Websites are an absolute in any online business marketing strategy. More people than ever are using the internet as part of their everyday lives, and the ability to search, explore and act at the touch of a button has changed both the ways users look for information and the ways users look for information and the ways they make purchasing decisions. Web-savvy customers choose to educate themselves about the best solutions to their challenges. They search for information when they want it and how they want it – and without some kind of online presence, they’re almost certain not to find it from your business.
The good news is that in such a fast-paced, customer-centric arena, a well-integrated website can be a huge marketing advantage. Even if your website isn’t visitors’ first impression of your brand, it’s still a central resource tying together all the traffic from your blog, social media, and paid advertising. A successful website engages visitors, educates them and persuades them to become invested customers – and it does this by combining key elements of design, content and SEO to create a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy backed by a great user experience.
If you are a member of your local chamber of commerce, you have probably seen a positive change in your business. Although it takes time to get involved with your local chamber, making the commitment provides many benefits for you and your employees.
If you’ve considered joining your local chamber but put it off, you may have done so for a number of reasons. As a business owner, you may fear that your hectic schedule will prevent you from attending events and getting the most out of your investment. You may also be under the impression that your business has to be a certain size in order to join. In reality, though, most chambers provide a wide, flexible range of events and opportunities that support businesses of any size. Whether you are the sole worker staff of your business or you employ over 500 workers, becoming a member of your local chamber of commerce can offer a big list of advantages.
The digital business arena certainly has its benefits. It’s quick, convenient and universally accessible, and let’s face it: it’s where trends are happening. While online networking is a big part of relationship-building nowadays, however, it’s far from the whole picture. Face-to-face interaction still offers a host of real, unique advantages – which businesses shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss.
These days, consumers don’t go online; they are online, all the time. With continuous connectivity, the distinction between consumers’ online actions and their real, geographic behaviors is rapidly blurring. Marketers need to be aware of how “living in the moment” is changing audience expectations and driving a bigger demand for convenient, personalized services.
Mobile networking puts users in a perpetual marketplace. They have instant access to a universe of digital information, and they’re able to make decisions with the touch of a button. As a result, they’re less tolerant of unsolicited or irrelevant messages. To score real returns from this dynamic arena, businesses need to focus less on promotion and more on discovering – and providing – the information consumers value most on a personal level.
Every marketer knows the value of positive press, especially in the digital universe. Customer voices are a robust influence for online consumers (CMS Wire notes that about 80 percent of social media users make buying decisions based on posts from family and friends, or brands they trust). In an increasingly mobile market, brand advocacy is rapidly changing from a public relations bonus to a fundamental marketing tactic.
The surge in mobile technology means consumers are now constantly connected to the digital market, making purchasing decisions with the touch of a button (and with a shorter attention span). The recent push toward paid social media content, too, will undoubtedly create stronger niche markets across a range of platforms. To cut through all that digital noise, personal brand advocacy is becoming a crucial tool; it’s real, valuable information consumers want to share with others, and so it’s also information others will want to see. So how does a brand become worthy to be talked about and referred to others? Here are few tips to get your wheels turning:
2013 ushered in a series of big changes to social media marketing. Facebook, Twitter and other networking platforms have made major adjustments to their content promotion guidelines – more specifically, they’ve redefined how users can see and share content and opened new advertising opportunities for better promotion. Whether for good or for bad, these updates will have marketers scrambling for new strategies to keep up a solid impact.
The concept of paid advertising on social media isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s really taken off in recent months. Facebook introduced its Promoted Posts feature last year, which lets users drastically boost the visibility of their posts for a small fee. Similarly, Google encourages +Posts, regular posts that can be run as display ads on any of Google’s 2 million Display Network sites (essentially giving advertisers access to the entire Google web as their own branded stream). And after going public in November, Twitter now also needs to find a way to keep investors happy. Thus, select users can sponsor “promoted tweets” – including videos and photos – that show up in user feeds, trending topics and “Who to follow” boxes.
When push comes to shove in a tight economy, many small businesses opt to trim down their marketing budget – or to cut marketing out of their business plan entirely. Contrary to popular belief, though, a marketing budget isn’t a luxury; it’s an essential investment toward reaching your business goals. A precise marketing budget, with clearly defined spending strategies, ensures that your efforts make the greatest impact for the resources you have – and for that reason, it’s an indispensable part of a successful development plan.
A steady customer stream
A formal strategic marketing plan can seem daunting if you’ve never developed one before – but don’t panic! Even if you haven’t thought too deeply about your priorities for next year, there’s still time to work out a solid plan that clearly defines your business goals and lays out the pathways to reach them. In fact, though a successful marketing plan is never rushed, getting started can be as simple as answering a few questions.
Where are you?
The greatest challenge of social media marketing is finding a way to quantify its marketing value. Actions such as likes, shares and retweets shed insights on which kinds of content make the biggest impact on your target audience, but where and when does that translate to monetary or conversion values? In terms of concrete numbers, how can businesses actually measure the success of their social media marketing efforts?
The key lies in remembering that social media is about engagement, not sales. To evaluate the effectiveness of a social media campaign, don’t focus on measuring the activities themselves. Instead, figure out how those activities tie in to other marketing objectives you can measure.
It’s a common practice for small businesses to bring their marketing efforts in-house. After all, why pay outside agency fees for services you can do yourself with just a little extra time and effort? Unfortunately, though, many businesses don’t fully realize the time, energy and hidden expenses that even simple marketing projects can involve. For businesses with limited resources, in fact, it can actually cost more to manage these activities in-house than to hire a professional marketer.
Marketing is an ongoing activity (like accounting), not a one-time project. Professional marketers don’t just add gloss to a brochure or polish to a sales pitch; they ensure that every component of your marketing strategy – from market research to distribution – is integrated into a strong, consistent program that reaches your target audience and reinforces your brand image. Having a professional handle such integral part of your business not only saves money by getting the work done efficiently and accurately, but also yields a much higher return on your investment.
Website CMS and Development by Links Online Marketing, LLC, Bangor Maine