Posts Tagged ‘small business’
Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
Monday, March 3rd, 2014
Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
In many ways, your website is the online face of your business. It’s where your customers, potential customers and other members of your market go to find more information, and in some cases, buy a product. But, getting leads from your website takes some strategic planning and might even require a few changes to your site.
Make it Easy to Respond to your Call to Action
Your call to action should be loud and clear on your homepage. If people come to your website and aren’t asked to do anything, they won’t. For example, if your goal is to sell one of your products, use copy that encourages people to buy it and include a button that links to the product page.
This same strategy applies to all kinds of goals, whether you are trying to build your email list, sell products or get more social media followers. Whatever you want your site visitors to do, make it easy.
Use Lead Generation forms on Every Page
Every page of your website should include a lead generation or sales form. Put it in a very visible place, like near the top or on a side bar where your visitors will see it right away. Including it on every page makes it more likely that people will fill it out and ensures that people will see it, no matter what page they enter your site from.
Illustrate a Benefit
People need a reason to buy your product or give you their contact information. Very clearly illustrating the benefits you can offer is a great way to get more leads. Use sales copy that tells people why they should buy your product and use content and your site’s design to tell people why your services are the best available.
Testimonials are a powerful way of persuading potential customers. They let your market hear from people who are influential or who they identify with, which makes them more likely to respond to your calls to action. You can use written testimonials on your site or make them a little more interesting by creating videos.
Use a Purposeful Design
Use design elements, like contrasting colours, white space, arrows, boxes and graphics to make your site more attractive and make your calls to action and other important information stand out.
You can also use your site’s design and navigation to lead your visitors through your pages and convert them into sales leads. Think carefully about the information you include on each page and where your links are, and place them in areas that will help you get more leads.
Make it Easy to Contact You
Finally, make it very easy for your visitors to find your contact information. The last thing you want is for would-be customers to leave your site because they can’t figure out how to contact you with a question or to make a purchase. You can simply list your contact information in a central place on your website or use a contact form, or both.
When you are strategic about your site’s design, layout and content, you can convert more of your site visitors into leads. Start by assessing your website and using these tips to find ways you can make it a more powerful sales tool.
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Friday, February 28th, 2014
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Internet marketing is a broad term that covers several different marketing channels. The channels, or means that you use to reach your market, are very important to your success.
A good Internet marketing strategy will leverage multiple channels that best help your business connect with your market so you can promote your brand and build your customer base. With so many channels and tactics out there, here are a few that are becoming increasingly important and that you should keep an eye on and consider using.
The first channel we think of when we think of Internet marketing is websites. If a business doesn’t have a website in today’s world, it will quickly become obsolete.
Start with your own site and make sure it is a place where you can tell your audience who you are and what you can do for your customers. Also be sure it is fully optimised so it will earn high search rankings. Many businesses use other channels to drive their market to their website, where they make a sale.
Using other websites, especially news sites, is a great way to build links to your site, raise awareness about your business and drive traffic to your site.
Blogging is another extremely common channel and for good reason, it’s a great way to reach a lot of people.
Blogging is an easy way to keep your audience up to date, provide value and create content that will attract people to your site. If you aren’t already blogging, now is the time to start.
Guest blogging, sponsored posts and blog coverage on others’ blogs can also help you promote your business. Link building, more traffic, the chance to reach a new audience and increased awareness are just a few benefits you can get when you use others’ blogs.
Search engine optimisation is a very valuable form of Internet marketing that can help you get more organic traffic to your site and make it easier for people to find you online. Organic traffic is valuable because in many cases, it consists of people who are already looking for your business or products, so they are potential customers.
Social media is a powerful way to connect with your market, give your customers a way to interact with your business online and promote your content, products and business. The social media sites you use will depend on your business and market.
Email marketing can help you deliver marketing messages and tactics to niche groups of people, including current customers, potential customers and blog readers. The key to success with email marketing is to craft strategic messages and calls to action.
Both traditional online ads and pay-per-click ads can be very effective. Consider your options and be sure you place ads on websites where your target market will see them.
Mobile Internet use is on the rise and smartphone apps are a powerful Internet marketing tool. If you can offer some kind of value through an app, consider designing one for your business.
There are several different Internet marketing channels and you’ll likely need to use a combination of them to promote your business and reach your markets. Choose the ones that will best match your needs and bring the biggest benefits, and then add them to your plans strategically so you will see the best results.
