Paul Liascos, UK managing director at ReachLocal offers tips on some of the “must dos” of marketing your small or medium-sized business online
Spending money on marketing your business is necessary, whatever your size, whether through a post card in a newsagent’s window or a multifaceted and integrated online/offline campaign. In today’s world it is possible for a small or medium-sized business to be front and centre when a consumer searches online for a product or service, bringing them a step closer to becoming a customer.
So, with that in mind, here are ReachLocal’s seven tips to help any small or medium-sized make a success of online marketing from the word “go”:
Have a well-designed, smart website – A website is your online shop window. Getting it right can result in a huge uplift in leads and revenue, especially when over 60% of the time customers cannot find the information they are looking for on a website and leave without taking further action. It has to be well designed; explain what you do quickly and clearly; have visible contact information throughout and be mobile friendly. Given that an increasing number of consumers now access the web on mobile devices such as smartphones (68%) and tablets (40%), you must be able to connect with them on the move, through a website that looks great whatever the type or screen size of their device.
Capture sufficient customer data on every channel – One of the biggest leaks in the sales funnel is caused by a failure to capture customer data. If you don’t know who your prospects are, you can’t understand how they found you and you can’t follow-up to convert them into sales. Wherever possible, capture contact details such as the prospect’s email address or phone number. This lets you pro-actively follow-up on the interest they have shown. If this is too daunting of a task, automated marketing systems can be a way to relieve the pressure by taking care of tasks such as building custom, branded lead-nurturing emails; automatically sending these to prospects to keep your business top-of-mind until they are ready to buy; and keeping the sales team on top of active leads.
Local listings – Claim and optimise your Google My Business listing, as this will increase the chance of prospects finding you when they search in their area. Also check other local listings sites, which may have already published information on your business that could be incorrect or out of date.
Advertise on search engines – Advertise on ALL the major search engines. In the UK, many searches are on Google, but not all, and Microsoft’s Bing is growing in popularity. You must take time to understand the keywords and search terms by which customers will find you and your competitors. Invest in those with most relevance to your business.
Social media – Check your social media pages daily, leads can come through this route and you have to be able to react fast. According to Social Habit 42% of consumers that contact a business via social media expect a response within the hour.
Content – Post fresh and authentic content to your website or social media pages weekly. It doesn’t have to be directly about your business, it could be a related news story, community event or perhaps even a quiz or contest. Integrate your social media into your website and then updating this, updates the website as well!
Customer reviews – The most compelling sales messages are those from happy customers. Make sure you capture positive reviews and referrals from customers and then publicise them. There are lots of great tools that make it easy to get genuine customer reviews to appear as part of your website.
These are just a few of the things essential to marketing a small or medium-sized business – but underpinning all of these tips has to be measurement, if you are going to understand which elements of your marketing mix are delivering the best results and most leads. Measurement is often perceived as expensive or time-consuming, but this is the wrong way to look at it and there are tools and software to help you do this. Take these tips and run with them, but consider how you will measure success: if half your budget isn’t working, you need to know which half.