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10 Internet Marketing Strategies for Small Business

Internet marketing strategies

Internet marketing is not an option, it is a necessity for every small business to grow. We love working with start up companies, we love the passion and the excitement new entrepreneurs bring with each bright venture. It is also hard for us to meet some of these fresh start up small businesses who are following their dreams but haven’t done the due diligence of research. We are often contacted first to design and develop a small business website. One of our specialities here of course. However in our first website consultation we talk to our prospective customers about how they are going to market their new business and if they have considered internet marketing. Unfortunately many small business owners believe having a website is an internet marketing strategy. It is a component but it is not a complete strategy to drive traffic, phone calls and orders in and of itself.

Following is a list of some of the internet marketing strategies small businesses implement. Not all of these internet marketing concepts are necessary for every single business. If you are not sure about which will fit best with your internet marketing goals post a question in the comment sections and I will be happy to help. I will need to know what your product or service is and what your internet marketing goals are. Do you want to increase page views, do you want to make more sales, do you want more downloads, etc.

10 Internet Marketing Strategies for small business

  1. Web Presence – First and foremost is to have a fully functioning quality website. A website that communicates quickly what your product or service is key in keeping your visitor engaged in staying on your website long enough to determine if they want to work with you. List your services or products, make it easy to locate contact information whether it is an online form and most definitely provide an email contact and phone number on all your pages. Don’t skimp on your website design. If your website looks cheap your company will bear the burden of this perception.
  2. Content Marketing – Content marketing includes articles, blog posts, press releases, e-books, all types of photos including product photos, staff photos, stock photos for your blog posts, and videos. Don’t ever worry that you are offering too much information on your website. Note you will naturally be adding relevant keywords to your content (see SEO below) and you will be answering every visitors question each time they come to your site. Sharing your wisdom and expertise adds credibility and trust for your customer and bodes higher search results than websites that don’t get updated frequently and have less content
  3. SEO/SEM – Search engine marketing helps bring your website up in search results within search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. The use of relevant keywords holds high importance in SEO for small business websites. To use Connection Group as an example, as a graphic design and marketing company in the Lansing Michigan area we want customers who are seeking graphic design and marketing in the Lansing, Michigan to find us. The best way to be visible in search engines is to make sure we have those keywords (graphic design, marketing, Lansing, Michigan) on our website in various places.  There are many components of SEO and many bad practices by disreputable SEO firms to avoid. Please post in comments if you have questions.
  4. Local Search Marketing – Local search incorporates the rules and tactics for standard SEO and integrates maps, such as Google maps. When a customer searches your product or services a map with local companies who fit the query come up. Your company and similar companies in your industry will have listing that include contact information such as address, phone number, and can include website and there will be a symbol on the map indicating your exact business location.
  5. Social Media Marketing – Everybody groan and get it over with. I know social media for small businesses is an internet strategy that challenges the best of us but it all comes down to your goals and your audience. Some of our customers rock Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and others report increased sales rates from the traffic they received from LinkedIn. The most challenging part of social media as an internet marketing strategy for small businesses  is setting the frequency of posts and determining return on investment. To start, I recommend securing social media profiles with your business name in all of the main social media channels. The next step is to evaluate which social media channels your customers spend the most time in, when they are there and what they want to hear from you.  Piece of cake right?
  6. Email Marketing – Email marketing lists are considered by many to be the most valuable database in many small businesses portfolio. Email marketing lists are built from customers and prospects who have expressed an interest in your product or service. Whether you gained them through a give away, a promise to keep them updated on new product releases, or discounts, these people have opted in to receive communication from you. Unlike a phone call, or face to face meeting, emails can be sent 24/7 and the recipient can choose when they will look at them and how they will respond. Small businesses should consider using an established email marketing software such as Mailchimp to help ensure your campaigns reach your customers in-box without getting caught in spam filters.
  7. Landing Pages – A landing page is a page on your website that is designed to capture visitors contact information. Landing pages contain a lead capture form (conversion form) also known as an online inquiry form. Created for a specific audience they can be a very successful internet marketing strategy. Good landing pages are simple and focus on one message to achieve the goal of capturing the lead content. Consider using landing pages with email campaigns targeted to previous customers, use of landing pages with online advertising allow ease of tracking and optimizing for each ad, and lastly landing pages can be used for giveaways and free downloads of e-books, original graphics, etc.
  8. Mobile Compatibility – Mobile marketing statistics so far for 2014 show some industries are seeing nearly 50% of visits to their websites from mobile users. This of course will vary with demographics and your actual product or service but it is high across the board – high enough not to ignore. Most small businesses are investing in responsive website design rather than going with a desktop website and a separate mobile website. Maintaining two separate websites is just crazy unless that’s all you have to do all day. Responsive sites provide the best of both worlds. Those visiting your site on a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer get the same information, it is all just scaled for the screen size they are using. Questions? Let’s talk.
  9. Online directory listings – Make sure your business is listed and complete your information and be sure there is accurate contact information in all main online directories such as Google, Bing, Yelp and YP. Consumers who do not know your company name but are searching for your product or service can view your listing and contact you. Most directories have free listings and others offer more options at a cost. There are many other service listings like Yext, etc. and also industry specific directories you will want to explore.
  10. Google Adwords and Social Media Paid Advertising – Google Adwords can help bring you to the top of searches page by paying for top placement. Internet advertising is sold on a cost per click (CPC) or cost per  impression. You build ads using keywords for your product or service depending on your budget and how many others in your industry are advertising the same keywords and setting similar budgets your ad will come up in when people search for your product or service. Due diligence must be paid to each online adverting campaign to make sure you are getting in the top rankings and that you are taking advantage of each opportunity. As you work to improve organic search engine results for your website by adding content, etc. Although not for the faint at heart or for those who are not very ‘techie’, Google adwords and some social media advertising can be a good addition to your internet marketing strategy.

