Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How to Use Online Marketing for your Small Business

If you own a small business in Hamilton, Ontario or London, Ontario, there’s no doubt that you’re busy and looking for the time, money, and smartest way to invest in marketing. In these two fast growing cities, filled with opportunity, small businesses compete against the “big dogs” for whatever market share they can hold on to. There’s one place where size and capital invested will not necessarily get your business to the top however. In the online world, small businesses can float to the top of search engines, and into the palms of consumers searching for products on their smart phones, or to their fingertips via the mouse on their computer. With online marketing, it’s a level playing field for your small business. I’d like to share with you some ways in which online marketing can help your small business grow.

Give and Collect Information

One of the noted difficulties of small businesses’ online strategy is knowing how to interact with consumers in the online world. A recent study by Cone Communications shows that 69% of those surveyed go online to seek more product information. Consumers are asking you for more information! This is your chance to provide personal service that big corporations simply do not have time for. By providing information about a product or service, that is not readily available anywhere else online, you can show customers that your business is knowledgeable, and really knows their target audiences needs. On top of providing information, you can collect information. Posting Q&A forums, allowing customers to request more specific information or a quote online, or even allowing customers to post reviews to your website in real time are great ways to collect information such as names, phone numbers or emails, and specific needs of customers which may not be addressed by competitors.

Respond to Information

Related to collecting information is the direct ability to respond to the needs of customers. The internet is a place where you can publically respond to feedback, before feedback turns into rumours and rumours into a negative brand image. Take advantage of customer scepticism and regain confidence by being an active participant in online communities. It’s not just about online brand reputation management, it’s about creating a relationship with customers before they even enter your place of business. If you invest your time into responding to customers, they’ll feel more obligated to invest their time and money in supporting your business. Small businesses are expected by consumers to take more time to address their specific needs, and to care more about customers than their own bottom line (We know, because we're a small business too!). That’s part of their competitive advantage against big corporations. Don’t fall short on this expectation by excluding online social networks from you marketing strategy. If you simply don’t have time, community management services may be a worthwhile investment for your company.

Recycle Information

By responding to customer inquiries and feedback, you’ll soon begin to learn what is lacking in your market. If it’s profitable, you can then begin to fill these gaps in the marketplace by tailoring your service or product selection to customers needs. Small businesses can seek out niche markets that the competition was too busy to even realize existed. Making sure your website has useful content that customers are seeking out is a key to web site marketing, and search engine optimization. On that point, it’s important to invest in search engine optimization to make sure your efforts to gain an online presence for your small business do not go unnoticed. Reach out to those 69% of consumers that are going online for more information about their purchases by ensuring your website has the useful content they’re looking for and shows up on the top of search engines.

Smartwebpros.com Inc. is an internet marketing firm specializing in SEO, Web Design, Hosting and Marketing. Our head office is located in London, Ontario with an additional location in Hamilton, Ontario to serve our customers better. If you have a small business in London, Ontario or a small business in Hamilton, Ontario, call us for a free consultation to discover how to harness the power of the World Wide Web! The least you’ll walk away with is some great internet marketing ideas from the search engine optimization experts, and some direction as to how to make your small business flourish.

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