For many small businesses digital marketing is often intimidating and overwhelming, whether it be creating and maintaining a website or establishing a social media presence. Despite the perceived difficulty surrounding digital marketing ideas, I hope the following ideas create comfort around the topic. The need for digital marketing is great and the potential impact on your business even greater. According to a survey published by CNBC/SurveyMonkey 45% of small business owners don’t have a website, and only 36% use their website to actively communicate with their potential and/or existing customers. Most marketing of small businesses now take place almost exclusively online: consumers will visit a business’s website first, far before they would consider doing business with your company. At the minimum, to achieve success online, your business needs a solid website that includes concise information about your company and an easy-to-find way to contact your business as well. Having a solid web presence is essential, as well as a great tool because it is extremely cost effective compared to print or television mediums.
1) Your Website
Creating a business website needs to start with your most basic information: your name, phone number, and your email and physical address. You will not believe how often this information is forgotten, and a customer will never spend the time to find it. They will simply move on to a different website. Every business website should have an “about us” section that is easy to comprehend and specifies what your business is/does and how your business is different than the competition. Think like a customer and point them in the right direction.
2) Use Emails
Your website should have an easily located form to obtain a potential customer’s email address. Sending periodic emails are inexpensive ways to keep your business in the forefront of people’s minds. Additionally, you can use email as a marketing platform to inform customers about special offers or incentives. Sending a flyer in the mail not only costs postage but has an equal chance as an email of being discarded.
3) Pay Per Click
Spend a little time and money to get comfortable with the online marketing game, and it will reward you tremendously. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to be successful with digital marketing. Google Adwords allows you control of your budget, making it easy for business owners to get familiar with digital advertising. If you are not familiar with Google Adwords please see this link for an introduction.
4) Business Listing
Google My Business is a free listing which displays when customers search for your business or a specific type of business geographically close to them. It provides the customer with pertinent information about your business and you can also use it to do such things as responding to reviews left on Google and adding photos of your business or products you offer. Google my business allows you to showcase your business, communicate with customers, and build a great online reputation with reviews all for free.
5) Online Reviews
In this digital age your business’s online reputation, both in appearance and content, will either be your strongest asset or your biggest liability. A study by BrightLocal found that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend or family member. In order to ensure your business is trusted, stay on top of your online reviews. We recommended that you respond to reviews and posts quickly to address concerns or provide thanks for a positive review. If the customer has something negative to say, acknowledge their concern, apologize if appropriate and direct the customer to continue the conversation with you directly. By responding to negative reviews in a polite way and directing them to reach out to you directly, other potential customers will see that you take your business seriously and that issues are addressed in a private manner as opposed to a running conversation online.
6) Social Media
It’s no secret that social media is here to stay, and the role of social media to promote and sustain a business is exponential. Make your business’s profile worth following on social media sites. Some simple ideas can be to run contests, create your own hashtag, and have interactive sessions with your followers; the idea is to make your social media presence fun and interactive. Avoid posting simply to post something, and make sure everything posted is relevant to your business.
Ultimately by following these six, inexpensive digital marketing ideas you will help engage customers in a more meaningful way, build and sustain relationships, and keep your business growing. Not all businesses need to spend large amounts of money on expensive billboards or hiring an outside firm to create and mail expensive materials with a low return on investment. Many successful businesses find that spending time, rather than money, through the use of free or inexpensive tools on the internet produces a larger financial return and more passionate and engaged customers.