Monday, 23 March 2015

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Marketing your business online is now more accessible than ever before. With an abundance of diverse platforms, from Facebook to Google to Yelp and beyond, your business can establish an online presence in a matter of minutes. And with many of them free or nearly free, you can accomplish great strides without spending much more than time.
So where do you start?

Build Brand Awareness

For any entrepreneur, often the hardest part in the early stages of your marketing is getting people to know that your business exists! So rather than diving into the “sell, sell, sell” mentality, it’s beneficial to build your brand awareness.
And there’s an easy way to do that! The Internet is packed full of online directories, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, that provide information about local businesses to users. For many of these directories, you can set up a free listing with your basic information. Take a few minutes to set up these free accounts – now your business can start showing up where customers are looking!
Take it to the next level: Add as much relevant business information as you can to your account. Fine tune a quality description, and keep it consistent across sites. Link these listings to your website, social media profiles, and email. Regularly monitor any activity, watch for reviews, and respond when a customer contacts you.

Be a part of the community

Social media is a powerful resource for entrepreneurs – so get connected! Set up business profiles on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and other relevant sites. If your business has powerful visual content, join Instagram and Pinterest. If you primarily focus on B2B, join LinkedIn.
But unlike online directories, simply having a profile isn’t enough. You have to actively participate.
Social media sites provide a unique opportunity to develop relationships with your customers. You can talk directly to them, and you can learn from them. All you have to do is tune in to see what your customers are thinking and talking about.
Find trending topics on Twitter, specifically those related to your business, and join the conversation! Share your thoughts on industry trends, respond to questions, and show your expertise. You may even discover a new business opportunity in the process.
Take it to the next level: If you have a little marketing budget to spare, try putting some money behind a sponsored Facebook post or tweet. You’d be surprised by the results. We ran a simple Facebook ad for one of our clients with a budget of $37. This sponsored post made 9,393 impressions and generated 60 clicks on to the website – that’s only $0.62 per click, a lot of bang for your buck!

Become an Information Hub

Your customers are online, and they are looking for information. So what can you do? Give them the information they’re looking for.
Whether it’s an extra landing page or a monthly blog, turning your site into a resource for relevant information is an effective, inexpensive way to drive traffic to your website. Posting fresh and engaging content often gives your site a leg up over the competition – and as a bonus, boosts your SEO!
Quality content establishes authority for both yourself and your business by demonstrating your expertise in your industry and providing useful, accurate information to your audience.
Take it to the next level: Add and maintain a regular blog. Many web platforms, like WordPress and Squarespace, have blogging capabilities built right in. It’s quick and easy to set up a business blog – the hard part is creating the content.

Make your website work for you

If you do nothing else, invest in a quality website. Whether you invest your time, design skills, and resources into creating one yourself or have an outside company build one for you, a good website is a critical component to marketing your business online.
Gone are the days when you could slap together a single page website with your contact information and expect results. Just having a website isn’t good enough – you need to transform it into a working website.
Have quality information readily available. Add a contact page, and make sure your phone number and email is visible on every page. Call-to-actions help turn web viewers into prospects. Make sure your website clearly shows your competitive advantage, features and benefits for your customers.
Take it to the next level: Once you have your website set up, start testing to see what’s working and what isn’t. Does moving a button from the bottom to the top of the page affect the number of clicks? Does a slight layout variation affect time spent on the page? Set up a few experiments for free in Google Analytics, and improve your website performance!

Time, time, time…

The hardest part about all of these marketing techniques is finding the time to do it all. It’s great to have social media accounts, but it won’t help your business if you never check them. Adding a blog page to your website is a good start, but it won’t drive traffic if you never write a post.
Rather than spending a little time on every marketing tool, instead focus your efforts on one or two that will work best for you. If you’re business focus is Business to Business, start with a LinkedIn profile and articles on your website. If you’re focused instead on the community, put effort into social media to build your brand. You know your business best, so trust your instinct and pick something you will enjoy and maintain.
Don’t be afraid to try something different – there is no “one-size fits all” marketing approach. It takes time and effort to determine the best approach for your business. So jump in, and try a few of these low-cost methods to start marketing your business today!


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