10 Ways To Market Your Small Business Online

You know you need to market your small business online but where do you start? The time, cost, and sheer volume of information can be overwhelming – paralyzing even!

Don’t despair, here’s your bullet list for…

 10 Cost Effective Ways to Market Business Online

Small Business Online Marketing1. Build A Website

In the U.S. alone there are over 245 million people or 78% of the population using the Internet and the first place they go to check something out is an online search.

In 2012, websites are the new storefronts! The good news is a website is much cheaper than retail or office space, with great web design options available for under $500.

With over a billion web pages created daily it takes targeted Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies to obtain decent rankings in organic search. You’ll still need to market in other ways to drive traffic and customers but starting with a professional website is a must.

2. Create Directory Listings

When you need to find a phone number or address where do you go? You are more likely to use the printed yellow pages for a doorstop or a booster seat then you are to look something up.

Online directory listings are quickly replacing the phone book, a trend that will only continue with the influx of smart phones. There are thousands of directories to list your company contact information and website (and even better most of them are free)! Check out our List of Top 20 Directories to get started.

3. Write Articles

Writing helpful and conversational articles will go a long way to build rapport with your customers or potential clients. They let you establish yourself as the expert and provide value. This type of content marketing has multiple uses and benefits:

  • add new content to your website or blog to keep the site fresh and boost SEO
  • submit to article directories like Ezine or Article Base
  • include in a newsletter
  • email to subscribers, or
  • use for exposure as a guest writer on another site.

Hate to write or just don’t have time? Then hire someone for a reasonable price and spend a few minutes personalizing the article so it sounds and feels like you! Content is king and adding new useful relevant information is the single best thing to improve your website rankings and traffic!

4. Develop A List

Start building an email list to communicate with (not spam) current or potential customers. The easiest way to accomplish this is with an opt-in or signup area on your website.

Encourage visitors to subscribe by offering a free report or newsletter on your industry or area of expertise. This can be integrated with either a paid or free version of email marketing software. Personally, we like to use Aweber for building a list of subscribers due to its many features including auto responders and newsletter templates but there are also free versions out there like Mail Chimp.

5. Place Online Ads

An effective form of online advertising are the sponsored ads that show at the top of popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Known as Pay Per Click (or PPC for short), you only pay when someone clicks the link on the ad to your website. These can get fairly expensive depending on the competition for the search terms or keywords being used. It pays to set a budget and target very specific local or buyer related keywords.

Another option that lets you dip your toes in the world of online ads are free advertising sites like Craigslist. You’d be surprised how a simple free ad can help promote your services. Other popular options include Ebay Classifieds, Classified Ads, and Penny Saver USA. There are literally thousands of these sites, which you can find by searching for free online ads.

6. Cultivate Google+ Local/Places

“97% of consumers search for local businesses online!” That comes straight from Google®, the Big Daddy of search engines. There are two main ways to participate. The first is setting up your Google Places for Business Listing and encouraging customers to leave reviews through Google Local. The second is to interact through Google+ setting up circles or groups of friends that can be organized by how you know them (family, soccer team, college, work, etc.).

7. Utilize Facebook

For some entrepreneurs a Facebook page is actually their website. A local Clermont FL woman that runs her own threading business out of a salon only uses a Facebook business page to promote her services both on and offline. (For all the men with that “deer in headlights” look threading is a type of hair removal alternative to waxing).

This is more common than you think. Next time you receive a Groupon or Living Social offer notice how many link to a company’s Facebook page rather than a dedicated website. While having your own website is preferred, it shows the basic necessity of at least setting up your business Facebook or fan page!

8. Get LinkedIn

Billed as the business version of Facebook, LinkedIn has a professional network with over 175 million members. This platform excels at business to business (B2B) marketing and networking between employers and potential hires. Build both a personal page and a company page then start joining industry related groups or start your own.

9. Start Tweeting

Twitter is a real time information network that limits interaction to small bursts of just 140 characters. The darling of mobile users, they boast over 400 million tweets per day. The key to navigating the air waves is building followers that have similar interests or local connections.

(Editor’s Note:  Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media sites are registered trademarks of their respective companies. This author, company, and website are not endorsed by or affiliated with said companies.)

10. Be Social

If you thought social media was just a fad, guess again – it has turned into a real business and real money. All of the opportunities to be social can make it hard to get any work done!

In addition to the big three (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) here are a few of the top picks to check out:

  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Industry Related Forums
  • Press Releases
  • Yahoo Answers
  • Tagged
  • Flickr
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon

There are thousands of social bookmarking and sharing sites so it really pays to do your homework. If you are a small business owner you probably already wear too many hats. The last thing you need is a big time drain that doesn’t bring results. First know your own client demographics and then match that up with the social sites that attract a similar group of people.

Consider this list the bare minimum for any small business online marketing plan. With the exception of building a website, most of these can be done for free! You can set the accounts up yourself, assign to an employee, or hire the services of a social media manager. Whatever route you take its time to market your small business online!

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