How much can you learn about online marketing in 40 days? Well, I spent the past eight weeks interning in the marketing department at ReachLocal. And although I already had an understanding of online marketing, this experience taught me just how valuable online marketing is for small businesses.
The first thing that I learned working at ReachLocal is that there is a lot more to online marketing than just pay per click advertising. While it is an important part, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. I discovered that all aspects of online marketing are equally as important for local businesses, even more so now that newspapers, directory books, and print advertising are quickly becoming a thing of the past. And now, consumers are relying more and more on the Internet to search for local information – and even buy products and services.
But, I also learned that the online marketing landscape is complex, involving many different important tactics. And small businesses can’t do everything themselves. They need marketing experts to help them turn consumers into customers so they can focus on running their business.
Consumers are Going Online, and So is Local Marketing
In the past, small businesses focused their marketing strategies on yellow pages, print ads, billboards, buses, or even television ads. But today, in the age of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, more consumers are turning to the Internet to find information, making it an essential way to advertise locally. In fact, by the year 2016, local searches on mobile devices are predicted to overtake those on desktop computers.
Well-organized online directories have made the process of finding a local business shift from picking up a five-pound yellow book and looking through hundreds of pages, to being just a couple of clicks away. Social media and review sites have also made word-of-mouth – one of the most effective forms of advertising – more powerful than ever. When people are searching for products and services, they now use search engines like Google first. Together, these consumer trends paint a very powerful picture of just how important it is for every local business to have an active presence across the Web – from search engines to directories to social media sites and beyond.
The Online Marketing Landscape is Diverse
So, how can small businesses create an active Web presence? Small businesses need a range of online marketing tactics and tools to build their brand and get more customers. Here are some of the top online marketing strategies small businesses should consider:
Search Engine Advertising – When a consumer searches for products or services, search engine advertising helps a small business get their business in front of that consumer. This is one of the best places to start your online marketing strategy, but in today’s diverse digital landscape, it doesn’t stand alone.
Web Marketing – This is the process of helping local businesses build their brand and reach customers through organic search listings, an active social media presence, a positive online reputation, and consumer engagement. Social media is an incredibly powerful form of communicating, sharing news, and connecting with consumers. Having a strong social media presence can help a business reach consumers who are already active on social networking sites.
Display Advertising – Display advertising is an important way to build your brand across the Web where consumers are surfing online. And with a technology called retargeting, display advertising becomes an incredibly powerful tool for marketing your business online. Through retargeting, your business’ display ads are put in front of consumers who have either searched for your business keywords online, or have visited your website, boosting your visibility online and keeping your business top of mind when they decide to purchase.
Local Online Marketing Companies Can Help Small Businesses Get More from Their Marketing
In my time at ReachLocal, I came to understand that online marketing plays a vital role in the success of a local business. But, it isn’t as easy as it may seem. Many small business owners don’t have the time or expertise to market themselves across all these places and get the most out of online marketing. By working with a company that not only has advanced software and strategies but also offers teams of marketing experts, small businesses can market themselves online – and focus their efforts on running their business.
Looking back, I realize that I thought I knew marketing, but my experience at ReachLocal opened my eyes to an online marketing world that I had never seen before. Not only do companies like ReachLocal have advanced online marketing products and services, but they have smart people with expertise in online marketing to back it up. And with a little help, small businesses can take their online marketing to the next level to reach more customers than ever online.
About the Author
Kelly McCormick interned this summer in the marketing department at ReachLocal. He is currently studying marketing and advertising at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX.