How to market your business cost-effectively to get great results

on March 24 at 06:12 AM

If you’re like a lot of other small business owners, the topic of marketing could easily keep you up at night.

On the one hand, you know you need to spread the word about your business so you can get customers through the door. On the other, marketing is something you have to spend money on – sometimes what can seem like a lot of money – with no guarantees it will work.

So how do you get the best results while keeping your costs under control?

A good place to start is online, for a few reasons. First, it’s where the overwhelming majority of people go for information before they contact a business. And second, online marketing is one of the most affordable marketing tactics available.

Online marketing tools are usually quick to set up, highly configurable (which means you have a lot of control over how much you spend), and easy to change when something’s not working.

The first and most important of these tools is your website.

Start small with your website

You don’t need your website to be complex or sophisticated. Sometimes even a single page will do. What’s key is for your site to give visitors a clear picture of your core business: what you do and why it’s great. Research shows people stay on sites longer when the value proposition is clear.

A new website will cost you money – anywhere from several hundred to a few thousand dollars to build something simple. A lot of businesses try to save by building their sites themselves, and there are templates to help with that, but a professionally made site will give you more reliability and the technology you need to evolve over time, especially when you have analytics software built in. For example, if you’re a hairstylist, web analytics will tell you if most visitors are attracted to your ‘portfolio’ page. That tells you one of your biggest selling points is how you’ve styled other people’s hair – and that you should add as many pictures as you can.

Website building tips

  • Hire a professional. Unless you’re technically skilled, investing in professional help with your site is well worth it.
  • If you’re incorporating customer interaction on your website (e.g., chat, online orders), use an IT expert to make sure you have the right interfaces and processing speed.
  • Make sure your online look and feel is consistent with your business cards, the visuals in your place of business and with any traditional marketing approaches you use. Consistency helps create a connection with your customers.

Make your site searchable

Having invested in a great website, you need to make sure people can find it easily. Since 70-80% of search engine users focus only on ‘organic’ results2 – not paid advertisements – having your site rank highly can be a hugely effective way of driving traffic to your page. Getting good search results is one of the most inexpensive ways to boost your site’s visibility.

Content tips for your site

  • Use video and photographs to keep the site interesting.
  • Update the site often, incorporating keywords that will drive people to your site.
  • Blogging is the easiest way to keep your website’s content new and relevant so that it gets picked up by search engines like Google.

Getting good results depends on having the right keywords on your website: terms people use in Google and other search engines to find products or services like yours. You can get a sense of what those might be by searching the web yourself, testing words you think people might use to describe what your business is selling. You can also ask your customers what terms they search on. Use those words in your web copy to get as high a search ranking as possible.

Raise your online profile

With a good, reliable, searchable website in place, you can then make it the destination for other kinds of marketing campaigns. You can use traditional marketing materials like flyers and radio ads, or other online tactics like social media, pay-per-click advertising and more, to catch people’s attention and send them to your site.

Pay-per-click and social media advertising can both be affordable ways to promote your business because they allow you to set spending thresholds that fit your budget. And because they also include analytics, you can see in a very short amount of time what’s working and what’s not, and make changes to fine-tune your message and get more bang for your marketing buck.

Online marketing is continuous

Getting your website and online advertising up and running is just the beginning. After your site is live, you can – and should – keep refining it to make sure it performs optimally for your business. Use your analytics program to see what pages visitors view the most and build on that. Watch your sales to see if an increase in visits to your website is translating into more sales.

Finally, check to make sure that what you’re doing online is consistent with the goals you’ve set in your business plan because, ultimately, it’s your business plan that drives your business growth.

With the right foundation for ongoing marketing, you can manage your costs, maximize your results and get a better night’s sleep.


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