Online Marketing for Small Business


Online Marketing is a hefty task for any one person to take on. However if you are part of a small company more than likely you only have one person dedicated to marketing and that one person may not even handle online marketing. So how do you develop the resources to build up your online marketing? With Patience and lots of Learning! 

I believe online marketing is divided  into 3 sections.

Each section takes a lot of time to master and really nail down all the details. However it doesn’t take a whole lot of work to make them start working in your favor! There are tons of blogs and resources available to you to find out everything you could possibly want to know about each one of these areas of online marketing. Start small and pick an area that you think would be most beneficial to your small business. Begin learning about the marketing concepts and different strategies for that style of online marketing, and begin to apply them to your small business. Try and take an hour a day to apply these new strategies and concepts. 

I’m going to break down these different online marketing styles and give you more information on each so you can decide which would be most beneficial to your business!

Email Marketing-

I have a post titled Email Marketing for Beginners that contains a lot of this info in it. However I will give you some more to think about here and how you could apply it to your small business. 

Email Marketing is the online version of direct mail marketing. We’ve all received catalogs and coupons in the mail and if something happens to reach out and smack us then we’ll call and order it. Email marketing is very similar except that with email we see about 1000x more marketing messages a year! I believe for a small business Email Marketing needs to be the foundation for your online marketing campaigns. Because you are marketing directly to your customers! Hopefully you have been collecting contact information from your customers! Whether that is their physical address, telephone number, etc. You always need to collect contact information. If you do not have any email addresses collected then there are some alternate routes to about getting email names. However I don’t condone most of them. You can either rent or buy lists, however this can be costly and extremely ineffective! This act will usually get your email spammed and possibly blacklisted

Effective Methods to Collect Email Addresses

  • Place a simple form on your website that collects contact information
  • Send a pre paid postage survey out to existing customers requesting they fill in the information
  • Have an Email Sign Up sheet for anyone that comes into your store
  • Always ask for contact information on any leads that call in and ask for information

No matter what, always get some sort of contact information if someone contacts you about your business! Because that person has stood up and raised their hand and said “I like your product! I want to know more!” That is all you can hope for when it comes to online marketing!

Email marketing should be the foundation to any online marketing for a small business. Its the most direct way to communicate with your customers. They already feel a connection with you and you want to keep that connection going. You want to make that connection last a lifetime!

Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is an online marketing strategy  that is so vast and complex that large businesses have teams dedicated to it! There is no brief explanation of SEM. However I will attempt one. SEM is a strategy that involves using online search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc) to market your brand, products, and services! SEM combines strategies involving Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC), Contextual Advertising, and Paid Inclusion!

I believe the best resource online for Search Engine Marketing is Top Rank’s Online Marketing Blog. This is chock full of great information and all the latest greatest things going on in SEM!

For a small business I believe SEM is on the second level of importance in online marketing. It’s essentially a way to drive more prospects to you, which is important but I still believe it is secondary in importance to Email Marketing. Personally I believe that for a small business you need to handle your true hardcore customers first, before you go out seeking thousands of new ones. If you can’t market correctly to your core customers then how are you going to retain new prospects and convince them that they need your product or service?

Search Engine Optimization

However there are some key strategies that need to be in place with SEM for future expansion of your small business. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is always a buzzword going around online. Every company that offers SEO or SEM services will tell you the same thing ‘We can get you to the top of Google, Yahoo, and MSN search rankings’. Now this could be true in some cases however its not always the case. SEO is a constant battle. You always have to be looking over you shoulder at your competition and making sure that you are one step ahead of them. Now how do you do this if you’re just starting out? Well it’s not going to be easy. SEO is an ever changing technology. Here are a few things you can do to prepare yourself so you are not fighting a completely uphill battle:

  • Compile a list of keywords for your company. What do you specialize in? A good tool for helping on this search Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool
  • Search for your competition and see what keywords they use
  • Insert Title Tags into each web page created
  • Begin researching on SEO and Check out Google’s SEO Beginners Guide

Pay Per Click Advertising

Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC) is another strategy used for  online marketing. PPC are ads that appear on the right hand side of Google and Yahoo Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). PPC ads are also the ads you see on this site in the rounded blue boxes! This form of advertising can be very ineffective and also very costly if not done correctly!  PPC is a great way to drive traffic to your website. However as I said above if you are not using Email Marketing correctly you should not be driving loads of extra traffic to your site. 

If you would like a detailed guide on where to start with Pay Per Click check out these two articles

Pay Per Click marketing is a great way to drive traffic to your site. However it is a time consuming task to get the right target audience to the correct landing pages with the perfect copy to make that sale! With time and constant testing PPC can be very rewarding and an efficient way to drive new prospects to your products or services! Make sure you watch your daily budget for this advertising cost though! If you are not paying attention it can get out of hand very quickly! If you really want to make PPC work for your company you need to devote at least an hour a day to it! Because if you’re paying for that traffic you want it to be the most targeted prospects possible!

 

Social Media Marketing

Social Media marketing, another buzzword that gets throw around a lot in the online marketing community. Social media is essentially any websites that have a social quality to them (ie. internet watercoolers!) The largest sites being

  • Facebook
  •  Myspace
  •  Twitter
  • Digg
  • Stumble Upon

 Social Media Marketing (SMM) is still very new to online marketing, no one has quite figured it out yet. Facebook has been offering PPC advertising and they finally seem to be figuring it out. Zac Johnson has a good article about the updates on Facebook advertising here! Myspace often uses Google’s ad sense program to display ads on their site. However SMM isn’t all about advertising. Its an ever growing way to reach out to new customers and find fans of your products, or fans of products similar to yours. If you can find your target audience in the Social Media world then you should be able to draw them into your site and convince them to check out your products! With over 150 million people on Facebook now. There are countless ways to find your target market. Remember SMM is another great tool for driving traffic to your site, but you still need to have great marketing techniques in place to convert Social Media traffic effectively!

 

Online marketing is a big world but you don’t have to be scared of it. Just eat the elephant one bite at a time! Take time to learn about each strategy and option. Then begin to implement the ones that seem most effective. Like I’ve stated previously, start with Email Marketing because it is the most direct! Follow up by adding more prospects to your Email list by using Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing! Try not to feel overwhelmed and enjoy it! The more you enjoy figuring out online marketing the better you will become at it!

 

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