Sunday, June 15, 2014

5 Ways Small Businesses Can Use Digital Marketing to Attract New and Online Customers

Small business digital marketing

Local & Small Business Digital Marketing

Being SEO consultants, we need to talk with different business owners from various industries and demographics and most of the time we have seen that many small and local business owners do not have a clear idea about how they can use Digital Marketing and online platforms to maximize their business leads and sales. Having a website for your company is not going to be enough for your business until and unless that website reaches to the millions and billions of targeted online customers & clients. Your business details must be in front of your prospective online consumers when they search or browse anything on internet.

In online world there are few marketing processes which can get you instant or very fast results and there are techniques which takes time to deliver the desired outputs. Depending on the business model, budget allotted for the online marketing, market competition, available resources & expertise and target or goal a company can make use of the both or any one of them. Digital marketing is more cost effective, targeted and measurable than any other form of traditional or offline marketing. An ethical, intelligent and efficient use of internet can boost any business’s sales volume and help in attracting more amount of relevant and targeted traffic to their websites.

Harness the power of SEO or Search Engine Optimization:

Search Engine Optimization is one of the best ways to market and brand your company, products or services to a vast amount of targeted online users organically. It is the technique or a set of techniques which brings a website at a higher position (ranking) on Google and other major search engines like yahoo, Bing etc. for specific keywords or phrases related to the business. These days Search Engine Optimization is completely different than it used to be earlier. It has become harder or you can say, more technical and at the same time it is quite easy if done properly and ethically. Harder because after recent search engine algorithm updates on Google, an optimizer needs to be hundred percent ethical and do loads of things with a good SEO subject matter and real time knowledge. At the same time the Content Management Systems and various SEO tools offer even the non-experts a chance to implement some parts of the SEO at ease.

Organic visitors are more targeted, relevant and reliable to a business than any other form of traffic. The acquisition cost of an organic user is the cheapest (depending on the volume, competition etc.)  and the average sales conversion ratio is also very attractive. Ultimately this technique guarantees maximum online visibility at a much cheaper rate over time. If the site visibility increases then the number of visitors to a website bound to grow which intern generates more number of business leads and increases the sales volume for the company.

Pros:
  1. Targeted & relevant traffic to the website
  2. The cheapest acquisition cost over time
  3. Good sales conversion rate
  4. Gives maximum exposure for a company or website
  5. Indirect branding is done
  6. ROI (Return on Investment) is completely measurable

Cons:
  1. Takes long time to build the momentum (sometimes 6 months to even 1 year)
  2. Inadequacy of properly skilled SEO experts
  3. Periodic but unscheduled search engine algorithm updates

Invest on Adwords (PPC) according to your budget:

SEO takes time to get the results and for a new business or website it is important to make profits from the very beginning of its inception and operations. PPC or Pay-Per-Click gives the opportunity to market our products or services through search engines in such a manner that when a potential customer clicks on our ads we need to pay a certain amount of money to the respective search engines. In this form of marketing we pay for the clicks but not for displaying our ads. It delivers the results from the very first day the PPC campaign starts and depending on the budget or on the goal, we can continue or discontinue it at any time we want. Almost all the popular search engines have their own paid ad systems but without any doubt Google (Adwords) is the best of all.

As SEO is becoming more and more hard and quality centric (which is very good), the small and local businesses are investing money more on PPC. Just like SEO, PPC is also much targeted and can bring relevant traffic to our websites. The average conversion rate of this type of online marketing is very good but the acquisition cost of a paid user may vary depending on the keywords, competition and the demographic.

Pros:
  1. Targeted & relevant traffic to the website
  2. Good sales conversion rate
  3. Indirect branding is done
  4. ROI (Return on Investment) is completely measurable

Cons:
  1. Acquisition cost of a paid user can be costly
  2. Click bombing is done by opponent websites or companies
  3. Completely depends on the investments

Social Media the newest trend in online marketing:

Social Media or Social Networking sites are the online platforms where huge number of people gathers to interact with each other. We can reach to those people (organically or by paying money) to communicate socially and to brand a company or business. Branding on social media is not about promotion of our products or services rather it is more like creating direct conversations between a company as an individual and its clients or potential customers. Social media websites should be used to create the brand awareness by creating valuable, informative and engaging contents, pictures, events, questions, polls etc.

