Some Effective Online Marketing Tips For Small Business Owners

There are a number of small business online marketing tips that can be used by someone when trying to grow their company. A user friendly website is of vital importance, ensuring your business has maximum exposure through SEO (search engine optimization) and advertising your business through the correct channels. Firstly, let’s start with the website.

The world wide web has resulted in smaller companies being able to contend with the larger ones. Online, smaller independent businesses still exist where they may have died on the high street. A carefully devised online plan is imperative to your business prospects in the future. Therefore your website is vital.

Many smaller companies are still reluctant to invest in a website. A company without a website looks unprofessional when searched for, through an online resource, and the business has not built a website containing further information. Somebody searching online will want to view the data online. Your business website can be considered the same as your shop front. Look around for a web designer with a good body of work. A badly designed site can damage your business’ reputation. These days, it costs a fraction of the amount of what it used to get a nice site built. And if your site increases sales, then it actually pays for itself.

There are other small business online marketing tips. It’s vital to pick a designer who fully understands SEO. If not, the success of your online strategy can be impeded. The content of the website is important to push your company forward online. Certain words and phrases need to be used.

You may have a business where your products can be sold online. The internet can help a small, local business compete at the national level. Think about how your site looks again.

Now you need to think about online marketing. Many directories will allow you to list for free. Social media should be utilized to promote your business. As with any business, word of mouth can be vital for success and social media can be used in this way. E-mail marketing campaigns have evolved and can still be a useful method to attract new customers.

So there are many issues to consider. A company needs a web presence in 2010 and should be budgeted for. A relatively small investment can lead to big gains that are easily measurable. So if you want to grow your business, take some time to think about the above small business online marketing tips.

Four Tips to Increase Small Business Visibility (on a Budget)

Small and Medium sized businesses are increasing globally. In Trinidad, they number in the range of 18,000 to 25,000 firms, contributing to 30% of our nation’s GDP. Despite this, US statistics state that over 50% of small businesses fail within the first year (1).

As a result, one of the major business growth challenges for SMEs is how to create greater visibility with limited funding. Here are my top four tips as a small business owner:

1. Become a digital and social networker – You cannot exist in the 21st century without some digital presence.

Even if you offer a service such as planning events or catering; building an online brand is critical in order to grow your business and reach more customers despite growing competition. For most firms this will mean creating a company website, utilizing the main social media platforms and in some instances incorporating the use of eCommerce.

What’s great here is that there are online platforms that can create FREE websites, blogs and social media pages.

As your business grows, you can pay monthly for advertising and your website will benefit from additional features and analytics. It is also important to create regular content for your social pages and website. This helps to create greater visibility by boosting your SEO. Regular content can actually help small businesses build real relationships with customers through live discussions. These are popular on social sites such as Twitter and Instagram. Once you become an avid social media user you can use your platforms to target your customers more specifically.

Facebook for instance, allows you to be as precise with your chosen demographic as possible – territory, men vs women, age groupings etc. Not sure where to find the best free website, check out http://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/. This website critiques the most popular website builders based on price, customer reviews and other key features.

2. Move your business around – In 2016 you cannot expect to have success with only a brick and mortar facility. Gone are the days when we wait for customers to come to us… we need to go to them. There are a number of ways to reach customers now without breaking the budget. In Trinidad, many entrepreneurial firms partake in year ’round markets, events and trade shows. Markets can set you back ( not really! ) anywhere between $300 to $500 TTD to participate. Here I am at THE EASTERN MARKET with a winning customer.

You can also gain more visibility with a pop up store. A pop up store is a temporary retail shop ( sometimes mobile) that is ” here today and gone tomorrow”. Similar to a market, this involves reaching out to your customers at strategic places, usually in malls, car parks, savannahs etc. Be sure to get the necessary approvals before you set up and be sure to Google ” pop up store” for more tips and ideas.

3. Guerilla marketing – Guerilla Marketing by definition is low cost and hence best suited for small businesses. It is an advertising or marketing strategy that involves highly creative, innovative and unconventional tactics that are powerful in capturing the audience’s attention. Check out this guerrilla marketing campaign in 2011 for KING KONG.

4. Develop a customer referral program… and reward customers- Acquiring referrals are one of the basic selling techniques used for both small and large businesses. It is quite common among insurance agents (though sometimes a nuisance:( ) and any one employed as a business development officer. The best part is that it cost nothing and can translate to more loyal customers than traditional advertising, once you are willing to do the ground work. You can employ direct referrals by offering existing customers discounts whenever they bring in new customers to your business. You can take this a step further by launching an online campaign that fulfills the same goal but would be able to reach more potential customers.

Similarly, community referrals are a good way to build your brand through the use of good ‘ole fashion Public Relations. There are many non profit organizations that need support and help. Find a cause that is meaningful to you, typically in your community and partner with them. Periodically, run promotions where the proceeds or part of the proceeds go towards the benefit of your community partner. This will go a long way in building your brand. Your partner benefits from whatever sales occur and they are certainly motivated to talk about and refer your organization to their constituents.

Marketing today is much easy and accessible to small businesses than it was 15 years ago. Moreover, I am impressed daily by the entrepreneurs I discover right here in Trinidad and Tobago. The key to business success is having a passion for what you do, keep working hard at it no matter the outcome and throw in a dash of research and creativity along the way!

Notes:

(1) http://www.businessknowhow.com/startup/business-failure.htm

SEO Tips for Small Businesses Online

Even when running a relatively small business, small business owners still have a lot of things in their heads. From handling day to day tasks, keeping ahead of the monthly dues, to finding alternatives and new opportunities for growth, the job of a small business owner can still be overwhelming.

