As a small business and even large business owner, it’s hard not to hear about Internet marketing and things like social media everyday. It seems like there are people and resources telling you all the time that you need to have a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, a blog, then a YouTube channel, plus some PPC, SEO, SEM, and ROS ads; all while watching your ROI, CPC, and CTR! Who knew you needed a translator to get into Internet marketing?!?
It can be a little intimidating to get started in Internet marketing, especially when you are a small business with limited budget. The good news is that a little can go a long way if you’re willing to commit the time and effort. Along the way, here are three pointers to help you make sure you avoid wasting your budget and time.
1. Know your customer
Just as with your products and traditional advertising, in my opinion, the number one thing is knowing who your current and future customers are. When thinking in terms of Internet marketing, though, this goes well beyond just knowing what types of products they are looking for. You’re looking for how, when, and why they use the Internet as well as where they go online. Now this may seem like a huge and very complicated task, especially if you’re not particularly web savvy. The good news is that finding this kind of data is fairly easy to do using tools like Google Analytics or Clicky on your website.
If the tech approach seems a little to hard to start, then there is nothing wrong with just asking questions to a good sample of your regular customers. For a recent freelance client, I did an online survey using Constant Contact’s survey system (super easy to setup and only $15 a month with no commitment), and the results were great. One of the questions asked if the user participated in Facebook and/or Twitter. While a very large number reported using Facebook, only 7% said they used Twitter on a daily basis. This means that while my freelance client should keep an eye on the changing use of Twitter, they are able to focus more of their time and budget towards Facebook.
2. Have a strategy
Just as you wouldn’t rush into product development, an ad campaign, or any other decision in your business without a strategy; Internet marketing is no different. Once you know who your target audience is, you need some kind of strategy on how to reach and engage them. I have seen quite a few times where businesses have just created a Facebook page or Twitter account because someone told them they needed to have it. I’m afraid to say that if you don’t have a strategy though, you’ll be wasting your time, your money, and even have the possibility of irreparably damaging your brand and reputation in the process. Here are a few questions to consider when developing your Internet marketing strategy:
- What are your goals? Engagement? Brand recognition development? High conversion rate?
- Knowing your customers, what tools will you use to meet your goals?
- How often will interaction take place using your selected tools?
- What type of content will you be displaying and what type of interactions will you be having?
- Who will manage the accounts and tools to be your voice online?
- How much money will you be spending and where will it be going?
- When bad messaging or PR appears how will it be handled and by who?
3. Combine your offline and online campaigns
According to a recent Forrester Interactive Advertising Model, online advertising is expected to grow to 21% by 2014. This is fantastic for Internet marketers, but it also still means that 79% of all advertising budgets will be spent offline. Looking at this, it is important that your online campaign play a direct role supporting your offline campaigns. As proof that this correlation helps, Marketing Experiments recently did a test where they took an existing online campaign created by a newspaper publisher and modified it to match the look and feel of the offline direct mail campaign. The result was an increase of conversion rates by 124% in just the first two weeks of the campaign.
The basic idea behind this is that a conversation started offline needs to continue with the user online. So how can this be done? Here are a few suggestions for combining your offline and online efforts:
- Landing pages, landing pages, landing pages – If you have an offline ad pointing online, create a specific URL and landing page that coincides with the offline ad. Without it, the user experiences an immediate disconnect as they search for the same info or deal
- Use similar fonts, colors, and images to help increase that connection of offline to online
- Place some components of your offline campaign on your website. A iProspect and Forrester study found that 44% of the people in the study searched for a company, product, service, or slogan after watching a television advertisement
Wrapping it up
While starting off an Internet marketing campaign can be a little intimidating at first, if you keep the three points above in mind, you’ll be off to a much better start. Always remember that it starts with knowing your customers, how they use the Internet, and having a great strategy for how you will implement everything.