Every Business Needs an Online Business Strategy
Although it is important to have a website that represents your business and yourself to the people who visit it, that should not be the end-all in your online business strategies.
Marketing your business online encompasses much more than that should you really want to go full throttle. There are a myriad of methods to market and platforms on which you can get your name out and generate the kinds of people who would be interested in your products and or services.
It’s no secret that the Internet is the first place people go when they’re looking to buy a product or service over 75% of the time. If you’re not strategically marketing in places where people are going to find your product or service you’re going to lose business. There are the obvious places that you need to have a reasonable presence such as Facebook and Twitter but there are many more and just having a Facebook page or Twitter account is really not effective at all unless you use them properly.
Just like if you owned a tractor, you would not be able to grow crops unless you knew how to operate that tractor properly and the same goes for how you market online. Do it correctly and you will end up with a bumper crop; not use the tools properly and your field will be barren and full of useless weeds.
Hopefully some of what we share here will give you some ideas as to how to use those tools at your disposal properly so that your better bottom line gets just a little bit fatter and you end up with a business just bursting at the seams with all the new clients walking through the doors.
Your Business Website
Sure you have a business website, everyone does! Well, not everyone but everyone should have one as an online presence begins with real estate that you own, control and manage. If you do not have one find a professional that can build one for you so that you have at the very least an online presence as without one you are going to just lose out on too much business, both current and new.
The website should have a few very necessary features as well. First it should be professionally built. It would be nice if your neighbor’s son can put one up for you, and he may well be able to do it like a boss, but you want to make sure it has features and professionalism that push it past the entry level.
Your website should be easy to navigate; the visitor that lands on your site should have no issue finding what he is looking for and should not have to go through a bunch of pages on your site to find what he is looking for either. At the very least, make sure there is an easily visible search bar in there so that he can find what he is looking for. You also want a menu bar so that people can search by category easy enough as that will help them find what they are looking for was well as some other products or services you may offer that are similar that they may also find interesting.
Make the site easy on the eyes as well. A site with dancing clowns dressed in yellow and purple popping up here and there just might chase away your prospective client or even a current one. Stay away from the bells and whistles that take away from what you are selling as they may look cool to have, they usually are not good for sales. Keep that part of your business simple.
Also, make sure that your site is considered a “responsive” site. Basically that means you want it to show up properly on cell phones, tablets and the like. Over 70% of the people that go online are using those devices these days and the numbers are even higher when they are looking for a local business so a responsive site is well past important. Just making sure that it shows up “OK” is not in your best interest either, you want the site to go beyond being a mini version of your desktop version; it should have features that are specific to a mobile device.
Lastly, be sure that when someone goes to your site it does not take a long time to load. A site that takes more than a few seconds to load is one that often gets dismissed before it even has a chance to open up. There are a variety of tools online to see how fast it takes to load and a variety of things you can do to make it load quickly as well.
Promoting Your Business Online Using Social Media
Social Media is here to stay in one way or another and it is a progressive entity that will only get stronger and more prolific over the next few years and perhaps well beyond that. As a business person, you need to have a presence in that arena and it needs to be a strong one as well in order to keep the clients you have, build on that client base and continue to expand.
Failure to manage your Social Media properly can lead to attrition with current clients as well as losing opportunity for you to gain new ones. It is a way to communicate to your clients and prospective clients so that you are in the back of their mind when they are thinking about the kinds of products or services you offer. In fact, Social Media is a very large part of branding your business and more so than many traditional ways that we have used to brand in the past.
Sharing special offers and deals to your client base will keep them coming back again and again and using Social Media is one way to make sure they get those offers in their hands on a regular basis. People use Social Media to interact on a regular basis on many levels and you having a footprint there is one more way to make it easy to be able to share what is going on at your place of business and why they should be using you.
You do not have to post daily specials or weekly deals all the time. In fact, I recommend you do not do that or you will have people just swiping past your posts on a regular basis. You can share a variety of things that are related to your industry that could impact the client, future industry developments, links or stories to items that are significant to what you are doing in your business or any number of other thoughts or ideas. The key is to keep your face in front of theirs in a way that is not intrusive yet remains informative and to do it consistently using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and any other Social Media Outlets that may be a part of the circles of your clients.
