Online marketing has been growing more and more in popularity. This trend is very common among start-ups and small business owners that have minimal advertising budgets. Online marketing can be a scary venture for those who are inexperienced.
Where do I start?
How much should I pay for online advertising?
What websites / services should I use?
How do I get my message where my customers are?
These are just a few of the common questions business owners have when beginning online marketing. Grasping the full realm of the online marketing world is a process that can take years and is often ongoing due to its ever-changing nature. Getting started with online marketing is manageable, but there are a few tips you should remember when doing so.
1. You don’t accept the reality of time.
Setting up profiles on all of the various social media sites, building a website, and setting up and claiming your listings on all of the various online directory websites can be a daunting task, and now you are going to have to set aside time to effectively manage all of those accounts. It will take much more effort and time than you initially think to establish an online presence, build a following, monitor for negative & positive reviews, and keep your followers engaged.
2. You spread yourself too thin.
It is tempting to want to have your business listed and marketed on every single social media platform available, but the reality is that resources are limited, and if you spread yourself too thin across too many social media networks, you will end up with less than desirable results. Start with one or two that you think fit your target market, build your audience, perfect your engagement on those sites, and then start adding other networks, but make sure not to add more than you can handle with your resources.
3. You are not engaging your online audience.
You’ve gotten to the step where you’ve built a good base following, but you aren’t getting the results you want. The most common reason this happens is that you are not engaging your audience. You must always make sure to post content that is relevant to your business and products, but you do not want all of your content to be simple advertisement. Post content that your audience will find useful and valuable, so they want to comment, share and repost. Also, make sure to respond to each and every comment, question, tweet, or other social interaction that have been left on your pages. Show your audience that you care about what they have to say and that you are active online daily.
4. You don’t have an online marketing budget.
Although it can sometimes be a daunting task to determine where to spend money, how to spend it, and how much to spend online, spending a little bit of money can save you in the long run. If done smartly, investing a small amount of money in Facebook or Twitter ads can increase traffic to your website or physical location.
Marketing your business online can sometimes be a stressful and intimidating task, but if you avoid the most common mistakes outlined above, you should be more productive and feel much more confident in your efforts.
The Rio Grande Valley is one of those special places that seem to always stay the same. As a native RGVer, who left and came back from larger metropolitan cities it is extremely obvious how slow the RGV is to adopt new ideas and concepts. Add the fact that I work in the advertising industry, and the gap is even more apparent.
Businesses here don’t really understand the concept and worth of good integrated advertising. I’m not talking about the flyers that your comadre can print out, or the good deal on a radio spot because your dad’s bother’s wife knows someone at the radio station, but about a completely cohesive and integrated advertising strategy.
I know, I know you’re probably thinking that local businesses cannot afford to do something like this, but in reality it is a lot simpler (and probably a lot more cost effective) then anything your business is currently doing. So, because I’m a true believe that the Valley needs to get educated on this topic, I want to provide you with a couple of pointers on how to get your businesses marketing strategy started (of course, if you don’t have time to do it yourself Amplify would always be happy to lend a helping hand).
Set realistic goals and objectives.
Don’t ever start an advertising/marketing campaign without setting goals! By doing this you are just setting yourself up to fail. Just think about it, it’s like driving somewhere without a destination. Take the time to sit down and truly think about what your business needs. Do you need to increase store traffic/sales/brand awareness? Do you want to increase your like/followers on Facebook and Twitter? Do you want more engagement with your brand online? Or do you want to drive traffic to your website?
Once you decide on what you need your advertising and marketing to do. Be realistic about it. Don’t expect to get 1,000 Like in a week, or increase sales by 50% in a month. Advertising, like everything, takes time and consistency.
Set a budget.
Now days you don’t need to have a huge budget. You’d be surprised what you can do with $500 a month, if you use it wisely. With the rise of social media, and digital channels there are new creative ways to reach your customer for a lot less then you might expect. So set a budget that is realistic and most importantly that will be able to be maintained for an extended amount of time.
Define your customer.
I know you’ve probably heard this a lot, but it is extremely important. Know who your customer is. Once you have identified the type of person that frequents your business, get to know them (or at least some of them). What do they like (hobbies, activities), are they younger, older, around what age? All these details will help you craft a message for them. This way the message will resonate with them and build a connection between your business and your customer.
Look at your media options.
Don’t be stuck in thinking just about traditional media (which is what everyone here in the RGV is all about) unless it truly has worked for your business. Digital advertising is a frontier the RGV has yet to fully explore. If you are a local business, digital can be one of your best options both with reach and price point.
