The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Online Marketing

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Small business owners have to deal with evolving challenges in our increasingly-digital world. Not only do they face sales competition from big box stores’ e-commerce websites, they may also have trouble standing out among widely-known companies in the online marketing landscape. While larger corporations have the budget to deploy massive multi-platform online marketing campaigns, small business owners must usually start smaller and manage online marketing themselves, all while balancing their day-to-day business duties.

Online marketing may seem like a daunting task for the small business owner, but trust us, there are strategies you can use to get your business noticed online without a legion of employees and a marketing degree! Here are five quick tips to build a strong online marketing presence.

1. Choose the right scope for your online marketing efforts.

Before you even open a Facebook account or design your blog, you need to think about what customers you’re trying to reach. If your intended customer base is younger, consider placing social media platforms at the forefront of your online marketing campaign. If you only service a certain geographical area, be sure to create listings on Google maps to drive in local traffic or use Craigslist to promote your goods. If you’re in an industry that values visuals, such as the wedding/event industry, focus on more visual marketing on Instagram, Pinterest, or even YouTube. Because you may not have as much time to invest in online marketing across multiple platforms, be sure to pick the ones that will reach the most relevant customers and thus benefit you most.

2. Take advantage of free online marketing outlets.

Most social media outlets offer free accounts for businesses, and even come with easy-to-use built-in analytics tools to help you track and adjust your online marketing campaigns. After selecting which free social accounts to set up, you should also consider online business listings on Manta, Angie’s List, and Bing Places for Business. Be consistent when setting up your profile by formatting your business name, tagline, and physical address in the same way, and always include a link to your website. Although free isn’t always the way to go with online marketing (a free website, for example, may not have the features, functionality, and aesthetic details your business needs), it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of these free, low maintenance listings.

3. Produce relevant, interesting content.

Content is king only if people want to read it. In order to write great online marketing content, first determine the voice that fits your business and use it across your platforms. Knowing your customer base will help, but in general, try using a personal tone while still positioning yourself as an authority. Your content should also be timely yet still relevant to your business. For example, around college move-in day, an auto repair shop could share tips for getting a car ready for the drive back to campus. If you’re having trouble coming up with content ideas, try these free online marketing content generators. Once you start writing great content, link back to your older content when it’s applicable–it’ll further establish your authority and help improve the effects of your online marketing.

4. Do keyword research and track your efforts.

We’re not saying that you need to be an expert on Penguin 2.0 or search engine optimization (though, if you want to be, we can help with that!) But you should be aware of the keywords that are driving people to your website (and your competitors’ websites!) so that you can adjust your online marketing content accordingly. Use digital analytics tools to track your progress, but don’t be afraid to ask your customers in-person how they heard about you–that way you’ll know what’s working and where you could improve your online marketing efforts.

5. Make an online marketing calendar and stick with it.

An old-fashioned pen-and-ink calendar will do, or try an online, collaborative version like Google Calendar or Trello. Establish a consistent blog posting schedule or your readers will stop checking your site and trusting your online marketing authority over your competitors; be sure to also reply to comments on your blog and make comments on other relevant industry blogs. The same goes for social media accounts: you should check them frequently to answer customer inquiries, promote your content, and interact with your audience. Setting aside an hour a day to maintain your accounts makes a world of difference in online marketing.

Even if you’re a one or two-person army, if you’re willing to exert a little effort, you can compete with full-fledged marketing teams and stake your claim in the online marketplace. For more on online marketing for small businesses, check Turn the Page’s training programs! Feel free to contact us at (816) 527-8371 or (844) 889-5001, or visit Turn the Page Online Marketing in Lee’s Summit.

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