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Friday, February 28th, 2014
Image courtesy of Nicolas Nova/Flickr.
Blogging is one of the most basic and most important things you can do for your website. Unfortunately, many businesses forgo blogging because they don’t think they have the time for it or they don’t fully understand all the benefits they can get when they do it.
If you’ve been neglecting your company blog, or haven’t started one yet, here are just a few of the many reasons why you should use it to its fullest potential.
Fresh Content Leads to Higher Search Rankings
You probably already know that updating your site frequently with new content will help your search engine optimisation efforts. Search engines continually crawl sites to find and rank new content, and when you constantly update your site, you can rank higher for specific search terms.
Using a blog is a great way to have an easy way to update your website. Blogging about your business, industry news, new products, how-to topics and other subjects your market will be interested in will also help you drive traffic to your site.
Keep Your Market Informed
Blogging is a powerful way to keep your market informed. It is a channel of communication you can use to update your audience about business news and tell your customers about new products and features.
When you use your blog in conjunction with social media sites, this approach becomes even more useful. Post detailed information, pictures and infographics on your blog, and then share the post through social media, making it more visible to your market.
Own Your Story
When other people blog about your business, or news sites cover a product or event, you don’t have complete control over your story. The blogger or reporter will write about you from their perspective. Of course, this kind of coverage is excellent public relations and can help you raise awareness and drive traffic to your website.
However, when you post to your blog you have complete control over your story. You can include the information you want your market to know and use the style, tone and messaging that will be most beneficial to your business.
Have Complete Control over the Platform
Social media sites are always changing. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other sites are always adding and taking away features that change the way you can use them. In fact, some social media sites disappear altogether, taking part of your social media marketing strategy, and maybe even part of your market, with them.
When you rely more strongly on your own blog, and not an outside platform, you have complete control over it. You can add and remove features whenever you want and you know it will always be there. You can also use your own blog however you want. Having your own blog where your market can get information and interact with your business is important and should be a major part of your Internet marketing plan.
Blogging has so many benefits and these are just a few of the reasons you can’t afford to pass on a company blog. If you haven’t used a blog as part of your Internet marketing plan, start today. You’ll see higher search rankings, more traffic and have control over your own messaging.
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Thursday, February 27th, 2014
Image courtesy of thethreesisters/Flickr.
If your business uses Twitter for social media marketing, the network’s newest feature is an exciting one. Now, when users search for terms that relate to Promoted Accounts, they will appear in search results. Previously, only tweets and Twitter users appeared in search results.
For some time, Promoted Accounts have been a great way for businesses to get their tweets in front of their followers, as they appear in users’ timelines. Promoted Accounts also appear in a list called “Who to Follow,” which can help you get new followers.
But, this new feature means that your account will be even more visible to Twitter users. As your account shows up in search results, more people will find and follow you. Businesses with Promoted Accounts have been able to target specific demographics, and now, those targeting options will be taken into account as Twitter displays search results.
Promoted Accounts are an excellent way to get your account, and content, in front of your market and build your following. When people find your account through a related search, they may be more likely to follow you because they are already interested in your industry or products.
The Power of Twitter to Influence Sales
In 2013, Twitter commissioned Market Probe International to conduct a study. The research analyses responses and Twitter users from the US and UK. One of the most stunning findings of the research is that Twitter users are 72 percent more likely to make a purchase from a small or medium business that they follow on Twitter.
Some other statistics from this report that illustrate the power of Twitter include:
- 85 percent of users felt more connected with small or medium businesses after following them on Twitter.
- 73 percent of users said they follow small and medium businesses to get updates on future products.
- 32 percent of users are more likely to go to a small or medium business after they see a Promoted Tweet from the business that relates to their interests or needs.
These statistics show us just how powerful Twitter can be as part of an Internet marketing plan. But, they also tell businesses how they can use Twitter more effectively.
The research shows that people follow businesses on Twitter to get updates about future products, so by sharing that kind of information you can gain and retain followers and even make more sales.
If you already use Twitter as part of your social media marketing, consider using a Promoted Account to make your business more visible on Twitter, gain more followers and get more out of Twitter.
On the other hand, if you don’t currently use Twitter, now is the perfect time to consider opening an account and using it to strategically promote your products and share your content.
Twitter is a very popular social media site that can help you promote your products, drive traffic to your website, engage with your market and build an online community that benefits your business.
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Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
To be successful at Internet marketing, you need to understand your market. When you do, you can create a plan and use tools that will help you reach potential customers and make your business grow.
