It’s a fact: old school directories advertising is in rapid decline. An estimated 70% of people now use the internet instead of paper directories to find retailers or do research prior to shopping for goods or services.
This makes it more important than ever to redirect at least some of your advertising budget away from traditional print-based means into online marketing.
Something I commonly encounter is clients who recognise that it’s time to make the shift to online advertising, but are daunted at the prospect of where to start. If this is you, here are some guidelines on how to get started.
Online Advertising Without Spending A Cent!
Yes, you heard right! When you’re just dipping your toe in the water of online advertising there are many simple things to do to get started that won’t cost anything at all.
There are many online business directories where you can list your company name, phone number and address.
It’s worth taking some time to list your business in as many of those relevant to your industry and area as you can. Many directories also allow for your existing customers to write reviews, so encourage customers to write a review and take some time to respond to them, both positive and negative
Another avenue is to make the most of connections with organisations that you belong to. For example, if you belong to a trade network, have an alliance or partnership with a complementary business or take part in a charity event, ask for links back to your website.
Most places will be happy to oblige if you’re creating value for them or if they believe in your service.
The Next Step: Pay-Per-Click Advertising
According to research conducted by searchenginewatch.com, Pay-per-click (PPC) is the best starting point for online marketing small businesses.
PPC is basically advertising on Google for a flat monthly rate, so it’s a similar concept to the traditional Yellow Pages phone directory listing. Ads are targeted to what people are searching for in the moment, so this is a great service for businesses that have small budgets and are looking for immediate results.
PPC can be a difficult & daunting task for a beginner, so it’s always recommended to get advice from someone who knows what they’re doing.
SEO Keyword Optimisation
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is another great option for online marketing. Although it takes a bit more time and patience to get right than PPC, it is worth investing in once you’ve set up your approach to PPC.
The reason SEO is worthwhile in the long run is the average cost per lead generated is generally lower than any other online marketing method once you start generating success with SEO.
If you’re still thinking that SEO is all about stuffing in as many backlinks as you can to your website, think again. Google’s algorithms are subject to regular change, and recent changes have meant that overusing backlinks could negatively affect your SEO ranking.
Instead, marketing experts are in almost unanimous agreement that creating relevant, unique and interesting content, optimised for keywords and or location for your website is the way to go for moderate or above average SEO results.
You can chat with one of Kochie’s SEO Experts for more information on SEO.
Email Marketing: Don’t Skip The Basics!
Email marketing is one of the oldest strategies in the digital arena, but it’s commonly overlooked these days despite impressive returns of 440%! ($44 per $1 spent ROI).
The other good news is that a lot of consumers or potential consumers will gladly give you their email addresses.
Common methods of collating this data this include:
- Running a competition which allows you to collect email addresses• Having a contact form on your website• Giving away a free guide or product sample if they subscribe to email newsletters
- Including an option for people to add email addresses to customer satisfaction surveys
Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket
Hopefully this has given you some idea of where (and how) to get started. By dipping your toes in the water now trying one thing on this list immediately you’ll get in your marketing groove and gain confidence. Remember though, as with any investment, it’s best to diversify.
Running several strategies side-by-side, both old and new, will expose your business to the greatest amount of potential customers and offset against any potential problems in one area (e.g. an SEO algorithm change).
The important thing is to have fun with it, and also remember to use Google Analytics so you can see which strategies are giving the greatest rewards.