For small business owners the internet has proven to be extremely beneficial.Â Unlike traditional forms of advertising and marketing the internet provides several advantages that help small businesses reach more potential customers.
While traditional advertising requires organizations to spend thousands of dollars on branding and promotional activities, online advertising and effective search engine optimization (SEO) yield better results can be achieved with a much smaller investemnt. Moreover, results achieved online offer more lasting benefits than conventional promotions.
More than 80% of people searching for goods and services start their search online. Therefore, if a small business can attract just a fraction of these potential customers to its website and convert then into buyers it will increase its revenues significantly.
Internet marketing, which includes SEO and SEM, requires formulating and implementing effective strategies to draw more targeted traffic that can eventually be converted into customers. Although every business must optimize their websites in the search engines, for an e-commerce website it is an ‘absolute must’. An e-commerce site is a website specifically built for the purpose of transacting business online.
Small business enterprises engaged in e-commerce face fierce competition today. To stay ahead of the competition they need to be visible to their audience and quickly draw their attention.
Ranking higher in the search engines is the first major task, followed by a successful branding/PR campaign. Internet marketing is a direct response medium. Branding is important, but improving your site popularity and getting more visitors to your landing pages is much more crucial in the beginning.
For a small business owner to achieve her highest and best return on investment, it is crucial to first formulate a strategy before starting an internet marketing campaign.
Only after a well thought out strategy and budget are in place should you then move forward with your SEO and SEM marketing plan. Never has it been more important to “measure twice, cut once”.
5 Steps to Online Marketing Success:
1. Know your Audience. This is the most important task since your entire internet marketing campaign is directed towards your niche audience. If you fail to know your audience you will target the wrong people and subsequently lose business. Keeping your ear to the ground and doing a little research will help you find the right strategy and make good decisions from the outset.
2. Set a Goal. Unless you have a well-defined goal, you won’t have any direction. As Tony Robbins writes, “it is no use climbing to the top of the ladder only to find out your ladder is leaning against the wrong house.”
Once you have your goals clear and know your desired outcome you can choose the optimal amount of resources and channel your efforts in the right direction. The budget for small business marketing can be estimated once the goal is set.
Goal Setting Questions to Answer before you begin:
* How many visitors do I need to get to my site to reach my financial goals? How many am I getting now?
* What is a good “Click Through Rate” for my industry?
* Are my website pages, products and services properly optimized on my site before I begin an off site campaign?
* What should I consider a successful return on investment?
* What percentage of my online marketing plan will be “organic,” or natural and what percentage will be paid search (i.e. Google Adwords PPC)? This is an extremely important question to consider as it will determine the specific internet marketing initiatives you will take. See number 3.
3. Select the right SEO techniques. There are several SEO techniques that will prove helpful for your internet marketing efforts. A mix of various techniques is necessary to have a balanced SEO campaign. Basic SEO will include a balanced combination of Niche Directory Submissions, Social Media Marketing, On Page optimization through effective Meta title and description tags, great SEO content, a working internal link structure and a site map to name just a few.
Other important techniques include link building campaigns and excellent Press Release and article marketing strategies.
Finally, and just as important, don’t forget to monitor your competition! Google your keyword search terms and see who ranks highest for your competition. Then, study everything about them.
-What are they doing differently than you?
-What’s working for them and where can you make changes to your strategy to achieve similar results?
-Use Alexa (www.alexa.com) and other traffic/competitive measurement tools to check up on your competition.
-How is their home page and product pages different than yours?
-What Keywords are they using that you are not?
-What Meta Tags are they using?
4. Measure the Results. Without measuring the results and properly analyzing how your website is performing you won’t know if your marketing efforts are bringing positive results.
However, keep in mind it can sometimes take 3 to 6 months to get tangible results from an organic online advertising and marketing campaign. Measuring the results periodically will help you identify if anything is wrong in your strategy or if you need to intensify your campaign.
Keep what works, change what doesn’t. Simple, I know, but you would be surprised how few companies and even SEO firms actually do this for their clients. I also strongly recommend incorporating a measurement tool such as Google Analytics to provide the tools necessary to measure your results.
5. Make proper adjustments. After measuring your results to determine what’s working and what’s not you will need to make adjustments. Again, internet marketing is a direct response medium and A/B testing is crucial for success.
Make changes to improve your results. This will be an ongoing process, not a one time deal. Google, Yahoo and even the smaller search engines continually change their search algorithms. So, what worked one month may not work as well the next. Simple testing and making minor adjustments when needed will keep you ahead of the curve.
Now, more than ever you need to have an effective Internet Marketing campaign in place. Traditional advertising continues to lose market share while online marketing continues to grow at a staggering pace.
If you’re not making excellent use of your online opportunities, I can assure you that your competition is. Stay on top of your game by following the ideas outlined in this article lead your company to new heights this year.