If you’re a small business owner, then it’s likely you are already aware of the significance of having a website. These days, creating a website is one of the first steps you take when establishing your brand and business. Your website is akin to your business’s home on the Internet (even if you have a brick-and-mortar store), your very own piece of Internet Real Estate. Some small business owners believe that once they have a website designed, launched, and running smoothly, they can step back and wash their hands of pursuing any other digital marketing efforts or updating it regularly.
If only it were so easy!
While establishing a website is a great first step, it is by no means the only step to establishing a digital presence for your business. In order for your website (and business) to reach your potential audience and potential customers, you need to be actively working on your digital presence – and this encompasses so much more than those three “W”’s. Interaction with clients is limited on a website – but with tools such as SEO, social media, and email marketing, you can significantly increase brand awareness and engagement with customers and prospects.
Below are three additional but essential steps that all small business owners should take after purchasing their domain to take their digital presence from run-of-the-mill to MUST CLICK!
Your Website Is Established – Now Optimize It
It’s no longer enough to stop at a basic website with a few pictures and contact information. An up-to-date, well-designed website speaks volumes beyond itself – it’s a direct reflection of the care and attention to detail you give your products and/or services. Plus, a website is often your business’ first impression – and you only get one chance at those. Focus your efforts on a website that is well-designed, reflects your brand and company culture and is – bingo – fast to load. Customers don’t appreciate getting stuck on the never-ending spinning circle – 40% of people will actually leave your website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
Once your website is up and running, are you sure that it’s searchable? There are many great business websites that can’t be found because they are not search engine optimized – don’t let yours be one of them! If potential customers can’t find your site, then they can’t buy from you (if you have e-commerce options) or visit your establishment (if you have a brick-and-mortar presence). Small additions such as including focused keywords and header tags can make a big impact on your SEO and overall visibility. In fact, lack of optimization for search engines is one of the most common website flaws to avoid!
Leverage the Impact of Social Media
These days, social media is a no-brainer for all businesses – and some use social media profiles in lieu of a website (although this is not a best practice). Did you know Yelp, a popular platform for restaurants, has 93 Million users , and 50 million businesses use Facebook Pages? This is proof that if you don’t have an active social media presence, you are missing out on crucial visibility and searchability for your business.
If you are pressed for time and resources (as many small business owners are), focus on the most popular platforms. Studies show that Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are three of the most popular for business – a platform like Google +, which has low reach, isn’t really worth the time. With that said, if a business has 5-star Google reviews will increase their reputation and trust. And if you really want to make an impact, it may be worthwhile to hire a third party to manage your social media accounts (some can even take your entire digital marketing presence off your shoulders). A third party such as an agency has skilled and experienced staff who will be able to create unique content, engage with your audience, and identify trends – all things small business owners need to be doing, but may not necessarily have the time to do!
Don’t Forget About Email!
Email is an often overlooked but relatively convenient aspect of digital marketing – your customers are checking their inboxes anyway! Plus, it’s extremely cost-effective, and the ROI is real – $44.00 for every dollar spent. You can’t beat that!
With email marketing, there is a delicate balance between providing your contact list with useful information versus just being spammy. And, you also have to be strategic – make sure your email is hitting customer inboxes at the right time (a Tuesday at noon rather than Monday morning rush hour). That’s why tools like Constant Contact and MailChimp are great – they are affordable, customizable, and do the heavy lifting for you. Email is a great medium to get the word out about coupons and discounts and is a more direct method of communication to prospects and customers. Not only can you capture mobile customers as they scroll through email on their phones, you can tell the email open rate and website clicks. In addition, small business owners can add a lead-capture form to their website, encouraging potential customers to sign up to be notified about special discounts and other updates via email.
While having a website is a great first step, it’s definitely not the be all and end all of your digital marketing efforts. While it may seem daunting to get your social media, email, and website optimization efforts going, once they are up and running you will get into a groove and begin to see the ROI through increased brand awareness and, ultimately, increased sales.
If you find that you don’t have enough hours in the day for digital marketing, or really just want to wrap your head around it, contact our team at [email protected] for any and all of your small business marketing questions!