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Promoting your small business online. Five top tips and tools

By | Business marketing, CRM and lead generation, Facebook Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Technology, Mobile Marketing, Online Marketing, SEO, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

As a small business, no doubt by now you are venturing into the online world in trying to promote your small business. No doubt you have heard about Pay-Per-Click, social media and other tools but promoting your business can be expensive and ineffective if you are not given the right advice. You can also spend a lot of time experimenting with out getting great results, time we all don’t have.

Here are my Five Top Tips and Tools for Promoting Your Small Business Online. Remember it is not about traffic. The name of the game is getting leads and conversions or sales!

1. A website presence

You need to have a website that says what you do, who for and why they should use you. Your website is your shopfront and is 24×7 so you need to invest in one that is professional and represents your brand. A key tip is that it is easy to manage and a content management system that you can update. Content and relevant fresh content is a very important way to drive visits to your site so you need to be able to add new content regularly. It is also important that you add google analytics to your website so you can see information about how your website is working.Here is how to do that in a video. To build a website you can view my apps and see which platforms I like or our how to section on how to build a website. It is also a good idea to see how your site looks on a mobile device with go mobile app and build a mobile version using wire node. You can also use a tool called Lucky Orange to see how your website works from a customer perspective and we love that!

Remember if your website doesn’t have a call to action you are wasting your money. A call to action is the step you would like your prospect or customer to take. It needs to be appropriate. A free trial, download, meeting, sample etc. You need to nurture the relationship overtime.

2. Pay-Per-Click

If you build it they might not come is very true for a website. You need to spend as much time on building your website as you do promoting it. This may start with some initial SEO and directory listings to ensure you are found but I suggest a Pay per Click campaign to ensure you are on the right track and for some great feedback quickly.

Maybe you have heard about other small businesses getting great results with Pay-Per-Click, but it looks like a lot of time to manage and you don’t have a lot of money to spend. Maybe you just aren’t sure you know where to start, what to do or how to do it? Pay Per Click campaign can you get immediate results. You get immediate feedback, you can see which keywords are performing and then you can tweak it very easily to get it to actually to bring you the sales. The key tip is set a very restrictive budget. Don’t set the budget that Google tells you to set.  Set something that you are comfortable with.You’ve got to watch it very, very carefully at the start and also think about whether this is the right thing for your business too. Using google keyword tool you can start to work out what keywords bring you traffic. You can also use Wordstream which gives you more information and I think is better than Google’s keyword tool. Remember, while google domains advertising online it is not the only medium. Now you can advertise in LinkedIn and Facebook. Both are more affordable than Adwords and might be a more relevant medium depending on your audience. They key tip is to track what works. Display advertising can be good but you have to be really careful with that.  It’s less controllable than pay per click or SEO is and so you can run through a lot of money very quickly and so the thing with that is you have to decide which of other sites where my customers are really engaging and you really need to know the demographics of your audience to engage in display advertising. If you choose to use a consultant which is a good idea if you are educated in the process, and if they say that they can guarantee you a 1 page off google, run! It takes about 6 months to get any real effect on google using AdWords but I wouldn’t lock in for longer than that in a contract. Raven tools is a good aggregator tool for looking at many online metrics if you want to do it yourself.

3. SEO

So once you see the keywords that are performing in your AdWords campaign, it’s really easy to then start doing your SEO and setting up an account on SEO and then you can sort of see the things that you want to follow on social media as well. So if you know the keywords that are performing for you with Pay Per Click, you can use those keywords to actually follow those keywords on Twitter and see where the conversations are happening and then engage in those types of conversations. If you set up a Google Alert you can track what is being said about you (or your competitors) to see what words people are using to describe you. Remember you should have SEO on your website as a given but tweaking it is really important. The descriptions for each page appear to be more important than the key words but google is always playing with this.

4. Email Marketing

Email marketing is an important part of online marketing and often overlooked by small businesses. Customers need reminding you are out there. It is not spamming if it is valuable information and you always provide an opt out function. To have an email campaign you need a list. You can start with your existing customers but often small businesses haven’t been in the habit of collecting names, emails, mobiles etc. START!! You also can have a landing page on your website with a form and an attractive offer to start this lead generation process. Don’t try and run an email campaign using Outlook because you’ll get blacklisted all over the place on a bunch of the ISP’s.  So you want to use something that is guaranteed to kind of get through to your customer and by using a good email solution and that can really make a difference in the deliverability of your emails. I use Mailchimp because it integrates nicely with my form generator wufoo and it has great social sharing tools and analytics but there are many tools out there including some fully automated marketing software like Infusionsoft or Hubspot.

5. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is the next level of online marketing for a small business. Many have started to play with Facebook or Twitter but without a real strategy.