Of course, it’s important that you do some in-depth research, but here are four things you need to know about your market that will help you create a strategic Internet marketing plan.
Who You are Targeting
First, you need to know who your target market is. Understanding basic demographic information like gender, age, level of education and even profession can help you understand who your strategies and tactics need to be geared toward.
Start by making a list of things that describes your customers and target market and then back up that information, and add to it, with research. Designing your plan based on who you are targeting will help you be much more successful.
Where they Hang Out Online
Once you know who your market is, you can find out where they hang out online. Make a list of websites, blogs and social media sites your target market uses. Some of this information you can deduce, simply by understanding who is attracted to different sites, but some of it will require some research.
Internet marketing requires you to use websites, blogs and social media to reach your market. Of course, you need to attract people to your own sites, but you will also need to reach out to find your market. Knowing what sites your market frequents will make it much easier to find potential customers.
What Needs they Have
Then, identify what kinds of needs your market has and discover how you can fill them. For example, if you run a craft shop, your market could be looking for affordable ways to be creative or ideas for do-it-yourself projects. This need defines something you can give your market and use to attract people to your store.
Your content, social media posts and other Internet marketing strategies should work to fill those needs. As you do this, you will build an online audience and attract people to your business.
What Motivates Them
When you discover what motivates your market, you will know how you can persuade people to respond to your calls to action. Find out what makes the people you are targeting tick, what they want and what kinds of messages resonates with them.
You can start creating messaging that you think will appeal to your market by analysing everything you know about it. Then, test some of the messages, content and tactics and measure your results. In many cases, you will need to revise your approach to find out what works for your business and market.
The more you know about your market, the more successful your Internet marketing efforts will be. When you know who you are targeting, where they are online, what they need and what motivates them, you can use that information to create effective plans, content and other marketing tactics.
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Monday, February 10th, 2014
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According to Deloitte, 72 percent of people in the UK have a smartphone, and what’s more, the Office for National Statistics reports that the number of people using a smartphone to access the Internet has doubled since 2010, from 24 percent to 53 percent.
You know your business needs to embrace mobile Internet use and that to be successful you need to reach your market through their smartphones and tablets. But, how do you do that? Businesses are regularly told to “go mobile,” and these four tactics can help you get started.
Create a Mobile-Friendly Website
A mobile-friendly website will make it much easier for your market to navigate your site, buy products, find information and respond to your calls to action from their mobile devices. Mobile sites are clean, organised and formatted to be viewed on a smaller screen.
We’ve all gone to a website from our smartphone and found it too hard to read or find the information we need. What do we do when this happens? We leave the site. Don’t drive your site visitors away with a site that is impossible to use on mobile devices.
Launch a Mobile Email Marketing Campaign
It’s also important that your email marketing campaigns are designed for a mobile market. More and more people are checking and responding to emails on their smartphones and if your email is easy to read on a small screen, it will be more effective.
Also keep in mind that people reading emails on their smartphones don’t always have time to read long emails, so keep your messages short and capture your market’s attention with your subject lines.
Write to a Mobile Social Media Audience
People use social media quite heavily on their mobile devices, so write for an audience that is on the go when you post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and your other social media accounts.
Short posts, images and links to mobile-friendly sites are easy to read and respond to from a smartphone. You don’t need to use these guidelines for all of your posts, but using them for some of them will help you reach your mobile market.
Produce Your Own Mobile App
Producing your own mobile app is a great way to get your business and products in your market’s hands. If your business can offer some value through an app, seriously consider providing one. Apps that offer entertainment, information, discounts and other perks that your market considers valuable can help you connect with your current and potential customers.
Do some research to find out what kind of app your market would be interested in and then make sure you build one that is high quality and that works very well. An app that doesn’t work well or is too frustrating to use will reflect poorly on your business.
As you develop Internet marketing strategies and tactics, do so with your mobile market in mind. Make sure your website and emails are easy to navigate on small screens and find new ways to reach your mobile audience through social media and apps.
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Friday, February 7th, 2014
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Even small changes can make a big difference in how your website looks and how effective it is at helping you meet your business goals. In fact, sometimes all you need to do to see more results is make a few simple changes. There are situations that call for an entire site makeover, but here are eight easy ways to update your website.
Change the Navigation Menu
Consider the titles and pages you include in your navigation menu and decide if the way you have it set up is helping you meet your goals. By adding specific products, information and other pages to the main menu, you can draw attention to them, which can help you meet goals like increasing sales or helping your market understand your business.
