Online Marketing; Where Do You Stand?

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The world we live in today is vastly different from what we experienced such a short 10-20 years ago. We have all experienced information overload in some form or fashion, and our brains simply aren’t designed to retain the thousands of ads and bits of content we are exposed to each day. There are so many media outlets constantly transmitting messages: TV, radio, email, text messages, voicemail, phone calls, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Our attention changes every 45 seconds, according to Gloria Mark, informatics professor at the University of California, Irvine. So, it’s extremely important to make sure your business is represented and getting the exposure and attention it needs.

You may be thinking, “How can I possibly conquer the marketing world with this many outlets?” With a little time, patience and direction, you can absolutely make sure your business is getting the exposure it needs.

First things first, get a website. How can you ever expect to get good exposure online without a website? You can’t.

Steuart Henderson Britt, author of “Marketing Management and Administrative Action,” said, “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.”

When someone needs a service, and they don’t have a referral, they are going to Google, Yahoo and Bing and doing a simple search for the service they need to have done. Search engines present them with the most relevant results in their area. Again, if you don’t have a website, you have 0 percent chance of being found.

It’s also important to make sure your website is mobile friendly, meaning easy to navigate on cellphones and tablets.

You also need search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of pushing your information to the top of the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. This is important for perspective customers who don’t yet know who you are or what you do. If someone needs a service and they don’t know you, they are going to go search online. If they type in “oil change,” you want to make sure your shop comes up in your local area for the keywords “oil change.” You should always do your own research and explore what different companies can do for you. As a starting point, a few awarded SEO companies include HigherVisibility, Yodle and ReachLocal.

Aside from websites and SEO, there are many other ways to increase your exposure online. These include directories and, most importantly, reviews.

The more places a small business is found online, the more likely the search engines are to recognize that business as a relevant search result in a local area. Many directory listings are free, while others require a fee. Some of these can assist in the credibility of your business as well, like the Better Business Bureau and your local Chamber of Commerce. A few more popular directories include Angie’s List, Yelp, local.com and foursquare. You can add your business by either going to the site directly and following the instructions or by calling the companies directly, and they can do it for you.

Reviews can truly make or break your business. It’s always important to make sure you’re asking your happy customers for reviews. They can leave reviews on your social media pages, on your website or the directories you’re registered with. Everything comes down to credibility.

Potential customers want to see you’re a credible business that can be trusted. They want to see that you’ve effectively and professionally helped other people. When you have positive reviews, other people can relate to the situations your past customers have gone through. It builds the idea that if others can trust you, then they can trust you to fix their problem, too.

Reviews also help you stand out from your competition. If a customer goes to Google, types in “oil change” and five different companies come up, they don’t really have a way to differentiate which one to choose other than ranking order and reviews. If one shop has 20 good reviews and the others only have a few, or none at all, which company are they going to trust to fix their car? Obviously, the one with 20 good reviews.

Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit said, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is — it’s what consumers tell each other it is.”

If you don’t feel like your marketing is working for you, then change it up.

Search engine optimization does take time, but if you aren’t seeing good results from the company you’re using after six months, it’s time to choose a new company. Some people like to mix and match companies for varying marketing aspects and get involved in the process, while others prefer an all-in-one approach with one company who can do it all for them.

If the latter describes you, you’re in luck. There are numerous companies out there that offer affordable all-in-one marketing platforms. Many of these include every aspect of online marketing we’ve discussed in this article from website creation to SEO, directory listings and more.

As a starting point, a few of these companies to check out include Yodle, Marketing360 and G/O Digital. It’s always important to do your own research and pick a program that fits your needs and your budget. Google different marketing key words (“local internet marketing,” “all-in-one online marketing,” “online marketing for small businesses”) and see which companies show up first — it means their technology is working.

Call more than one company, and request an online presentation. When doing research on any marketing company, always make sure they are not only tracking your results, but also allowing you to see those results in live time. Any company can promise you the world, but if they aren’t tracking your results, you’ll never know if they’re actually delivering what they say they are.

Hopefully these tips have shed some light on what’s most important in the online marketing world and how to be successful in reaching your online marketing goals.

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