ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Danielle MacInnis
Danielle MacInnis Danielle thinks like a customer. Even as a little kid she has always shown deep empathy for others. Dan uses this customer insight to help small businesses create practical marketing strategies that work. Using this customer centric approach and her 20 years experience in sales and marketing, Dan takes what is in your head, adds her expertise to create a system to assist you make better marketing decisions, attracts a regular stream of ideal customers and creates a brand that your employees and customers will love!

Danielle MacInnis has written 36 article(s) for us.

Visit http://www.macinnismarketing.com.au

Twitter: @danmac30

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Promoting Your Small Business Online: Top Tips and Tools

September 18, 2012 | Danielle MacInnis

It can be hard to know where to start in promoting your small business. Use these top tips and tools to get the most out of your online promotion.
It can be hard to know where to start in promoting your small business. Use these top tips and tools to get the most out of your online promotion.

Here are my Five Top Tips and Tools for Promoting Your Small Business Online. Remember it is not about traffic. The name of the game is getting leads and conversions or sales!

A Website Presence

You need to have a website that says what you do, who for and why they should use you. Your website is your shopfront and is working for you 24/7, so you need to invest in one that is professional and represents your brand. A key tip is that you need a content management system that you can update. Relevant, fresh content is a very important way to drive visits to your site so you need to be able to add new content regularly. It is also important that you add Google Analytics to your website so you can see information about how your website is working.

To build a website you can view my apps and see which platforms I like or use our ‘how to’ section on how to build a website. It is also a good idea to see how your site looks on a mobile device with go mobile app and build a mobile version using Wire Node. You can also use a tool called Lucky Orange to see how your website works from a customer perspective, we love that!

Remember if your website doesn’t have a call to action you are wasting your money. A call to action is the step you would like your prospect or customer to take. It needs to be appropriate. A free trial, download, meeting, sample etc. You need to nurture the relationship overtime.

Pay-Per-Click

‘If you build it they might not come’, is very true for a website. You need to spend as much time on building your website as you do promoting it. This may start with some initial SEO and directory listings to ensure you are found but I suggest a Pay-Per-Click campaign to ensure you are on the right track and for some great feedback quickly.

Maybe you have heard about other small businesses getting great results with Pay-Per-Click, but it looks like a lot of time to manage and you don’t have a lot of money to spend. Maybe you just aren’t sure you know where to start, what to do or how to do it? Pay-Per-Click campaigns can get you immediate results. You get immediate feedback, you can see which keywords are performing and then you can tweak it very easily to get it to actually bring you the sales.

The key tip is to set a very restrictive budget. Don’t set the budget that Google tells you to set. Set something that you are comfortable with.You’ve got to watch it very, very carefully at the start and also think about whether this is the right thing for your business too. Using Google keyword tool you can start to work out what keywords bring you traffic. You can also use Wordstream which gives you more information and I think is better than Google’s keyword tool. Remember, while Google dominates advertising online it is not the only medium.

Now you can advertise in LinkedIn and Facebook. Both are more affordable than Adwords and might be a more relevant medium depending on your audience. The key tip is to track what works. Display advertising can be good but you have to be really careful with that. It’s less controllable than Pay-Per-Click or SEO is, so you can run through a lot of money very quickly. You have to decide what other sites are my customers really engaging and you really need to know the demographics of your audience to engage in display advertising.

If you choose to use a consultant, which is a good idea if you are educated in the process, and they say that they can guarantee you a one page off Google, run! It takes about 6 months to get any real effect on google using AdWords but I wouldn’t lock in for longer than that in a contract. Raven tools is a good aggregator tool for looking at many online metrics if you want to do it yourself.

SEO

So once you see the keywords that are performing in your AdWords campaign, it’s really easy to then start doing your SEO and setting up an account on SEO. Then you can start to see the things you want to follow on social media as well.

If you know the keywords that are performing for you with Pay-Per-Click, you can use those keywords to actually follow those keywords on Twitter and see where the conversations are happening and then engage in those types of conversations. If you set up a Google Alert you can track what is being said about you (or your competitors) to see what words people are using to describe you. Remember you should have SEO on your website as a given but tweaking it is really important. The descriptions for each page appear to be more important than the key words but Google is always playing with this.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is an important part of online marketing and often overlooked by small businesses. Customers need reminding that you are out there. It is not spamming if it is valuable information and you always provide an opt out function. To have an email campaign you need a list. You can start with your existing customers but often small businesses haven’t been in the habit of collecting names, emails, mobiles etc. START!

You also can have a landing page on your website with a form and an attractive offer to start this lead generation process. Don’t try and run an email campaign using Outlook because you’ll get blacklisted all over the place on a bunch of the ISP’s. You want to use something that is guaranteed to get through to your customer by using a good email solution that can really make a difference in the deliverability of your emails. I use Mailchimp because it integrates nicely with my form generator Wufoo and it has great social sharing tools and analytics but there are many tools out there including some fully automated marketing software like Infusionsoft or Hubspot.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is the next level of online marketing for a small business. Many have started to play with Facebook or Twitter but without a real strategy.

Facebook is more geared towards the consumer environment in that retail businesses can use it to make offers and run contests. Having said that it is a great engagement tool for local businesses to share content and build an online community. Having a blog can position you as an authority in a B2B company and can gain you credibility amongst your peers. I find a blog, email and PR strategy very important for a service based business, while a Facebook, Twitter and social interaction strategy  more relevant in a retail business.

You need to monitor the conversation on every social platform. This can be daunting for the small business owner, so it is important to only engage in those tools you are going to manage and use. It is better to be committed to LinkedIn and leverage that as a forum rather than be on Twitter and Facebook and YouTube if you have a HR business for example. Choose where your audience is and go there.

I like social aggression tools like Sprout Social.

Finally as a small business you can’t do everything all at once so start with one of these tips and do it well. Learn about it. Add Google Analytics to your website and understand what is happening so you can make better business decisions. The real measure of effective online marketing is leads, contacts in your database, new opportunities and returning customers that buy again. You can control how much it costs you to create leads and work out what is the right mix for your business if you are informed about the tools you need to be aware of.