So which of the 10 internet marketing strategies above does your company need the most to increase inbound marketing results? Do you think you need to start working on all or them, or only 1 − 4, or are you completely overwhelmed and want to go back to door to door sales and forget all this crazy internet stuff? Connect with us, we can help with all of the services listed, we know the ropes and we can help get results.

Stay connected!

Photo credit: Apple, the Apple logo and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Can A Small Business Blog Increase Website Visits?

computer screen with connection graphics website design with list of blogging basics: • Integrate your blog with your website. • Include tags in your posts. • Include comments on your blog.  • Promote your blog.  • Include share buttons in your blog. Absolutely! A corporate or small business blog is one of the best ways to share information about your products and services, current events and sales promotions or press your organization has received. A happy accident of sharing this information is that your company blog posts add relevant content to your website which offers a better chance of appearing in search engines such as Google and Yahoo. A third benefit is when you add scheduled corporate blog posts your small business website will get higher marks from the search engines because not only is the content relevant, it is current. Relevant plus fresh content equals SEO (search engine optimization) or higher search results.

Not every visitor who comes to your website from a search may result in a phone call or a sale but like all advertising, marketing and sales, it’s a numbers game. The more people who engage with your blog and your corporate website the more likely you will enjoy increased company sales from your blogging. By posting relevant blog content you become the trusted source for your visitors and existing customers for information on your product or industry.

Proactive planning can determine how often you should post a new blog entry

editorial-calendar-graphic-connectiongraphics.comThere really is no on-size-fits-all formula for small business blog posting, anymore than there is a one-size-fits-all marketing plan for small business. It really depends on the goals you have set for your digital marketing. It also depends on how much time you have to feed your blog or the budget to outsource it to an marketing company.

Now, there are success stories about small business blogs that have become income generators in and of themselves.  If your corporate blog attracts 1000’s of daily website visits you may want to plan daily blog posts. However most small business blogs primarily serve as information tools, and as a portal to add relevant website content to increase website visits through SEO. The way Connection Group approaches client blog scheduling is to determine the role of the blog in each small business marketing plan. We recommend creating an editorial calendar for your blog posts. Our e-marketing packages that include blog posting, e-mail newsletters, and social media we develop a monthly plan. For instance if your company hosts an event for small business owners every January all of the content scheduled for the month of January will include information about the event. All of this will be in your editorial calendar. Including your blog updates in a small business editorial calendar helps you know what you will be covering each month and will help keep you on a schedule. Whether you write blog posts daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly a plan is a must.

Embrace the power of content on your small business blog

Each blog post should offer insight into your corporate philosophy, industry standards, details on a product or service you offer, or changes that may effect the customer. Seek content that will increase the visitors understanding of the subject. Help your customers make educated choices and purchases. Just as the visitors to your small business blog are researching, be sure to research the content for your corporate blog posts. Research but no stealing! Sharing the most current information available is important just avoid plagiarizing others work.

When you are satisfied with the information you have written for your blog post, add an image. Statistics from 3M corporation and Zabisco state that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are transmitted to the brain 60,000 times faster than text! Increase your website visits by using original graphic designs, photos or videos to connect and engage with your audience. Select only images that that are free from copyright. See the article in our e-newsletter about copyright issues and images.

Your blog is posted – Now, how do you increase your website visits?

integrate your blog with your website  blog and navigationIntegrate your blog with your website
The first step is to make sure your small business blog  part of your corporate website, not a separate page. There are many free blogging software options available and it is very easy to tie them into your existing small business website. Contact your web design and development company to create a seamless integration of your blog and corporate site. The biggest benefit is if you have a visitor to your blog, in the eyes of search engine tracking, you have just increased website visits. Other benefits are a custom designed blog will be consistent with your corporate brand and your complete website user interface is built into the blog so the visitor can easily click over to other website pages.

Include tags in your posts. Tags help people find your information more easily when they are searching the web. For instance for this blog entry on our website I would include small business blog, and small business website design and development as tags. Because we offer those services and those services are discussed in this blog adding them as tags show our website and our blog are relevant when people search for small business blog or small business website design and development. When visitors click on a tag in our posts they will see a list of previous posts that relate to those subjects.

