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Online Marketing: Why Social Media is Good, But Not Enough

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Are all of your eggs in one basket?

In the past three years there has been a whirlwind of marketing activity surrounding social media. Marketing Agencies across the globe have been embracing it, Brands have been utilizing it to create “Brand Advocates”, and small businesses everywhere have been flocking to it.

Social Media has to some degree turned marketing on its head and yet while many of the same core principles remain, Social Media, as any other marketing tool, has its own peculiarities and specifics.

It is an excellent tool for brands and businesses of all make, model and size and we have vouched for it innumerable times on this blog alone.

Social Media, however, it is not the end all be all and it is not a stand-alone method for your business. Every business needs to marketed in a manner that is specific to their industry and their customer base. This is especially true for SMALL BUSINESS.

This type of marketing has a couple of different faces and a names, but for sake of simplicity we will refer to it here as “NICHE MARKETING

Work Smarter not Harder

Work Smarter not Harder

Anyone operating a small business can tell you that profit margins can be tight and as such, marketing budgets can be even tighter. The small business owner must market smarter, not harder. They cannot afford to waste even nickles on anything that won’t generate sales leads and potential.

“The small business owner must market smarter, not harder”

Niche Marketing.

Niche Marketing is not simple, but it is also not as complicated as many fear. What it really boils down to is knowing who to market to. What is interesting is that many times the audience you should be targeting is not necessarily the one you would first assume.

Here is an example from our own personal experience at Transition Marketing last year.

“A Surprising Local Demographic”

We sat down with a real estate agent locally to asses their situation. They were doing well, but were ready to make the next big leap in market share. Living in the Okanagan, there is a large amount of vacation property available. Many would assume between that and local young families, that the dominant target market would be obvious.

It turned out that in the specific region we were dealing with, the most untapped market was in fact a split between older retiring citizens (65+) and elderly population looking to downsize.

Now of course. one does not necessarily want to rely solely on Social Media to chase down a target market such as this. Greater success was made using the medium most accessible to them – printed advertising. Newspapers, buy & sells, coffee shop readers and so on. Quaint, archaic perhaps, but effective and by utilizing this relatively inexpensive medium, we were able to address an often overlooked demographic to great success.

Niche Marketing is all about specific, focused efforts to reach a specific audience. To do so, one cannot rely on “blanket strategies” or “mass marketing“. Likewise Social Media is an excellent tool, but it cannot stand-alone. It is a resource best used in conjunction with other efforts. This may include more traditional avenues such as print, radio and video, or networking events such as trades and sales shows.

There is one area that all Niche Marketing has in common. One that in this day and age cannot be overlooked… a website.

A website is a necessity, not a suggestion.

Fishing for leads is great... if you have a place to land them. That is where a website comes in.

Fishing for leads is great… if you have a place to land them. That is where a website comes in.

It is the 21st century, the year 2013 and businesses that want to success need to recognize the importance of an online presence.

Online searches are the primary means of locating businesses, products and services and online searches while on the move (mobile) are quickly becoming the norm.

Consider these recent statistics:

    • By 2015, mobile internet usage is projected to overtake desktop usage. (Microsoft Tag)
    • Mobile traffic increased to over 16% of overall web traffic. Mobile web traffic increased 27% in 2012. (Marketingland)
    • Mobile data traffic globally in 2011 was 8 times greater than in 2010. (Econsultancy)
    • At time of report, there were 6.8 billion people on the planet. 5.1 billion of them owned a cell phone. (Search Engine Watch)
    • 70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour (Social Media Today)

    • Use of mobile search has grown by 500% over the past two years.(Econsultancy)

    • Average smart phone usage almost tripled in 2011. (Econsultancy)

    • 50% of all local searches are performed on mobile devices. (Microsoft tag)

If your business does not have a website, how many sales leads are you missing out on? Search engines do index some social media material, but these search results do not come close to touching what the indexing and results that a good website will provide. Here is an example:

I am on a lovely vacation to the south Okanagan Valley with my family. The Okanagan is considered a bit of a tourist hot-spot and many of the local Okanagan businesses benefit from the summer tourism surge.

I have a little spending money and I am looking to sit down and enjoy a nice meal locally with my family. After that I think I will take in some of the local entertainment and maybe do a little shopping.

But where do I go? I suppose I could use a Yellow Pages directory… if PayPhones were still a thing. Let’s face it, I have my smart phone so I am going to just pop in a Google search and see what comes up.

Will it be your business?

