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    Online Marketing Refresher: The Basics of Promoting Your Business Online

    Last updated 2 months ago

    If you’re new to marketing your business online, knowing exactly where to start can be challenging. Or, perhaps you’ve successfully tried one or two tactics, like launching your website and starting a company Facebook page, but you’re ready to take on new online marketing activities to promote your business.

    Whether you’re brand-new to online marketing or ready to expand into new areas, here are 10 online marketing basics that you should know and put into practice.

    1. Understand Your Brand 
    Before your company name appears in any kind of online marketing (or in traditional advertising, for that matter), you should have a solid knowledge of your company’s brand.

    It can help to think of your business as having its own personality and defining exactly what that personality is — conservative and educational, edgy and to-the-point, warm and whimsical, etc. For example, the brand personality of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles can be described as rugged and masculine. It’s very different from the Chanel fashion brand, which is chic and feminine. Each has its own messaging, tone, imagery, color palette, and logo. Taken collectively, these brand elements form a cohesive look and feel that’s expressed consistently across all online activities and advertising. While your own brand might not be as big as these two, it’s still important to know what your brand is, how it sounds, and what it looks like before you use it online.

    2. Know Your Audience
    Do you know who your target audience is, and what their concerns, problems, and values are? Do you know the types of sites they visit to get information about your products and services? Can you articulate how your products or services help your customers? For example, if you’re a daycare operator, your target audience might be made up of mostly women ages 25 through 45; they value safety, affordability, and educational activities for their children. They also get advice from friends on social media sites, read parenting sites, and check out reviews when researching a daycare facility. Having this collective information about your audience can then help you to build online marketing campaigns that address their concerns and resonate with their values. 

    3. Create a Consumer-Friendly Website
    A professional-looking website is the cornerstone of any online marketing activity. Your website should have the following essentials: an easy-to-find phone number on the top of every web page, clean design, and content that entices your visitors. Your site should also include clear calls to action and alternate ways for visitors to contact you, such as an email address or Web form.  Many business websites often fall short in one or more of these areas on their websites. To see real before-and-after website makeovers from real ReachLocal clients, download the ebook, “Try This, Not That: 10 Website Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.”

    4. Build Your Website’s Relevance
    To help more consumers find your business when they search, you need to publish fresh, relevant content that your prospects will find and love. For instance, including a blog on your site and consistently publishing relevant content on it can help you build your authority within your industry, and your audience will appreciate the information you’re providing them. Plus, when your content is posted on other sites, like social media, and then shared, you are building more authority for your website.

    5. Use Email Marketing
    Email marketing offers a great return on investment because your leads and customers have expressed interest in receiving email communications from you and are probably closer to making a purchase. You can use an email-marketing vendor like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Marketo to stay in touch with your contacts with content like coupons, announcements, helpful hints, and more. No matter which provider you use, it’s important to gather email addresses from your leads and customers and ensure that that list is current. Also, it’s important to remember that U.S. federal trade laws say you must refrain from sending emails to any contacts who choose to opt-out from your email campaigns.

    6. Be Active on Social Media 
    Social media is a vital way for business owners to connect with their potential customers and current ones, too. However, it’s more important that you’re on the right social media sites for your industry and audience rather than being on nearly every social media platform that’s available. So once again, it’s very important to know who your audience is.

    And for social media purposes, you should research where your audience is “hanging out” online. For instance, if you’re a clothing retail shop and your customers are mainly women ages 25 through 47, then Pinterest might be a great social media platform for you. Why? Because Pinterest skews heavily to women and is a popular way to showcase products visually. No matter what your industry is, there’s an ideal audience you can engage with online. Research which platforms your target market is most likely to use so you can launch your own company page on those sites.

    7. Advertise on Search Engines
    Getting your business name and information in front of consumers who are searching for relevant products and services on the Web or via their mobile is vitally important to any successful online marketing program. Since 76% of purchases start on a search engine, it’s important that you are visible to people searching there. You can do this two ways – with search engine optimization (SEO) and search advertising. Search engine advertising is the fastest way to start appearing online and provides a lot of control over what messages you present to your audience by segmenting your ads and testing various text ads to see which work best to reach your target consumers. 