With the shift of marketing strategies nowadays, on top of the regular manual concerns, small business owners have to be considered about SEO as well. Why? Because e-commerce demands a strong online presence if you want a business to stay afloat among the competition – and SEO is one of the most effective way to be found by customers.

Anyone who is familiar with the internet and Google has probably bumped into SEO somewhere before. But then again, only a few people know what exactly it is about as well as the best ways to integrate SEO into a business’ marketing plan.

Good thing there are already is a lot of SEO tips that you can use to take advantage of the services that search engine optimization can provide. On top of that, you can let search engine optimization work for you without shelling out a lot of time or money.

Every business needs some pointers, and here are some SEO tips for small businesses that are simple to do and are very affordable.

Double check your website

Before you let your website go live (submit it to the judgments of search engines), make sure that it is free from errors and/or violations. Make sure to clean up dead links and to check the html codes and so on to make sure that the search engine spiders can crawl freely through your website and index it properly.

One way of making sure that your website runs smoothly is to ask your friends and colleagues to check out your site and give you actual feedback of what they think. Visitors should not have a hard time navigating and using your website and it should be free from any visual distractions.

Have great content

Having a great web content means including relevant keywords seamlessly inserted within the body and at the same time are properly inserted in several entries in your site. In simpler terms, this means that you need to fill your site with rich and relevant content regularly and make sure that you always provide fresh entries to keep your readers hooked.

Have a strong link-building structure

Getting high quality links does not happen overnight, so try to be patient. However, with some online networking, consistent linking to good sites, blog comments, forum memberships and so on, bigger sites will notice you and your website and will eventually start linking to your own site.

Small Business Blog Writing Tips

You launch a new small business blog, and then writer’s block kicks in. What to do? Here are some tips to help you with ideas for new posts to your blog. Your blog writing style does not have to be textbook perfect, so informal writing is suitable as long as you check grammar and spelling. It’s okay to entertain as you provide information, too. Visitors will not expect literary works suitable for a Nobel prize when you create blog posts, so relax.

Write short paragraphs and cover one aspect of what you present in each. Visitors want information quickly; so long paragraphs should be avoided. Short posts of 1-2 paragraphs are fine, too. Most website content is quickly scanned, so headlines and the first few words of each paragraph may be all that most visitors view before deciding to read details, or exit.

Include key words relative to your subject, and place some near the beginning of sentences for each paragraph, so your visitors get the general feel as they scan your post. Search engines will visit and index your blog content, too, so key words are important for attracting the search engine crawlers.

Google Alerts and blog labels are two techniques to help you generate new blog post ideas. Each will be presented in the report Blog Your Way to Fresh Content from my series of free PDF SEO Reports about do-it-yourself small business website promotion that I began to release during 2007. Some of my clients could not wait, so this article is a preview of how to use these two techniques to come up with post ideas for your blog:

1. Google Alerts is a free service that delivers links to content by email. Once set up, you automatically receive a collection of current news stories or related content by email with summaries and links to the information.

2. Your blog labels are the filing system for your blog that cross references your posts by subject category, so visitors may click a label and view all posts about that subject on one page. Use them to brainstorm ideas for posts.

Google Alerts

Search for Google Alerts to find the main page, and then sign up for a Google account if you don’t have one. You don’t need an account to use alerts, but managing your choices is more convenient from one page, and creating, editing, or deleting alerts will be easier.

To begin you create individual alerts for search words or phrases relative to your business, and then your options are type and how often. Type means the source, and the selections are from news, the web, blogs, groups, and comprehensive (all). The how often is the frequency of emails you receive from Google and include once a day, as it happens, and once a week.

Once you create the alert, emails arrive automatically with lists of sources for content related to your selected subject, and a summary of each. Follow the links of interest, and perhaps you will decide to write about the same subject with a different slant. Never copy another author’s content verbatim or claim it as your original writing. That would be plagiarism. However, quoting other sources is acceptable, and snippets or excerpts are often all you need.

Write an introduction about the piece you will quote, and then give credit to the author including a hyperlink to the source. Next, make sure you are in HTML mode and begin the excerpt with blockquote and italics tags, insert their content using copy and paste, and finally add the closing blockquote and italics tags. View your help files if the [blockquote] or [i] and then [/blockquote] and [/i] are unfamiliar (Note: The [ and ] square brackets must be replaced with , so don’t take my example literally). This formatting will indent their snippet in your post and display the text in italics to make everything stand out as content quoted from another source.

Finally, write a closing paragraph with your take or opinion on the subject matter, and you’re done. Again, your posts do not have to be lengthy, so the opening introduction and closing comments or opinion can each be one paragraph. Busy visitors are more likely to read your content and bookmark your site for return visits if your style is interesting and brief.

Blog Labels

The labels you assign to your posts allow cross referencing of information, and they are another source for brainstorming new post ideas. After all, your labels provide a snapshot of the overall theme of your blog. A review of your list of labels may uncover subjects that are overdue for a new post while alerts make you aware of topical subjects. Reviewing the labels that define your blog allows you to enhance emphasis by writing about what your small business is really all about.

Bonus Tip: Visit technorati.com and near the upper right is a “tag cloud” which displays key words and phrases that represent what the majority of people worldwide have written recently. The most popular tags are displayed in very large text, with others decreasing in size based on total posts tagged with that word or phrase. If you find words that relate to your business, click the tag to see what others are writing, or just start your post and run with it.

Compare physical exercise to writing posts for your small business blog, and each requires discipline. Both are easy to avoid without feeling guilty, yet the benefits are certainly important to your health, personal and business. A large percentage near 25% of all new blogs go offline in less than 90 days. One reason is the lack of fresh content. Use these tips for keeping your posts short and to the point, utilize Google Alerts, and do a review of your blog labels to easily come up with new ideas for posting to your blog.