Top 3 Online Marketing activities for small business
Online Marketing is an essential part of the toolkit for small business. Nothing beats face-to-face or phone conversations with your customer, so small business owners still need to network and talk with their customers directly. Online marketing, on its own is unlikely to be your complete marketing plan. But it complements other activity and most small businesses operating in Australia today would be foolish to ignore it.
As with all marketing, online marketing begins with knowing who your ideal customer is.
Navigating through the online marketing choices for small business and sole traders can be daunting. This article seeks to simplify it.
Questions you’re likely to be asking are:
- What activity is going to get me best bang for my buck?
- Is it worth it?
- Can I afford it?
- How do I do it?
What activity is going to get me best bang for my buck?
This will depend on who your customers are, if they are online and where are they spending their time online. But most businesses won’t go wrong with these top three.
There are a bunch of Google products that are helpful to a small business. The five you need to know about are:
- Google +
- Google My Business
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google AdWords or Google AdWords Express
Navigating your way through the above Google products and understanding what each one does is daunting for the newcomer. Here’s a brief overview.
Google + is Google’s social media channel. Like Facebook or Twitter you can post updates that will be seen by other Google + users. Every now and again the Google search engine will pick up one of those posts and you’ll gain extra coverage. It’s relatively easy to use, fairly intutive and worth business owners getting on board, especially if you are writing blog articles as part of your marketing strategy.
Google My Business
Google My Business is a fantastic product for small businesses. It’s linked in with Google Maps and sometimes called Google Local. It allows small businesses to get on page one on Google without a website. Business owners can create and update their own listing.
If you’ve got a website linking it in with Google Analytics is a must. Create this link as soon as your website is up and running as analytics will only start recording the data once that link has been made. It’s best to get your web developer (or contact us) to get you up and running in analytics as it’s a bit techy. Once it’s set up you should seek to understand the basic reports and learn what parts of your website are working and what parts aren’t.
Google Search Console
This is a very techy area of Google and best to get your web developer to create the link for you to ensure your website is verified with Google through their Search Console. This is mostly a once-off set-up with little ongoing work required.
Google AdWords and Google AdWords Express
After all the free stuff you can’t blame Google for wanting to take a bit of money – and this is where they do it – with their advertising. You’re likely to have been encouraged to create an advert on the Google platform after you’ve created your Google My Business listing. Google are likely to have sent you a coupon code to get you started in Google AdWords Express. Here’s a good video that walks you through how to set up a Google AdWords Express advert and the key differences between Google AdWords and Google AdWords Express.
What most small businesses want is to be on page one on Google when potential customers search for them. There’s a lot of learning, persistence and hard work in achieveing that. All five of the above Google products will help you get there.
MailChimp (or email marketing)
Most business owners shy away from email marketing as they over-estimate the nuisance factor of emails and under-estimate their potential to grow business. Email marketing is great for businesses who have a lot of information to share, are specialists in their field or have a good inventory of products. Service providers and professionals such as physiotherapists, accountants and freelancers will find email marketing a valuable tool to build their business. Local shops such as gift shops, produce, fashion and kids activities will also find email marketing works well for them. Often the first email is the hardest – take a look at our article on how to get started.
There are almost three times more people actively using Facebook than any other social media channel. That’s why it features so strongly in marketing articles like this one. Some businesses will find the free business page works well for them to build brand awareness, other businesses may find it’s the advertising on Facebook that is right for them. Check out our Beyond Boosting a Post article for more tips on Facebook advertising.
Is it worth it?
Generating leads and getting new customers is at the heart of all businesses (and even not-for-profit organisations and sporting clubs). Your business may call them clients or members or guests or supporters, but they all come under the umbrella of customers and all organisations need them. If your current marketing and promotion is generating all the leads you need, then read no further. But the fact that you are reading this article more than likely answers the question. Yes, it is worth it. You need a steady stream of new customers and returning customers to keep your doors open. And it’s up to you to pro-actively go out and find them.
Can I afford it?
Perhaps the better question is can you afford not to?
I remember having a small business back in the 80’s. At that time online marketing didn’t exist and Yellow Pages was king. $1,000 was the going rate for a small advert.
The cost of marketing has skyrocketed – DOWN – not up. You can do a whole bunch of stuff for free, or at a very low cost. You can outlay as little as $5/day for 2 weeks to a highly targeted audience.
The three channels in this article (Google, MailChimp and Facebook) all operate as freemium models. The free versions will give you a completely acceptable level of functionality and value to promote your business. The premium or paid add-ons give you highly targeted ways to reach new customers or build loyalty with current customers.
How do I do it?
And this is the difficult part. For many small business owners and sole traders online marketing is daunting. Some have tried, failed and given up. Some have never tried or given it a very rudimentary start only to let it go after a short time.
Computers don’t suit everyone and the rules and knowledge around how to use the platforms can be a puzzle. And what’s more, the rules keep changing. What was the most effective thing to do 5 years ago, and sometimes 2 years ago, is not necessarily the most effective activity to be doing now. No wonder small business and sole traders find online marketing hard.
Placing an ad with the Yellow Pages might have been expensive – but it wasn’t hard! The technical ability to market has skyrocketed – up – not down! It’s a vice versa situation. What small businesses gain in $ terms they lose in difficultly level.
But don’t let that put you off. If you can master it, do. Learn, learn and keep learning. Google, You Tube and seminars are a great way to learn. All the platforms in my top 3 have their own video tutorials that explain how to use them. But even then it can still be daunting. There are many tricks to the trade, and one tweak here or there can make the difference between a low performing campaign and a high performing one.
And for some small business and sole traders, paying a service provider, like DIY Digital, that knows the platforms and knows how to use them to best effect could be your answer. Why not hire us for 3 months on a small retainer basis (2-3 hours a week) to get you started? After that you might find you can continue on for yourself.
Either way, don’t ignore online marketing – your customers are most likely online – are you?
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