For business owners who don’t have an online marketing program, idea of starting one can often feel overwhelming. Having a vague idea of what online marketing is, but not knowing where to begin, can make it difficult to start. In today’s connected world however, advertising your business online is a must. If you don’t have an online marketing strategy, you’re missing out on potential business leads and the opportunity to connect with your customers through social media. Don’t worry, chances are you already know many of the key elements that make up online marketing and you don’t even realise it. Here are five business basics that will aid your online marketing strategy.
1. Your Brand
Logos, taglines, brand voice, colour palette, images, and brand personality are essential to your brand. You know what these items are and you know how they work together to communicate your brand to your audience. Having this knowledge is essential before any Tweet, Facebook update, or blog post is even planned. When armed with a solid understanding of your brand, you’ve already taken the first step in building an online marketing strategy for your business.
2. Your Audience
You already know your target audience because you know your customers. The demographics list of each business varies, but no matter how your audience differs, you know who they are. You understand what your customers are looking for in your market and why they seek you out (or should seek you out). With this knowledge, you’re on your way to creating an online marketing plan that’s targeted to the right people. For example, Pinterest attracts more female users than male, so if you know the majority of your customers are women this would be a great social media platform for you. Without understanding the wants, needs, and values of your customers, then you could be wasting your time trying an online marketing strategy that isn’t right for your business.
3. Your Special Offers
What does your business offer in terms of specials and discounts? Print coupons, loyalty discounts, buy-one-get-one-free specials? Now you can take your offers to an online audience. An example could be sending a special email to your client database promoting a two-for-one deal that you’re planning or creating a custom image to promote a 50% off promotion special to your Facebook fans. With numerous online platforms to take advantage of online, you have unlimited opportunities to share your specials and offers to your audience.
Known as SWOT, every business has strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. But by taking time to think of each category as it relates to your business, you can begin to create various action points for an effective online marketing program.
- Strengths: What is your business best at in your market? Why do customers tell you they chose you over competitors? When you understand your strengths, you have excellent opportunities to tell your story to your online audience. For example, if you won an industry award or were voted by consumers as the best in your industry, you could post that information on your social pages and website.
- Weaknesses: Do you know what needs improving in your business? Hopefully you’re actively addressing those areas that need improvement. A great idea is to frequently monitor review sites and social media pages for reviews and feedback so you can see what people are saying about you. Take steps to respond publicly to them and address any operations or customer service issues with your staff. There are several proactive ways you can address those reviews using a reputation management program.
- Opportunities: You will have an idea of what’s going on in your market and how your company can benefit. Do you see areas to gain profit and clients, and grow your operations? For example, perhaps your current clients have been requesting evening and Saturday hours. Seeing an opportunity to meet their needs as well as earn additional revenue, you decide to expand your hours of operation. Then, you could advertise your expanded hours in your online ads or in social media pages.
- Threats: You know the areas in the marketplace that are intruding on your business. One of the biggest threats to your business is your competition. Knowing who your competitors are and how they’re advertising to your audience is very important. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to create a unique message to present to your audience. If your competitors are new to the industry, for example, you could advertise that you’ve been in business for 25 years. This key differentiator can build confidence with your potential customers.
5. Your Existing Advertising Plan
If you’ve used traditional advertising methods in the past – like billboards, TV ads or Yellow Pages – and know what did and didn’t work, you have an excellent foundation of knowledge that will help you to decide what kind of online marketing to add to the mix. The great thing about online marketing compared to traditional advertising is that you get better audience targeting, tracking and measurement of leads and return on investment, and the opportunity to reach additional audiences. If you already have one or two online strategies, such as a Facebook page and emails to your clients, you can also assess how successful they have been. However having just one or two online platforms isn’t enough for a strong online marketing program. Here’s your chance to think of adding new online marketing strategies to your current spend.
If the thought of creating and launching an online marketing program for your business feels overwhelming, just remember that you already know more about online marketing than you may have realised. You have an excellent foundation of knowledge on which you can begin to move into the online marketing space. To learn more about how an online marketing partner can work for your business, visit www.ReachLocal.com.au.