Make online marketing work for you

7 min read
Meghan Thomson

If you’re a small business owner, you’re likely stressed, tired or even overwhelmed. It’s daunting enough to start a business — never mind having to go out and find customers. The online marketing world is vast and fast … and it can be easy to fall down the rabbit hole in our rush to get work done.

But online marketing doesn’t have to be hard. Using this three-step process, you can skip the techno mumbo jumbo and find digital confidence — without breaking a sweat or your budget.

Listen to learn how to build a website:

The 3 steps of online marketing

Marketing doesn’t come naturally for everyone. But no worries — we break it down for you here.

  1. Build your hub online.

  2. Bring people to it.

  3. Extend your reach.

Ready to take the first steps toward getting more customers? Let’s go!

1. Build your hub online

Your website is the centre of your small business universe. It’s the face of your brand, the hub of your activity and all social posts should lead to it.

A good website helps users find what they’re looking for. It engages, entertains and informs. It tells users what they need to know and guides them to decisions. Importantly, it converts visitors into paying customers.

Online Marketing Website Builder Template

The goal of every business website is to drive sales, leads or enquiries. After all, whether they’re searching for an electrician or a new pair of shoes, many people start their search online. Having a website makes your business visible to them.

The hallmarks of a good website:

  • A clear design with easy navigation.
  • Easy-to-read content that’s snackable.
  • Mobile responsiveness, which means it can be viewed on any device.
  • Obvious contact details, visible on each page.

If you don’t have a website yet, it doesn’t take much time to build one. Tools like Website Builder and WordPress Websites are good do-it-yourself options. With both, GoDaddy helps you tick off all four of the markers of a good website.

If you don’t want to spend the time building your own website, you can hire a pro to build a website for you

2. Bring people to it

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of enhancing your website so that search engines (and therefore customers) can find it. There are some basic steps you can follow if you decide to tackle it yourself:

  • Research the keywords your customer might use to search for your business.
  • Select keywords with high search volumes and medium or low competition.
  • Insert your keywords in your headlines, body copy, images, title tags and meta tags.
  • Assign one keyword or phrase to each page, adding the keyword once for every 100 words.

Don’t go overboard with keywords; always remember you’re writing for people. Google’s algorithm is smart enough to figure out if you’re just throwing keywords into your text that have nothing to do with your product or service. Search engines favour quality content over keyword stuffing.

If you don’t have the time or the tech-mindedness to do your own SEO, hire an SEO professional. There are many professionals out there who cater to small business budgets.

Beware of SEO professionals who claim they can get you to page 1 of Google search overnight.

SEO is an ongoing process. It takes time, effort and constant analysis to ensure you’re ranking for the right keywords. You’re not going to reach page one overnight — think months instead.

Want to get noticed faster? Consider paid advertising. With enough time and money, services like Google AdWords are definitely effective, allowing even small businesses to reach big-brand ranking.

3. Extend your reach

Whether you have a physical store or a strictly digital business, you’ll need a well-developed online presence. This helps you attract customers, build brand awareness, improve your search engine rankings and build credibility.

Online Marketing Electric Lines
Think of marketing as conversations, with many taking place at once.
Photo: Dina Lydia on Unsplash

Think about which online channels complement your business. Spend time in your customers’ online environments and watch, listen and learn. Then create content that speaks to their desires and concerns and post it on the platforms they frequent. Every time you publish something, think about the keywords you can include.

There are many tools for engaging prospective customers online. Consider one or more of these:

Start a blog

According to digital influencer Neil Patel, blogs are the fifth most-trusted online platform. Use them to establish credibility, share advice and expertise or inform opinion in your field. Don’t be afraid to spill your secrets and give customers your gold. The more you give, the more customers engage.

Create branded socials

There are dozens of social media channels to choose from and it’s natural for eager business owners to want to be everywhere. But don’t stretch yourself too thin. Start by looking at the most popular social channels small businesses use. Then think about where your customers spend most of their time online and focus your efforts there.

Give video a go

Video is the online platform du jour. Everyone who’s everyone is using it to share tips, create courses or show customers behind-the-scenes footage. Video humanises your business and creates a level of transparency that your customers will appreciate. It’s personal, and that’s a powerful marketing tool.

Don’t underestimate email

This is the most direct way to get in front of your customers — and one of the least expensive. By targeting emails to their interests, you can generate leads and boost sales. Email templates save time, enabling you to quickly craft messages. Email metrics help you understand customer response, so that you can tailor your messaging to them in real time.

Manage your content

As you can see, marketing is all about content (i.e. posts, videos, etc) — the more you produce that’s of interest to your customers, the more attention you’ll attract online.

If you can only manage two blog posts a month, start there.

There’s no one rule when it comes to blogging or posting frequency. As a small business, the best you can do is to consider your schedule and decide what feels manageable. You don’t have to be a posting machine. You might want to post mood boards, tips, your take on industry issues — or even curate a selection of relevant information for your customers, depending on which industry you operate in.

There are almost too many tools to manage and schedule your content. Find the ones that work for you and you’ll be doing content marketing in your sleep.

Online Marketing Breaker Boxes
Photo: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The key here is consistency. It’s important you’re consistent with the messages you use, the way you speak and how often you publish content. This can be incredibly hard when you’re trying to run, manage, finance and market your business, but the most successful businesses have a consistent online presence. Their customers come to rely on them — even look forward to that next post or email.

The secret to online marketing

As small business owners, we can get caught up trying to be everywhere and do everything. Finding new ways to attract customers in a noisy online world can feel messy.

But not if we keep it simple.

Start with a good website. Lead your customers to it using the social channels where they hang out. Feed the relationship with content that speaks to their needs. Use tools to manage that content. And consistently work at it, at a pace that feels comfortable to you.

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