While working with a variety of business industries and personalities, one of the common similarities I have noted among most, is that small businesses are not positioning themselves or making use of the web as effectively as they should. Many factors may play a role in this; time, resources, or simply not knowing where to begin beyond building a website.
Below are preliminary steps offered to small businesses, that serve as fundamental elements to effectively marketing your business on the web. Here are our 5 steps:
1. Define Your Brand.
Beyond having a business name, logo, website or identity package … ask yourself ‘What do I stand for?’ What’s got you doing what you’re doing, and what about it makes you unique? Who are your competitors? Why do your customers choose to work with you over your competitors? Don’t be too shy to ask your customers. These are the type of questions that really help to define your brand and develop a proposition that differentiates you from the others.
2. Don’t Sell To Your Audience…Teach
Know your audience and understand their need and the value you bring to that need. It’s been said that ‘while people love to buy stuff, they hate to feel sold’. Don’t sell … but teach. Effectively build your business online while keeping the customer needs central; focus on delivering valuable, creative content that addresses their needs.
Educational content works online; it attracts links, it brings traffic, it builds trust and it’s simply educating people about the benefits of doing business with you.
3. Creative Content & Social Media Strategy
Your ideal customers have questions and problems…you have answers and solutions. When a customer comes to you with a question … what do you tell them? Without providing the information that your target audience needs, your content becomes practically useless. Your creative content should reveal what people need to know to make use of your site and do business with you. It should be strategic and provide value to your online customers. Below are a few small steps to developing content and effectively engaging your target audience:
- Get inside the mind of your customers, do a research to find out what questions are commonly asked by them. Analyze your website data to see who your customers are, and what their behavior is like when visiting your website
- Creatively develop relative content with strong headlines that grab people’s attention and sets itself apart from the noise that’s out there. By intriguing your audience with killer headlines and content, they’re more inclined to get engaged with your business and to spread the word.
- Be influential through your social media channels, both with customers and with influential people in your industry. Today’s internet world is becoming more social; building friendships, developing an online reputation and building content that causes people to share through social media can make you influential. As the old social media proverb states what others say about your business is more important than what you say about yourself.
- Direct relevant traffic to your website through content you create. Through social media and other off-page channels, your content should direct relevant people to your website. Whether it’s building a fan base through social media, or building a subscriber list for your digital marketing campaigns, if you send a brilliant campaign to a bad list….it will fail. Getting relevant people to your website over time, and nurturing these prospects over time to potentially becoming a customer, is far more effective than fabricating a list of subscribers or followers which brings no value.
4. Design Matters
As humans we are wired to process the world visually. When we see an image we understand it instantly – before the language is even understood to describe it. What does your website instantly communicate to your customers? You’ve heard it being said that a first impression can be a very significant one, so if an online user visits your website…what first impression does your image provide them? Does it present the right impression? Is your design intuitive and your information easily accessible? Or does it look like it was built by an amateur, where users having difficulty navigating through your website and accessing the content they need? If the web can be a first impression, it’s important that it be the right one. If your first impression is bad, or unprofessional, it can say something about your business to an online shopper.
A well-designed website isn’t superficial, even the best story and the most compelling data can be jeopardized by sloppy or unprofessional design. Purposeful Design is the hook, the appeal, that initially draws users in.
5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Ranking well with Google matters…if not to you, then to your competitors. With over 2 billion people now using the internet to acquire any sort of information, the internet is now the 1st place people go to learn more about your business. It’s with a practical understanding, that having an SEO plan in place will help site visitors find you. Many factors play a role in search engine optimization, some of which have been mentioned in previous points. Google’s ranking formula is all about quality; here is a basic list of what is best practice when it comes to SEO:
- Optimize on-page website performance to include meta data and market relative content that creatively engages your target audience
- Create a content strategy both on-page (your website) and off-page (social media channels, direct mail and directories) that builds links and drives your audience to your website
- Optimize technical content that is compliant to Google standards, meaning your website code and HTML markup that Google spiders love … along with all other website performance factors that determine the value and quality of your website
- Install Google Web Data Analytics which monitors user behavior and captures data that allows your website to be measurable, calculable and consistently optimized for better performance
While there’s a bit to digest here, hopefully what I have provided serves as a good starting point for ways you could market your website effectively through the internet. All points of course, can be elaborated on, so if you have any additional questions, please feel free to get in touch with me.