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Abbie's Column : Internet Marketing


Improve Your Online Small Business Profits
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If You Build It They Will Come

By Abbie Drew
May 15, 2015

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Reality check for small business, no, they won't come.

The biggest challenge for small businesses once your business
is up and running is getting customers to come and buy.
Simply opening your door will not generate business or sales.

How should a local small business or small online business
tackle the challenge of getting customers in your door?

You might think a yellow page ad, newspaper press release
and/or your street sign will bring them in. However,
offline marketing tactics even for local small business
are no longer how consumers find businesses.

Consumers in today's marketplace look for businesses, all
businesses, on the Internet.

A January 2015 survey by the Local Search Association found
that search engines are the most popular way for customers
to find local businesses. 65% stated when searching for local
businesses, products or services, they use a search engine.


50% stated they try to go directly to the local business'
websites for information.


Only about a third of those surveyed said they turn to print
yellow pages or the newspapers these days.

The necessity for a small local business to have an online
presence is further confirmed by the 2014 Local Consumer Review
Survey
. Their research found the majority of consumers (57%)
searched online for a local business
at least every other month
in the last year.

Local small businesses who want customers in their front door
and remain competitive need to have an Internet marketing plan.

Let's review 6 steps to an effective Internet marketing plan.

Step One: Evaluate Your Time and Money

If you have time, you can implement your own Internet marketing
strategy. You can follow the steps below and you will generate
customers for your business.

If you have money, you will find it easier to hire
assistance to implement these Internet marketing steps.
You can hire freelancers to help you. Check out the site -
Don't Do It Yourself - for excellent information on how to find
and work with freelancers.

If you have neither time nor money, then you should consider
taking out a business loan to put into place Internet marketing
for your business.

Kabbage is an online provider of small business loans.
They offer loans ranging from $2,000 to $100,000. With their
assistance you'll have the funds you need to enact an Internet
marketing plan


Step Two: Have a Mobile Friendly Web Site

As noted in the research surveys, your customers are looking
for your website online. Make sure you have a web site which
provides information about your products and service so your
customers can find you.

Additionally, be sure your web site is optimized for Mobile.

Google announced, "Starting April 21, 2015 we will be expanding
our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change
will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will
have a significant impact on our search results. Consequently,
users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search
results that are optimized for their mobile devices."

As half of all searches performed on Google are from mobile
devices, your site needs to be optimized for mobile viewing.


A Local Media Tracking Study, conducted by Burke, has also
found that computer/laptop usage when searching for local
products and services is decreasing while online searches
using mobile phones/smartphones and netbooks/tablets are increasing.


Step Three: Build an Email Database of Customers

Your web site should collect the email addresses of interested
prospects so you can then follow-up and convert them into
customers.

Your business should also collect the email addresses of
customers who buy from you. Emailing your own in house list
of customers will make them come back and buy. Don't be afraid
to consistently send email to your lists.

Marketing Sherpa's recent survey found that customers want to
receive promotional emails regularly. They reported that 91%
of your customers do in fact want to receive promo emails.


What type of emails should you consider sending:

* Promotional Sales
* Newsletter
* Quick Tips
* Blog Updates
* Happy Birthday Greeting


Step Four: Get Local Search Engine Traffic

As a small local business, you can get free advertising on Google
through Google My Business.

You enter information about your business into Google My Business
and Google will list your business in their Search, Maps and Google+.

See this great article from HubSpot - Free Advertising on Google -
which explains how to list your local business on Google.

You should also input your business' site into the other major
online directories Yahoo and Bing. Additionally, list your
web site in local directories like YellowPages.com, Citysearch
and Yelp. You can include full contact information, a link to
your web site as well as a description of what you offer.

You might also consider using a tool like Moz Local
to ensure your business listings are accurate and visible
on numerous directories across the Internet.


Step Five: Get Online Reviews

According to Brightlocal's Local Consumer Review Survey,
88% consumers have read online reviews to determine the
quality of a local business.


72% of consumers in Brightlocal's survey state that positive
reviews make them trust a local business
more and they will
then go to a local business that has at least a 3 star rating.

To get online reviews, ask your customers to complete a survey
review of your business or write a comment on your web site.
Either email them with a link to leave some feedback online or
include on your receipts details about reviewing your business.

To automate the online review process, consider using a tool
like Get5Stars to follow-up with customers and generate feedback,
testimonials and online reviews.

Encourage customers to review you on local directory listings
like YellowPages.com, Citysearch and Yelp.


Step Six: Create Content

Publish a blog on your web site and add content to it regularly.
Every new blog post is another page that will be listed in
search engines. The more pages you have the more chances your
customers will find your business.

Additionally, syndicate your content to other local publishers.
For example you could write for your local patch.com site as a
contributor. The more content you have on local online publishers'
sites, the more incoming links you'll have back to your web site.
The incoming links not only bring prospects to your site, they
also improve your web site's ranking in search engines.

Content ideas you could use:

* Customer Success Stories
* Happenings at your Business
* Quick Tips on using your products / services
* Industry News
* Events with other complementary local services

Any new posts you publish on your blog should be sent out to
your customer and prospect email lists.

New data from HubSpot has found business web sites that create
numerous blog posts every month get more leads. Small business
web sites with 1 - 10 employees see the biggest boost in leads
from blogging more often.

---

As 78% of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases,
make sure your small business can be found by these buyers.
Use the steps above to create your Internet marketing strategy
and build your business.

When you promote your business online, yes, then they will come!

###
Abbie Drew
DEMC Editor



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