Monthly Archives: June 2014

3 Steps to Online Success: Step 2 – Marketing Online

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series “3 Steps to Online Success”. In Part 1, we discussed getting the right website for your business. In this article, we’ll discuss marketing online and why it should be apart of your marketing campaign and business plan.

There are three steps to online success:

    1. Getting the right website
    2. Marketing online
    3. Managing & maintaining
3 Steps to Online Success

3 Steps to Online Success

Why market online? There are several reasons:

  • Many print publications are struggling with declining readers and subscriptions
  • People turn to the Web more often for things they need and want
  • People are are generally spending more time online
  • Online advertising and marketing continue to innovate and improve
  • Online advertising can be more focused and targeted
  • Online methods can be found and accessed more easily
  • Online advertising methods are track-able and measurable

We’re not telling you to give up on traditional methods of marketing and advertising to make a complete shift and go online. We’re saying don’t forget to integrate online marketing into your marketing strategy. Many small business owners neglect to include the online portion in their marketing plans and it often hurts business.

When it comes to marketing online, small business owners usually think “Facebook and Twitter”. If you ask a small business owner what to do with Facebook or Twitter, you will usually get a response that says “I don’t know”. Firstly, Facebook and Twitter are not the only methods a business can advertise or market themselves online. Secondly, they may not be the best channels to use. Thirdly, even if they are right for a business, if they are used the wrong way, you will produce little to no results. (Just setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account is the wrong way!)

The right marketing plan will be different for every business. For your online marketing plan, you should probably have a mix of the following:

  • Several different social media sites your type of targeted-customer frequents
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Industry-specific websites such as forums for your type of business/industry
  • Advertising on industry-specific websites, publication sites, social media sites, etc.
  • Pay-per-click campaigns for search engines
  • Product/service reviews by actual customers or users
  • And more

If you’ve completed the first step to your online campaign and have gotten yourself the right website then congratulations! Now, you need to take the next step and make sure that website is doing something for you and not just sitting around and looking pretty. Setup your online marketing and let that website go to work for your business!

3 Steps to Online Success: Step 1 – Getting the Right Website

There are three steps to online success:

    1. Getting the right website
    2. Marketing online
    3. Managing & maintaining
3 Steps to Online Success

3 Steps to Online Success

We will discuss #2 and #3 in greater detail, in following articles. In this article, we’ll discuss step 1 – getting the right website.

When small business owners and entrepreneurs have a poor online marketing strategy it is usually because of a combination of the following reasons:

  • No clear idea or goal of what they need the website to accomplish or do for them
  • Not understanding some of the basic features of the website that they need or the website they are shopping for
  • Shopping based only on price
  • Not budgeting or allocating enough towards an online campaign

Task #1: When you shop for your next website, make sure you have a clear idea of what you need. Know what you want your website to do.

Do you want your website to:

  • Just display your business name, address and telephone number?
  • Gain more eyeballs and attract more potential customers/clients?
  • Improve your business image or brand image?
  • Sell online and conduct transaction for your business?
  • Provide the ability for your clients to self-service themselves?
  • Build and deploy features on a website that can help your office improve its operation (e.g. reduce burden on staff, free up time, free up labor, etc.)

Think about and know what you want your site to do for your business.

Task #2: Know some of the basic features and capabilities so you do not fall into the common trap of shopping solely on price. Saying “all websites are the same” is the equivalent of saying:

  • All shoes are the same
  • All cars are the same
  • All watches are the same
  • All clothes are the same
  • All computers are the same
  • All phones are the same
  • All wines are the same
  • All jewelery are the same
  • All steaks are the same
  • Etc.

Even if you have limited knowledge or a limited understanding about websites, you should know that all websites are NOT the same.

You can get by with a static website if you only need to do the following:

  • Post and display non-changing business information (business name, address, telephone, etc.)
  • Have a website because competitors and others in your industry have one and you don’t want to be left out
  • Be able to answer “yes” if a customer/client asks “do you have a website”

When it comes to websites, a static website is the “bare minimum”. If you want to do anything more than what is mentioned above, you should probably choose some form of a dynamic website. Dynamic websites come in all different varieties so you may also want to refer to our earlier articles about dynamic websites and their pro’s and con’s. (You can also read more about static websites and their pro’s and con’s.)

Task #3: Be realistic about pricing and allocate your budget accordingly.

Have a realistic expectation when it comes to pricing. Many people have a misunderstanding thinking that everything that belongs online should be free or almost free. Things you may be using “for free” online really aren’t free. When you hire a Web designer, Web developer, or a Web company / Web firm, you are paying for a few things:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Experience
  3. Creativity
  4. Mental labor
  5. Physical labor

Many Web designers and Web developers spend a significant amount of time learning and mastering their craft, practicing it, continuing their study to remain up-to-date on changes in their industry. When they work on a project, they spend hours upon hours thinking and using their creativity to help create what  you want. They work to strike the balance between giving business owners the look that they want while creating something that is pleasing and easy to use for their customers.

Business owners often make the mistake of allocating too little of their budget to their online campaigns. While print publications are seeing a rapid decline in readership and subscriptions, e-commerce has seen rapid growth. If you own or run a business, it is probably a very good idea to shift more of your focus to your online campaign. (If you don’t have an online campaign, you should begin one very soon!)

The Internet has created many challenges for small businesses that have decided to ignore it or discount it. At the same time, it has created vast opportunities for the small businesses who have learned to embrace it and take advantage. Which of the two will your business be?