1. Search Engine Optimization. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a series of steps that ensures your small business turns up on the first page of Google search results. You must have a SEO plan that includes establishing keywords, blogging, a small business website, and social media.
2. Set Your Marketing Budget. Before you can begin your online marketing plan, you must determine how much you can spend. There is a plan for every budget. Submission to online directories, establishing a website, blogging, and social media can be done relatively cheap. The higher your budget, the more room there is for Pay Per Click Advertising.
3. Establish Your Goals. What do you want to get out of your online marketing? Do you want to increase sales, establish a positive reputation, or communicate better with your customers? Once you identify your goals, you can better formulate your online marketing plan.
4. Build Great Content. You want to give internet users and those interested in your industry a reason to keep coming back to your website, The more visits you have, the higher your rankings will be on Google search results. The key to driving website traffic is great content. Offer the most up to date, informative information about your business and industry. If you are on the cutting edge of information, your web traffic will increase exponentially.
5. Listen to the Customer. The greatest part about internet marketing is that social media allows you to create relationships with new and future customers in ways you could never have imagined 10 years ago. You can engage in two way conversations, listen to their comments and suggestions, show them that you care, and share new information about your business.
For more tips about online marketing for your small business, or to setup your RISK FREE CONSULTATION, contact Innovative Ad Solutions today!
Make your small business website more than a brochure. A properly executed small business webpage can serve as a showcase for your products and services, and still be optimized for the highest possible search engine rankings. Search engines rank results based on relevancy to a user's search. With these tips, you can ensure your website is setup to achieve optimal visibility.
1) Use Appropriate Keywords: The Google Keyword Research tool can help you to determine the best Keywords that identify your business. They should be keywords that are relevant to your products and services, but also find a niche that set you apart. The proper keywords depend on your small business goals. Once they are identified, use them in all of your content. However, be sure not to over use the words to the point where they discourage viewers from reading the content.
2) Use Embedded Links: You can see examples of this throughout this webpage and blog postings. Within all of your content, you should embed links to other pages on your site. By using links as often as possible, you will increase your rankings on search engines.
3) Frequently Update Your Webpage: Search engines look for websites that are updated often. They want to see that there is new content available to users that is relevant to what they are looking for. Not only should you promote your small business products and services with your online marketing, but provide the user with cutting edge, relevant industry information. It will give people a reason to come back to your page, thus increasing your rankings.
4) Post Links Throughout the Web: Not only should you build links throughout your website by embedding links, but post links on as many external sites as possible. This includes blogging, responding to other industry blogs, using social media, and submitting your site to directories. This will help online marketing by increasing the visibility of your small business. The more areas a search engine sees your link, the higher you will be ranked.
5) Use Keywords Within File Names: Any videos, pictures, or files that you provide or use on your site should have keywords that explain in detail what the file contains. Instead of Innovative Ads naming a file "picture 23" we would name it "Online Marketing Logo". Search engines recognize file names within your site code.
These tips will undoubtedly improve your rankings, but you must use them correctly. Ensure they are embedded logically and sparingly within relevant content. Do not make all of your content nothing but nonsensical keywords and links because it will discourage users and search engines will consider you to be spamming. Instead, use these tips properly; you can find examples throughout this webpage now that you know what to look for.
Online marketing is not easy, but it can be done if you have the time and inclination. If you don't, well that is why Innovative Ad Solutions is here for you to outsource your internet marketing to the experts!
Anyone that knows anything about business will tell you that understanding your customer is the key to successful marketing. Historically, we rely on customer surveys, demographic research, behavior patterns, and other qualitative and quantitative data to learn about our small business customers. This information allows us to determine what the customer is looking for so we can better design our marketing plan. These research methods will always have a place in market research, but with online marketing and social media, small businesses have a new way to learn about the customers needs and how they perceive our small businesses.
With online marketing, business websites, review sites, and social media, there is an abundance of data about our customers. The question is how to use this information to better formulate our online marketing plans and better serve the customers. We can use tools such as Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to gather the quantitative data [the numbers], but we need to go a little further to gather the qualitative data [how they perceive us].
