Take Control of Time Spent Doing Your Small Business Online Marketing

Online Marketing

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Developing an online presence is a necessity.

However, you hesitate because: you hear it takes a lot of time or you are not comfortable with technology or you know your customers won’t use it or they all know about your business already. Perhaps it a combination of these items and more. So why have an an online presence?

Yet if you are reading this, you are using that same technology. And if you look around, you will see mobile technology all over being used.

Let’s not hide the fact though that the time needed for a large online presence can be substantial. This article clearly points out that fact. Yes, it really does talk about 12 to 104 hours per week just for doing search engine optimization of your web site. Such time is not even available in your wildest dreams. Perhaps if you didn’t want to sleep…… And we haven’t even talked about your social media efforts yet!!

But are you at that level?  If so, then go for it.  If not, keep reading.

So what can be done to build an online presence and yet control the amount of resources it takes? 

These are my thoughts on the steps you might take. Others may disagree but this will get you started.

First, learn about the online world and the technology. Understand its place in a marketing effort. Then find a way to dip your toe in the water. Let me suggest the following steps:

  1. Learn about the online world and be ready to commit some resources. Take some classes about what this online world is at your Extension office, library, school, college, etc. Any time you are out, look at the people around you, they are probably online with a mobile device (and you may well be reading this on your mobile device). And ask how much you can carve out to commit to developing an online presence.
  2. Online starts off-line so talk with your customers. What are they doing online and how are they getting online? What would they like to see from your online presence? At the same time, see what your competitors are doing as well as other businesses in your community.
  3. Claim your bubble. You know, that little pin that shows where a business is located. Get listed in at Google business and other similar services. Correct inaccurate information. Google is the current big player but don’t overlook other sites such as Bing and Mapquest.
  4. Check out the review sites where your business might be listed.  Set up a plan for reviewing those sites on a regular basis. I would encourage at least a weekly review and a response to any negative reviews. A thanks to positive reviewers would also be a good idea. Now might be the time to consider how you can get more reviews. (15 minutes per week)
  5. Set up Google Alerts or some other means of getting an update, such as Twitter lists,  Feedly or Hootsuite, to know when your name or the name of your business is mentioned online. You may also want to follow your key products, trends, or key industry informants (15 – 45 minutes per week)
  6. It’s now time to take the next big step in your online presence. My recommendation is to build a website. The reason for that method versus something like a Facebook page is you control it. Social media sites are owned and controlled by others. If they decide to change, everything you worked for can disappear quickly. Your site can vary from something basic to very elaborate with shopping carts, etc. You can do it yourself or you can hire someone else to build it. Taking this and step 7 may require more help and training. This is also where your required time commitment will start to grow.
  7. Another big step – Now it’s time to add social media perhaps including a blog.

You have covered the basics (Steps 1 through 5, and have moved on with items #6 and #7. The first five steps require a reasonable (dare I say small) ongoing time commitment, maybe as little as 15 minutes per week although I hope that you are getting lots of positive reviews that take time to read. Just a reminder, though, there is upfront time being spent to get ready.

At this point, you can look at social media advertising, search engine optimization, getting ready for mobile, and tracking your metrics.

The bottom line is you can begin an online presence without spending the hours suggested by that first article. And you can do much of the work yourself, even with the long days your business takes.

Additional information:

What’s the most common online problem business owners face?

Article written by Courtney Rodgers, co-founder of Boutique Window, the online marketing tool for indie retailers. Boutique Window make creating an engaging online presence simple with pre-designed social posts, an easy email builder and a beautiful online showroom.

Botique Window on various devices

The two most common problems I see are not knowing where to start, and failing to spread the word after things get started.

There are so social networks and website tools available. If you try to jump into everything all at once you’ll end up overwhelmed. If you aren’t doing anything online I typically recommend starting with a simple website, a Facebook page, claiming your Google Places Business page.

You should think of your website as your digital showroom window or store front. It needs to provide customers with all the same information. Where are you located? When are you open? And most importantly, what do you sell and how do you help your customers? Make sure your address, store hours and contact information are clearly stated and kept current. You should also provide potential customers with clear and accurate information on what you offer. If you’re a retail store, show off your new arrivals. If you offer a service, provide clear details on what you do for your customers and what makes you different from your competition.

Take a look at this article for more information on what you should be thinking through as you plan your website: http://www.boutiquewindow.com/blog/articles/why-do-i-need-a-website-and-why-isnt-facebook-enough/

Facebook is a way for interested customers to stay connected to your business and receive periodic updates about current events like sales, promotions or new merchandise. To get started, I recommend that businesses post to their walls at least 3 times per week. This should be a mix of promotional or marketing content about your business and fun or educational content that your customers will value. If you’re having trouble figuring out what to say, services like Boutique Window (http://www.boutiquewindow.com) provide pre-designed and pre-written content suggestions for small businesses.

If you don’t have a Facebook Page for your business, you can get started here: https://www.facebook.com/business/

Claiming your Google Places Business page will make sure that Google provides accurate location and contact information when people search for your business. Make sure you update this information when it changes.

You can claim your Google Places Business page here: https://www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness/‎

Once those are set up, you need to make sure you’re letting people know that they can find you online, especially on Facebook. Tell your existing customers during checkout. Share the news out to on your personal social media pages and encourage your family and friends to follow your new page.

More resources from Boutique Window:

Key Ingredients to Promoting your Brick and Mortar Store Online: http://www.boutiquewindow.com/blog/articles/key-ingredients-to-promoting-your-brick-and-mortar-store-online/

Facebook Tips, Tricks and Tutorials: http://www.boutiquewindow.com/blog/labels/facebook/

Pinterest 101: http://www.boutiquewindow.com/blog/articles/pinterest-101-getting-started/

Article written by Courtney Rodgers, co-founder of Boutique Window, the online marketing tool for indie retailers. Boutique Window make creating an engaging online presence simple with pre-designed social posts, an easy email builder and a beautiful online showroom.