Australian small businesses have undergone a digital revolution. While there is some way to go before SMEs have the same level of web presence as larger companies, more businesses are recognising that they need to be online and that the barriers to entry are easy to overcome. All it takes is a bit of advice and planning.
Realise Business’ digital marketing specialist Sara Berry works with businesses to help them develop their online presence. We recently caught up with Sara who shared her top five things to consider when planning and building your online presence:
1. Know your customer and their journey
Just like offline marketing, you need to ensure you understand your customer’s decision-making processes, thinking patterns, and who you are actually targeting. Recent commentary has indicated that when people are buying online there are about eight digital “touchpoints” during their consideration phase. That might mean looking at your website, seeing if there are reviews about your company, reading your blog, checking out your social media platforms and more.
If you are selling similar products to your competitors, think about why people would choose you and how you will engage them. In planning your website, for example, think about the user experience. Plan to integrate fresh and interesting content that paints you or your company as an expert in the field, someone who can be trusted to provide top quality services.
If you are a service remember to try to “productise” your services online, making it easy for your customers to understand what you offer and why you are the best choice.
2. It’s not just about “selling”
While your ultimate aim is selling your product and service, there are many ways to influence your audience and to engage with people online.
As well as your other digital marketing collateral, becoming an active member of groups and forums is one way of achieving this result. If there are groups where you can add value then weigh in with your comments and helpful advice. There are many groups and forums online including well-known social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. One point to remember though is that these groups are for building your reputation by sharing, they are not for selling! Don’t blatantly sell to people in the group or you will end up getting kicked out of the group by the moderator.
Creating your own group is also a good way to engage your community and promote your value and expertise. Remember, group moderation is time consuming, so again, be focused on where this sits in your overall marketing strategy.
3. Take advantage of basic Search Engine Optimisation techniques
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the name that’s given to the activity that takes steps to improve search engine rankings.
Google is one of the most used search engines in Australia, so one of the first things to do in building your online presence is to list your business for free on Google’s My Business. Google rankings rely on reputation, and by submitting your business details to My Business and including information about your website, services and opening hours, you will let the Google search engine bots know that you are legitimate business.
Other tips include:
- Using a website platform, where it is easy to optimise your content is also useful. Remember to use your Meta tags, title tags and descriptions of your keywords
- Regularly update your blog content and make sure that you update other content on your website. Also, make sure you use the right keywords to attract visitors to your site
- If you are a member of an industry or a professional body make sure you list your business and link back to your website
- Membership of Realise Business and a listing on our business directory will also help your search engine optimisation and it’s a great way to spread the word about your business and what you offer. If you haven’t already activated your listing, you can do so here – simply login (or sign up) and update your listing in your Dashboard under Directory Listing
4. You will have to pay for online engagement
The days getting noticed online are long gone without putting some money behind your content, ads, or posts. That means you will need to consider where to spend your advertising dollars and what you are trying to achieve with that advertising.
If you are going to conduct advertising to drive sales on Facebook or through Google AdWords, set out clear sales targets and then measure your return on investment, just like you would with any other form of marketing, Measuring the success of your Facebook advertising is also easier if you add a Facebook pixel to your site.
A lot of advertising on social media like Facebook will be purely for brand awareness. Remember, this awareness is a crucial step in building your online presence, so while you might not see an immediate return on investment, it’s ultimately an important element of your online marketing strategy.
5. Measure your success and watch your competitors
There are many free tools to measure how you are going online. Google Analytics will help quantify how people are engaging with your website and what they are looking at. MailChimp and other free email newsletter platforms will tell you how many people are looking at your newsletter, when and more.
On the other hand you can measure your success and keep an eye on what your competitors are doing through social “listening”. Again, social media platforms like Facebook, groups and forums are a great way to engage and monitor at the same time.
If Sara could sum up digital marketing in one sentence it would be:
“It’s not about doing ‘digital marketing’, it’s about marketing effectively in a digital world.”
The best way to get started is with a little help and guidance.
Realise Business is a small business advisory service offering heavily subsidised business advice, educational workshops, networking opportunities and additional support to small businesses. With multiple business advisors operating right across the Sydney Metropolitan region, Realise Business offer affordable, convenient and relevant advice to small business owners in conjunction with the NSW Department of Industry Business Connect Program.