This is also a good way to make sure your site’s pages are organised and your site is easy to use, so your market will spend more time browsing your content and products.
Bring Buried Information to the Front
Bring information about products, how to contact you or details about events to the front of your website, on the homepage for example, to make it easier to find. If you haven’t updated your site in a while, important information could be burred and difficult for your market to find.
Make it Easier to Connect on Social Media
Make sure there are links to the social media networks you use in a visible place on your site. It’s a good idea to include these on your homepage and keep in mind that if they are one of the first things your market sees, people will likely click on them, leaving your site.
Of course, this can be a great thing if your goal is to build your social media following, but if you want people to spend more time on your site you may want to add them to the bottom of the homepage.
Add a Newsroom or Blog
If you don’t already have a blog, consider adding one. A blog is a great way to connect with your market and publish your own content, which you can share on social media to drive traffic to your site. A newsroom, where you post company updates, new products and newsworthy information, can also help you do this.
Both of these tools allow you to update your site regularly, which has great search engine optimisation benefits.
Clear the Clutter on Each Page
If you’ve been adding information to the pages on your site for some time, they could be cluttered with information that doesn’t need to be there anymore. Assess each page and remove outdated information, extra pictures and excessive copy.
Make it More Visual
Websites that are too text heavy can be less effective because they are overwhelming to readers, who often leave the page before they have read everything. Avoid this problem by breaking up text and using visual elements, like pictures, buttons, lines, arrows, and colours, to make your pages easier to read and information easier to digest.
Rewrite Your Homepage Content
When was the last time you updated the content on your homepage? This is a quick and easy way to make sure your site still reflects your brand and purpose and that it will effectively reach your market and encourage people to become your customers.
Refresh Your Calls to Action
Another simple way to update your website is to refresh your calls to action so that they are in line with your Internet marketing strategy. For example, if your strategy is to drive people to your website and then convert them to customers, making more sales, your calls to action should ask people to make a purchase.
If your website is in need of a change, use this list to find simple ways to update it and make it a more effective part of your Internet marketing plans.
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Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Videos and podcasts have a way of standing out and capturing an audience’s attention. On an Internet that is filled with blog posts, articles and social media status updates, video and audio can be a refreshing break from this kind of content while still giving you a chance to promote your business.
There are literally dozens of ways you can use video and audio to promote your business, but here are a few creative ways that can be adapted for most businesses and markets.
How-To Videos and Webinars
By offering free resources, in the form of videos or podcasts, you can establish yourself as an industry expert and build a strong relationship with your market. As your customers and potential customers use your resources, they will begin to see you as a business that has their best interest as a top priority.
Another benefit of this kind of content is that it gives your market a taste of what you have to offer, which will entice people to learn more about your business and become customers.
Letting your market get a glimpse behind the scenes, whether that be at your office or an event or by offering a new look at how a product or service is provided, is a great way to generate interest in your brand.
Transparency is something all business need to develop at some level, and using video and audio to let your market in on how your business runs can help you develop a strong brand and a trusting relationship with your market. Of course, you need to be strategic about what kind of behind-the-scenes information you share, being careful not to share sensitive information that should remain within your business.
All kinds of technology, including YouTube and Google Hangouts, make it possible for you to broadcast events as they happen so you can reach a larger audience. When you broadcast events, more people will be able to participate and you can reach much larger sections of your market.
Consider sharing entire events as they unfold or excerpts from events when they are over. This kind of video or audio is perfect to post on your blog and social media accounts.
Messages from the CEO
Your businesses’ CEO and managers have a level of credibility that attracts your market. By recording short videos or podcasts that include a message from your business’ leaders, you will capture your market’s attention.
Be aware that content from your CEO and managers will be deemed as official information, so plan carefully what kind of messaging should be used in these pieces.
Products in Action Videos
Video gives you the unique opportunity to show your products in action. You can talk about them, review them and describe them through other mediums, but with video you can show your market how they work.
You can use this strategy to show off new products and features, highlight ways to use your products and inform your market about how to use what you offer.
Video and audio give you more freedom and flexibility than other forms of content and help you stand out, getting your market’s attention. With this medium, you can show people why they should do business with you, which is a powerful way to promote your products.
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Thursday, January 9th, 2014
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
It seems like so many businesses have mobile apps, but should you use one as part of your Internet marketing strategy? A mobile app can help you reach your market in a new way, provide value to your customers and help you promote your products and services.
