Making strategic business decisions about where to allocate limited funds is a day-to-day dilemma for small business owners. For most, the budget doesn’t allow for the services of an online marketing firm. However, you are also savvy enough to know marketing can’t be ignored. Most likely, competitors are taking advantage of one or more marketing channels. So, what can you do to improve results while staying conscious of your bottom line?
Here are 8 Essential Small Business Online Marketing Tactics to get your marketing moving in the right direction:
1. Explore Online Marketing Channels
Exploring marketing channels is a great way to expand the reach of your business.
First and foremost, though, identify what channels your target market is using, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or search engines. Most likely, they are using all three. Discovering where your competitors are focusing can also give you an indication of where to start. Perhaps they did the legwork for you. By understanding where to focus your efforts, you can get up to speed more quickly on best practices and begin implementing. When in doubt, search for best practice content online (e.g. “Online Marketing best practices”) to find well-documented how-to information.
2. Optimize your website for traffic and conversions
You can optimize your website through a variety of methods. Simple website optimization begins with the following:
Use targeted keywords within headlines, on-page copy and when hyperlinking phrases to deeper pages on the site.
Keep your content consistent. Make sure the information on the website is the same as the information in other communications material your company creates.
Make it easy for visitors to contact you by prominently displaying your phone number and address on the site. Also, include email options and a form on the Contact Us page.
3. Update your Web content regularly
Search engines prefer new content over old, so updating Web content, blog posts and/or news releases helps with search optimization. Don’t know what to write about? Here are some suggestions for press release topics:
What’s going on in your company? Talk about an upcoming product release or webinar, a new executive hire, a customer success story, or anything that displays your company’s professionalism.
Do a Q&A with a company executive about a current industry trend.
Summarize and respond to industry news articles.
Introduce people to your industry. For example: “What is cloud computing?” or “The benefits of Energy Star appliances.”
4. Make it easy for people to find your material
Link back to pages on your website in just about every e-mail, news release, blog, Facebook post, or other e-communication that comes out of your office. Different influencers prefer content via different methods, so offering distribution through a variety of sources helps increase your visibility.
5. Expand your audience via directed news feeds
Creating news releases is a good idea, but making sure they are visible to your target audience is even better. One way to increase the visibility of your press release is through a press release distribution service. Another way to expand your audience is through RSS feeds which allow your readers to instantly receive content whenever you update. Many people pipe their favorite RSS feeds into their iGoogle or My Yahoo account for fast easy access, allowing them to keep up on the topics that are important to them
6. Engage your subscribers
Keep in touch with the people who already read your news releases and blog posts. Ask them what they want to see more of on your website and tell them that you appreciate their interest in your company. Remember: these are the people who are most likely to spread the e-word about your company. The more you engage and interact with your readers, the more likely they are to do you a favor such as share your content with their network. Important to remember though, is to provide consistent and quality information before asking for favors from your audience.
7. Leverage Local Resources
As a source of inspiration for your press releases and other content, stay tuned into local news and events. Write about upcoming local seminars, presentations and networking meetings. Think about hosting your own event and inviting other local thought leaders to present or whenever you can; try to be a speaker or presenter at these local meetings. Both of these ideas lend themselves to great press releases and blog content. Local resources are also a great place to make connections and encourage people you meet to visit your website or blog.
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