There’s a lot that’s changed recently with online marketing. Most people now go straight to Google to search for something they want. The phone book is out and Google, or search traffic is in. If you are a small business owner you can benefit from the internet as a source of business. What’s even better is that you can tap into this resource for free if you have a physical business.
Google Places lets you advertise your local business for free in the search results. When someone searches for a local business in your area, your results will come up first for many searches. This is a simple cost effective strategy you should definitely be employing in your business. With Google Places, you list your local business and Google will send you a confirmation postcard with a Google verification code on it. Once you have verified your listing with this code, Google knows you actually reside at this address, or run a business from it.
Google Places works wonders for small business owners who work from a certain location. If you’re not on it you are definitely missing out on business. Plus, your competitors could be using it which means they could be taking your potential customers. To use Google Places just do a quick search for it on Google and it will take you through the setting up process.
Bing also offer this same listing on their own search engine. It’s just like Google Places so not much to add here really. Simply fill out your details on the online platform and verify your listing when you receive a code in the post. When you create your listing you will have to list your business within a certain category, or two. Look through the existing categories and find the one or ones which are the best fit for your business. This is the same as Google Places. By listing in more than one category, if the platform allows, you can benefit from a number of searches within your local area.
Other Listings For Free
Yell and Yahoo also offer free listings for businesses too. Also do a ‘Google search’ for local directories and free listings and you will find a range of sites which offer free business listings in your area. In some cases even the extra links back to your website can make a difference to your ranking, even if the link itself doesn’t bring you more business.
You may well not have the time or inclination to start a blog. However, in some business areas blogging is a good way to increase your business reach online in a fairly cost effective way. Depending on your business, and whether it opens itself to a blog, you can get some good results by targeting some keywords in your business niche, or simply writing compelling content and sharing on social media.
You can use Google’s free keyword planner to search for terms which are already getting hits on the search engine. By finding long tail keywords in your business niche and writing good content for them, you stand more chance of being listed on the search engine. If you can find untapped keywords which bring in customers to your business, you can write articles which will bring in customers for free for years to come for free.
After you have exhausted the free methods of advertising, you can start looking at paid advertising methods. Many business owners try and fail with paid advertising. This is why it is worth learning properly the do’s and don’ts of paid advertising.
Pay per click advertising can make a massive impact on your business. But you should also be very careful. Make sure you start out with a small budget and get properly educated on how to create adverts and which keywords to choose. In particular look at the different types of keyword matches. Get this wrong and you can easily burn through your budget and list your advert for entirely the wrong audience.
However, paid advertising is remarkably scalable. Once you have a campaign which works you can easily increase your budget and you are in a position to pay for new customers.
Return On Investment
When I started with pay per click I didn’t understand return on investment. I ‘dipped my toe in’ and dabbled very tentatively. If I didn’t see an immediate profit, I stopped altogether. This is a mistake. Initially there is a lot of testing and measuring to do with paid advertising. After a while you get an advert which successfully brings you customers. However, knowing the return on investment from successful doing this is a game changer. If your customer goes on to purchase again and again, how much are they worth to your business over a year, or 10 years? Knowing this is a huge key to having the confidence to put money into an advertising campaign. Even if you lose money in the short term, your new customers will bring you new business over the long term. Learn the average spend from each customer over a year and then 10 years. Then decide what each customer is worth in terms of advertising. Does this change your view on what you can afford?
Paid Advertising Methods
There are various paid advertising methods available to use for small businesses online. Start with one method and become good at that before moving on to the next. Facebook advertising lets you target potential customers down to their interests, location and other variables. Pay per click advertising lets you target intent driven adverts. With pay per click you start with the keyword your visitor is looking for online. Once you have tested and measured an advertising method and you have a profitable model, you can leave it running and scale it easily. Then move on to the next one.
Even if you only use a couple of the methods suggested in this article, you can dramatically improve your business with only a small amount of effort. Once you have learned all these methods, you will know how to scale up your business and increase your profits. You can then invest in other forms of advertising, testing and measuring as you go. Whether these are on the internet or offline, using the same strategy (which lets you measure the response of a customer) means you can gradually improve all your advertising methods over the long term, increase profits and grow your business.