When choosing your media keep in mind that everything needs to integrate together. For example, your print needs to drive people in store or to your website. If you are using SEM it needs to drive customers to the right page. If you are using social media make sure you are engaging with your followers and driving them to think about your business and brand. So basically, everything you do should have a reason.
Whether you are using traditional (which is A LOT harder to track) or digital, you need to implement a way to track what is working or is not working. Include call to actions, unique landing pages on your advertising, social media links, or simply ask customers what drove them in store/online. By doing this you will get a good picture of what is working for your business and what is not, allowing you to adjust accordingly.
Determine an evaluation form.
Before you launch your campaign make sure you establish ways to measure whether your campaign was a success. These should be based on your goal and objectives. Were they accomplished and if not, why not? Look at your results and see what works and what doesn’t work, then modify your approach for next time.
Overall, you can never guarantee that your marketing/advertising program will be 100% successful. But by following the tips above you can guarantee that you are making the best decisions for your business to succeed.
As a local business owner you probably feel as if you never have enough time for anything. Between ensuring that your inventory is current and dealing with the latest employee issue, do you really have an extra 6-8 hours a week to dedicate to your social media? We are talking about managing all your social media networks (think Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc), connecting with potential new followers, responding to comments/posts, and monitoring your brands keywords in order to manage any negative mentions you might have, and that’s just mentioning a couple of thing you should be doing.
I have seen many local businesses try to accomplish the task of managing their social media, and some do a great job, while others not so great. Regardless, in order to ensure that you are getting the most out of your business’ social media it is good to have a daily cheat sheet to ensure you are covering all your bases. As you know here at Amplify, digital and social media is a huge component of what we do for our clients. So I thought I’d share with you a couple of key things we monitor and do on a daily basis for our clients.
Check your social media profiles – EVERYDAY!
The first thing you should do every morning is log into your social media accounts. Don’t set up an account and forget about it. One of the most important aspects of social media is that you are present in the conversation with your customers.
Respond to all interactions.
Regardless if the comment/tweet is positive or negative you need to engage with anyone who goes out of his or her way to directly communicate with through social media. Every comment is a real person that is choosing to interact with your brand, and if you don’t respond that might be one customer that won’t bother with your business again.
Post interesting content to encourage engagement from your followers.
Update your status with relevant, engaging information about your business. Here are a couple of different formats:
- Ask a question
- Share a statistic
- Comment on news
- Post a picture
- Share a blog or article
When posting on social media you need to make sure you are clearly stating what you want your followers to do. Make sure your call to action is clearly stated and easy to do. Things like “Share your thoughts” or “Hit Like if you agree”, really help to stimulate interaction.
Don’t be afraid to seek out new followers.
The bulk of the people that follow you should be people that love your brand. But sometimes, especially with local businesses, you haven’t gotten the traction or brand recognition yet to naturally build your following, so don’t be afraid to be proactive about it.
For example, on Twitter seek out industry leaders, follow them and more than likely they will follow you back and maybe even some of their followers will follow you too. On Facebook, things are a little different, but seek out people who have shown interest in your business and message them, and tell them to go like your page.
While social media has provided local businesses with a great opportunity to reach the masses via Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc., it has also caused a massive headache for many business owners. With the constant need to update and engage with your followers it seems like the job is never done, but with a little bit of organization and time you can get your social media marketing back on track.
A recent article by Anthony Wing Kosner on Forbes.com poses this question. When you think social media you don’t automatically think Google, you of course think Facebook. Although Facebook has become the most commonly known social media network, Google has quietly established its presence. While Facebook leads the way with an impressive 693 million active users, Google has 343 million active Google+ users and 280 million active YouTube users (yes, remember YouTube is owned by Google), thus Google Inc. has a huge presence online.
The impressive thing about Google is that many times you might not even realize that you are using their social network. They have integrated and interconnected all their products so well that you never realize how many of their products you are using. For example, on any give day I interact with at least four different Google products. In the morning I check my personal Gmail account and then switch over to check my work Gmail. Later on I’ll sign into Google+ to see what’s trending or read up on news. Then, I’ll search for information via google.com and maybe even use their Googledocs platform to work on a document or view an email document so I don’t have to download it. Just in that morning, I’ve interacted with Google FIVE times!
Not only does Google have great products for individuals, but their products can also help local businesses effectively compete against larger corporations. With 43% of all Google searches having local intent and 55% of customers using their mobile phones to search for local businesses, having a Google+ Local listing is now becoming essential. For example, say a customer is searching for a hair salon. They will more then likely search something like “hair salon in McAllen, Texas”. If your Google+ page is optimized and your listing is correct there will be a higher probability that your business will appear. In creating your Google+ listing you are allowing your business to appear next to relevant and specifically local search results.