Social media has been proven to increase SEO (Search Engine Results) for websites. By using a combination of Social Media WITH a website, you are increasing you websites opportunity to be viewed and (if you are using Social Media properly) you are also engaging your customer base.

Social Media is in itself not a stand-alone marketing strategy. It is a tool to be used in conjunction with more foundational marketing. Its use in online marketing is only truly effective if you have a website.

“Fishing for leads is great… if you have a place to land them. That is where a website comes in.”

If marketing is fishing than consider Social Media to be the fishing line and your website to be the boat. Social Media can reel in leads, but where will you direct them for further information?

Websites are a home base. A place where customers (should) be able to get everything they need to take action immediately. Whether they get there by search engine, referral, social media engagement or other… the website is where they need to land.

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Small Business Sales: Equipping Customers to Find Your Business

Finding-Customers-Small-Business

Finding Small Business Customers.

You finally did it, struck out on your own. You went from “wantrepreneur” to small business owner. You have the products and services, the passion and maybe even some sort of budget!

Now what?  Time to succeed!

Time to impress consumers, make sales and create a sustainable income. Ok! sooooo…how does one do that? How does one equip their small business for long-term success?

Let’s face it, the key to succeeding in small business is the same as big business.

Sales.

Without sales, there is no revenue and without revenue it can be difficult to pay the bills, much less grow.

There are many differences that separate big business from small. For example how those sales are made, who they are made to and the approach behind them. However the same truth applies: “to make a sale, you must have customers.” So how do you get customers?

Let’s break this down to elementary school basics.

Making a Sale for Dummies:

  1. To make SALES you require CUSTOMERS.
  2. CUSTOMERS are simply CONSUMERS (people shopping) until the sale is made, ergo to start you must find CONSUMERS (people shopping).
  3. To find CONSUMERS, you must make your business accessible, easy to find and easy to connect with.
  4. Once you have connected with a consumer base, you can work on making the sale.

For many small businesses, making the sale is only half the problem, first they need to find and connect with the consumers (potential customers), because “Without someone to sell to, sales can be a little tough.”

The first thing any small business must consider, is HOW to make it easier for consumers to find them. If your business is not easy to find, then that must change immediately.

There are many resources available with which to connect your business to consumers, however the most commonly overlooked (and feared) are the online tools.

Creating A Visible, Accessible Small Business, Online:Small-Business-Website

When determining how to connect and market to a specific body of consumers, we always attempt to place ourselves in the shoes of the people we are attempting to reach. Doing so can give you great insight into who they are, what they are looking for, where they are looking and how they are doing it.

Recently Todd Ebert, CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) for the online marketing firm ReachLocal, was quoted as stating the same thing: Put yourselves in the mindset of the average consumer. Think about how you buy things – and how people might find your products or services. (Source)

There is value in utilizing offline resources like the YellowPages, business directories and print medium, however small businesses must also dedicate resources to building their online presence. It is the era of online research. By default almost every consumer begins their search for products and services with Google.

Online searches provide consumers with all of the results, reviews, recommendations and refusals they could possibly need.

You typically start with a Google search. You look for reviews, informative videos, comments on social media sites and recommendations from friends and family. You visit relevant message boards and online communities to learn about the experiences of other consumers. You try free samples and trials when you can.

How your business places in these results – or whether it even places at all – is directly determined by the amount of effort you put in to your online presence. Yes this effort represents a cost and a sacrifice to you, however it is a necessary one. Newly established small businesses cannot afford to shun the online world.

Knowing where your consumers are looking, and what search results are most prominent, can provide you with the insight as to where to concentrate your efforts.

Okanagan Marketing1. Website:

First and foremost get a GOOD website. If you cannot build one yourself (most cannot) then pay for one. It will be the best investment you ever make.

This is your online home base, the centre of your online presence. All of your other online resources should link back to this. If you have ever heard the term “landing page”, that is what this is referring to. You websites homepage is where the consumer will land with the click of a mouse.

  1. Use this landing page to control the consumers first impression of you.
  2. An effective landing page is built to be clear and easy to navigate.
  3. Ensure it is professional looking.
  4. Avoid clutter and avoid too much immediate information.
  5. Instead create a website with the intention of immediately equipping the consumer base with what they need then and there.
  6. Use your homepage to engage and draw the consumer in (they can get more info on your websites additional pages).
  7. Populate the homepage with clean, easy to understand and aesthetically pleasing content.
  8. Provide easy navigation. When laying out the website, consider WHERE consumers will want to go to from each page.
  9. Ensure tabs to other pages on the website as clearly labelled. When a consumer lands on your homepage, they will quickly need to know where to go next.

