Capturing the attention of the masses is no simple feat. Instead of investing in traditional advertising and real world marketing initiatives, many small businesses turn to the web to generate sales. Online marketing and promotional efforts often prove less expensive than traditional advertising campaigns, but it’s not easy to create a viral hit. If you’re eager to get people talking about your product and brand, try using the following five tips to get started.
Give Something Away
Giveaways and promotional contents have long been a staple of the marketing world, for one simple reason: they work. Consumers like free stuff! Introducing a new house special or creating a limited edition beverage to celebrate the season? Talk about it on your social accounts and ask people to enter the contest.
Maximize the impact of your giveaway by thinking outside the box. Many brands ask consumers to retweet or share a contest announcement on Facebook to earn an additional entry. If you’re giving away something of significant value, ask users to submit their own content and solicit votes from the online crowd. In an effort to earn more votes, users will likely share your content aggressively.
Partner with Other Small Businesses
Small businesses are often plagued with limited marketing budgets, which makes it challenging to reach a large audience online. If you haven’t already done so, partner with another small business in your area to create a promotional offer or a special event. For example, why not offer a meal for two in your restaurant and partner with a boutique hotel to create a “romantic couple’s retreat?” If you’re a brewery or winery, make your products available through a local restaurant as part of a limited time “pairing menu.” The possibilities are endless.
Not only does partnering with other businesses make your events and promotions more interesting, but if both businesses promote the event online, you’ll reach a far wider audience.
Engage with Loyal Customers
Word-of-mouth advertising is worth its weight in gold. Consumers don’t like to listen to a brand endlessly extolling the virtues of its products, but they love recommendations from friends. When customers talk positively about you online, reward them! Direct message them and give them a promotional coupon, send them a t-shirt in the mail, offer them a free meal next time they stop by. Engaging in a positive way will encourage your customers to talk, talk, talk about your brand.
Pitch Prominent Bloggers
Building an online audience takes time, which is why it’s often useful to work with established blogs and websites who can share your brand with their existing fanbase. Work to identify some influencers in your industry and contact them with a great article idea. If you find a well-respected reviewer, consider sending them a case of your product for an unbiased review. There are plenty of ways to explore building a mutually-beneficial relationship with these movers and shakers.
Support Charitable Causes
Do you know why so many businesses support charities? It’s not simply because they’re benevolent—it’s also good for business. Whenever possible, sponsor local groups and events. When the marketing materials are published online, your logo will be distributed to the masses, in turn generating interest in your brand.
What are your customers searching for on the web? If you’re anything like most small business owners, you have no real idea. Using Google Keyword Planner will allow you to pinpoint what Internet users are searching for, in turn giving you insight that you can use to build more effective content for the web. Ready to get started? Follow these simple steps.
Create an AdWords Account
If you’re not already a Google AdWords user, you’ll need to create an account. Google provides its Keyword Planner as a tool for businesses who want to advertise online. By identifying the search terms customers use to find relevant businesses and products, you can customize your ads to connect with the right users. Of course, the Google Keyword Planner works well for generating content, too.
Find New Keywords
Once you’ve accessed the Keyword Planner, you can find new keywords by telling Google about your business. For example, if you’re selling craft beer, insert craft beer in the product or service field to generate a keyword list.
You can also give the Keyword Planner your landing page. Google’s bot will search the page and attempt to find relevant keywords.
Choose Your Keywords Carefully
The Keyword Planner provides a list of search keywords, along with information about the number of searches performed each month. Using this information, you can pick out keywords that will likely generate organic traffic for your blog posts.
Remember, it may be tempting to only choose the keywords that generate a lot of monthly searches, but the competition for these keywords is generally quite high. If your website is relatively young, you may struggle to compete with bloggers or companies that have an established presence in the industry. For this reason, it’s beneficial to choose an assortment of different keywords, using both high and low competition options.
Build Your Content Thoughtfully
Once you’ve chosen your keywords, it’s time to start building content that converts well. Once upon a time, bloggers would stuff their posts with tons of keywords in an effort to pull in the most traffic possible. Unfortunately, this created text that was difficult to read and felt spammy.
Most search engines have changed their algorithms in the years since, so stuffing your posts with keywords doesn’t just make your blog appear spammy—Google could actually block your site from showing up in its results. Keep things in check by using a few keywords scattered throughout your posts.
Using keywords is a great way to boost your traffic and Google’s Keyword Planner makes it easy to do it correctly. By learning how to use this simple tool, you can ensure your posts make a greater impact, while simultaneously building page rank for your site. This will lead to more visitors, and hopefully, more customers.
Establishing trust and credibility is no simple feat, but testimonials hold significant power over the modern consumer. Unlike marketing materials and advertising campaigns, testimonials reveal the opinions and experiences of real buyers. Numerous business sectors have recognized the undeniable sway of effective testimonials, including the hospitality industry and online retailers. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a multinational brand to maximize your selling potential online.
Rules of Useful Testimonials
For testimonials to have the desired effect on buyers, it’s important for businesses to respect the following simple rules:
● Honest Opinions: Testimonials shouldn’t be edited or filtered to avoid negative feedback. Consumers want to see the raw truth.
● Proof: Testimonials should be accompanied by a name and photo when possible. Even a simple username is better than a vague, “Satisfied Customer.”
● Real People: It goes without saying, but testimonials shouldn’t be fabricated. Not only is this unethical, but it’s also illegal in some instances.
Some of the world’s most powerful online marketplaces have truly mastered the art of testimonials, with notable examples including Amazon.com and the Priceline Group. For any product on these sites, you’ll see good reviews, bad reviews, and everything in-between.
