It’s difficult not to succumb to the allure of that picture in your head of instant success, raving fans and high returns when launching your small business. Yet for most, success is elusive and requires time, patience, resilience, and often several failures before being achieved. One way to accelerate your path to success is by adopting an aggressive web marketing strategy.
An integrated web marketing strategy is a fundamental building block for small businesses. The reason is simple. The masses are making online and offline purchasing decisions by investigating on the web. Crowd sourcing websites like Tripadvisor and Yelp carry heavy influence because they allow the general public to rate and review services. Online users trust these reviews, more so than “professional” critics. They also trust the organic search results in Google, mainly the top five listings that show up at the top of page 1. And they pay very close attention to what their friends are liking or commenting about on Facebook. Whether you like it or not, you need to be in these places to grow your small business. You can start by focusing your web marketing efforts and resources through these three activities:
- Blogging to inform, educate and share in a personable, authentic manner
- Social Media to connect and cultivate a community
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to show up at the top of search results
A blog attracts potential customers to your website only if what you write about is worth reading – that’s the key. If you are simply using it to sell or promote your wares, then don’t bother wasting your time blogging because nobody cares. Online users are savvy and prone to clicking away. They are far more likely to stop to read an article that helps them improve their health or run their business better, rather then a promotion for vitamins or consulting services. When blogging, you need to give knowledge to earn engagement. And if you do this well and consistently, you will build an audience that will talk about you to others. A blog should also serve as the “hub” of your social marketing, using Twitter, Facebook and other forums to push the content out from your blog, and to drive traffic back to it.
Like blogging, social media is only as good as the knowledge you share. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are powerful mediums for finding and connecting with like-minded people who share the same passions and interests. But just like inviting a group of friends over for an informal dinner, only to use the gathering to sell them on some multi-level marketing household goods, using social media to self-promote is a giant turn off. Treat your fans and followers as friends. Engage, share, learn, and inform. If your passion is cooking and you run a restaurant, post some of your recipes to your Facebook page (while encouraging fans to do the same); tweet out innovative cooking techniques you find online; write reviews of restaurants or cooking books on your blog; and always invite comments, ideas and feedback from your audience. Social media is a conversation, not a pitch.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
A recent study by Slingshot SEO showed that the click-through rate for a website in the number 1 organic spot on Google is 18 percent, with second position at 10 percent, third at 7 percent, and so on. The number 1 spot gets more clicks than 2 and 3 combined! That’s really hard to ignore, so don’t. SEO is very important to a successful online marketing strategy. So how do you start? There are SEO best practices you can implement yourself, some of which you can find on this blog as a starting point. Over time, however, it’s worthwhile to outsource this ongoing activity to an SEO expert who can stay up on the changes to Google’s ranking algorithm.
Rajan is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BIG Marketing for Small Business. He's an award-winning marketing strategist who is passionate about branding, digital marketing and social media. He spent nearly a decade as the marketing executive at global IT firm Peer 1 Hosting and was instrumental in their explosive growth.