2. Social Media:Small-Business-Social-Media

Yes, social media is necessary. Some still struggle with the concept, yet it has become an essential part of any online presence.

  1. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and the vast array of other social sites, play a huge role in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Web Traffic, Page Ranking and Page Results.
  2. Think of it this way. Your website is a dot, a Facebook profile is another dot, a Twitter profile is a third dot. The dot’s alone are tiny, however if you connect each dot with a line, you have a larger triangle. This is how social media effects online presence.
  3. Beyond simple page ranking, these sites offer an unprecedented opportunity to directly engage consumers, giving small business owners one more avenue to find and convert to customers.
  4. Social Media is just that, social. It is an endless conversation between people spanning ages, cultures, societies, demographics and target markets. With 180 million users on Facebook alone, a small business owner would be rather silly not to put the effort in.

For more on the ins and outs of Social Media, consider visiting our following posts, or Google it and see what others are saying.

 

Online Advertising.

Online advertising can be surprisingly cost-effective, however one must take care to ensure they are doing it correctly. Remember that the world wide web is a very VERY big place, and any advertising efforts on the part of small business need to be highly targeted.

The good news is that most avenues for online advertising provide for this. Google Adwords is a great example of intuitive and price competitive online advertising. Other options such as Facebook Ad’s, AdRoll and YellowPages360 also warrant investigation.

It only takes one or two sales and these ad’s are quickly paid for. What is more, they are very easy to set up. Google Adwords will take you by the hand and walk you through the entire process.

Conclusion.

Remember to monitor the results of your online presence. Search online regularly and see what showing up, is it what you want? if not, then take the time to adjust.

Check up and see what people are saying about your business. Read reviews, watch the social media channels. Take all of this information and use it. Use it to adjust, to react and to plan your future strategies.

Will you make some mistakes along the way? YES! It is a process, with a learning curve. Stick with it, take your lumps and learn the process, it will take your business to the next level, instigate business growth and save your business on overhead.

Create an online presence, provide your consumers with a place and the tools to connect with you and you will be on your way to converting consumers to customers, thereby driving sales.

Transition-Marketing-Services

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.

 

5 Tips To A Customer Friendly Website

Transition Marketing Services5 Tips To A Customer Friendly Website

Small businesses succeed by going the extra mile, by caring for their customers and by focusing on the things that matter. It is the level of value that the small business owner places on their customers, that truly makes them effective.

Where corporate entities often see the individual customer as a necessary “cog in the wheel of commerce”, the small business typically operates in far smaller and more intimate circles, “knowing each customer by name”.

A corporation can afford to bleed and lose the occasional customer, for a small business however, every customer represents a very real and very necessary part of their businesses and economic livelihood. For this reason, small businesses spend a large portion of their time ensuring that their existing customer base is well taken care of.

By now most small businesses understand the importance of a website to their business, however this website can (and should) exist as more than an “online presence”. This website can in fact be designed to go the extra mile and to service your customers productively, thoroughly and efficiently.

Here are five key tips to help you make your website as customer conscious as possible.

1. Provide Mobile Friendly Version of Your WebsiteMobile-Web-Search

I know what you are thinking, you just got a website, now you have to get a mobile one as well?

Don’t worry, it really isn’t that difficult and in fact many web developers can roll this out as a part of the website package. For instance our business, Transition Marketing, while not in the mobile development industry, develops websites that work very well on mobile devices.

Alternately you can look into free software offered by guys like Google: (Google Mobile Website Software). This is bare bones type stuff, but on a tight budget it can get you started. This is the type of tool you look to if your current website is operated through Joomla, or similar software that does not inherently offer mobile capabilities.

Some Points To Consider Regarding Mobile:

  1. Mobile usage is quickly overtaking PC usage.
  2. It is the fail safe tool for a population on the move. Smart Phone technology is the biggest up and coming resource for everyone from the high school teenager to the Fortune 500 CEO. Regardless of who is looking for what, the lions share of these searches is happening on phones and tablets.
  3. By setting yourself up with an easy to find and easy to access online presence, you are hitting one of the highest online marketing demographics available: Mobile users.
  4. Being accessible on mobile tools, means your website is more easily shared among friends (Think about it this way, how often do you share something from your PC with your colleagues? Now compare that to the number of times you have shared something from your phone or tablet. Bingo!).
  5. Consider how important that one extra sale is. If a consumer is on the move, say on vacation, and they need a bathing suit, skis, refreshing beverage, tire change (etc.) in a hurry. YOUR business could snap up this sale, simply by creating accessibility.
  6. An added bonus, mobile sites are often be more accessible to a growing number of people NOT on the move, including the visually impaired or those who simply prefer touch screen to the traditional mouse.

