You know you need to be online, but where do you start?

I think we all agree that pretty much everyone uses the internet as their first point of call when they’re looking for anything – whether it’s the best place to service the car, the nearest local cafe or the cheapest place to get your digital printing done.

But when you’re in business it can be tricky to know how to approach your online marketing.  How much should you be spending?  And how do you know if it works?

Start with a plan

Like anything, unless you have a plan you can end up wasting a whole lot of time and money and not achieving what you want to.

When formulating your plan it’s important to set yourself some goals or objectives – so you know what you’re trying to achieve and you can measure your success (hopefully!).

An objective could be as simple as to build your brand awareness and encourage foot traffic to your store or could be to act as a funnel for customer enquiries – or sales leads, where you can capture and build a database of your prospective customers.

Whatever it is you want to achieve you need to establish some clear goals so you can measure whether your online activity is having the impact you want it to.

Understand who your customers are

The next most important step is to think about who your customers are and where they are likely to congregate online, also understand how they like to be communicated to, what their interests are and what kind of device they’re likely to be viewing your website on.  For example, if people are out and about and looking for a café, then they’re most likely to be searching for you on their mobile.  So your site needs to be optimised for mobile.

Choosing the right digital channel

So once you know what you’re trying to achieve and who you’re targeting you then need to determine the best way to reach them.

Is a website the answer?  Or do you just need a facebook page?  Do your customers look for your type of business on facebook.  No?  Well then cross that one off your list.

Generally people start with a fairly basic website, then build on it over time.  This is fine if your core objectives don’t change or if you have a content management system (the platform your website is built on) that can adapt as your businesses needs change.  Which is why it’s important to consider what you need your website to do before you start to build it.

Once you have a website up and running you need to get some people to visit it!

There are a number of ways you can do this – from online display advertising (those are the banners that pop up or sit at the top or side of a web page), to search engine marketing – where you can pay for your website or ad to pop up when someone searches on something your business offers e.g. car servicing in New Lynn.You can encourage people to visit your site by providing interesting or useful content on it – like a blog or a video on how to do something tricky.

Search Engine Optimisation is also an important part of your online strategy – it basically refers to how easy your website is to find when people are searching for your type of product or service.  There are loads of ways you can alter your website and the way it’s structured to make sure your business comes as close to the top of the list as possible.

How do I know it’s working?

The last and most important aspect to consider is measurement.   If you don’t measure your performance how do you know if you’ve been effective?  You can track the performance of your site using google analytics – which are free online tools that google provide to help you keep track of everything.  And of course you can measure your increase in leads or sales.

– Victoria Butterworth
Email: victoria@volom.com

A senior marketer with over 20 years experience working within the tourism, financial services, telecommunications, professional services and design sectors. Victoria has a good perspective on all aspects of the marketing mix, having held senior in-house marketing positions and worked within advertising agencies. She is competent in brand strategy development and strategic planning with a record of delivering successful marketing programmes for both corporate and SME clients.

 

 

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