In addition, Google+ profiles potentially factor into search rankings, and people are beginning to pay more attention to their profiles and have begun to actively link their content to ensure their content is not missed by Google’s crawlers. Your business’ Google+ profile can help you rank for target keywords, and a Local listing can give you a strong presence online even if you don’t have a website (which is a another story if you don’t!).
This seamless and almost passive way of using Google’s products is a large reason why they have become successful, and I believe will play a large factor in their continued growth. By allowing users to easily navigate from one service to another, they have positioned Google+ to become the place where people go and explore the web at their leisure, without having to constantly update their status.
So what does this all tell us? Even though Facebook has a huge number of users, I wouldn’t count Google out of this race, especially if you’re a business!
Ever thought about starting a blog for your business’ website? A recent study indicates that companies that have a blog generate more then 55% more website visitors, 97% more inbound links and 434% more indexed pages. So why wouldn’t you want to start a blog? Oh yeah, they’re A LOT of work! I’m writing today to give you a couple of quick tips on how to implement a high quality blog into your business’ marketing strategy.
Keep Your Blog on Your Company’s Website
Blogs are a great tool to use because they can offer a massive amount of unique, high quality content if written and maintained correctly. Because of this, it is important for you to integrate your blog on to your business’ website. By doing this your blog will help your websites’ SEO and potentially land you some new customers. Just imagine all that unique, new content that Google’s crawlers will be able to search through when they crawl your website and then provide that information to users who are searching for those keywords.
Don’t be Egocentric
While blogs are a great way to introduce people to your products, being egocentric and only talking about yourself on your blog isn’t a good thing. A blog is all about offering your readers thought provoking information! Tell them something interesting about what is going on in your industry, or share a new trend that is emerging in the marketplace or some industry best practices. We aren’t saying never to talk about you business, but do it in moderation and for a specific reason.
Don’t be Random
Speaking of writing thought provoking blogs, although your content should be interesting it should NOT be random. Make sure your blogs have a purpose, plain and simple. Be consistent in your topics so that your blog will become that place where people know they can find good reliable information on a certain topic.
Switch Content Forms
As a way to keep readers interested and coming back, ensure that you switch up the content forms. One post might be all text, the next a video or maybe an audio recording, or heck even mix two different content types! The point is keep it fresh and give variety to your readers.
Overall, the point of having a blog is to give your readers unique, interesting and relevant information with a twist (that twist being your unique perspective on different topics). Although, it might be tempting to write about yourself and your products, put yourself in your consumers’ shoes and think about what they want to read about.
Thanks for stopping by and checking out our new website and blog! We are still doing a few ‘touch-ups’ here and there, but thought we would go ahead and get a blog posted.
As you have probably found out, Amplify is a unique marketing agency that provides businesses with a large portfolio of products and services. We are more than a ‘one stop shop’; we are a single agency that can handle all of your marketing needs, no matter how small or large. Amplify media + marketing takes a complete look at a businesses marketing strategy, conducts extensive research and analysis and then provides you with a strategy that fits your needs and budgets, in the most efficient and effective way.
Long gone are the days of traditional media and the methods of ‘interruption’ marketing. We are now at a time where selective consumption rules. Consumers have hundreds of tools at their disposal to find what they want, when they want it. Consumers are inundated with marketing messages from every angle, which pushes them away and tunes them out. Bottom line, with selective consumption and the user being in control, is your business found and accessible everywhere a consumer could be searching? Is your online reputation protected, managed and secure? Do you have accurate listings on the search engines? Is your website mobile friendly or optimized? How do you generate quality leads? Are you active in the social environment?
Those are all types of questions that Amplify not only asks, but finds the solutions to. We help your business be found when a user ‘wants’ to find your business, product or service. You no longer have to throw your line out into the water and wait for a bite, Amplify can help you find and target users who are already in the research or buying decision phase- which is much more efficient and cost affordable than traditional mediums such as TV, radio and print. Amplify can generate quality leads and drive revenues to your business, all with an exceptional return on investment. After you are done looking around on our website, if you have any other questions or want to talk a little more- please get in touch with us by filling out any of the online forms throughout the website, by calling us directly at 956-278-0539 or sending us an email to [email protected]
Thanks again for stopping by, checking out our website and reading this blog. We will soon begin to post on a regular basis. The topics of our posts will vary from industry trends, new technology, case studies and more that should help bring some light to the ever-changing world of marketing.
Until next time!
The Amplify Team