According to Google, 97% of consumers use the web to search for local businesses. And if the vast majority of your potential customers are online, you should be, too. Having a strong online presence is a crucial component of your marketing strategy, no matter what size your business is or what industry it belongs to.
Here are three important elements when building a strong online marketing presence.
1. Your website
All businesses, no matter how small, should have a website. It can be extremely basic, but it should contain the fundamental information customers – both existing and potential – need.
A basic website is pretty easy to set up using an application like WordPress. WordPress is a free blogging tool and content management system that gives users the option to pay a little more for the premium version. If it’s relevant to your business, you can even add an online shop – after all, in 2013, 70 percent of consumers preferred to do their retail shopping online.
If you’re not sure where to start, there’s a great guide to WordPress for small businesses. It’s easy to understand and runs through the factors you need to consider and steps you need to take when setting up your small business website.
2. Search engine optimization
Once you have a website, it’s vital that it can actually be found by search engines. After all, 89 percent of consumers use search engines to research a product, service or business before making a decision. To take advantage of this, you need to make sure to look at search engine optimization (SEO) for your website.
In case you’re not completely sure what SEO means, how it works, or why it’s important, here’s a quick rundown:
- What: The purpose of SEO is to make it easy for search engines to find your website and list it in their ‘organic’ (as opposed to ‘paid’) results.
- Why: People tend to trust search engines, so websites that appear high in results pages are more likely to receive traffic.
- How: Using search-engine friendly methods to improve your website.
- Who: Everyone – anyone who has information that people want to find on the internet should be using SEO techniques.
- When: All the time – SEO is an ongoing process. It’s important to monitor the information on your website and make sure it’s current and correct. Search engines also love new content, which is why starting a blog can do wonders for your SEO.
- Where: Major search engines include Google, Yahoo and Bing. They connect people all over the world to the content they desire, from products to services to information.
3. Social media
Social media is an important part of your online presence that improves your chances of generating additional revenue and building customer loyalty. It allows customers, potential customers and other interested parties to engage easily via a channel that plays an important role in their everyday lives.
For example, Facebook and Twitter will serve a purpose for almost any business – it’s a great place to post news, tips, photos and videos and ask and answer questions.
In addition to Facebook and Twitter, you might find Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, FourSquare helpful.
Once you’ve decided which social media channels to use, get a clear idea of the kind of content you can share. The more compelling and engaging your material is, the more likely your followers will like, comment and share your posts. Engagement is key to promoting your brand – not only will it make you more appealing to existing customers, the more positive social activity that goes on, the higher the chance is that their friends will be exposed to your brand and intrigued by what you have to offer.