Budgets are tight, and developing a mobile site in addition to a standard site can intimidate many owners. If mobile websites are cost prohibitive, than make sure you ask your web developer about mobile-friendly layouts.

2. Provide Extra Information.

What is one way to develop a loyal customer base? Go above and beyond and meet their needs as thoroughly and quickly as possible. What this can mean for websites, is providing the most useful information available (relevant to your industry) and ensuring it is easy to access from your website.

How do you know what information to share? To answer this try stepping into the consumers shoes, if they are on your website researching, pricing out, or looking to purchase, what information will make these processes the easiest?

(You may also want to consider asking third parties to visit your website and have them communicate their thoughts on the matter).

Consider providing valuable information related to manufacturers, warranty and products. For example:

  1. Warranty Policies.
  2. Product manuals.
  3. Manufacturer contact information.
  4. Troubleshooting guides.
  5. Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Providing this info is one more opportunity to win your customers loyalty. You are going above, providing the best service and showing that you care. Essentially you are reinforcing the small business brand promise that the customer is indeed point #1.

By providing this info you are building value into your website and giving customers a reason to keep coming back. Whether for purchase or for reference, getting this traffic is key. You want them on YOUR site, no one else’s, so give them reasons to keep visiting.

3. Give Help and Make It Accessible.

Offering extra information, and providing answers to FAQ’s is a big step towards a customer conscious website. Sometimes, however, no amount of information is enough, other times consumers simply need more clarity.

Ensure that your website includes contact information that is easily and readily accessible. Offer more than one avenue to contact your service or inquiry departments, if you are offering an email, make sure to offer a phone number also.

Consider providing links to external resources and information also.

Simply put, your web audience should be able to contact you from every page. Include an email in the footer, or a phone number in the header. Add a quick email button to the sidebar, or a hyperlink within your content.

The rule is clear: ALWAYS make it as easy as possible to find what is needed.

Fresh Content4. Keep it fresh and new.

A simple, effective and all too often understated means of generating traffic, engaging consumers and building SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is to update your site regularly.

No one wants to eat week old left overs out of the fridge and this is the mindset one should have towards website updates. Stale content kills traffic, whereas fun, new content grabs attention (For more on the value behind fresh content we recommend this short post)

There are a number of reasons for this, but desensitization is probably the best word for it. After someone has seen the same image enough times, they blot it out. They do not take notice of it anymore.

Each update to your website generates new reason for the consumer to pay attention. It sounds cheesy, but the fact is that we take notice of new things and glaze over the old. Giving your audience a REASON to look around, will ensure that they do so.

How It Impacts SEO:

The same goes for Search Engines. They are hungry, but picky. Do not try to feed them stale old content because they will simply go elsewhere. Instead offer up fresh relevant content and Search Engines will treat your website like a delicacy, quickly sharing your site with all of their friends.

5. Keep it Simple and Keep it Organized

Now we will appear to contradict ourselves. We have just said to populate your website with all manner of useful content, but it must all be clean, clear and organized.

Hint: There is NOTHING WORSE then trying to find ones way through a maze of content and poorly laid out webpages on a website.

Offer up the content that will win your consumers hearts, but take the time to lay it out properly. Content can very quickly get out of hand, in fact it is often more difficult to remove content, then it is to add it.

Consider your website as equal to your storefront. The same care in laying it out must be taken. One must pay attention to detail, to the lay out and organization. Clutter is bad, on par with stale content.

Your website must be clear to navigate and understand, it must be quick to deliver. When I open a website, if it looks garbled, I do not even bother, I close it and go on to the next one, why? because I know that SOMEONE out there is offering the same service without the headache.

Most web developers will provide a potential webpage layout if you ask them to. Work with your designer to ensure your website is set up for success.

If you’re building your own site, stop every now and again and ask yourself this question: “What can I take out of here to make it simpler?”

You may need to remove entire paragraphs of text, or adjust colour schemes. Push back a border, tweak your columns, add an entire extra webpage, just make it easy to use!

Whatever you do, don’t get frustrated, it’s always a work in progress and it will get better with time, just keep at it

Conclusion:

It is not enough to have a website anymore, the online competition in small business is heating up. Upgrading your storefront’s location and layout provides your business with an edge, it is the same for your website. Upgrade, improve and win your consumers hearts!

Small-Business-Marketing

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.