4 Ways to Promote Your Small Business Online
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How to Ensure Potential Customers Find You
You have your business plan and your product or service is starting to sell, but you know you need to market yourself. There’s an array of options to market small businesses online, whether you want to increase sales, generate buzz around a new product, or start a lead generation process.
To help you begin to clarify your needs, we’ve developed our top four ways we recommend every small business promote themselves online.
Emphasize a Mobile-First Website
You’re very likely reading this on your phone, which emphasizes the importance of a mobile-first website. A mobile-first website means that the designers ensure that all content is accessible and features are easily used within the constraints of mobile browsing. This doesn’t mean to ignore the desktop version of your website; it simply prioritizes the browsing habits that most device users follow.
These are some of the key elements of a mobile-first website:
- It prioritizes the user experience.
- It’s optimized for speed. (People don’t like waiting when using their phones!)
- Simplified navigation and interactions
- Buttons sized for fingertips, not cursors.
If you’re designing your own website using a builder like Squarespace or a high-quality WordPress theme, they will already have a mobile-friendly design. If you’re working with a designer, make sure that a mobile-version of your website is included in your site design scope of work.
Focus on SEO
SEO may seem tricky, and in some ways, it is. But it’s also an important piece to promoting your business organically online. A basic SEO strategy will include:
- Keyword research
- Website optimization
- Content creation
Keyword research helps you find the search terms people use in your niche. There are a variety of tools to perform this, but one good free option is Answer the Public. You‚ see different search variations, which then informs the rest of your SEO strategy. Google Ads Keyword Planner is another option to help find keywords, even for organic (unpaid) use.
Website optimization means taking your keyword research and using it throughout your website. Now, you‚ need to be careful with this, as keyword stuffing and unnatural phrasing can lead to penalizations from Google. Instead, focus on including your keywords in meta descriptions, image tags, and interspersed throughout your website copy. If you have a WordPress website, we recommend using the Yoast plugin as a guide.
Content creation is where your website‚ SEO can really thrive. Focus on blog creation, which is your chance to establish thought leadership in your niche. And as buzzwordy as that sounds, it‚ true. The more quality content you create, the more value you‚ provide and the greater chance you‚ have at appearing in search results.
Activate Social Media
Social media is a non-negotiable for small businesses. Yes, it’s not as easy as it once was, but it’s still a valuable way to reach new potential customers and connect with your existing customer base. It can also quickly become an overwhelming idea, so we have the core elements every small business’s social media strategy should have.
- Platforms chosen based on the customer persona.
- Enough content to remain active while not overtaxing the team.
- Community engagement to build relationships.
Choosing the right social media platforms to activate starts with looking at your target customer. Once you know who you want to reach, you can better pair them with your marketing strategy.
For example, a lifestyle brand targeting millennials will perform best on Instagram, while a service-based company for baby boomers will typically work best on Facebook. A SaaS platform for professionals, though, often produces the best results on LinkedIn, though some see growth on Twitter, too. Once you pick based on your audience, you’ll have a much greater chance of success.
You also need to take the content commitment into consideration when shaping your social media plan. It’s important to be active on the platforms you’ve chosen, which is why we always recommend quality over quantity. Choose two platforms that you can do well, rather than three or four that will stretch your time and resources.
Social media is, well, social, and your company needs to be, too. Community engagement is simply the process of responding to comments on your own posts, as well as engaging with other posts in your niche. This is a daily practice, and we recommend checking comments and messages at least twice per day. Always aim to respond within 12 hours to promote an engaging brand image.
Launch Social Media Advertising
Social media advertising is one of the most effective ways to market a small business, because it has a low barrier to entry and doesn’t require a significant budget. It does, however, need to be used in the right way. Facebook and Instagram Ads are the most common choice, but Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Quora offer advertising.
When starting to advertise on social media, there are a few key points to remember:
- Establish your advertising goals. Do you want more leads, traffic, or completed purchases?
- Target your customer persona. If you’re a local business, only target the radius in which people will be willing to travel, and utilize interest targeting and remarketing to reach the right people.
- Engaging creative is a must. Invest in quality product photography, design, or video to help stop people from scrolling on by.
- Check in on your campaigns a few times per week, and review every month to see if your ads performed well. “Well” is relative, but focus on using your first two months as a benchmark for your chosen goals and continue on from there.
We recommend every company commits to at least three months of social media advertising, because it can often take a few months to begin seeing significant results.
What’s Stopping You from Starting Right Now?
Promoting your small business online is more than posting on social media and hoping people will buy. It’s creating a search-friendly website and focusing on customizing social media to your needs. With these four tips, you’ll be ready to sell more products or services, grow your business, and reach your goals.
By Marc Apple
Marc Apple is recognized as a leader in the marketing industry and has 20+ years of experience helping businesses of all sizes improve their digital marketing. He specializes in website design, SEO, social media, and paid search programs. He is a frequent contributor to other marketing websites and speaks regularly about marketing to small business owners and startups. To learn about Marc and to contact him, visit his author bio page.
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