12 Feb 2013
By Tyana Daley
You know you need to market online, but all the associated acronyms—SEO, SEM, PPC—have your head spinning. Running a small business is challenging enough without the alphabet soup of activities that is Internet marketing.
The benefits of online marketing, however, decidedly outweigh the startup hassles—which, given the abundant resources available these days, are minimal. Internet marketing campaigns can help small businesses grow by increasing exposure, facilitating consumer reviews, initiating and shaping customer experience, and attracting underdeveloped target markets.
Consider these six straightforward steps to help get your online marketing strategy up and running:
1. Get educated. Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns are simple concepts with sophisticated returns. SEO refers to the many processes that increase online presence: keeping content fresh, selecting keywords wisely and building links to other reputable sites. (The number of external links a website gets from such sites can increase its ranking in search engine results.) In the marketing strategy known as PPC, an advertiser pays the host site a fee each time a visitor clicks on a specific ad.
2. Target your audience with keywords and content. Instead of simply marketing to your existing customer demographic, consider keywords and content that may expand your market without isolating your core customer base. Google AdWords, the search engine’s PPC campaign platform, offers many free SEO resources, including a Keywords Analyzer Tool that will help you select the best keywords. Once you have your keywords, use them as naturally as possible in your content. Stuffing them into each and every sentence is frowned up by the search engines.
3. Start a PPC campaign. Although PPC can offer invaluable exposure, it can also be costly. Recently, Google and Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, have started factoring ad and website quality into PPC ad positioning. It’s therefore incumbent upon small business owners with limited funds to fine-tune their PPC ads for relevance and keyword integrity. Google AdWords is a good place to start. However, if PPC seems as if it may be more than you can manage at the moment, skip it until you have spent more time perfecting your website and upping your Internet savvy.
4. Keep content fresh, original and user-friendly. Doing so will also keep your site search engine-friendly. Remember, Internet users want to be entertained, informed or both—not just solicited. Put your personality into your site; if you have employees, collaborate on an online persona. Educate readers: industry trends and insider tips are always welcome. Providing content with value can help solidify your credibility and raise your visibility – both critical to building a small business.
5. Get social. Instead of overwhelming yourself with a multitude of new social media accounts, start with just one platform (Twitter and Facebook remain the most popular) and build your business’ persona before opening more accounts. Do some homework to find out which platforms your audiences frequent and focus your efforts there. Use social networks to post discounts, special events and other attractions exclusive to Internet users, while soliciting customer feedback. Take all comments to heart and respond as promptly to online questions and concerns as you do when face-to-face with customers.
6. Commit to maintenance. Internet marketing requires consistency and time. Even if you can only spare 15 minutes a day, commit to those minutes and make the most of them. And don’t forget to have fun with it – even if profits don’t increase immediately, you should learn something new every day you market online.
This guest post was provided by Tyana Daley. Tyana is a writer for Bisk Education. She works with the online bachelor’s degrees from New England College.