We all use social media in our day-to-day life but having an account on various social websites and using them is far different from organizing & utilizing them for your business. Regular updates, interactions, question-answers can boost the overall credibility, reachability and confidence about a business or brand towards its latent customers. Social media is not always about talking or representing a brand rather the inclination should be towards helping others by sharing knowledge and expertise. This way we build a community around a brand which guard and amplify the words about that company organically.

Apart from the organic reach of social media we can use these platforms for displaying our business advertisements, promotions and offers to millions and billions of highly targeted people. Mostly these paid ads work as CPC (cost per click bid, same like PPC) or CPM (cost per thousand impressions bid) and can generate pertinent traffic with high conversion rates.

Pros:
  1. Enlarges company’s natural reach
  2. Huge amount of people gather on social media websites
  3. Numbers of social platforms to explore
  4. Direct communication is possible
  5. Easier to get valuable suggestions and feedback
  6. Huge branding opportunities
  7. Completely measurable

Cons:
  1. Organic reach is decreasing day by day
  2. Ambiguous negative branding is possible
  3. Paid ads require good amount of initial and periodic investments depending on the targeting parameters
  4. Click bombing is possible
  5. Insufficiency of really skilled resources

Enlarge the business reach by content marketing:

As it is truly said that the “Content is the King” and we have to focus on creating good quality, relevant and informative contents that can help and fulfil our prospective customer’s queries and needs. Content creation consistently can enlarge the organic reach of a company, products or services. As a result, more and more people looking for the same solutions or items can find our contents and then they can learn about our company. But creating contents cannot be the target rather businesses should understand buyer’s persona & behaviors, their needs, their limitations and the general market requirements and accordingly they should plan and strategize the content marketing campaigns.

Contents can help us in various ways; they can broaden the market reach, increase the search engine visibility, create the brand awareness, get us the industry & media coverage and generate the business leads & sales. Depending on the budget we should plan the content marketing strategies but in any situation or by any means we should not indulge in creating and publishing duplicate contents. Besides, the proper targeting of relevant segment of users who are looking for our services and products is very important along with a strong Call to Action (CTA).

Pros:
  1. Increases the overall internet visibility
  2. Gets the media attention and industry exposure
  3. Creates the brand awareness
  4. Increase the sales volume
  5. Establishes as an industry or subject matter expert

Cons:
  1. It is not that easy and takes time to develop
  2. Regularity and consistency is must
  3. Contents can be out-dated over time
  4. Needs initial investments
  5. ROI is not completely measurable

Email Marketing, a form of traditional marketing:

Email marketing is a traditional form of online marketing where a business can interact one-o-one with another business or a vendor or an individual in a more direct manner. It is really economical and if done properly, ethically and efficiently then this form of marketing can deliver very good results at a very short time. Depending on the email open rates, clicks and conversions, businesses should do regular A/B testing to understand consumer’s mind-set, their requirements and preferences.

There are certain rules businesses must understand before starting an email campaign. Business emails are not personal messaging, so without a prior permission from an individual or another company we should not start emailing them about our products or services. There are particular formats and rules of writing business or marketing emails that businesses should stick to. Besides, in each of our emails, we must include a proper way for our email recipients and subscribers to unsubscribe from our mailing list.

Pros:
  1. Most cost effective compare to any other form of online or offline marketing
  2. Establishes direct conversations
  3. Creates the brand identity and product or service awareness
  4. Generally high response and conversion rates
  5. Fast results at minimum acquisition costs
  6. Completely measurable

Cons:
  1. Requires highly creative and innovative thinking (designs)
  2. Needs authentic & genuine email subscriber’s lists
  3. Can be marked as spam
  4. Numbers of spam reports can damage the domain of a website

To conclude with:

There are numerous methods and channels of digital marketing and each of them has their own advantages and flaws. It completely depends on the company how they are using and managing these tools and platforms to market a solution or an item.

Youtube, Affiliate marketing, display ads etc. are very good and effective for certain types of businesses and can be explored depending on the business type, model and budget. Not only these, there are several digital marketing online tools and web portals available on internet which can be leveraged to gauge their effectiveness for a website or business.

Finally, do not depend on a single form of digital marketing rather diversify the whole marketing campaigns in different channels and always monitor and analyze the outcome.

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