Many small business owners are experts at what they do. When it comes to marketing online, however, many employ strategies or waste energy on tactics that just flat out don’t work. Even worse, some of these tactics might end up hurting their business in the long run. At Emu, our job is to guide our clients towards specific strategies they can use to move the needle and provide the best return on their investment, both in time and in money. Here are a few ideas we’ve found that can help you and your business.
Idea 1: Optimize Your Website for Mobile Devices.
It’s no secret that much of the online traffic received by large and small businesses alike has shifted mobile devices. According to Pew Research, 95% of adults in the US now own a mobile device, and more and more are doing research on companies they will do business with through them. So what should you do to help capture this market?
The most glaringly obvious answer is also the one that many small to medium sized businesses still have yet to employ, and that is to make your website mobile friendly. In the website design industry, we have a specific term for that: It’s called making your website “responsive”.
Many years ago, as mobile devices began to take off, several companies opted to have two websites: one for regular desktop use, and another completely dedicated to mobile devices. This strategy is dated already, as a competent online marketing company can create a site that will resize itself automatically to fit whatever device it is being viewed on. This is where we get the name “responsive”.
Want to know if your current website is responsive and mobile friendly? Here’s a handy tool to check.
Idea 2: Optimize Your Website for Search Engines.
Another no brainer is what we call SEO, or “Search Engine Optimization”. All search engines, including the most popular ones like Google and Bing, use an automated crawler to visit websites on the web and index the content in that site. From there, each company has a proprietary algorithm they use to categorize that data, and they use that data to deliver search results to their end users.
There are many, many things that you can do to optimize your site for search engines and make it easier for them to categorize your site correctly and display that data in a way that will make their users want to visit your site. Unfortunately, most small to mid sized business owners have no idea where to even start. This is an area that is still largely difficult to do on your own (correctly), so you should seek the services of a professional in Search Engine Optimization.
Still want to give it a shot yourself? We’ve put together a guide on how we market your website online. You can also check out some other, simpler ways to optimize tour site using Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO.
Idea 3: Use Email Marketing
We are often asked what marketing vector delivers the highest return on investment. Done correctly, the answer is almost always email marketing. However, there are many factors that go into marketing via email that can either sink or swim your attempt.
First, you’ll need a list of email recipients. This is the most difficult part, as just “getting a list of emails” can cause you a lot of problems. You probably hate spam in your inbox, and most people agree with you. If whatever platform you are using to send out emails (we use MailChimp) is notified by enough recipients that your email is unsolicited or spam, they can cut you off. Even if they don’t though, if emails from your IP are flagged often enough, or if emails you use contain enough “trigger words” like “FREE” or “QUOTE” or “LIMITED TIME”, many spambot programs can send your email straight to the recycle bin before your intended recipient ever even sees it. As a rule, you should only send emails to people who have given you their emails, either because they are your customer already, or because they have expressed an interest in what you do prior to you reaching out to them.
Email marketing response rates (meaning they clicked on a link from your email) varies by industry. Typically, the results are comparable to snail mail marketing (or “direct mail marketing”) or a little better. The big difference is that email marketing campaigns are MUCH more efficient to deploy, both in time and in cost, allowing you to reach a greater number of potential customers at a fraction of the time and price.
Idea 4: Pay Per Click Advertising
Pay per click advertising is just what it sounds like. You don’t pay for an ad shown to a potential customer unless they actually click on it. This is great, as it allows you to set a maximum budget for a PPC campaign and then control many other variables These include what specific geographic locations you want your ad to be shown in, what times you’d like for your ad to be displayed, what age and sex you’d like to target, and what action you want people to take upon seeing you ad, such as calling or visiting your website.
Pay per click is something that you can attempt on your own, but again, its highly recommended that you enlist the help of a professional. Many small to mid sized business owners have horror stories about throwing money down a seemingly endless black hole of pay per click marketing, and for good reason. Done incorrectly, this type of campaign can cost you a lot of money for sparse results.
However, PPC does work, and when done right, it works exceptionally well. You’ll need to know exactly what your most lucrative target market is, what keywords they are using when searching for a product or service you offer, and the best way to convince them to take action once they’ve found you online.
Idea 5: Making and Promoting Great Content
There is no trick to this one. Google, Bing, and other search engines have a goal: to figure out exactly what their users are searching for, and then sending them to the absolute best source for that information on the web. In the past, many people have used shady (or “black hat” as we call them in the industry) tactics to try and fool the search engines into sending them more traffic, and some of them worked…. temporarily. Ultimately, those that used those tactics were more often than not penalized, and effectively sacrificed the future web traffic of their business for a one time bump.
We really frown on anything even resembling this, and that’s why Emu coaches their clients to be source of great content, because ultimately, that’s what people and search engines alike are looking for. Google isn’t shy about it either. After releasing their latest broad core algorithm update, they made the following statement:
“Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year. As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded. There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”
That’s pretty clear cut. There are several studies that help us narrow down exactly what “great content” is. For example, the most popular blog posts are typically 1000 to 2000 words in length according to research from Buzzsumo, and are focused on delivering specific content on a given topic.
Need help developing awesome content and then promoting that content on social media? Emu can take that off your plate.
And the List Goes On.
There are lots of other strategies that you can use to generate results for your business. if you are interested in talking about them, or if you just want more info on how you can boost traffic, feel free to give us a call anytime.