Whether you are a small local business just starting out or have been plying your trade for years, you need to have an online presence – and a strong one at that.
Why? It’s a simple answer – when people are looking for a product or company, 97% of them search for information online, according to SEO Tribunal.
Unfortunately, small business marketing only seems to revolve around a website, e-mail, social media, and maybe a blog. Nothing wrong with these – they are important, and all work.
But there are many more things a small business can do to increase its online presence to grow and maintain its customer base.
1) Brand Identity.
This isn’t just knowing that you sell shoes, for example.
Brand Identity is your product, brand name, logo, and what you stand for. For one’s product, it’s knowing that it’s not “just shoes”, but the style, age range, usage, materials, etc., that make up who you are and what your business is.
If you have a brand name or logo, things to consider include knowing if it is memorable and meaningful, does it connect to your product, or can it be associated with another product or service in your industry or elsewhere?
What you stand for is your “mission statement or core values”, such as providing a high-quality customer experience, or social or ecological responsibility.
There’s more to Brand Identity than just the above, which is why utilizing a professional marketing company can help.
2) Create a Buyer Profile
A Buyer Profile (or Buyer Persona) is a profile of your ideal customer, and knowing who your ideal customer is makes it easier to market yourself to them. This involves a bit of market research to determine real information about your existing customers, such as: demographics, behaviour patterns, goals, etc. The goal is to help build a bond with your customer.
3) Website Tracking
You’ve built or had someone build your website – now what? It’s important to track what is going on. Using a tool such as Google Analytics, the small business owner can not only determine how many people are visiting the site, but when they are doing it, how long they are staying, and even if they move off the website’s home page to delve further into the site. There’s much more, of course, but even knowing the aforementioned can help determine the best date and time of day to deploy a blog or a newsletter to maximize the potential of visits to your website.
Search Engine Optimization helps your website appear higher when online searches are conducted. Search engines, such as Google, utilize complex algorithms to determine the best online content for the searcher. Simply adding a keyword such as “flower” for a small business florist, for example, isn’t enough. Utilizing relevant keywords and knowing where to place them on your website is a start. The more original content you can provide, featuring original relevant headlines is also important. Using Google My Business with relevant contact information will also help get you noticed. The same with Yelp reviews, and providing an always up-to-date and easy-to-navigate business website.
5) Optimizing For Mobile Devices.
Have you ever visited a blog or website on your mobile device and found that you have to swipe left and right to read a line on a page? It’s because the site has not been properly optimized for mobile devices. Not only is it annoying to try and read, but one can lose prospective customers because of the aggravation. Search engines such as Google will rank a site higher if it is optimized for various types of computer, tablets, and all the types of mobile phones out there.
6) Photo and Video Content
For social media, photos and video are eye-catching – which is the first step in garnering new business. While website customers do want to see videos, they don’t necessarily want a talking head discussing the product, preferring to see the product or service in action. For a small business like a restaurant, for example, while photos of food or beverages are great, a video showing the dining experience, the cleanliness and efficiency of the kitchen can also make a lasting positive impression. But make sure you stay on brand. The BC Lions of the Canadian Football League parlayed “fan experience” – part of the league’s brand – into a fun video, without actually showing the product, explaining why one should go see a game live:
Although a small business owner should not have to create such a slick (or expensive) video, it is important to note that regardless of the genre, or the product or service offered, a good video placed on your website AND on social media can help attract customers to your brand.
Whether it’s a coupon, a gift offer, or a discount, everybody likes to save money and providing such an offer can encourage a customer to purchase, and better yet, re-purchase. For example, Clearly, an online distributor of glasses and contact lenses sends out e-mail reminders to customers indicating it is time to restock, while providing a “free-shipping code” for the next purchase. The reminder shows the company cares about the customer’s well-being, and the offer thanks them for being a loyal customer when they re-order.
Located in the Toronto area, Strider and its international partners can help local business across North America initiate and maintain all of the above marketing strategies. Check out Strider’s Value SEO plans, or contact us for a personalized recommendation.