Social Media will make you money and the effort you have to put in to make it work for you is not all that much for the return of your time and you know what, you may even find that fun to do!
People Love Videos!
I’m personally not much of a video guy but the world just eats them up like a two for one sale at a money store. Promoting though videos is one of the best ways to engage a client or prospect and get their full undivided attention for a couple of minutes and, if done properly, can end up being shared by tens of thousands of people for free.
A video does not have to be made professionally; as a matter of fact, the ones that go viral are not usually professionally made but rather something that was recorded on the spur of the moment so don’t go thinking you need to break out your Black Amex to get the right kind of equipment. A cell phone can do the trick, the video recorder on your tablet will work, or even your average every day digital camera can handle the work.
You can also pay any number of professionals to create a well done video that is in cartoon fashion or a white board type video for a very reasonable fee. The costs are very reasonable usually and with a video that is just a couple of minutes long you can say an awful lot. Interestingly enough, people will usually invest the requisite couple of minutes to watch a video if it is just mediocre in terms of interesting and makes for a really nice sales tool.
The other thing about a video is that there are a gaggle of places to put them online as well. You may be familiar with YouTube as most are but there are just so many video sharing sites out there that you can benefit from if you have videos that relate to your business as they can send you business from all over. In fact, a video that is syndicated in the right manner can end up showing up in Google so that when someone is searching for something you offer, up it pops!
You can also share those videos on your Facebook and Twitter and get people sitting in front of their screens watching your message over and over again. Think that won’t have a positive effect on your bottom line?
Video marketing is a cost effective way to get your message out to many different demographics and get eyes on your business without a whole lot of effort on your part and should not be neglected as it can drive the right kind of client to your website or to your place of business.
Mail Your Clients Early and Not So Often
Years ago it was not uncommon for a small business to have a notepad and pen by the cash register so that you could sign up for their mailing list and get specials mailed right to your home. Well, the idea has not changed much at all, just the delivery method.
An email list is imperative if you are going to stay in touch with each person that has walked through your doors and can make you money each time you use it. It is also so much easier to manage than the old Postal mailing businesses used to do as there are no stamps, no postage meters, no Pitney-Bowes or paper and envelopes to have to handle. Everything is electronic from soup to nuts so there is no reason to not be building and maintaining your mailing list.
There are services that you can subscribe to that will handle all the additions and subtractions that need to be done and will do it all automatically so you have no real time to invest in that area as well. The cost is silly cheap so to get a return on your investment is like falling off a log. Ten minutes of your life 4 – 5 times a month is all you will need to invest and you can do that while having your morning coffee.
Gathering emails from your clients is not a cumbersome process either as that can be done in a number of ways. They can sign up through their Facebook accounts, respond to your tweets to an opt in page, or even add themselves from a link on your site. Each of those ways is an easier “close” than getting them to write their names down on a pad next to your cash register also but if they are at your register, you can have a placard or shelf talker with a QR code right there that they can sign up through.
Sending out a quickie newsletter or email should not really take more than the ten minutes I mentioned as there are templates you can use that are effective and make you look like an emailing professional. The tools are out there to make building, maintaining, managing and making money from an email list are all out there and just waiting for you to grab and put to good use.
Building your business using some of these online methods is a step in the right direction and there are a bunch more that may make sense for your particular business that we did not even cover; Media buys, ranking your site in Google, Bing and the other search engines for many ancillary search terms (keywords), getting your rightful place in the “Seven Pack” for your area, building up a strong base of citations are just a few more that may make sense for your business as well.
Building your business using the power of the internet is not very complicated at all and these, and other online methods, should be a part of your marketing strategies. Foregoing these ideas may not only cause your business to be stagnant but could cause you to lose valuable market share.
If you do nothing else when it comes to online marketing, start the above campaigns and get your business moving in the right direction so that you can start getting a foothold in marketing areas that you may have missed.
The future of your business lies in with you keeping abreast with current marketing strategies as much as it does with you buying and selling right. Failing to just do these few things could cost you dearly and have your competition leading the way and leaving you behind.