    8. Claim Your Business Listings Online
    Claiming and optimizing your business listings on online directories such as Google Places, Yahoo! Local, Yelp, and CitySearch can be an effective way to attract local customers to your business. Many of these are tied to listings like Google Maps and Apple Maps, increasing your chances of being discovered online. If you’ve already listed your business on these online directories, make sure your information is current and correct.

    9. Appear on Mobile
    Mobile continues to gain popularity among consumers as a research and shopping tool. In fact, 76% of consumers recently surveyed use their smartphone to access information about a local store they want to visit. This means your website needs to be optimized for mobile in addition to desktop viewing.

    What are on-the-go consumers looking for on your mobile website? For starters, your address, phone number, hours of operation, and maps or driving directions. By creating a mobile-friendly website with key features like a map and click-to-call functionality, you’re increasing your chances of being contacted by consumers who are looking for businesses while on the go.

    10. Measure Your Return on Investment
    Do you know which online marketing tactics are driving the most leads and customers to your business? For example, how many customers open your emails, find your company from a paid search ad, or call you after visiting your website?

    One of the biggest problems businesses have after starting their online marketing initiatives is figuring out which tactics are effective in attracting leads to their businesses. And information is important, as it will help you to determine where you should continue to spend your marketing dollars and, perhaps, where to stop spending your money. But there are tactics you can use to help you break down the data and measure your online marketing results, such as using call tracking or custom URLs.

    With all of these options, it’s important to remember that establishing a great online marketing strategy and bringing it to life does not happen over night. But as you learn these tactics and implement each one over time, you can make online marketing work for your business.

    What are your marketing plans for 2014? Do you have any favorite online marketing tactics? Let us know with a comment!

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    About the Author

    Amy Neeley helps small- and medium-size businesses navigate the online marketing world with insights and information featured on the ReachLocal blog. Follow her on Twitter.

     

    Case Study: Scion Dealerships Boost Sales with ReachLocal [Infographic]

    Last updated 2 months ago

    Individuality drives Toyota’s Scion brand. So, it’s no surprise the company continues to test and explore innovative ways to connect with prospective customers. To find the right marketing mix for seven of their dealerships, Scion San Francisco region partnered with ReachLocal, who provided search, display, and mobile advertising solutions. During a pilot program, ReachLocal built location-based campaigns to drive more traffic to the dealer websites and increase leads via Google AdWords. This infographic shows the campaign results at a glance:

    Result #1: More Quality Leads & Traffic

    By creating car campaigns focused on Scion’s ideal customers, ReachLocal generated quality traffic resulting in quality leads. ReachLocal used location targeting so only relevant prospects saw the participating dealer’s ads. These targeted advertising campaigns increased website visits by 200%, generated nearly 2,000 new calls and form leads, and drove over 28K ad clicks in a four-month period. In addition, ReachLocal search advertising brought in 56% of total new website visits to the participating dealerships.

    Result #2: Increased Car Sales Year Over Year

    Growing car sales was the primary goal of Scion’s marketing strategy. Scion’s campaigns not only delivered leads, but the dealerships were able to convert many of them into sales. After the pilot, Scion San Francisco Region saw a 17% year-over-year growth in car sales. One dealership attained an outstanding 134% average increase in sales year over year. 

    Result #3 Marketing Spend Shifted Online

    As a result of the pilot with ReachLocal, Scion San Francisco Region increased its online marketing spend from a 10% allocation to an 80% allocation. In addition, results from the pilot helped to convince Scion corporate to co-fund the nationwide rollout of a similar program, so more dealers can benefit from an online marketing strategy.

    Download the entire Scion case study to read more about how they reached auto shoppers online and increased sales with ReachLocal.  