How to Solicit Testimonials
The undeniable potential of a well-written testimonial makes them incredibly useful, but it can be hard to get customers to leave reviews and testimonials. Some businesses offer incentives to customers for sharing their opinions, with giveaways and promotional discounts. If you have a large email list or an active following on social media, this method may be your best bet.
If you’re an independent business owner with a relatively small customer base, consider direct contact with your clients. Reach out via phone or email and explain what you’re looking for. You may be surprised how many customers agree to participate. Depending on the product or service you sell, it may be useful to help guide your buyers with a questionnaire or survey.
Using Testimonials on Your Site
Once you’ve obtained testimonials, you should display them prominently throughout the pages of your website. Social proof is often one of the first things consumers look for when they visit an e-commerce or small business site, so don’t bury them on a “reviews” page. Instead, place small blurbs above the fold on your website. (Above the fold means visitors won’t need to scroll to see your testimonials) If you have a large number of testimonials, you can always link to a full reviews page under the blurbs.
Word-of-mouth advertising has long been a powerful tool for small businesses, and testimonials and reviews serve as a natural extension of this. By building testimonials into your site, you’ll help convince buyers to interact with your business. If possible, start gathering consumer opinions from the day you open your doors. This will help you build a large cache of reviews you can use to bolster the success of your business.
If you hadn’t already noticed, a skyrocketing number of consumers use their smartphones and tablets to connect to the web. According to the Pew Research Center, If your site isn’t ready for a mobile audience, you’re missing out on a substantial portion of your target audience. Stop throwing away sales and begin learning how to use mobile trends to your advantage.
Reviewing the Growth of Mobile
Once upon a time, mobile web usage represented a tiny portion of overall web traffic. The astonishing growth of smartphone platforms over the past decade is largely responsible for the mobile internet boom. Google confirmed for the first time earlier this year that mobile search queries now outnumber desktop searches. A further 59% of searchers report using Google on their cell phone to find local businesses.
For marketers, the message is clear: mobile is here to stay. As smartphone manufacturers work furiously to create faster, more affordable devices, the number of consumers turning to the mobile web will continue to increase. This makes it imperative to invest in mobile website tools to protect the long-term returns of your business.
Preparing Your Site for Mobile Users
From a user experience (UX) point of view, it makes perfect sense to ensure your mobile customers can easily peruse your business site on their smartphones and tablets. The ramifications of neglecting mobile buyers extend far beyond a lost sale here and there, however. Google announced its intention to penalize sites that don’t use responsive design earlier this year. Dubbed “mobilegeddon,” this event marked an important turning point for marketers across the globe.
Fortunately, implementing a responsive design isn’t very challenging, particularly if you’re working with the right web design partner. If you haven’t already made the switch over, be sure to prioritize this development, as failure to do so will hurt your ranking in search results.
Maximizing Mobile Conversion Rates
Any effective website needs to convert visitors into buyers, but the rules are different when catering to the mobile customer. First and foremost, keep page bloat in check by eliminating extra content. A mobile visitor wants simplicity and a streamlined experience.
You also need a visible call-to-action for mobile readers. Encourage them to make a reservation at your restaurant or connect with your team on social media—don’t simply leave engagement in the user’s hands and hope for the best. Continually test new conversion techniques to perfect your sales funnel and keep your site performing optimally.
Attracting potential customers online is a complex formula that hinges on a number of different factors. By ensuring your site is responsive and following the best conversion practices, you’ll maximize the value of your mobile marketing dollars. This will in turn generate additional sales for your business and help you make a real impact on mobile consumers.
Customers make split-second judgments about your business every single day. From your branding and logo to the product you sell, your clients will use the information available to them to make a snap decision. While some things simply cannot be helped, your business website isn’t one of them. Rather than slapping something together on the cheap and calling it a done deal, it’s essential to approach your site’s development from a marketing point of view.
Ready to get started? Use the following tips to make a great first impression on your site visitors.
Exploring the Importance of UX
User experience, often shortened UX, is a key component of a successful website. UX encompasses a number of different elements, including your branding, marketing, and overall usability of the site. In most cases, partnering with a trusted web development firm is the smartest option for creating an appealing site that makes the right impression on your customers.
Remember, a poor site won’t merely cause frustration for your customers, but it could send them in droves to your competitors. A poorly designed site shows a lack of appropriate customer care and could convince would-be clients that you’re irrelevant or out of touch. Don’t play around with bad design—get things in order from the moment you purchase your domain.
Connecting On Mobile Devices
The mobile web has witnessed an incredible period of growth over the last decade, as consumers flock to smartphones and tablets to access the internet. Responsive website design plays an important role in ensuring every visitor receives the same positive browsing experience. If your site is only optimized for desktop users, you could be missing out on a huge segment of your target audience. An estimated 79% of smartphone users search for local businesses via their mobile devices, which should be more than convincing if you’re still in two minds about investing in responsive design.
Creating Cohesive Branding
Cohesive, consistent branding falls under the umbrella of Marketing 101, but a surprising number of small business owners ignore this key principle. Simple discrepancies in your color scheme, logos, and marketing materials could confuse your clients and cause them to lose trust in your brand. Treat your website as an extension of your marketing materials, and apply the same branding across your physical products, ads, and site. This builds credibility for your business and keeps your message on point.
As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Don’t leave your business’ success up to chance, but instead invest in the right tools to build a strong foundation for your company. A well-designed, thoughtful website serves as the first point of contact for reaching many of your customers. By investing the time and resources to ensure the site effectively converts, you’ll avoid lost sales and keep your company on the path to a healthy future.