Things your small business needs to compete online with the big guys
In our last article we talked about the 5 things your small business needs to compete with the best and brightest (and best funded) of your competitors.
We discussed the reasoning behind our contention that what would serve most small businesses best is an online technology platform based on WordPress, WooCommerce, 1CRM, Lead Guerrilla and the 1CRM Customer Connection Portal. That platform, and the connections between its main components, looks like this:
However, simply having a top technology platform in place is not going to get you where you need to go. In this followup article, we discuss the digital marketing techniques you will need to use in order to promote your online presence and make your business highly visible, discoverable and successful. (Thanks to the nice folks at Metamend Online Marketing, our digital marketing partner, for their support in creating this article!)
Once your website is setup to properly represent your business, you will need to actively work to generate traffic. The internet is not a matter of “if you build it, they will come”. Websites get lost in the void if not properly optimized and promoted to stand out amongst competitors. Generating traffic via organic search is a game that never ends.
A properly optimized website with content that describes the benefits of your product or service is a good start. But a solid, ongoing and ever-changing inbound marketing strategy that includes creating content directed at solving the problems of your potential customers and gaining links from high value websites is the key to top rankings. This can take months or years depending on the competition within your industry.
The key is to be able to understand the pain points of your potential customers and begin solving smaller problems which will eventually build up brand recognition and ultimately allow your product or service to solve their larger problems. A customized content plan that includes things like blog posts, FAQ, video, social media posts, email, etc. aimed at every point of the funnel will allow you to gain traction as a brand.
Conversion optimization is the last piece of the puzzle: make sure you can track users all the way through your sales funnel, and ensure that all navigation paths on your site lead towards a sale.
In contrast to organic traffic, paid traffic can be gained immediately. While your website will still need to be properly setup to track and convert potential clients, paid traffic from Google or Bing Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or programmatic media buys can be had right away. There is no need to put in time, just money.
The most important aspect of paid traffic is that it can be tracked as a dollars-in, dollars-out game that either provides a profitable return or does not. Skilled media buyers can fine-tune campaigns and make them profitable through improving landing pages, ad copy and targeting options. While the investment is ongoing, the ability to instantly gain traffic and compute the ROI (Return on Investment) of a campaign makes paid traffic a preferred method of the world’s largest companies.
If you can’t properly measure your investment in organic and paid initiatives, then you’re likely wasting money. The analytics portion of an online strategy is ultimately the most important. Consistent review of ROI and tweaking your strategy and content is the way to dial-in campaigns and squeeze the most sales out of your investment.
Strong reporting software and the ability to read and understand the data are the cornerstone of running a business online. Being able to determine trends, come up with new ideas and create changes to strategy based on the numbers will ensure growth. Free tools such as Google Analytics can be used to understand website visits, revenue and just about everything else you need to track your online initiatives, while comprehensive and expensive platforms like MixPanel can allow you to understand your entire funnel from top to bottom and segment and personalize messaging.
Without full-suite tracking capability and a plan to review and optimize components of your initiatives, you’re likely to fail and not fully comprehend the reasons. It’s rather like driving on the freeway with your windows painted out: Simply not a good plan!