     

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    About the Author

    Tamara Weintraub helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media, and content marketing as a writer for the ReachLocal blog.

    Is Your Website Smart? Get the Guide

    Last updated 2 months ago

    Did you know that 83% of people surveyed by Online Marketing Institute said they sometimes leave a website because it takes too many clicks to find what they want? And, according to Online Marketing Coach and Small Business Trends, 70% of business websites don’t ask site visitors to take any action, like calling for a free quote or filling out an email contact form (also called a “call to action”)?

    Common website mistakes like these often keep business websites from reaching their full potential and miss the goal of getting businesses the new customers they want. In fact, mistakes like cluttered messaging, poor design, or an unclear call to action, can result in fewer people finding your site, fewer conversions from site visitors, and, ultimately, lost potential customers.

    In our newest ebook, Try This, Not That: 10 Website Mistakes & How to Avoid Them, you’ll see 10 common website mistakes that businesses make. You’ll also see the solutions to these mistakes along with before-and-after website makeovers from actual ReachLocal clients using the ReachEdge system, which combines a smart website and lead management to help clients turn more visitors into customers.  

    The good news is these mistakes are easy to overcome. Download our ebook now to see if you’re making any of these mistakes and how to fix them so you can stop leaking leads from your website.

     

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    About the Author

    Amy Neeley helps small- and medium-size businesses navigate the online marketing world with insights and information featured on the ReachLocal blog. Follow her on Twitter.

    5 Online Marketing Trends That Will Impact Your Business in 2014

    Last updated 2 months ago

    In the world of online marketing, 2013 held many new changes and trends. Some we weren’t very surprised by, but others really shook up the way businesses use the Web to attract new customers. Here’s a quick look at five biggest online marketing trends that will impact your business in 2014 and how to get the most out of them. 

    1. The Mobile Web

    Last year saw a continued growth in the use of the mobile Web, thanks to record numbers of both smartphone and tablet purchases. In fact, mobile devices now account for half of U.S. adults’ time spent online.

    And if you aren’t already optimizing your business website, local listings, and other online marketing for mobile devices, you need to start right away. For beginners, it’s as simple as making sure your phone number, address, operating hours, and website are listed accurately and consistently on both Google+ Local and Yelp listings (which feed mobile results on Google Maps and Apple Maps, respectively) to help ensure that consumers can find you when searching for a business like yours from a mobile device. In order to put your best step forward in mobile, make sure having a mobile-optimized website is on your 2014 to-do list.

    2. Big Data

    Chances are you’ve heard or read something including the latest business buzzword “big data.” Although local businesses might not have access to data on the same scale as large tech industries, the trend still applies. Every day, consumers are providing all kinds of data to businesses and websites. And even though you may not be the direct source they are giving this information to, there are many ways that you can access it and use it. For instance, on social media sites, comments, shares, likes, retweets, checkins, +1s, etc. provide you with information about what types of content fans and followers find interesting and entertaining. Plus, analytics built into social media sites show details like the demographics of your fans and followers and the days and times they engage most often with your pages. Plus, website tracking software, like that included in ReachEdge, works behind the scenes of your website to help identify where your visitors come from and what actions they take on your website.

    All of this information is incredibly beneficial to you, and taking the time to analyze it can help you create and publish content and optimize your marketing so that you spend more time and money on what gets you the most in return.

    3. The Evolution of Social Media Sites

    Setting up an account for your business on social media sites is only the beginning of being “on” social media. In order to get the most out of your social media sites, you should always stay up to date with the changes and updates as well. For example, in 2013 Facebook updated its News Feed algorithm in order to provide its users with more relevant content. Instagram announced a new advertising plan for businesses using its platform. Also, Pinterest took a step at giving businesses an opportunity to localize pins with Place Pins.

