they will land on a Review page for a Ryobi Product or a page teaching you about a Ryobi Wood Lathe. There would probably be pages listed on other lathes as well. What does this suggest?
It suggests that you would probably do well by writing a Review about each product (especially the costly items) that you sell. This would probably not apply to screws and nails and the myriad of cheap items that people buy daily, but it would certainly apply to items like pool filters, table saws, lathes etc. any item that has a significant cost & that has competition.
Search engines do not like “sales pages”. That is pages that are written just to tell you to buy a product. This suggests that they do not rank pages as highly that have lots of links to affiliate programs. Having a review page on items means that you can have a lot of articles which refer to different tools. Each of the references could then be linked to the review of that item which will pre-sell (tell the visitor all about the item) before sending them to the affiliate sales page.
So, in essence, you would have only 1 page for an item linking to an affiliate sales page, but you could have Many, Many articles linking to that review page. This means that all those pages stand a chance to rank higher because they do not link to a sales page.
Regularly contribute on industry-specific forums
It would be a good Idea to contribute to industry-specific forums so that you can answer questions and get recognised as a niche authority. The more people see you as an authority, the more like;y they are to visit your site, store or online store and buy from you.
This brings me to the next, very important point.
Branding – It’s Like Live Stock- Brand It Or Lose It
You definitely do not want to lose the sale after taking them all the way to the point of deciding to purchase. That is what happens when your branding is not right. They go and buy elsewhere. Branding is all important, just like your USP. It needs to be everywhere, On your Website on every Article, every competition, every review and every comment that you leave on forums, social media and stationery. Do not forget to have a proper branded signature for everyone s email address that your business uses.
Use Business Listing Sites Like Yahoo Local and Google Local
Don’t miss out on local business. One of my clients sells a significant portion of their Network Marketing products via Google Local. Every available income stream should be exploited. Put them all together and they could make a huge difference to your bottom line.
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