February 11, 2009
Looking to jump start your web marketing efforts this year? If so, you’re in good company. Many small businesses are looking to improve their marketing activities to help boost sales in a time of economic uncertainty. If your small business could use some marketing inspiration, here are eight things you can do to be more effective with your marketing and promoting your business in 2009.
1. DO SOMETHING each month, or at least each quarter
Now is not the time to cut back on your marketing efforts; instead, ramp up as much as possible to make sure customers don’t forget about you, and that competitors don’t gain any ground. Do at least one thing each month, whether it’s updating your web site, sending out a press release, or monitoring your positions in the search engines. If you just don’t have the time or resources to do something each month, make sure you do something at least quarterly.
2. Start an e-newsletter
By sending out a weekly or monthly e-newsletter, you can keep your company name and message in front of your customers and prospects, which helps build your brand, trigger additional purchases, and drive new sales. It’s also a great way to stay in touch with your customers and keep them updated about special offers, company news, or new products and services. E-newsletters are inexpensive to create and send, and they make it possible to reach ALL of your customers and prospects regularly, not just the ones who happen to walk through your door or give you a call.
3. Update your web site
It is critical that you don’t allow your small business web site to just sit there untouched, getting more stale and outdated by the minute. Users today expect fresh content, current technology features, and interactivity that comes from staying on top of current trends and staying a step ahead of your competition. Be sure to add your latest press releases, e-newsletter content, and upcoming events to your site, and consider adding user-friendly features like widgets or product reviews. Keeping your site up to date can help your business attract more new leads, improve your search engine rankings, and increase your sales and bottom line.
4. Get social
Social networking is truly changing the way we use the web, and you are going to need to know at least the basics about this new trend. Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook; Technorati and de.licio.us; and blogs and micro blogs (like Twitter) are all designed to make it easy to connect with others through social interaction on the web, and they can be useful in marketing your business, too! With a little effort, social networking can lead to increased organic, natural traffic and better search engine rankings for your web site.
5. Get a blog/ participate in a blog
If you don’t already have a blog on your web site, you really need to consider adding one. Blogs are great for attracting search engine spiders, since they are updated often and contain lots of great content for the spiders to index. Blogs are also one of the most basic interactive features you can add to your web site, and are extremely popular with users. Even if you do have a blog (and especially if you don’t), it’s important to visit other blogs in your industry and start participating in the conversation. Leave comments and feedback, and always include a link back to your blog (or web site) in your signature. The most important thing to remember when commenting on other blogs, however, is to add something useful, and don’t self-promote or advertise your business on someone else’s blog.
6. Use landing pages with your email marketing campaigns
Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective strategies that small businesses have today, but you need to use specific landing pages for each campaign that you send. It’s tempting to use a call to action that says “visit our site at www-dot-whatever-dot-com”, but sending recipients to your home page is not the most effective way to convert sales. Instead, create specific landing pages that contain the following:
- A re-statement of the offer and/or subject line of the email campaign – let them know they have landed in the right place
- Specific marketing copy and a “pitch”
- Product information and/or testimonials
- Simple, uncluttered content with no unnecessary elements – use only what’s needed to convert the customer
- A simple, clear call to action – make it as easy as possible for your prospects to respond to your offer; you can always collect more details later
7. Offer something for free
Nothing motivates users more than getting something for free! Don’t be afraid to offer them a product sample, a free trial, or something of value like a whitepaper or e-book. Offering a free gift with every purchase or using limited-time offers are also effective ways to motivate customers to make purchases and do business with you.
8. Become more visible
One of the most effective ways to promote your business is to become more visible. Increase your visibility online, at community and networking events, and in the press. Don’t give in to the temptation of hiding your head in the sand until the economy turns around; instead, get out there in every way you can think of. Use email marketing and your web site to your advantage, offer to speak at industry or Chamber events, send out regular press releases, volunteer at community events, write articles in your area of expertise, and attend every networking event that you can. The more your business can be seen and heard, the more exposure you gain, and the more your customers and future customers will remember you!
Lauren Hobson, President of Five Sparrows, LLC, has more than 16 years of experience in small business technology writing, marketing, and web site design and development. Five Sparrows provides professional web site and marketing services to small businesses and non-profit organizations, giving them access to high-quality services at affordable prices. To read articles or subscribe to Biz Talk, please visit www.FiveSparrows.com/biztalk.htm.