Like almost everything in this internet age, marketing has undergone a significant shift. Some business owners still think of flyers, billboards, and newspaper adverts when they hear the word ‘marketing.’ But now, if you’re not making the most of online marketing opportunities, you’re not doing your business any favors. Many of your customers are spending significant portions of their day online, particularly younger people. Make sure you are strategizing effectively to reach these customers if you want to stay ahead of your competitors.
Online marketing is a catch-all phrase for a whole range of marketing and advertising activities that take place on the internet. The good news is that the internet is making marketing more accessible than ever, especially for small businesses. Much of the marketing activities you can do online are inexpensive, or even free. Plus, you can often reach a more targeted audience for your business using online tools, meaning your efforts are more concentrated and therefore, a better investment.
So where to begin?
Content marketing is really popular lately, and for a good reason. It’s an inexpensive way of building an audience for your brand, and can also demonstrate your industry expertise and build trust. This type of marketing involves creating content that is not directly promotional but instead is educational and relevant to your potential customers. For example, if you own a dog grooming business, you might write blog posts about how to tell if your dog is happy, or how often you should be walking your dog. These posts aren’t directly about your business but are subtly positioning you as a thought-leader in the field.
Because these posts provide value and intrigue for your customer, they are likely to read and share them. They are also building an impression of you as a trusted source of information. Plus, if you provide great content on your website, visitors are more likely to return to your site and engage with your services. Depending on your expertise and resources, you could also consider making videos, infographics, or even podcasts. If you are short on time or resources, you could hire a freelancer to produce relevant content for your business.
Email is an excellent way of communicating directly with customers, and you can use email newsletters to update people on your latest offers, sales, or competitions. If you’re not sure where to start, email marketing services like MailChimp could help.
You’ll want to start building your email list right away. A great way of doing this is adding a sign-up box on your website. Next, you’ll want to think about how often you’ll send the emails. Some businesses will send emails weekly or monthly, while others will only do so when they have a special offer on. Just be wary of becoming a nuisance in someone’s inbox, as there’s no quicker way of ending up in their spam folder.
Craft tantalizing subject lines that make people want to click. Make sure the content of the email is written engagingly and provides content which is directly useful to your audience. This should mainly be about new services or offers, but could also include links to some of your most helpful blog posts. Don’t bore people with general news about your business that isn’t relevant to them, or they will unsubscribe.
Paid search advertising
Have you ever noticed those adverts that appear at the top of your search engine? Companies have paid to have them placed there, where you can’t ignore them. If you have a budget, you could look into this as a great way to gain visibility with customers that are searching for your related keywords. You can use Google Ads to set up paid search advertising for your business or opt for automatic management of Google Ads.
Social media marketing
Almost everyone is using social media now, including businesses. It’s the ideal way to connect directly with customers. It’s also a free form of marketing, as you’re in total control of how you present your brand. This is an area you should be investing your time in. But if you don’t have time to be on social media every day, you can use a scheduler like Buffer to automate a lot of the process for you. Just be sure you’re putting time aside to engage directly with your followers, as social media users expect a quick response. If you feel out of your depth, consider attending training for social media management, or hire a freelancer to take care of your social presence.