Suggestions for successfully marketing your small business online.
If you need another reason to deploy better online marketing techniques for your business, consider this: These days phonebooks are more likely to end up in the recycling bin than by the phone. The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently found that 51 percent of U.S. adults use the web to find information about local businesses -- more than newspapers, word-of-mouth-, TV or those old phone books.
This means that for you to find customers and build your business you're going to have to create a solid presence on the internet.
To help you out, we rounded up 8 useful tips for successfully marketing your business online.
1. Use the right words: Entrepreneuer.com suggests using research services like Google AdWords, Wordtracker, and Keyword Discovery to learn which keywords people in your area use to search for your product or service. Use those keywords on your home page, page titles, header tags, page content and in hyperlinks. Those words enable search engines to more easily determine what your site is about and therefore be better able to direct traffic to it. Develop pages for each of the keywords or key phrases you'd like a higher ranking for and write a different article for each page.
2. Claim your business: Claim your profile on online business directories and search engines to ensure that information about your product or service is accurate. The more of them you're listed in, the better chances you have of being found in online searches. HubSpot offers a list of 50 local business directories you want to update. Make sure to include your business' address, phone number and local communities served by your business on each of your web pages.
3. Go Viral -- This might be easier said than done, but creating content that spreads quickly will not only get people talking about your product, but it will also boost traffic to your site via backlinks and higher search engine presence. Entrepreneur.com had several suggestions for building viral-ready content including using absurd/funny/adorable characters (think Marcel the Shell), sharing material related to trending topics, using infographics, thinking in terms of pithy soundbites, and getting endorsements from leaders in your field.
4. Start Pinning -- Pinterest is now the third largest social media platform behind Facebook and Twitter, according to Forbes. So if you're in the retail business it's an essential tool for your online marketing toolbox. Online marketing blog TopRank.com recently offered several suggestions on how to use Pinterest to your advantage, citing success stories from well-known brands like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Vera-Bradley. Tips included highlighting your product using interesting and dynamic photos; posting content that complements your product while also grabbing your costumers interest; pinning other people's content -- even if it's not directly related to what you do; using unique themes to categorize your products; and incorporating social options to make it easy for people to share your pins across other platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.
5. Be where your customers are -- Or, more accurately, let your potential customers know you're close by using programs like Foursquare and ShopKick, which let users opt in for notifications about deals from vendors that are in their proximity. If a customer has the location detector turned on on their mobile device or if they check-in at your business location, you can reach out to them as they're walking by offering deals on your goods or services.
6. Get listed -- A link from an online directory will improve your search ranking and get you traffic, according to webmarketingtoday.com, so its important to reach out to both general and trade-specific directories. List your site on The Open Directory Project for free, in addition to paid directories like Yahoo! Directory, About.com and Business.com. Also, request links on sites and directories specific to your product or service, which can help boost your page rank. Finally, look for websites that fill a similar niche and are about the same size as your site and ask if they'd be willing to link to your site if you return the favor.
7. Socialize -- By now you've heard how important it is for all businesses to have social media presence -- whether its Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or all four. The important thing to keep in mind when sharing your brand on social media is that you're part of a community and the other members of the community aren't necessarily interested in hearing you go on and on about your product or service. Participate in the dialogue by listening to and commenting on other users, rather then trying to dominate the conversation with shameless plugs.
8. Offer something for free -- As much as you'd like them to, people aren't going to visit your site just to learn about your product, so entice them with a little something extra. Maybe run a contest with a fun giveaway or provide a resource or service that they can use for free to get them to click. For instance, if you sell clothing, offer a tool that helps customers find which type of jeans would look best on them. Or offer a free pair of socks for every online shoe purchase. Be creative!