Include comments on your blog. Comments show that you are open to feedback, good or bad. Allowing comments on your blog shows your visitors that you want to communicate with your customers. Comments may also help you determine what your visitors are looking for, give you ideas for future articles, and  comments may use keywords that will come up in searches too. Do make sure you moderate your comments though! Even with strong spam filters blogs are petri dishes for spam – check them regularly. We set up our comments to be pre-approved prior to posting just for this reason. As visitors begin to interact with comments you will build a community and advocates for your brand on and offline.

share buttons for blogInclude share buttons in your blog. Make it easy for viewers to share your website content. One share from a high ranking social media influencer can increase website visits astronomically. The ability to share across social media and email is how videos and blog entries go viral – this is an easy way small business blogs can get noticed.

Promote your blog. When you have posted a new blog entry promote your blog in all your marketing outposts. Social media is a great platform to share your blog posts, twitter, Facebook business pages, Linkedin profiles and industry specific groups and social media channels get the information to targeted groups. Include your blog link in your email signature and add a snippet of your current blog posts to your email newsletters.

Are you a small business who doesn’t have time to blog?

Connection Group understands that small businesses are limited with time and resources to implement all the marketing components that will help build their corporate brands and increase website traffic. We have developed a variety of e-marketing packages to suit the variety of requests our customers need. We’re here to help you build connections and reach your target audience – if you just need a monthly blog entry, a combination of e- mail marketing, social media and blog management we have monthly packages that will suit your small businesses goals and budget. We offer a free half hour consultation to discuss what digital marketing elements will fit you best.

Give us a call or shoot us an email today. We appreciate feedback on our blog content and encourage additional insights readers can share to help other visitors learn more. Please add your comments or questions below.

Stay connected!

Connection Group Quick Tips on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 2009

These tips are current as of today Dec. 2009.
SEO changes rapidly so please check back with us for questions regularly.

Text, Content & Keywords on your Site
• Site content
• Location of text the search engines can see.

Inbound links
• Other sites linking to your site

Site Architecture
• Code or Back-end of your Web site

To find our what words searchers are using go to:
Google™ Keyword Tool
https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal?defaultView=2

Where to Place the Keywords

Title Tag
Once you find some top key words to use, include them in your page title tags. Be sure to pay attention to spelling, singular or plural (graphic, graphics) and the order the words are listed (design graphics (no), graphic design (yes)

Title Tag Tips
<title>Title text</title>
<title>The name of your company here: your specialty and industry</title>
<title>Connection Group: Branding Design </title>

Other Places to Add Keywords

Meta tags
• Description tag is the most important
• Keywords in site copy- currently the first 25 words of your home page are most critical.

Other Areas Bots Pay attention to:
Headlines
Bold and italicized words
Within links to other places on your site

Inbound Links

Who is linking to your site?
• Go to: http://yahoo.com
link:domainname (exam. in the search box I typed:
link:www.connectiongraphics.com then hit return. Be sure to check your whole site, not just your home page.
Inbound Link Summary
Check your page rank: http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php
Sign your site up for a free link: (quality sites only)
miwomen.com
• Online directories
• Link to customers, groups, charities, etc.

How Links to Your Site Help

• Check Google Page Rank
(0 to 10 – 10 is best) http://toolbar.google.com
The above is free and installs in seconds
• Are the links relevant to what you are selling? Are there similar keywords on both sites?
• Title Keywords / Title Tag relevant?
• Anchor Keyword – The text that, when clicked, brings the user to your Web site should be descriptive (not just click here).
• Quantity – Number of sites linking to your Web site helps your page rank.

How you can get Web sites to link to Your Site

• Work with www.connectiongraphics.com (let us add your ad and Web link!)
• Join Membership & Networking Organizations: Chamber of Commerce, WISE, your LocalFirst, Social Media Groups, etc.
• Online Directories
• Yellow Pages / Yellow Book (pay 🙁 )
Yahoo, Business.com (various levels)
• Add Good Site Content and become a noted expert and resource.
• Add content to other sites (social networking and resource sites, blogs, etc.)

Ask for Links
• Suppliers and Customers
• Business Partners
• Organizations (charitable, groups, associations)
• Event Sponsorship
• WISE http://wiseconnections.org/ accepts articles in exchange
• Fundraiser Outings (News Page)
• Reciprocal Links
• Search on your site name and find out who is linking to you and recirocate.

Why to hire experienced Web designers and developers to build your site architecture…

Major Problem Areas for Search Engines

• Site designed with frames
• Sites that are all FLASH. Currently Flash is not Search Engine friendly.
• Your URL does not change when browsing to another page or site
• Too much animation
• Entire page is a “image/graphic” or pdf.
• Slow loading because graphics have not been optimized properly or poor text quality.
• NavBars in Flash or Java Script (this is also important for readability on the Web. Some people do not have these programs on their computer or have disabled them. If you have used flash or Javascript in your site navigation and visitors do not have them installed, all access to pages in your site are not reachable.

This short tip just scratches the surface of SEO. Please return to our tips page as we add to this information. If you’d like to see our graphic and web design samples, you can view by case study, or by service on our Web site: www.connectiongraphics.com