By: Josh Anish, Senior Writer at Kabbage, where small businesses get funding quickly
Owning and operating a small business has never been easy and finding creative ways to market your business and its products only adds to your growing list of things to do. The ever-increasing importance of search engines and social platforms has forced small business owners to blend traditional web marketing strategies with more innovative techniques.
Here are some tips from the experts at Kabbage about marketing your small business on the web.
Hire someone smart to optimize your websites for search engines
In the past, small business owners depended on word of mouth or a print copy of the Yellow Pages to attract potential new customers, but Google and Bing are quickly becoming the go-to way for consumers to find local businesses. According to a 2011 Burke survey, 76 percent of respondents used search engines in the past year to find a local businesses; earning a spot on the first page for your company’s website can result in substantial increases in traffic. Full-service SEO isn’t a difficult undertaking for those who understand what they’re doing, so if you don’t know anything about optimizing your website for search engines, invest in someone who does and the new business might come faster than you expect.
Make content your top priority
The notion has grown so common it has become cliché but content truly is king when it comes to effectively marketing your business on the web. Not only does excellent content have residual SEO benefit, but it will also help potential online customers feel engaged and informed; this sense of empowerment can lead to readers sharing your articles on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. This content should include everything from clever tag lines for your services to in-depth information about what you are offering and why potential customers need it. Maintaining an active and informative blog may be the most important piece of this. Blogs can have SEO benefits, they can help customers learn something, and if you actively engage with customers who have questions, they can be a great way for customers to feel as if they are receiving the personal attention every consumer desires.
Make good use of the free online business directories
This may seem like a no-brainer but it is an important marketing step nonetheless. Directories like Yelp, Yellowpages.com, Yahoo! Local and Google Local Business Center are just a few of the online business directories that inquiring consumers use to find the products they need. A 2010 consumer tracking study from BIA/Kelsey reported that nearly 97 percent of consumers use online media to search for local businesses and products and you better believe these business directories are a big portion of that online media. This doesn’t mean you should start eliciting phony reviews to pump up the reputation of your business, but if you list your business and provide excellent customer service, your online reputation will build itself. If that isn’t enough to convince you, consider the fact that you have nothing to lose. These directories get tons of traffic every day and they are free to join, so even if the directories only result in one or two new customers per month, you are still getting a great return on your investment.
Use in-depth analytics to understand your customers, Internet users, and competitors better
Data on the performance of your website, the return of investment on your blogging and social media efforts, and the success of your SEO investment will help you eliminate inefficiency in your business if you use them correctly. Most small business owners are so busy juggling tasks they can often find themselves investing in something that isn’t really affecting traffic, sales, and customer conversion. Analytics will give small business owners detailed insight into the effectiveness of their marketing efforts and can be easy to use if you are willing to spend the time to learn how to use the available analytics tools. Limited budgets and bandwidth mean that small business owners can’t afford to prioritize poorly and the best way to ensure they are prioritizing effectively is to follow their marketing tactics closely with a combination of web and marketing analytics. We recommend first getting acquainted with a Google Analytics account and moving on from there, if need be, to track revenue numbers. Google Analytics is famously awesome at reporting your traffic data, and infamously bad at tracking revenue.