    These changes should inspire you to first take a look at your business social media pages to make sure they are all up to date (if you need help with the basics, check out this seven-day social media makeover guide). Plus, as more types and sizes of businesses embrace the use of social media, consumers’ news feeds will become filled with messages from more businesses. Creating engaging and relevant content, like product benefits, information about local organizations you support, and customer testimonials, can help fans pay attention to you and share your content. This year, find what makes your customers love you and promote that sentiment across your social media presence.

    4. Consumer Expectation for Social Customer Care

    Today, people discover new businesses, ask friends and family for recommendations, find and share coupons, have access to real customer reviews, make purchases, ask for support, and give their praises (and complaints) to businesses – all online and most through social media. This has also shifted the way consumers interact with businesses, creating a new type of customer service called social customer care in which customers turn to a business’ social media page for topics they once called or emailed about.

    As the use of social customer care grows, it will become even more important to have someone on your end ready to meet customers’ needs. You can do this by having a person or team of people monitor your social media pages regularly for direct posts to your business or posts that mention your business. If these people cannot directly solve the problem, make sure they have the right contact information for someone who can. Lastly, ensure that all issues are followed up with in at least 24 hours. This benefits both your customer – who now knows you are at least listening to them – and you – who now demonstrates that you put your customers first.

    5. Continued Google Search Algorithm Changes

    In this recent blog post, we stated that “2013 was a busy year for Google…” and this is definitely not an understatement. Recent features have given more weight in search results to high-quality content from authors who connect their content to their Google + profile. Some SEO feathers were ruffled with Google’s “(Not Provided)” update, which means specific keyword data is not shown in Google Analytics. Hummingbird gave an analytical brain to Google search that answers search queries rather than just matches keywords. And now, Ad Extensions are factored into quality score, so businesses that use the extensions in their search advertising can achieve a higher quality score and in turn, get better visibility on Google search. And in 2014, we can only expect to see a lot more impact from these updates.

    These updates demonstrate Google’s continuous effort to provide searchers the most accurate results, not just those that fit a checklist of matching keywords. In order to make sure your business shows to consumers searching for your products and services keep these things in mind:

    • Write content for consumers, not for search engines. When you do this, keywords will become part of the copy and not the focus of the copy. 
    • Use relevant Ad Extensions as part of your search engine advertising to make your ads more usable for searchers.
    • Optimize your website for mobile devices to reach consumers on the go.
    • Track how consumers get to your website so that you can better optimize your online marketing and advertise for better conversions.

    All of these online marketing trends continue to point out the importance of building your entire Web presence. Not only do you need to build your presence everywhere consumers are searching, surfing, and socializing, but you also need to stay on top of the ever-changing best practices to optimize your business in each of those places so you can get the most out of them.

    Is your business ready for 2014? What online marketing trends and tactics are at the top of your to-do list this year? Let us know with a comment.

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    About the Author

    Tara Banda writes about how small business owners can reach local customers through online marketing for the ReachLocal blog. You can connect with her on Twitter.

    Google Honors ReachLocal With Premier SMB Partner Award for "Best Quality Accounts"

    Last updated 3 months ago

    We are proud to announce that ReachLocal has been named the winner of Google’s 2013 North America Premier SMB Partner Award for “Best Quality Accounts.” We were selected as the winner in this category for having the highest average Google AdWords Quality Score during the judging period.

    The Google Premier SMB partner program helps local businesses connect with online advertising partners like ReachLocal that are trusted to successfully create, manage, and optimize their search advertising campaigns.

    Recognized as a Google Premier SMB Partner since 2011, ReachLocal continues to meet Google’s high standards of excellence in search engine advertising through Google AdWords. We continuously strive to deliver this expertise directly to our clients through:

    • Campaign experts with extensive Google product and account management training
    • Full-service campaign management and detailed reporting
    • One-on-one client service and online marketing guidance

    Together, this enables our clients to get the most out of their search engine advertising.

    We are extremely honored to not only be a part of the Google Premier SMB partner program but to also be recognized for the high quality of our accounts. Read the entire press release or learn more about what being a Google Premier SMB Partner means for our clients.  

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