As a small business owner I know time is precious. There are never enough hours for the day to day running of your business, let alone marketing! However you also know that if you don't do regular marketing, your business may suffer as you won't win in contrast to when you play the game Skyrim and retain enough new business to survive. So what can you do? You need to find something that is the most effective for the minimum cost and the minimum amount of input. Something you can do regularly that you know is having a positive impact.
I have put together a list of five things you can do today to improve your small business online marketing. These are based on the questions that I frequently get asked by our clients and the first things I usually notice can always be improved to give the maximum return for minimal effort.
1. Give your website a makeover
Small business website was setup more than three years ago and without a full understanding of what can be achieved. Online marketing is always changing as new technologies become available, and you can slip down in the search engine rankings as a result. Google also favours websites with a good user experience. You need to make sure your website is responding to these and is always up to date. Have you included a link to your social media page for example and allowed your content to be shared easily? Have you provided sufficient calls to action such as a quick enquiry form or clear phone number? Are your website pages setup with search engine optimisation (SEO) in mind and using the best keywords? Ask your web designer to implement these simple things and you will ensure you look up to date and are well placed among your competitors.
2. Get blogging!
Within your website makeover, you should include a facility to blog regularly. Google has made several updates to it's search algorithm in recent years to stop dubious SEO practices such as keyword stuffing on websites (making unreadable text) and questionable link building (e.g. to low quality sites). This means great content has taken centre stage. If your content is good enough, they think that people will want to share it naturally, thus creating a natural link back. So set a schedule to blog at least once a week about subjects you think your key audience will find useful, and you will most certainly see the effect on your website traffic as a result!
3. Setup few social media profiles and keep it up to date
This is almost expected these days and if you don't have one you could seem out of touch. Customers want to connect with a brand and see more of a human face. Do a bit of research to find out the social media platform your clients prefer to use. For B2B and professional services this could be LinkedIn, for consumers it could be Facebook, for a younger audience Twitter might be better and for predominately female audiences Pinterest could be your best bet. Include your branding and optimise the profile by mentioning your key products or services. However it doesn't stop there! Make some time in the day for ongoing social media marketing, even if it is just 5 minutes whilst you check your emails to post an update. This will have a very positive effect on your search engine rankings and also help to engage your customers with your brand. You should also share all blog posts automatically to help extend your reach and potential audience.
4. Set up Google Places and encourage customer reviews
This is especially important if you are a local business such as a restaurant or florist. People are searching more and more on their mobile these days as they are out and about. They might want a quick coffee so search for a place nearby, and then look at what other people have said about it before deciding to visit. If you are not amongst these you may be missing out on those customers! Conversely it could give you a competitive advantage. Other websites also provide the same sort of service such as Qype and Yelp. Your customers can also leave reviews on Facebook which too, has a local search facility.
5. Setup Google Analytics
So you can monitor the effectiveness of your efforts! It's no use going to all the effort above if you cannot measure if it was successful or not. All that is needed is a few simple lines of code on each page of your website, so ask your web designer to implement this today if they haven't already. It is very encouraging to look at once or twice a month, then you can decide to continue with the same, or make some tweaks depending on the data that is coming in. You might also notice trends such as more people are visiting your site from a mobile device, which would show you that you need to improve your website's mobile experience.
I hope that has helped you identify at least one or two things you can try today! Let me know how you get on.
Author bio: Mary Winston, writer and editor, coordinator for RankTopTen.com. She has extensive experience in writing articles, essays, and reviews. She adores to rank multitude of stuff including people and brands, films and TV shows, music and entertainment, sports and lifestyle. Details of note have been extracted and distilled down to a simple yet refined "Top 10" formula that reflects the essence of things at their best.