Small business owners know that they need to have an online presence, and that it should be comprised of a website, social media pages, and advertising.
The question is, do you know how these various resources should work together to bring you the optimum rewards? Creating and maintaining your collection of digital resources is just the first stage in building an effective online presence, and you need to consider how each element will contribute to bringing you sales. Using your resources for the benefit of the business involves seeing them as pieces in a jigsaw that when complete represents your entire online marketing strategy, with every part contributing maximum value.
The business website is your marketing hub
Your website is the beating heart of your business and should be the intended destination for anyone engaging with your other digital offerings. Think of your website as your store, the place where people come to get what they want or need, and the other elements of your digital presence as newsletters, leaflets, and flyers that advertise your website and point people in the right direction. For example, having five thousand followers on Facebook is all well and good, and sounds impressive; however, unless those followers are actively buying from you, that figure represents little of any real value. On the other hand, if you have five hundred followers and most of them visit your website to make purchases, then you are far better off than if you have five thousand who rarely buy.
Some marketers will tell you email marketing is old hat and on the way out. However, figures show that it is still one of the most effective ways of communicating with potential customers. The fact that they will have had to sign up to agree to receiving your emails tells you they have an interest in what you’re selling. That means you can send interesting information, special offers, incentives, and news about new products or services to people who are far more likely to buy from you. Your ability to communicate directly with people who have expressed an interest in your business is an invaluable way of building the relationships that are key to getting repeat custom. It needn’t be too onerous a task either, as there is a good range of email marketing software available to automate your list; all you need to do is write the content – or find someone to write it for you.
This is a relatively new method of communicating for businesses, but it has the potential to be even more effective than email. This is because people tend to carry their cell phones with them and read text messages as soon as they arrive most of the time. Recipients have to actively sign up to receive marketing text messages, which means that although you will need to put more effort into getting sign-ups, you know that the people on your list are genuinely keen to hear from you. If you’re unfamiliar with using SMS, go to a specialist website to find out more about mass text messaging, how to compose effective texts, and how it can boost your business.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn; these are the most well-known names in social media, but there are many others. There are also specialist platforms for particular sectors and niches, which are well worth considering if your business has a particular focus. In essence, they all do much the same thing: you post information, pictures, videos, etc. with the idea that people who are interested in the topic will sign up and become regular readers. Some companies use these platforms for encouraging customer interaction, for example, using Twitter to answer customer service inquiries. For a small business, your main focus should be the marketing potential, and that means not just getting people to sign up, but to get them to go to your website. You can have as many or as few social media accounts as you wish, and make use of a social media management tool to schedule your posts and publish the same content on different pages. The two crucial aspects of using these platforms successfully are to keep your output regular and post interesting information that encourages readers to click through to your website.
Making use of the sales funnel model
In order to get the best returns from your digital activities, your primary goal should be to get people onto the website. Therefore, the majority of your posts need to have links to the relevant page on your site, and a call to action to persuade people to buy once they are on the website. Obviously, you need to write engaging copy that is interesting to read and answers the needs of your potential customers; but in addition, you should ensure that your posts direct readers to the page on your site where they can make a purchase. Think of it as the first section of your sales funnel – the part where you draw people in from wherever they are and show them what you can do for them. The theory of using sales funnels to draw people on and herd them towards making a purchase can be refined for individual business sectors, but at the start there is always the initial point of contact. Your SMS and email campaigns and social media pages are the top of your funnel, and once you have your customer on the website you can lead them on using the most appropriate method for your business.
Business owners who look further than checking off tasks on a to-do list will inevitably create more successful businesses. You can’t afford to view your digital marketing as a tick-box exercise, because getting the desired outcomes from your input requires calculated and carefully formulated plans. By utilizing your resources effectively, you will be making the different elements of your digital presence work for you to maximize your reach and increase your conversion rates.