In 1996 there were 257,601websites on the Internet and in 2016 there are over one billion and counting. So it goes without saying that the Internet is more crowded than ever and the competition to drive traffic to your website is fierce to say the least. So it is important for every small business owner to make sure they are doing everything possible to get and retain traffic to their website and make the most of their online digital marketing efforts. According to a study by Lead Pages and Infusionsoft, 47% of small business owners do their own marketing. Also 51% of small businesses plan to invest more in their websites in 2016 and half plan to increase their web advertising budgets.
Some other key insights from the study are:
- “Nearly half of those surveyed said they don’t know whether they’re marketing effectively—and 14 percent know they aren’t.”
- “Twenty-one percent of small business owners don’t store contact information anywhere, while only 24 percent use customer relationship management (CRM) software and 20 percent use an email marketing service provider.”
- “Forty-five percent don’t maintain an email list that prospective customers can opt into.”
- Fifty-eight percent of small business owners are using social media in their marketing, but less than half are creating any other kind of content to help them get leads and sales.
So my question to small business owners is where do you plan on investing your marketing budget? If I may offer some advice to small business owners, I would say invest your marketing budgets in technology and hire professional help.
Invest in Technology
If you are marketing your business, you really need to know what is working and what isn’t. Technology can help you do that. You need to track who is coming to your site, where they are coming from, and capture their information so you can contact them in the future and continue to market to them. There are a number of technologies and apps that can help you with customer relationship management (CRM), from no cost to low cost to high cost. Some CRM systems are Zoho, Infusionsoft, and Contactually. Find a system that works for you and stick with it. Google Analytics can track who is coming to your website, where they are coming from, how long they are staying, and what content is capturing their interest. It is important to know this so you will know where to make adjustments. There are a number of programs for sending email marketing campaigns such as Mail Chimp and Constant Contact where you can create a drip campaign once you have a list of contacts. Social media is great for marketing and brand building, but you also need to be creating content for your website to drive traffic, demonstrate your expertise, and maintain your search rankings. Fresh content on websites is a big part of Google’s algorithm for ranking a website high in searches. So getting your website on line and optimized for SEO if just the first step. Once you get high in the rankings, you want to stay there.
Hire Professional Help
I understand the need for you, the small business owner, to keep control of your business and save costs, especially when you are just starting out. You can be involved with your business marketing at whatever level you choose. But if marketing is not your core business, trying to create a website, marketing your business online, and all that goes along with it is probably not the best use of your time. My advice is to do what you do best and outsource the rest.
If you are a small business owner doing your own marketing, here are a few things to consider:
- Many diverse skills are needed to create an effective website
I have always considered websites part art and part science. The art is the user experience or UX. Simply put, if your website is hard to read, the page is busy and cluttered, navigating the site is difficult, or visitors can’t find the information they are looking for, they will leave. And it won’t take long. Web visitors take about six seconds to decide if they will stay on a website.
The science part is partially behind the scenes stuff like using the right keywords and metadata to direct visitors to your website in the first place. Also you need to make sure your pages download quickly and work on every browser, so web visitors don’t get impatient and leave. All of these things are key if you want web visitors to stick around long enough to engage with them, capture their information, and have the chance to continue to market to them. For businesses that sell exclusively or primarily online, if no one finds your business how long can you stay in business?
- Websites need to be consistently updated to stay high in the search rankings
Okay your website is complete and is online. You have included keywords and metadata and your site is ranking high in the search engines… for a few weeks. After that traffic starts to drop off. That is because part of Google’s algorithm rewards sites that have regularly updated content. So once you build your site you have to update, maintain, and improve it to stay high in the search rankings.
- Google and other search engines continue to change their algorithms
Just when you think you know what Google wants to keep your website ranking high, they change things. Then adjustments need to be made to get your site back near the top. Responsiveness is essential now for your website. If your website is not mobile friendly, you site won’t rank high.
- How much time does doing your own marketing take away from your core business
Another important question for DIY business owners/marketers is how much time does doing your own marketing take away from your core business? If your business provides landscaping services for office buildings, do you really want to spend your day learning WordPress or Weebly so you can build your website? If you run a bakery, is the best use of your time spending your day researching keywords? As a small business owner whatever time you are spending on marketing is time away from your core business and potential profit.
Attracting web traffic and converting that traffic into leads is one of the biggest challenges that small business owners face. This takes a specific strategy and measuring what is working and what isn’t. Marketing online is very competitive and for small businesses it is important to know how effective your marketing is. Investments in technology, web design, and hiring marketing professionals to assist you can be the key in taking your marketing to the next level.
How does your small business marketing online? Has it been effective or do you plan on making changes to your marketing strategy?
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- Posted by sjwills
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