Facebook is more geared towards the consumer environment in that retail businesses can use it to make offers and run contests. Having said that it is a great engagement tool for local businesses to share content and build an online community. Having a blog can position you as an authority in a B2B company and can gain you credibility amongst your peers. I find a blog, email and PR strategy very important for a service based business, while a Facebook, Twitter and social interaction strategy  more relevant in a retail business.

You need to monitor the conversation on every social platform. This can be daunting for the small business owner, so it is important to only engage in those tools you are going to manage and use. It is better to be committed to LinkedIn and leverage that as a forum rather than be on Twitter and Facebook and U-tube if you have a HR business for example. Choose where your audience is and go there.

I like social aggression tools like sprout social.

Finally as a small business you can’t do everything all at once so start with one of these tips and do it well. Learn about it. Add google analytics to your website and understand what is happening so you can make better business decisions.  The real measure of effective online marketing is leads, contacts in your database, new opportunities and returning customers that buy again. You can control how much it costs you to create leads and work out what is the right mix for your business if you are informed about the tools you need to be aware of.

If you need more information visit me at macinnismarketing.com.au

 

So how are you doing on getting found on the web?

By | Marketing training, small business marketing, social marketing | No Comments

There are some really great tools out there to help you monitor how you are going with your presence on the web. Here are some that I have found useful.

1. Google analytics – this once you set up the piece of code on each page of your site can be a great source of information. Go to google and set up an account. Then go into the google analytics tab and set up your website/domain information. From there once you have put the piece of code on your web you are good to go. Key information from google that is useful is key word search, where your visitors are coming from, how long they stay and on which pages they visit. Use google alerts to track your company name and your competitors to see how often they are mentioned on-line

2. Webgrader – from hubspot.com is another great free tool that gives you some idea of how your web is performing. The great thing about this free report is that it gives you some actions that you can take to improve your chances of being found by your key customers.

3. Page rank – this gives you an idea of how well your site is ranking next to other sites out there. It is a relative measure and I found it interesting but not really that useful in terms of “so what is next?”

4. Compete is a site that will give you competitive information about your site with your competitors. Webgrader and google do this as well.

1.Brand eye report

5.Brandseye – helps you monitor your brand. It is a paid service but relative inexpensive for a small business.

6. Trackur is another service that tracks your brand online. They have a download pdf to help you decide if you need tracking worth looking at. They also have an awesome key word tracking tool.

7. Experts like mashable have some great lists and resources available on this area. Check out there top ten reputation tracking tools. Tim Martin site is a great source of information as a digital expert. Worth a look.

8. Cubestat gives you and estimation of what your site is worth. And Xinu gives you a great snapshot with some suggestions  of your online presence.

5 key steps to building your marketing toolkit

By | small business marketing, social marketing | No Comments

Listen to this article as a podcast.

I have been consulting for some time now and it seems to me that small business are in the driver seat in being able to cherry pick from some of the best systems and tools about there (many free) to drive their marketing.

Here are a list of my top tools and resources that would be useful to invest in today.

1. Build your blog – this is a way to connect with your target audience in an interactive way. It is also a great way to optimise your web by linking your blog in it. The best tool I have found is wordpress because it has the best widgets (applications to enhance your communications). Blogger and typepad are also good but I have a preference for wordpress. It has more functionality.

2. Build your webpage – I think the key thing for small business is to have a web page with a content management system built into it. I use citymax but there are many software programs now that are web based that can give you a basic template and tools to build your website. A word of caution, make sure that the content management system is easy to use, provides all the services you might need, hosting, web optimisation – key words, meta tags and layout formats and will support you as your business grows ie shopping carts, pay per click options, search submission, adding extra domains and pages. You can purchase great templates for wordpress and use it as a website which is a low cost way of getting started but unless you host it on your own domain and use your own CSS tools it is hard to get all the functionality of surveys, forms and product sales online.

3. CRM – a basic database that collects your customers information. I use officeautopilot (sendpepper for SMB) for the base for my customer segmentation and I can use it to send campaigns from, and create landing pages. There are many tools out there that will give you this capability for little investment. 4. Autoresponder – I use aweber. Really great tool for setting up a series of emails to subscribed customers. Not a spamming tool. People need to opt in. It gives great tracking capabilities and allows me to launch many campaigns to different segments with ease.

4. Form creation – I am using Wufoo and finding it excellent. I was using surveymonkey but I think Wufoo has surpass this tool because of its great intergration with paypal and merchant services. Not only can you create a form or survey (great templates) but you can sell using a template.

5. Sell on-line – I have found Paypal to be great and easy to set up but there are many more including shoppingcart. I think you just have to see what works for you best in your country. 6. Tracking tools – Google analytics is the best for me as it tracks information in more detail than some of the other tools but compete is a great one for looking at your competitors. Website grader is also another good one to see how to optimise your website.

Next steps: So if you are not sure how you stack up or the right questions to ask, take my online survey to help you audit your online marketing strategy.

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