Before you start creating an app just to have one, ask yourself these questions to discover whether an app will benefit your business.
Is Your Market Mobile?
First, if your market doesn’t use smartphones or tablets, creating an app may not be very beneficial for your business. Think about your market, and do research where necessary, and decide whether you can reach your customers, potential customers and audience through their mobile devices.
If your market is mobile, an app can put your business in the palm of peoples’ hand. It will allow you to show off your products and services, send marketing messages, provide value, interact with your market and connect directly with your market.
Do You Have Something to Offer?
People will only use your app if it has something of value to offer. This can be anything from entertainment to access to special deals to free services. Every business has something different to offer through a mobile app, and the value you add to your app will depend on your business and goals. But, all apps need to have a clear purpose and provide something to users.
Some common things businesses offer through apps include:
- Access to Customer Accounts
- Directories of Business Locations
- Free Resources
- Shopping Opportunities
- Customer Service
Of course, this list is just a small sample of things you can offer through an app. Your app should attract your market and offer something attractive and useful to the people you want to target.
Will an App Benefit Your Overall Marketing Plan?
If you do create a mobile app, it needs to fit in with your overall digital marketing plan. Mobile apps can help you reach all kinds of goals, like making more sales, increasing customer engagement and raising brand awareness.
Consider your marketing and business goals and then ask yourself if a mobile app can help you meet them. An example of an app that benefits a marketing strategy would be an app that provides customers with coupons and discounts, which helps a business meet its sales goals.
Can You Provide Technical Support?
Finally, if you are going to create a mobile app, do it well. If you aren’t able to provide a solid app that works well, is user friendly and that benefits your market, your app could actually harm your business and reputation. A dysfunctional app will frustrate your customers and draw negative attention to your business.
On the other hand, if you are able to provide an app with a great user interface, that works well and that your market will download and use frequently, an app can benefit your business.
If you answered “yes” to these questions, you should consider using a mobile app as part of your digital marketing strategy. There’s no question that people, businesses and the world are going mobile, and your business’ ability to meet its market there and leverage mobile tools to meet its goals is becoming increasingly important.
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With more than 259 million people on LinkedIn, your business should be using the site as part of your social media marketing strategy. But, LinkedIn is a little different than other social media sites, so how do you take full advantage of it?
Because LinkedIn is a social network for professionals, it does have a slightly different audience than Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, but it can still be just as valuable to your business. Start by setting up a business page and then use these tips to get the most out of LinkedIn.
Post Updates and Share Your Content to Generate Engagement
Like all social media networks, you’ll need to post updates and share content to start gaining a following and generating engagement. Be strategic about the content you share and be sure to post your own blog posts and site pages. Don’t be too promotional, and always provide value to your followers, but use this tool to raise awareness of your business and services.
Join, Create and Participate in Groups to Show Your Expertise
Participating in LinkedIn Groups is an easy way to let your voice be heard and showcase your expertise. If there are existing industry groups or groups that your market participates in, join them. Also consider creating your own group where you can create an online community for your market where you can interact, ask questions and establish your business as the go-to solution for your customers.
Use Polls to Build Engagement and Learn About Your Market
LinkedIn lets you create polls within groups so you can ask members about all kinds of things, both formal and informal. In general, people like to share their opinions, so this is a great way to get some engagement.
But, by asking the right questions, you can also learn a lot from the polls you conduct in your groups. You can find out more about who your market is, what interests your potential customers and even what people think about your business.
Use LinkedIn Advertisements to Promote Your Business
You can participate in LinkedIn’s advertising program to promote your business or products through ads on the site. The site lets you target people based on their location, job title, age, company size and even by their LinkedIn Groups.
If your target market includes professionals, people looking for employment or other businesses, this could be a great tool. As with all social media ads, make sure your LinkedIn ads are very targeted and include specific calls to action.
Share Your Page through Other Channels to Build a Following
As you build your page and brand on LinkedIn, be sure to promote your page through other channels so you can build a following. Of course, you should link to your page from your website and blog, but also consider more creative places to share your page. Email signatures, other social media channels, printed materials, videos and other Internet marketing tactics are all good places to promote your page.
If you aren’t taking advantage of LinkedIn, start integrating it into your social media marketing strategies with these tips. As you begin to see more engagement and create a community on the site, your LinkedIn page will become more valuable and beneficial to your business.
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