There are several forums we can use to begin to gather the information. The first and perhaps the most important is to have an open channel of communication for the customer to reach our businesses. I like to achieve this one of two ways. Either have email contact information on your website and in all online directories, or have a customer comment form on your webpage. For an example, you can check out Contact Innovative Ad Solutions LLC and view our form on the bottom of the page. These are great ways to let customers contact us directly, but there are many more opportunities to gather information on the internet.
When we blog, it is important to have a comment section so that customers and internet users can respond to what we have to say. It gives the customer an opportunity to put in their two sense. Often we receive basic comments such as "great post", but many times they go further and react to what we have to say. This offers an abundance of information. Make sure to read each and every one of these comments. They allow you to understand how the customer thinks. Make sure to take notes and respond to the comments and try to start conversations. The more in depth the conversation goes, the more opportunity we have to learn.
Social media is another source of qualitative data. Facebook offers analytics that shows who likes our comments, posts, and businesses. They also show who is talking about our business. Read what they have to say and again respond to it. Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest also give us information about what our customers think. When they post to our business pages, read what they have to say because not only is this information coming to our business, but it is going to all of our followers and their friends. Make sure to respond to any negative comments and talk about how you will fix these issues.
Online review sites also offer an abundance of information to us. Many of these sites such as Angie's List, Yelp, Google, Yahoo Business Listings, and Yellowbook.com are places that potential customers look before using our businesses for the first time. Past customers post about their experiences they have already had with our businesses and that is why it is so important to review these sites. Many times there are positive reviews where we can learn what we do right, why the customer is happy, and how they use our services. Other times there is negative information; this is the most important to understand. By seeing our past mistakes, we can learn from them in the future. Better yet, it shows the customers we care.
All of the qualitative data is more difficult to gather than quantitative because there is no formula we can use to gather the information. It takes time to sort through all of these comments, record them, analyze them, and then implement changes to our online marketing plans. It is well worth the effort. These comments offer us the opportunity to be inside our customer's head and learn how they think. Through analytics, we can learn why we have been successful and by finding out what our past customers were looking for and why we were successful, we have a better chance at converting new online users into customers. Additionally, their comments might show a new use for our product that we had not previously thought of.
The best part about this qualitative data online, is that it offers us the opportunity to engage in two way conversations with our customers. I have talked about this many times in the past. When customers feel they have a voice and that you take their comments seriously, they are more likely to stay with our businesses even if we make some mistakes. Use email, social media, review sites, and blog comments to start conversations. Through this mutual understanding and analyzing these comments, we can better gear our online marketing plans towards our key demographics. If you haven't been analyzing this data in the past, it is time to start. Not only will it help you to have a more efficient online marketing plan, but it will help you to understand your business in ways you never have. If you need help, Innovative Ad Solutions will offer all the advice and assistance you need.
For those that don't know what it is, Google Places is basically a local business directory. When a person runs a search on Google, Google can identify the town they are in, and then provide relevant businesses that match up with their search based on their location. The service is free for small businesses to list on so definitely take advantage of it as part of your online marketing
. They can provide information about their products and services, locations, hours, website, and more. To ensure only legitimate businesses are listed, Google will verify your listing by sending you a pin in the mail to the business address. You simply punch it in once you receive it and your page goes live on Google Places. Your small business will instantly see its SEO and Online Marketing improve with this free exposure.
Google Places is probably the best and quickest way to start turning up on the first page of Google search results for the areas that your business serves. If you are a brick and mortar business, then this is obviously going to be where your business has physical locations. However, if you are a service business you are often going to want to turn up in multiple towns so that you can have maximum exposure.
