Remember a few years ago when social media marketing was being touted as a cheap promotional strategy that would level the playing field for small business? How times have changed! Today, using the Internet and social media to promote your business has become a necessity that typically turns into a costly draw on your time, energy, and money. Countless businesses are involved in Internet marketing in some way, and the sheer amount of competing noise can be overwhelming.
Though there is nothing cheap or easy about online marketing if you want to be effective, you can still get some real results without draining your budget and without compromising too much of your time. The key is going in with the right approach, recognizing what online marketing allows you to do (as well as what it can’t do), and knowing how to keep yourself from getting distracted.
These days, the majority of small businesses that conduct successful online marketing campaigns typically share a few common qualities:
They have a plan with measurable goals. Before you create even one online profile, send out one tweet or status update, or write a blog post, you need to be very clear about what you are trying to accomplish with your online marketing as well as if your goals are realistic. Are you trying to build relationships, sell products, or generate leads? All of the above? Once you’ve answered that question, you then need to create a detailed plan of action that describes how you will use Internet marketing to go about accomplishing those goals.
They are clear about their available resources. As mentioned above, successful online marketing takes a significant amount of resources. So, you need to be very clear at the beginning about what you can afford to dedicate to your online marketing efforts. What is your available time? What is your budget? What skills or qualities do you and your employees have that can be used in your online marketing? Do you have any good writers? Is anyone good at making connections? Creating engaging images? Conducting a webinar or hangout? Take stock of these resources and give some thought about how you can best use them.
They know where their target market hangs out. Stop spending your time on platforms that don’t convert! You need to find out where your target audience hangs out online and determine the best ways to reach them there. What kind of content will attract their attention and get them interested in your business?
They maintain an online marketing schedule. Another great way to help you stay focused on the things that matter is to create and maintain an Internet marketing schedule. This schedule will include any content marketing initiatives as well as social media marketing tasks, such as posting content, commenting, and connecting with other users. Make an effort to keep to the allotted times, and look for ways to automate the activities that don’t necessarily need direct input, such as scheduling status updates.
They keep their online marketing efforts fresh, yet focused. The online world changes very quickly. Techniques that were once working can suddenly stop being effective, while new openings and opportunities are being created. That’s why you need to be making the effort to monitor the effectiveness of each strategy and create some space to try out different techniques and platforms. Your goal with this is to be keeping and tweaking the strategies that are working, while putting a stop to the ones that aren’t. But, keep in mind that these efforts should be in moderation. If you remember the overall online marketing goals that you set for your business mentioned above, then you’ll keep yourself from taking on much more than you can chew and chasing every new and shiny strategy under the sun.
In short, successful online marketing is a process that is unique to your business and your target audience. There is no magic bullet; there’s no one guaranteed successful technique or platform. You need to just roll up your sleeves and figure it out. Don’t let this put you off, though. If you get it right, you can significantly improve your brand awareness, boost your sales, and create loyal customers, and these results will be exponentially greater than the resources you put in.