As many conventional types of marketing for small businesses fall by the wayside, it becomes increasingly important that you market your business on the Internet.
For all intents and purposes, advertising in the Yellow Pages is gone. Telemarketing rarely works. Word of mouth has been replaced by Google. And so, a new age of marketing has been ushered in, ruled by keywords and likes and retweets. Which types of Internet marketing will work best for your business? It depends of your type of business, your personality, and your budget.
Before you embark on intensive Internet marketing efforts, be sure to get Google Analytics loaded onto your website so that you can track your marketing efforts. Google Analytics is a free stats counter, which a developer should be able to get working on your site in fifteen minutes or less.
For inspiration and ideas for effective Internet marketing, check out these top 20 ways, listed in no particular order.
Marketing Idea #1: Give Your Website A Makeover
If you have not undergone a design change on your website in the past few years, chances are it could use a makeover. Redesigning your website can ensure that it not only looks contemporary, but also that it performs well on mobile devices. It’s crucial that your website adequately conveys the quality of your business, products, and services, because it will serve as the “landing site” for many of the other types of Internet marketing listed below.
Marketing Idea #2: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Want to get found on Google? Optimize your site for Google, Yahoo, and Bing, and you’ll reap the benefits of hundreds, or even thousands, of free clicks. At its core, search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is based on choosing keywords that describe your business, product, and services, and sprinkling those words throughout your content.
Marketing Idea #3: Build Links Into Your Website
Google uses more than 200 parameters to decide which websites to send to the top, and the quantity and type of links coming into a website is one of the top parameters. Build links into your website by creating great content that other people will want to link to, submitting content to other sites, and/or getting listed on directories. When it comes to links building, it’s important to note that quality trumps quantity, and you should never “buy” links or allow an SEO company to employ “black hat” tactics in obtaining links.
Marketing Idea #4: E-Mail
E-mail blasts and newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with your customers and clients and to attract new business. To make e-mail marketing as easy as possible, set a schedule for sending e-mails and create an “editorial calendar” for topics, products, and/or services you’ll feature in the next year. To conform with spam rules and regulations, use an e-mail company, such as: Constant Contact, Emma, MailChimp, or Vertical Response.
Marketing Idea #5: Directories
Across the Internet, there are thousands of directories, large and small. Find the top ten directories for your industry (ask a librarian for help, if you don’t know how to search on Google). Submit your website to websites that offer free listings, and/or consider paying for advertising on high-quality directories.
Marketing Idea #6: Facebook
Facebook is embedded in the lives of millions of Americans, and that stranglehold is unlikely to abate. People spend hours a day on Facebook, relying on it as their source of news, recommendations for products and services, and updates on the exciting and mundane facets of the lives of their “friends.” Will Facebook help your small business? That depends on what type of business you have and how much time you’re willing to invest. Facebook can be a great way to get the word out to hundreds (or even millions of people), but it also rarely helps directly build a small business’ sales.
Marketing Idea #7: Twitter
Twitter’s popularity mounts by the day. In 140 characters or less, you can send out “tweets” or retweet information sent out by others. Businesses and organizations that have compelling news to report, on a timely basis, are the ones who typically get the most benefit from Twitter. As examples, a café could tweet out its daily special, or a theater could tweet out last minute specials on tickets.
Marketing Idea #8: LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a robust social media platform for professional connections. To make the most of LinkedIn, you can set up a personal page and a company page, build a community of followers, post valuable content, and serve as a subject matter expert.
Marketing Idea #9: Pinterest
Pinterest is a social media site that allows users to save, sort, and categorize images on “pinboards.” Because of this, Pinterest can work well for businesses that sell products and/or have offer services that are visual in nature (such as photographers, interior designers, landscapers, etc).
Marketing Idea #10: Forums
Join forums that relate to your business, product, or services and make relevant comments and offer specialized advice.