Google Places gives you two options when listing as part of your online marketing plan
. You can select the town where you are located and then the radius which you serve around that town, or you can list all of the towns that you serve. We recommend that you list all of the towns that you serve, make a list of all zip codes where you will go and choose that option when creating your Google Places account. If you have multiple locations, you can and should create a Google Places page for each location as part of your online marketing
As far as your small business description, you want to ensure you use the keywords you use as part of your online marketing plan
. You can have a business description that is up to 200 characters. This is not a lot of room, so you are going to want to use the most important keywords. If you are in a highly competitive business, you may want to pick some niche keywords.
When you choose your actual categories (up to five) use broad categories to ensure you rank highly for more search terms. For example, Innovative Ad Solutions
specializes in Social Media Marketing, but instead of that niche, we list ourselves as Internet Marketing Providers. This helps us to turn up higher for more search terms.
Once you create your Google Places page and verify your business, you should start seeing your sales increase as a direct result of your online marketing efforts. Google Places offers customers the option to review your business, so encourage them to do so. People love positive reviews and they are much more likely to visit your business if others have had positive experiences with you in the past. Online marketing
revolves around brand advocates and referrals in an online setting. So, the more positive referrals you have, the more successful your online marketing
efforts will be!
For those that follow the stock market, and even those that don't, you're probably aware that most social media companies have not been performing very well since their IPO. In fact, the only company that has performed well in my opinion is LinkedIn. The likes of Facebook, Zynga, Groupon, Pandora, and others have seen their stock prices run up, then drop drastically. Are they the next MySpace? Are they going to be around in five years?
One has to wonder if it is even worth learning how to use social media as part of online marketing for your small business
. I've asked myself that very question. But the fact of the matter is, we are using social media to spread content on the internet. Our small business online marketing plans
revolve around content and have the goal of converting new users into customers. So should we care how these companies are performing as a stock?
Well, if you invested in these companies then heck yea you care! But otherwise, if you are using them to market your small business and take your content viral, then no, you shouldn't care. Social media companies stock value and the value they bring to your small business's online marketing plan
are two different things. The stock value is a result of the supply of the stock vs. its demand. There was a lot of hype running up to these companies going public, and for good reason. Social media is awesome. It has changed the way people communicate. As long as people have a use for it, social media will exist. Okay, okay, enough financial talk. The fact of the matter is that people expected too much of these companies too fast, They are in their infancy. They will learn to monetize their users as time goes on, but for now, as small business owners, we only need to worry about how social media allows us to engage in online marketing
. As we have discusssed before, if you get one customer to "like" you on Facebook, +1 you on Google+, or follow you on Twitter, your business is being exposed to all of their friends. Their friends are then more likely to come to your business or at least check it out online. This is so much more beneficial then traditional marketing. With traditional marketing your brochure, radio ad, commercial, or mailing stops at the end user. But, with online marketing, there is no end user. Your content continues on and on as long as there is one more person out there that has a need or want for your content.
So put the social media companies as stocks on the back burner, focus on what the social media companies themselves can do for your small business's online marketing plan. Take the time to learn how to use social media, start slow with one or two accounts, then if you have the time and expertise add some more. If you need help, as always, feel free to Contact Innovative Ad Solutions LLC with your questions.
LinkedIn is great as part of your online marketing plan
. When people come to your business they want to know that they are coming to a professional. LinkedIn is a means for you to share your credentials with the world. You can put a link or social button on your website (like the one for Innovative Ad Solutions LLC here)
. When potential customers want to find out more about the experience of the business owner or employees they can visit your LinkedIn page.
I love LinkedIn as part of online marketing plans
for many reasons, but one of the most important reasons LinkedIn should be part of your online marketing
is because you do not want your small business website, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or blog to be all about you. These other online marketing
tools are supposed to be incorporated into your online marketing plan
as a way to share content, important events, and meetings. People don't follow you on these other sites to hear all about you. But, on LinkedIn, it is all about you! You can brag about yourself, your experience, and your credentials on LinkedIn. This is not to say you shouldn't also share content and contribute to groups, because you should. But you can also brag about yourself on your profile.
