Small to medium sized businesses often have a hard time of it when it comes to online marketing; often lacking the niche interest of micro businesses (with close knitted clientele), and not big enough to warrant huge budgets on expensive campaigns. SMB’s are frequently left with the less glamorous aspects of online marketing. That said, whilst they might not be glamorous, many of the campaign types appropriate for SMB’s can be hugely effective, manageable in-house with a small team and can be an opportunity for achieving a great return on investment (ROI). Here we go through a few of the most popular techniques to engage your prospects online.
; Social media is where many of the customers are spending their free time; it’s important to join them there, whether it is simply by being visible on their preferred platforms or by hosting competitions, giveaways or promotions through these channels, social media can offer great visibility for free, with the option to increase results through paid promotion. Whilst this may be best suited to B2C businesses, there is no reason you can’t leverage your ‘thought leadership’ to dominate online conversation in most B2B industries also; using LinkedIn and Twitter can be an effective way to reach buyers at all stages of the funnel.
; Whilst social media may be the talking point now, the dinosaur of the internet – email – is as effective as ever, research show that marketers can expect a 40 times return on investment through using email campaigns. Building and nurturing contacts lists should be a priority for your SMB.
Search Engine Optimisation
; SEO is an tool for being discovered online by your target audience. Without an optimised online presence you may be getting overlooked by countless potential customers, but by using local search techniques such as citation building, directory listing and onsite optimisation, to name a few, you can generate dramatic uplifts in revenue for your business, even if yours is a primarily offline offering.
; This can be a great method to help your search engine optimisation attempts and thought leadership simultaneously. By publishing fresh content online regularly, Google will have more to crawl and your pages will become valid results for increasing numbers of search queries. In addition, the blog posts should be interesting enough to encourage return visitors and can have a soft sales message to maximize conversion on your site.
; Terms such as ‘pay per click’ and ‘display network’ might intimidate small business owners, however this needn’t be the case. Paid advertising online can help you reach potential customers wherever they are on the web. It can also be a handy method of encouraging return visits by ‘retargeting’ browsers who have visited your site before.
; Just like the offline world, there are plenty of press outlets who could be interested in reporting your news, in fact, you’re much more likely to find an interested outlet online due to the vast quantity and range of topics covered.
Using a combination of the above methods is a great way to get started with your online marketing, the process may seem daunting, but in reality much of it can be learnt online and can be made much easier by using available marketing tools.
Whilst we cannot recommend a specific order to tackle these processes, the general advice is to play to your strengths, if you have a great customer database, use email campaigns to engage them, if people are walking past your business, make sure you’re visible on local search and if you have something genuinely interesting to say, publish it online either through social media or blogs!