In the early days of the internet many small businesses were casualties because they were slow to adapt to the online marketing model. Now, the internet has come full circle and the opportunities for even small locally owned businesses are enormous. All of the methods discussed below are no cost or low cost and can be scaled for any business.
Custom Responsive SEO Website
Obvious, right? You would think that this would be a no brainer, but it is amazing how many businesses still don’t have an online presence. One of the first things customers ask these days is, “What’s your website?” A quality website doesn’t have to break the bank. There is virtually no business that cannot afford a website, in truth, you can’t afford NOT to have one.
It pays to have your website professionally created by experts who are not only good web designers, but preferably good marketers as well. Making the site is just the first step, marketing gets it seen. Creating a website without having a good marketing program is like painting a masterpiece and putting it in a closet.
Many people throw the SEO term around, it stands for “Search Engine Optimization,” but it really means so much more. A quality web design needs to not only be optimized for the search engines so that you get good search rankings, but for visitors as well. Your content needs to be well written and include call to action phrases that inspire visitors to call you, email or place an order.
More and more people are using their mobile devices to search so you also want to be sure that your custom designed website is optimized for mobile as well. It doesn’t take another specialized website to do this, despite what mobile website salespeople will tell you. A quality web design will display well across any device.
Google Plus Local
Formerly known as “Google Places”, Google Plus Local utilizes Google Maps and your Google Plus profile to help local searchers find your business quickly. Google has already created basic pages for nearly every business, all you have to do is claim yours and then customize it with your own content. You will want to make sure that pertinent info such as business name, address and phone number are correct first. Next, add a website URL, business statement, hours of operations and pictures. Videos are allowed as well, and are highly suggested.
The reason we have Google Plus Local listed at the top of our list is because it is one of the best things you can do for easy search engine rankings for local business. This is even more true for mobile search. When someone is searching for a term on a mobile device, local results show up at the top of their window with the closest results first!
Virtually everyone is on Facebook now, even Baby Boomers, so there is just no reason NOT to have a company Facebook Page. Like a website, people will ask you, “What’s your Facebook Page?” In addition to linking it to your main website, you can also use in store promotions that encourage local visitors to follow you. Facebook thrives on sharing information so it is important not to just use the page for sales information. The most successful companies maintain consistent interaction with their customers and also share trending popular info and images that are likely to be shared with their friends.
Facebook also has one of the most powerful Ad Networks now. Similar to Google Adwords, the Facebook FNX Platform allows brands and companies to target Facebook users by interest, age, gender, and more, including recent activity. It is a very cost effective way to market your local business.
Many businesses shy away from using YouTube because they think that they have to create expensive, high quality videos to be successful. This is simply not true. One of the biggest benefits of video is that it shows that there are real people behind the online persona. It also gives potential clients the opportunity to “get to know” your business and products. Video can be used as an excellent direct response tool and if you put your phone number in the video, it will make your phone ring!
In addition to the direct benefits of using video, there are also great search engine benefits. Many people do not realize that YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google. Not Bing, not Yahoo. Despite Bing’s big TV ad campaign, they aren’t even close. Producing regular video content will get you higher search rankings, especially when you utilize Google Plus and Facebook to further increase the viewers and indexing.
Twitter is another one of the “must haves” when it comes to a well rounded online marketing presence. A savvy web design and marketing company can help you to integrate all of these various social media networks and automate much of the process. Twitter has come a long way and now is used by many large brands in conjunction with TV ad campaigns. You can un TV and radio ads telling viewers and listeners to tweet a certain word or hashtag # to receive a discount, etc.
Twitter also recently rolled out a Lead Generation Card system that uses expanded tweets to let companies enter a description with a call to action in which the user’s name, @username, and email are automatically filled in and sent to the advertiser in real time! Watch for Twitter to become an even bigger player in the advertising arena over the next year.
In addition to the social media networks mentioned above there are others that we recommend in order to be sure that the highest percentage of available demographics is covered. Many people only use one social network and some don’t use the ones mentioned above. Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr are just three that you should definitely add to your marketing arsenal. We will cover them in an upcoming article. In the meantime you should check out these stats from Pew Research on Social Network Use