Optimizing Your Small Business For The Web
Small businesses can gain a lot of value out of marketing themselves on the internet, but in order to get the most out of their online promotions, they need to integrate their internet marketing into their everyday operations. Because online marketing is about making connections and building relationships with your customers, smaller businesses that can be more personal in their approach can even have an advantage over their multinational competitors. Using the internet can also give you a real edge over your nearest competitors with studies showing that businesses that use the web have a greater market share than those that aren’t online1.
Consumers are routinely using the internet to find the products or services that they want with 58% saying that they have done online research prior to making a purchase2. To take advantage of this consumer trend, even the smallest business is in need of a website. Web hosting has become extremely affordable now and the user friendly web design software that is available for free, like WordPress, means that even if you are on a shoestring budget it is still possible to create a workable website for yourself. Similarly, it is free to create a brand page for any business on social networks like Facebook and Twitter that can be used to support your corporate website and attract potential new customers to it. Asking your customers to like you on Facebook is an effective way of exposing their friends to your business, and potentially expanding your market and client base.
The customers that you already have are your business’ greatest asset because they have already done business with you at least once, so there is a good likelihood that they will be willing to do so again. The best way to leverage these customers is to market to them as directly as possible with e-mail and SMS message marketing. Many people will be happy to give you their e-mail address or mobile phone number if they think that there will be discounts or special offers for them from you in the future. The best way to build a list is organically, and every small business could adopt a practice of collecting as many contact details from their customers as possible. Another way to attract new customers to your business via the web is by using Cost Per Click (CPC) and social media ads. Internet advertising is the cheapest and probably the most targetable advertising medium available and offering discounts or free services to people that respond to your ads can drive traffic from the internet to your door.
One of the most valuable online assets that your business has is its online directory listings. These listings are one of the most direct ways for your web searching customers to find you, and as Google has over 2/3 of all of the search traffic,3 the Google Places service is probably the most important listing that businesses can claim. Even though a Google Places listing offers a free opportunity to display your business and its products in a location based list of businesses, 84% of all of these listings remain unclaimed.
Other than online marketing there are other online services that can streamline the way that you do business, like m-payments that transfer payments directly from customers’ accounts via their mobile phones. Even using things like e-invoices and switching to an online payment system can save money and make it easier for your customers to do business with you. If you are interested in optimizing your small business for the internet talk to InfintechDesigns.com to explore all of your options and opportunities.
2. Online Product Research, Pew Research Center, 2010