How Websites are Found?
You had a great idea and you’ve turned it into a small business. Suddenly you’re the CEO, the book keeper, the admin support, the sales team, the marketing executive and there’s barely time to concentrate on the work you actually set up your business to do. Leisure activities and sleep are a thing of the past.
It’s a tension many small businesses can identify with, particularly in the area of marketing a business in an age where it is crucial to have an online presence.
Yet, we can’t ignore our marketing if we want our businesses to succeed.
“Marketing consists of the strategies and tactics used to identify, create and maintain satisfying relationships with customers that result in value for both the customer and the marketer.”
Well, that seems simple enough – we find out what you want, give you good reasons for buying it and you buy it.
Not quite. When you start looking into it, everything gets so much more complicated and time consuming. Keeping up with the latest must-do marketing tactic can become a nightmare.
Marketing strategy needs to be thought through and targeted after careful research. You did some of that when you were getting your website built. You defined who your potential customers are, where they are likely to hang out and when they’re likely to be online.
So, increasingly, using social media may be a necessary component but it doesn’t mean you have to post everywhere, only on those media where your customers are. The secret is regularly being in the right place at the right time and patience – you’re building relationships.
It’s dating not speed dating!
Online marketing – a bit of history
Marketing techniques have developed and changed rapidly in the last 10-15 years. The focus has shifted from what has been called “push” or “outbound” marketing – such as advertising, leaflets, flyers and cold calling, all of which still have their place for some businesses.
But increasingly the focus has shifted to “inbound” marketing. Inbound marketing is about creating content on websites, blogs and in social media that entertains and informs to build relationships with customers and clients. It’s time and labour intensive and takes skill.
These are just some of the tools that have developed over the last decade or so. These all help with how websites are found and marketing, some are less obvious than others but they all apply.
- Networking – in person via business breakfasts, networking lunches etc, or online networking via social media. Both are enduring techniques for building trust but take time, commitment and listening skills.
- E-newsletters – regular communications with your clients and potential clients, endures as one of the best performing means of engaging with them if done well.
- Article marketing as part of SEO was an early technique of putting articles rich in relevant keywords for your business into online publishing sites to encourage visitors to websites in the days when Google and others assessed them on the basis of visitor numbers.
Beware: no longer effective as Google’s assessment has shifted from quantity to quality and too many articles have been copied from reputable publishing sites to others that are known as article farms.
- Blogs, white papers, briefing sheets, articles and case studies published on your website – all great techniques for inbound marketing as long as they are interesting, useful, relevant and well written.
- Videos – provide a welcome and a personal “face” if done well. They were a “must have” and widely adopted as the “new marketing tool” but too many are just plain awful – talking heads shouting “we can… we are… we offer….” for way too long with no switch-off button.
- Social media, eg: LinkedIn, facebook, you tube, google+, pinterest, twitter, all great tools for engaging with customers and encouraging them to visit your website – as long as you add some new content to the website at regular intervals.
- Infographics a means of presenting statistics and other information in pictorial form.
- Apps- increasingly, mobile phone apps that help customers locate you geographically, make bookings, even make payments and download offer vouchers are all part of the mix in your website and expected by customers, especially if they are in the area visiting. By using ‘geolocation’ you can increase your mobile marketing by reaching people as they pass near to your premises. You can also send them your latest offers, which is a great tool for the impulse buyer.
Have you noticed how many of these require not only a clear strategy but content that is well written to engage consumers, to generate dialogue and deliver relevant and useful information to achieve your objectives?
So what’s SEO?
“Content Marketing is the only marketing left” according to Seth Godin, an American author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker.
Many of items in the list above are content marketing techniques but they are also aspects of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO is about making sure a website is properly set up (the techie stuff you don’t see) and acceptable to search engines like Google to appear as high on its lists as possible and about maintaining that position. Like everything in marketing SEO techniques evolve. It is either a case of doing it yourself or getting someone you know who has the skills already and ensuring they are briefed on what makes your business money.
Make sure they push you for the right areas also. Many marketing or search companies can get you found for a range of things. If they are the right and profitable things is what counts as you want the maximum return you can get.
Beware those SEO “experts” who promise to get your website to top of page 1 in Google in just a couple of weeks. Just think how many businesses and websites you’re in competition with. How can they all be number 1 at the same time? It’s likely that promises like these use techniques – known as “black hat” – that Google regards as cheating and could get your website blacklisted – a fate worse than death.
And finally – don’t forget to measure the results
Having planned your strategy and defined what results you want to achieve (more visitors to your website / more phone and email inquiries / more leads / to position yourself as an expert/ to create dialogue with your customers) you want to know whether it is working. There are plenty of online tools, such as Google analytics, that will help you to find out how well your marketing is doing its job. They will help you tweak, amend and refocus your marketing activity as required.
Do you have the knowledge, the time and the skill to keep on top of all this? Would you like to find a trusted partner to help you market your business and leave you with more time to focus on your core business activity and have a life?