Did you know that 94% of consumers research products and services online before buying?
Having an online presence and digital marketing strategy is key to the success of businesses in today’s marketplace. But for some, the digital space can seem overwhelming and complex, with too many options to choose from, and uncertainty of where to start. Sound familiar? The good news is that online marketing doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. You don’t need an elaborate online marketing strategy to get started with getting the word out about your business. We’ve come up with a 5 simple strategies for small business owners like you to successfully build an online presence. Try these proven strategies and watch your business grow!
Strategy 1: Blog
One of the best online marketing strategies for a small business is blogging. Blogging allows you to develop relationships with potential and existing customers. Your blog should not be about your products, services or even your brand. Here are some best-practices:
- Write about the challenges that your current and potential customers face and provide solutions.
- Research commonly-asked questions in your business and answer them in blog posts.
- Ask readers questions at the end of your posts to get the conversation going or by allowing for comments and feedback.
- Respond to readers’ comments in order to create rapport, build trust and gain valuable insights into what your customers are looking for.
- Provide current and future customers with informative and up-to-date content–establishing yourself as the expert in the field.
Tip: Blog at least twice a week. Search engines love fresh content. Frequent blogging increases the chances your business will be found. How? The more you blog, the more traffic your site will get from Google. And if each of your blog posts includes a call to action, you might even generate some leads from your blog. Also, consider guest blogging to help save you time!
Strategy 2: Build an engaging social media presence
If you aren’t using social media, it’s time to start. Over 50% of consumers use social media to decide on a purchase. Consumers today spend a considerable amount of time on social media interacting not only with family and friends, but increasingly with brands as well. Here are some things to think about when getting started:
- Determine which social media channels work best for your business.
- Facebook and Twitter provide strong platforms to reach the vast majority of consumers with business updates, sales and promotions, new products and services and the like. They also offer the ability to engage in one-on-one conversations with consumers regarding questions, concerns and complaints.
- Pinterest and Instagram allow businesses to share visually appealing offerings like bridal fashion, ceremony decor, and flower arrangements.
- Video platforms such as YouTube enable small businesses such as a DJ to post videos of their latest parties, or local bakeries to share how they make one of their favorite wedding cakes.
- Once you’ve set up your social accounts start connecting sharing your original content, joining discussions and engaging with the community.
Tip: Have a social strategy for what you do for each social channel so you stay on track and have a clear direction for each. What does this mean? It means that it’s probably not the best idea to post the same exact thing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. They are each very different social channels. Photos are the best thing to post on Instagram and Pinterest, while conversations and announcements may be best for Twitter. Don’t treat all social equally!
Strategy 3: Be real
Never forget that your messages are being read by real people just like you. When you write on your website or post to social media, keep that dynamic in mind. Do all the things you’d appreciate in any offline one-on-one communication. This method will make anything, whether it’s an email or a tweet, valuable to your customers and increase traffic and open rates. You have to earn that trust. Here’s how:
- Connect with them.
- Make your readers laugh.
- Say you’re sorry when things go wrong.
- Be mindful of people’s time and tell them what they want and need to know.
Tip: Share your WHY. Share WHY you do what you do, what you’re PASSIONATE about, and what you stand for. Consumers care just as much about who you are as a professional as who you are as a person. According to experts, your “About Us” page is one of the most visited pages on your web site and is probably the most underutilized. Don’t neglect this opportunity to reflect on all the reasons people should connect with your business.
Strategy 4: Get Reviews
Did you know that 85% of consumers say that they read online reviews for local businesses to determine whether a business is a credible business and are more likely to purchase when they can find reviews online vs. when they can’t? Online reviews are playing an increasingly central role in driving consumers’ purchasing behavior, and are the modern media word-of-mouth. Since reviews are all about trust, it makes your brand trustworthy when you have testimonials from past clients. For example, when nearly-weds read personal stories and narrative style reviews, other nearly-weds can visualize specific wedding vendors at their own wedding. How do you get reviews?
- After you have provided services or products to your customer, send then an email (within 7-10 days) asking them to write a quick review for you.
- Be sure to compliment the customer (bride, groom) the wedding day, the service/product that you supplied, etc.
- Personalize this experience for your customer – so they don’t feel like you’re just using them for a review.
Tip: Incentivize. Feel free to incentivize your customers with a small gift or discount off of future services. Or try offering a $5 gift card to a local coffee shop or for a local hair salon (support other local businesses). The key is that you are offering the incentive for the review after they have received your services, so they are truly reviewing what you did for them.
Strategy 5: Post Quality Content
Regularly post quality content with what you are doing. Creating and promoting fresh, original, and sharable content on a business website, blog and social media platforms can help increase your visibility in search engine results pages (SERP’s) because these social shares signal to search engines that your site is knowledgeable and relevant in a particular topic.
- Keep your social efforts frequent, but above all, relevant and helpful to your audience.
- Update your site with the latest trends as it relates to your business.
- Stay in-the-know with the latest wedding trends by following various wedding industry experts sites (like TheKnot.com!)
Tip: Post Real Images. Get visual. Photo sharing is BIG right now and today’s consumers are a very visual generation with more than $500MM photos uploaded and shared every day. So be sure to stream videos, post photos and highlight interactive features of your website. It’s hard for couples to imagine their wedding day when looking at a photo of an empty room or the different flowers that would go into a bouquet. Instead they want to see real couples, real families, and real weddings – seeing a venue or room populated with guests from a wedding or of a completed bouquet being held by a bride, is what engages their imagination for their own big day.
What are your tips for successfully marketing your business online?
(Sources: CIO.com, 5/14; Entrepreneur 6/13; Yahoo Small Business 5/14)