Online Marketing Can Bring Crowds Through Your Doors

Online marketing is a must for any small business today. Here’s what you need to know.

Online marketing is a must for any small business today. Here’s what you need to know.

Website

Creaing a basic business website doesn’t cost much, but will attract a lot of new customers. At minimum, your website should include your hours of operation, phone number, address and a photo of your location. Ideally, add more information such as a map, an email address and links to your business’s social media accounts. You can also add ecommerce features, videos, articles or blog posts.

Americans are increasingly searching on smartphones and tablets from home and work as well as on the go, so make sure your website is mobile friendly. It’s simple (and free) to find out.

SEO & SEM

Search engine optimization (SEO) improves your website’s position in natural or “organic” search results (as opposed to paid search results). To do this, make sure your site uses words and phrases consumers are likely to use when they search for businesses like yours. For instance, if you own an accounting business in San Francisco, you’d want to use general keywords like “accounting,” but also more specific keywords like “San Francisco accounting service” or “small business accounting San Francisco.” Use Google’s keyword search tool to find popular keywords.

Adding content also helps drive SEO—especially when you refresh content frequently (at least three times a week.) Content can include blog posts, videos or archives of your email newsletters.

Search engine marketing (SEM) includes paid search advertising as well as SEO. You can buy PPC (pay-per-click) ads, where you pay only when a user clicks on your ad, on search engines such as Bing or Google. Advertising on Facebook is another option, and lets you narrowly target your ads.

Use the free Google Analytics tool to get information about your website visitors and measure the results of your SEO & SEM efforts.

Local search directories

If your business targets local clients, local search directories should be part of your online marketing strategy. Popular local search sites include Bing Local, CitySearch, Google+ Local (formerly Google Places) and Local.com; there are also typically niche sites for your industry, city or region. Visit each site to “claim” your listing and optimize it with extras such as photos, maps/directions or special offers. Monitor your listings regularly to keep them updated.

Email marketing

Collect customers’ email addresses with a form on your website or a sign-up sheet at the point of purchase. Put a privacy policy on your website that tells customers how you use their data, and always follow CAN-SPAM laws (learn more at the FTC website).

You can email event invitations, special offers, sales alerts or newsletters. Provide useful content, and use email marketing services (such as Constant Contact, Campaigner or Infusionsoft) to help you send emails, comply with FTC regulations and track results.

Pros Cons
As more customers go online to find businesses, online marketing can ramp up your sales rapidly. These tactics involve a learning curve, may require outside help, and take time to do well.
 

To learn more about Groupon’s merchant solutions and how to work with Groupon, visit www.GrouponWorks.com.