Another reason LinkedIn should be part of your online marketing plan
is that it helps you to network yourself with professionals in your industry. This is especially awesome if your small business engages in B2B (business to business) transactions, or if you outsource some of your work. But even if you don't engage in B2B, having a network of professionals in your industry that you can share information with and bounce ideas off of is priceless. It is like having a counsel of your closest advisors on call. Think of it as your very own cabinet that you can appoint; without the politics of it :-).
Okay I know what you're thinking, you don't even want to finish reading this because you are so excited to start building your LinkedIn profile; but hold on we're not done. LinkedIn can also be a way for you to find employees that are qualified when you have an opening at your business. You can search for professionals in your industry and send them job offers. It's also a great way to find references for those that you are considering hiring.
With all of these benefits, I think that every small business owner should make LinkedIn part of their online marketing
plan. Also encourage or even require your employees have a LinkedIn profile so that customers can check out their resume and work history. However, if you do this make sure to have a written social media policy that all employees sign that outlines a code of conduct for social media use. Once you make your profile try and network yourself as much as possible, join some groups, find some professionals in your industry. Even if you don't have the time, at least setup the profile as part of your online marketing
and put the LinkedIn social button on your website. If you need some help setting up the profile, adding the social button to your website, or with any other aspect of your online marketing plan
or social customer relationship strategy
, Contact Innovative Ad Solutions LLC
Remember when we were all in grammar school and the kid in the class that had the smartest sounding book report always got the A? The kid would use long sentences and fancy words that nobody understood. We were all taught that was the correct way to write. Well I got news for you, we are in the real world now and the last thing a customer wants to read is a boring report. So throw the conceptual thinking out the window and make your content as simple as possible. The easier it is to read, the more people will want to read it.
Just to be clear, online marketing plans
revolve around what you have to offer the user. It is what makes up your website, email marketing, press releases, blogs, comments, and social media posts. This shouldn't be a bunch of advertisements that nobody wants to read because they do nothing say how great your business is blahh blahhh blahhhh! Your content should be information, information the customer wants. Now part of your content should be promoting your business, but work it in as part of the information.
Let's talk about some tips to help write content that people want to read. Be Concise
The first tip is to be concise. Longer is not better in the online marketing
world. When people want information they want it as quick as possible. Be brief. Don't use three sentences when one will do just fine. Use Proper Formatting
Make sure your content is easy on the eyes. Format the paragraphs properly. Don't write in wordy chunks. You can even use headings so that people can identify topics. Also make sure you use proper spelling and grammar. You want people to respect your online marketing plan and what you have to say.
Don't Use Sophisticated Industry Terms
Unless your online marketing content is aimed at only those that are industry experts, do not use industry terms nobody will understand. Remember that people reading your content are often trying to learn from you. Make it easy on them. Use Pictures or Infographics
Infographics are pictures with words. You can use them to get your point across and make it exciting at the same time. People love learning visually, especially when it is an alternative to reading long posts. Also throw in a picture to online marketing as often as you can.
Please the Masses
Before you start writing online marketing content, put yourself in the shoes of the customer. What are they interested in? What information do they need? Don't just write about what you are interested in. If you aren't sure what the customer wants, ask them. Ask customers to fill out a short questionnaire or rank the topics they are most interested in.
Love What You Preach
People can tell if the writer is into a subject. Show that you are interested in what you do. I love online marketing and I try to always make sure my online marketing content shows that. If your writing shows you are excited, it will get the reader excited. They will be more likely to come back.
Writing content for your online marketing plan
can be tricky. You need to keep it short and to the point, but with enough information to satisfy the customers need. You want to post often enough to always have fresh content, but not so often that the user can't keep up with it. Writing good content can take awhile to master, but next time you write be conscious of these tips. Remember, you don't have to be so serious! Have a little fun while you work.
If you need some help or have questions about online marketing Contact Innovative Ad Solutions LLC
and we will be happy to help!
This is one of the most popular discussions I come across and I have touched on it in previous blog posts, but I want to go into some more detail. Many social media accounts give you the option of feeding the thread from one social media account to another social media account. For example, you can setup your Facebook page to stream all of your Twitter posts. Should you take advantage of this option for your small business online marketing
There are two sides to this discussion, those who think linking social media accounts is helpful to your online marketing
and those that think it is hurtful to your online marketing plan
. I'm going to present both sides of the discussion because I don't want to sway you one way or the other until the end.
