Eight Ways to Make Online Marketing Work for Your Small Business

The modern customer is far more tech savvy than ever before. This is why most companies realize the value of harnessing the Internet as part of their overall marketing plan. However, for smaller businesses with less capital and fewer resources, online marketing can seem daunting. Even so, small businesses can greatly benefit from online marketing. Just consider the eight following ways to make a big impact on your small business with online marketing.

1. Website. A website is an essential feature for any business, regardless of size or specialty. Many consumers will use the Internet to research and find local businesses. A website can provide information about the company’s location, hours, products and services. With this information online, customers will likely feel more comfortable when contacting or visiting the business. In fact, some small businesses have expanded their pool of potential customers dramatically by using a website. After all, a physical store is only accessible to people within a small radius. A website, on the other hand, can be viewed by the entire world.

2. Social media. Most customers are not only online but are also extensively connected on social media networks. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest have huge followings, attracting users with fresh, interactive content. With these sites, users can connect with people they know and people with similar interests. Many businesses have already started to use social media since this venue can connect businesses with new and current customers. Social media is not only a great advertising tool, but it can also help foster long-term relationships with customers. This way, even if the customers are not in the store, they may still be interacting with the business in a meaningful way.

3. Web hosting. While most businesses may know that a website is a good idea for their success, they may not be aware of how to go about creating one. In fact, businesses should realize that developing a website is only half the battle. All websites must be hosted, which means they are supported by a company that operates space on the Internet. Although there are free web-hosting options, these are typically best suited for personal websites. Paying for web hosting can guarantee consistent service, which means that the website should rarely be down or overrun with traffic. Web hosting prices will vary depending on the amount of web space needed, the desired bandwidth speed and security considerations.

4. Online shopping. One of the most powerful elements of the Internet is that it gives a small business access to a bigger audience. This is not only a great advertising tool, but it can also be a new sales model. If the business has goods that are easily shipped, starting an online store may be a great way to expand profits. This way, people can shop from the comfort of home, and the sales numbers are no longer limited to a local market. There are some obvious costs and risks associated with an online store. For example, logistical issues with payment and shipping must be resolved before undertaking such a venture. For businesses that sell enough to make the investment worthwhile, however, the results can be enormously positive.

5. Search engine optimization. While some customers may be looking for a particular store by name, many others will simply be searching for general services. This is why search engine optimization, or SEO, is so important. SEO refers to the method of creating a website that does well with search engines. When a search engine conducts a search, it is using the desired keywords and matching them against all the websites available. Each search engine will then calculate how well a website matches the search terms. Designing a website with SEO interests in mind is easier said than done, which is why most businesses hire a professional. SEO design involves using the right keywords on a website to match the most common search terms. The end result is increased traffic for overall success.

6. Hit analysis. While maintaining an online presence, it is useful to know who is visiting a website. This is why most web-hosting companies include some sort of visitor analysis. This analysis can typically show how many people visited and when, and many will also break down the results based on where the visitors are located and how they came to the website. This information can be very useful in knowing whom the website is reaching, which can focus refinements to improve the results.

7. An attractive layout. A website is more than text on a page. A good website should be easy to navigate and inviting to use. Good design is a balance of color, text and graphics. If the page is too busy, users will turn away. It may also be too slow to load. All text should be catchy and error free. Images need to be engaging and clear. Be sure to have logical navigation links on every page, and contact information should be readily available to visitors.

8. Consistent updates. Any online strategy needs to be properly maintained in order to be effective. Social media accounts must be updated frequently or users will stop following them. Websites must contain current information, or they are useless. In fact, websites that are not consistently updated will often go down in search engine rankings. Success online requires dedication over the long haul in order to make a real difference in the bottom line.

The Internet is a thriving part of modern culture, so it should be a part of your thriving business as well. By considering the options, it is possible to develop an online approach that fits with your small-business goals.