The biggest trend in marketing over the past two decades has been the Internet. As people began to use the tool more often, marketers only marveled at its potential. Now that it is an integral part of nearly every person’s life, many business owners (including me) are viewing it as the most powerful marketing tool available.
The Internet has undoubtedly changed the face of business marketing. It doesn’t matter what the business does, the Internet takes control in marketing strategies. Of course, there are a growing number of enterprises that only sell products online. However, traditional, brick and mortar businesses (like mine) should not be fooled – marketing on the Internet is still the best way to grab attention and is in my opinion… the number 1 marketing tool available to focus your efforts.
Websites, blogs, social media and email are just the beginning. Online advertising is everywhere, and while it can be tricky, it is working to convert customers and make sales by nearly every business in existence today. For example, as a business owner, I have used a number of tools listed below, and it has made all the difference for my hydrovac business in Edmonton.
Not owning a website was one of my biggest mistakes. Posting in Kijiji and Yellowpages did generate several calls but it was never enough to keep my business moving. I found that having a website will at least help customers find a business, preview the business’s work, and find our contact details. The Internet, however, allows a business to reach beyond these basics to entice customers further.
Our business now has the opportunity to promote offers and tell customers more about a particular service through our website. Again, customer service is improved by providing the most information possible to the customer before purchase. Customers can also provide feedback for products and services, further helping our business increase product and customer service.
Content marketing is a great, low cost effort to attract more people to your website. You can save a lot of money by writing it yourself especially if you are an expert in your field. And because I own a hydrovac business, I’m an expert on the topic of hydrovac excavation. What I like to do is tie my writing into anything happening within my city at the time and post on my social accounts to get people interested in the services I can provide all while keeping it relevant to what people are interested in. Doing this one thing has really improved the engagement I see from my social accounts. Not only that, but following these tips on content marketing can drastically improve the effort.
You must promote your website if it’s going to work. The best website will do nothing if no one sees it. There are simple things a business can do, such as choosing a name customers will remember, telling others about the website, and using email marketing to bring more traffic to the site. Printed marketing materials, if any exist, must also include the site address. In fact, today’s consumers expect to find a website included on all print products for more information.
Additionally, social media is very important to engage with potential customers and is increasingly more important in the eyes of the big G. My social media pages are one of the most active areas of my overall marketing plan. It is becoming routine to use this medium by a number of businesses for promotions and for customer engagement. In fact, I started my pages when I noticed the competition doing the same. Reputations are also built through social media, as is the company brand. It’s a good idea to establish a business presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to allow the business direct communication with both existing customers and newer, target markets.
There are also online equivalents to the traditional methods of marketing, referred to as advertising on partner websites that target customers most likely visit. Businesses can also arrange affiliate marketing contracts with companies who sell similar products or provide services associated with the products.
One of the most effective ways for visibility, however, is to get the website to appear on the first page of search engines. This is a challenge, but it is worth the work. Generally, pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization is the best method to get more people to a business’s website.
This marketing method is cost-effective and convenient. Businesses use it to tell potential and existing customers new information. Customers learn about offers, receive customer support, and receive responses to questions through email. These messages are often used to share special offers, new products, and to advertise the website. Every email must have a link to the website inserted somewhere in the message.
Email has a double benefit; the cost is lower and the response rates are generally higher over traditional mailers. Tracking email is also easier; businesses can receive feedback on open rates for emails, whereas traditional mailers don’t have this option. Running marketing tests has never been easier, helping businesses change emails and rely on what’s working.
While email is a great forum, it goes hand in hand with other methods of online communication. Blogs, comments posted on discussion forums, articles written for other industry websites and use of social networks are all useful in building a customer relationship.
Social networking must be part of a modern marketing plan. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are the biggest contenders in online advertising, and these tools are essential to any online marketing plan. These platforms allow a business to show off expertise, build customer relationships, and connect with suppliers and prospects. Businesses also promote themselves across a wider audience, bring traffic to the website and boost overall sales.
Shaune Vasseur is the owner of Hydrovac Edmonton, based in Edmonton AB, Canada. He has found that online marketing has been the best ROI for marketing his business and has helped it grow in spite of an economic downturn in the oil industry. Visit Shaunes website here, or follow him on Facebook.