Those that are in favor of linking the different accounts argue that it makes your online marketing
and social media management much easier. Social media management is a very time consuming task. Streaming one account to the other cuts down on the time issue. Additionally, it ensures that your various accounts always have fresh content. If you aren't posting new, useful, interesting content people are going to find somebody who is. This side of the discussion also points out that not everyone is on every social media account. A Twitter follower may not be a fan of yours on Facebook. So by streaming and linking accounts, you can ensure that everyone is seeing everything that you have to say. This can also allow you to manage more social media accounts than you could if you were posting fresh content to each application.
Those that are against linking social media accounts argue that it duplicates content. They feel that if the customer can follow you on one social media account and see all the content you are offering as part of your online marketing plan
, why should they bother following all of your accounts? This ends up hurting SEO and the ability to reach as many new customers as possible. This side of the discussion also brings up the point that each social media application may have a different type of audience. For example, you may not want to share the same content with your LinkedIn followers that you want to share with your Facebook followers. People also realize that you are streaming your pages and it may turn them away. Customers and users want to follow those that have something fresh to say, not people that are repetetive.
What's my position? Personally I feel that streaming one account to another as part of your online marketing
is hurtful. This is not to say that when you post to your blog you shouldn't let people on Twitter know. Or if you update your webpage you can't share it on Facebook. This is also not to say that your profiles on social media shouldn't contain links to your other social media pages. However, I am a firm believer that streaming one account to another is more hurtful than it is helpful. Firstly, if your LinkedIn, Google+, or Facebook pages stream your Twitter posts (which are often more numerous than on other accounts) then it may annoy your friends or followers. They don't want all of those updates streaming across their pages and it may cause them not unlike your page. It's annoying, plain and simple. Secondly, if the content on all of your social media accounts is the same, people have no reason to follow you on more than one account.
Come on people, don't be lazy. Social media management
is definitely not easy, and is absolutely time consuming, but you can start out slow. Start with one or two social media applications (I recommend Facebook and Twitter to start), then you can add more as you begin to master your system. If you are worried about the time aspect, use social media management tools such as HootSuite which allows you to schedule posts. This way you can sit down once a night and schedule posts for the next day. If you are overwhelmed and want to outsource, or if you just need some tips on how to master social media management, Contact Us
I teach my clients that online marketing
is all about differentiating yourself from your competition. You want to give customers a reason to keep coming back to your website, to follow you on social media, and to subscribe to your email newsletters. However, this does not mean that you can't study what your competition is doing and learn from their successes and failures.
When formulating the online marketing plan
for your small business, you want to brainstorm and make a list of your four closest competitors. Review their websites, their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Foursquare, and blog. Try and identify the keywords that they are using, then search for these keywords on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. How are they ranked? This will then help you to decide if you want to use the same keywords, a variation of those keywords, or competely different keywords. Try out variations for the keywords using the Google Keyword Tool
. Try and determine which keywords are best. Also identify how much competition there is. You may want to hit niche keywords if a broader category has too much competiton. For example, instead of using "restaurant" you may want to use "italian restaurant". Also, identify variations of the keywords that are searched more often. Do users search "NY" or "New York" more often? Take the keywords on the sites of your competitors, plug them into the keyword tool, and you can get tons of information.
This is not telling you to copy exactly what your competitors are doing, but anybody that is going to be successful in any walk of life has to understand their competiton. Think of sports as an example. We hear all the time about atheltes watching tape of the teams they are about to play. They are not doing this to copy the moves and run the same plays, but doing it so they can better compete with the people they are going up against. The same goes for small businesses and their online marketing plan
. You have to understand what your competition is doing so that you can compete against them.
