We are living in the age of the virtual customer. The Internet has become a common medium for researching and buying goods and services. As people spend more of their time on the Internet, the need for online marketing for small businesses continues to grow.
Nowadays, most businesses rely not only on traditional marketing but also on online marketing methods. Many of the traditional marketing methods that worked for local small businesses in years past might not bring in customers or generate profits in today’s social media dominated environment. One of the biggest indicators in this growing trend in local search are the activities on Google maps. Google saw the rapid rise of consumers searching for local businesses online and created the local Google map to accommodate their needs.
Internet Marketing Is Essential for Small Businesses to Succeed
In this competitive world, Internet Marketing is essential for a small business to succeed. It helps small businesses become more competitive and visible in the virtual world. With Internet marketing, small entrepreneurs have a better chance at competing with bigger companies who have traditionally dominated the local markets.
Consider these three major benefits of marketing your business on the Internet:
1. Reach your audience effectively and affordably.
The Internet has become an integral part of the consumer’s shopping practice as more customers are searching online for products and services. Finding customers through print media, direct marketing or live broadcasting can be an expensive and time-consuming process. A small business with an online presence makes it easy for customers to familiarize themselves with the business’s offerings from the comfort of their home or office.
Additionally, Internet marketing is cost-effective compared to the expensive means of marketing and advertising through traditional methods. Most online marketing methods are very affordable, and many cost nothing at all. Those that have higher costs can still have a significant ROI (return on investment) as they are generally “pay for performance” models. This means you only pay when a customer buys or takes some other action.
2. Get 24-Hour Visibility
Another interesting aspect of Internet marketing is giving your small businesses 24-hour visibility. The Internet can keep your marketing campaign running nonstop and reach a wider, even global, audience. Consumers can get information on your products or services no matter what time it is or where they are in the world.
3. Choose from a large variety of ways to market your business.
There are a vast number of options available to you when you are marketing online. You can market through email, blogs, audio, video, social media, online communities, articles and newsletters. Businesses can also utilize search engine optimization; social media marketing, local search optimization, link building, answer sites, press releases, webinars, and on and on.
Choose the Right Internet Marketing Options For Your Business
The success of your Internet marketing program depends on your ability to utilize the power of the Internet. The most important decision you can make is a strategic one and can determine the success or failure of your Internet marketing efforts. That decision is the answer to this question: “What combination of e-marketing activities should I choose for my business?”
In order to have the best opportunity for success, your choice of Internet marketing activities must be based on specific analytical information about your business and your customers.
Consider these important points as you develop your E-Marketing strategy:
Take a good look at your business’s profile. Write down all the facts about your business’s offerings, your physical presence, and your current marketing activities.
Look at your customer profile, your buyer’s demographics and psychographics. Use this information to study your buyers deeply. This will help you to focus on your customers, understand their problems and define messages that explain how your products can help them.
Look at all the options and e-marketing channels that are available to you. Understand how each one might help you position your business so that those looking for what you have to offer can easily find you.
Identify your time and resource constraints. Be realistic about how much time you can commit yourself or your staff to work on your Internet marketing activities. This will help you choose which channels make sense for you to work on.
Your E-Marketing Sweet Spot
Use this information to find what we call your “E-Marketing Sweet Spot.” This is the unique combination of online communication tools that allow you to deliver your message to your customer, and provide the best chance for success.
Whether you’re a small business owner or an entrepreneur, you can build and create a complete e-marketing program for your business. Having a well-thought-out strategy means you have a much better chance of reaping the benefits of a targeted online marketing program.
For more information about how to build a solid online marketing program for your small business, visit us at emarketing101how.com/virtual.
Lisa Pecunia is the Chief E-Marketing Officer at Avarra Solutions, a company she founded in 2008. Lisa and her company help small local businesses learn how to develop and execute effective internet marketing programs.
Avarra delivers quality intensive workshops during which participants plan and build a complete e-marketing program for their business. The workshops are offered in both in-person and virtual formats.
Find out more about the “E-Marketing Sweet Spot” and get access to other internet marketing resources at the E-Marketing Connection web site.