Marketing Idea #11: Set Up A Blog
Google like sites that grow in size, and Google also likes fresh content. Therefore, Google likes blogs. Consider setting up a blog on your website and frequently adding to it. As a piece of advice: Turn off the comments section. Gone are the days when people legitimately contributed valid, reasonable comments to blog posts. Today’s blog contributions are often spam, viruses, malware, and nasty comments.
Marketing Idea #12: Contribute To Other People’s Blogs
To expand your online reach, pick some blogs or websites in your industry that have influence over your target market and/or receive a lot of monthly visits, and offer to write articles, at no charge. In exchange for the free submissions, you should receive a short bio and a link to your website.
Marketing Idea #13: Local Listings On Google
Want to get listed in the map that shows up for most local Google searches? Claim your business on “Google My Business” and fill your profile out as completely as possible. Add hours of operation, description of your products and services, photos, you might just show up in Google’s local listings.
Marketing Idea #14: Couponing
Right around the time of the “Great Recession,” Groupon took the Internet by storm, and in the ensuing years, dozens of similar companies have cropped up, including Living Social, Daily Deals, FatWallet, and Slick Deals. Consumers love couponing, but a small business has to be careful about how it uses it.
The way couponing works is that the company sells your product or service at a deep discount (usually at least 50% off). They then keep 50% of the proceeds from the coupons. This means that for your $100 worth of products or services, you’ll receive $25. If you’re a yoga studio, and those extra clients don’t cost you anything extra, couponing can be a great way to attract new business. But if you’re a restaurant, operating on thin margins, you’ll lose money selling $100 worth of food for $25. If the majority of the coupon customers come back over and over again, then maybe the venture is worth it. But if they only visit your restaurant once, you’ll lose big time. In general, couponing on the Internet works out better for services, not businesses.
Marketing Idea #15: Google Images
When people search – particularly for products – they often search in “Google Images,” rather than Google’s regular directory. To get your images to show up, write alt tags that include keywords.
Marketing Idea #16: Video
Guess what the second most popular search engine is on the Internet? It’s YouTube, and it threatens to eclipse Google’s popularity. Make two-minute videos about your small business, products, or services, and you can post them on YouTube, as well as on your own site.
Marketing Idea #17: Reviews And Reputation Management
Encourage people to write positive reviews for your business or services, and you’ll go a long way toward controlling your reputation. People can review you on Yelp, Angie’s List, Google, Yahoo, or hundreds of other platforms. It’s important to note, however, that you should never fabricate reviews or offer people incentives to write them. Also, to protect your reputation, it’s a good idea to Google yourself and the name of your business on a regular basis to see what comes up. If you get a negative review, address it yourself (in a calm, positive manner) or hire a marketing coach to help you.
Marketing Idea #18: Affiliate Programs
To boost your sales, you can design your own affiliate program. Reach out to other website owners who get visits from customers or clients in your target market, and offer to pay them for leads and/or a flat rate or commission on any new sales that came from their website. Here’s how it works: They’ll feature your products or services on their websites, and when someone clicks through from their site to yours, the lead will be tracked by customized coding or off-the-shelf plug-ins.
Marketing Idea #19: Pay-Per-Click Ads
How would you like to get to the top of Google tomorrow? Start placing pay-per-click ads, and you’ll be there. With pay-per-click ads, you’re charged for each click that comes through to your website. The cost per click can vary depending on how competitive the topic or industry is. For example, Google charges $10-$15 per click for most of the trades (e.g. plumbing, electrical, roofing), $15 for dentists, and $50-$100 for lawyers. Pay-per-click ads are available on Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.
Marketing Idea #20: Ads On Other Websites
Find a website that gets a lot of visits from your target market of customers or clients, and place an ad on it. Typically, ad rates on websites are based on impressions (how many times the ad was served up to visitors), monthly visitors to the site, and/or click-through rates.
If you are in need of help developing or implementing a marketing plan – for online marketing and offline marketing – consider hiring a small business marketing coach!
Schedule your free consultation with one of our small business coaches, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note: Our small business coaches provide coaching and consulting services for small business owners in Denver, Colorado, and the U.S. For more information call (720) 312-8737, or e-mail email@example.com.