You can also learn a lot from the promotions they are using as part of their online marketing plans
. Internet marketing has to draw customers to your pages. How are your competitors doing this? Do they offer discounts? Are they giving something away for free? Are there contests on their websites? Do they offer invaluable content? How up to date is their content? How many Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ Followers do they have? How many likes are they getting? These are all questions that can give you insight to the online marketing plans of your competition.
After gathering the facts you can then analyze what was successful and what was not successful. This information can be taken into account when implementing the next step of your small business online marketing plan.
With online marketing
, nobody is an expert. I say this because the information is constantly changing. One of my favorite quotes is from a world renowned economist, John Maynard Keynes who said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" This quote was meant in regards to investing, another industry that is constantly changing. However, it can also be applied to online marketing. With all of the technology we have, and with search engines constantly changing their search algorithms, we need to be able to adapt. We need to constantly be learning new things. Even in respect to your industry, if the content provided through your online marketing plan provides your customers with cutting edge information, you will have a leg up on the competition. If you don't, then you can bet they will find another business that is on the cutting edge.
Our "Small Business Online Marketing Starter Package"
carefully studies what your competitors are doing, as well as provides a full online marketing plan for your small business. Check it out as it is very affordable and if you like the Facebook page for Innovative Ad Solutions LLC
we will give you $50 off the already low price of $567! But even if you don't want to use our services right away, I urge you to check out our Free Online Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
or Email Us
with any questions you might have if you plan on doing this yourself. Innovative Ad Solutions LLC
will be more than happy to provide you any assistance you may need, at no cost!
There are so many people in the online marketing
world. This means that your customers and followers have almost an infinite amount of websites they can go to for goods, services, and information. To ensure that your online marketing plans drives traffic to you instead of your competitors you have to stand out from the crowd.There are plenty of creative ways to reach your current customers and get them engaged in online your social media accounts. The way this benefits your business is two fold. First, it establishes a better relationship with your current customers and allows them to engage in two way conversations. They can voice opinions, ask questions, and give feedback. The small business owner can then respond and the customer feels as if they have a voice. The second way creative online marketing benefits your business is if the customer engages in your social media online, every time they "like" you on Facebook, re-tweet a Tweet, or +1 you on Google+ their friends will see it. Your current customers can be advocates for your brand and their friends and followers will see they are recommending your business. They are then more likely to become customers. To engage your current customers in your online marketing you need to get creative at your establishment. One great tip is to have a business card raffle. Leave a jar on the table and everyone that drops their business card into the jar has the opportunity to win the prize of the week or month. Make it a stipulation that they need to follow you on at least one social media account (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc) to be eligible for the prize. Not only will you gain new followers on social media, but you now have an abundance of data about who your customers are and all of their contact information. Use this information to create a database. You can then offer them promotions based on their individual demographics. Another creative way to engage current customers is by offering them something for free or at a discount if they follow you on social media. For example, in a restaurant offer a free round of drinks if the customer likes you on Facebook. The final creative online marketing tip I will share is offering free advertisements to other businesses that follow you on social media accounts. There are a variety of ways to do this. One is to offer them a back link on your small business website. Another that would work for a restaurant is to offer them an ad on a place mat. Another way to offer an advertisement that will work for any business is to put up a television screen and run a power point slideshow. Your followers can submit one slide that includes their logo, website link, and contact information for their business.
They only get a slide if they are a social media follower.All of these ideas cost you very little and as we have shown in the Marketing Tips section of our website, where we talk about the Online Marketing EcoSystem, one follower on social media can exponentially reach new customers. The opportunities are endless so get creative and improve your small business online marketing presence.
What has worked for other businesses that have tried creative ways to engage their customers in their online marketing
plans? Share your success stories. Remember that there is no limit to the creativity and the more you set yourself apart from your competitors, the better chance you have at converting people into new customers. If you need some ideas, send us an email to setup a FREE CONSULTATION
. We can talk about your current online marketing plan. Even if you choose not to purchase our risk free Small Business Online Marketing Starter Package for only $567
we can still offer you some free advice and help you to brainstorm. We love talking about online marketing!