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In today’s age, social media is used for a variety of purposes. Among them, personal communication is probably the most popular way of using social media. Social media is an innovative way for people who are completely unrelated to connect, so naturally it can be used for many people and organizations.
Social media can also be used to promote businesses, both big and small. Social media is a great way for organizations to get the word out about the services that they offer because it is free and is also a current method of communication. To find out more the role of social media in promoting small businesses, and the impact of social media on these organizations, keep reading.
One of the biggest benefits of utilizing social media in the small business setting would be the ability to attract new customers. Not only are you able to reach out to new customers, but you are able to find these customers by reaching out to current ones. Offering a discount to new customers is a great way to expand your brand through social media. Additionally, connecting with current customers can be done by advertising the organization’s social media accounts at the physical location of the business. This way, satisfied customers are able to connect with the organization and also help spread the word.
Another way that social media can impact a small business would be reduced cost in advertising. Many traditional ways of promoting a business required a person to post an advertisement in a newspaper or other traditional medium. This cost, however, has been eliminated as social networking sites are free. Some of the most popular sites include Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Google plus and YouTube.
Open communication between the public and organization is a huge impact caused by social media. The business is now able to receive immediate feedback from customers through social media websites. This can be positive, even if the feedback is negative because it can be used as constructive criticism.
Creating and maintaining your brand can be a big reason as to why one should use social media. If the public has no idea what to expect from your business, social media can change that, and allow you to set the tone of your organization through status updates, colors and other content.
An example of some of the ways in which social media can affect a small business would be through the use of Facebook pages. A few months ago as I was scrolling down on Facebook, I noticed a fashion page that my friend liked. I then clicked the store webpage and was introduced to a great local business, just by using Facebook. As you can see, social media works every minute of every day to bring us content that we might light, which is basically how small businesses are advertised.
Social media has the ability to make or break a small business. If people like what they see through social media websites, a local business has the ability to go viral. For this reason, social media has a profound and often positive effect on the small business.
Image via CrunchBase
The internet today is a highly interactive environment. It’s no longer enough to simply post a few news pieces a month while running your business. Your fans, customers, and followers expect a higher level of visibility from you and your business, and you can use that to help your business grow naturally and effectively.
Sites like Youtube and Vimeo offer great options for your business to put out large pieces of video content to your customers. This can take the form of video blogs, showing everyday life at your business and what you have been up to lately. It can also include demos of your current project, or pieces that let you engage with your fans. A good example of this is how Google puts out full product demonstrations of their newest products and services on their Youtube page. Another example is Red Bull’s viral marketing videos that perpetuate the culture of Red Bull as active, athletic, and cool.
However, Youtube and Vimeo are not your only options for putting out video content from your business. Recently, services like Vine and Instagram Video have become very popular. These services allow you to record and post micro-videos from your smart phone. These videos can give tiny tastes of your company culture. Often, these videos are most effective if you use their miniscule lengths to comedic effect. Many video game developers use these services to provide small updates as to the latest build of their current game.
No matter the service you choose, the most important thing to remember is to show your business’ personality. Video is direct and personal, and if you remember that you will garner more customers through your content.
The internet has certainly changed the way business is conducted in the world today. The change that the world of business has seen however has been further enhanced in recent times by the advent of Google. This search engine has metamorphosed from just providing search results to providing various tools which enterprises can work with in the course of their online business. Google has indexed over a billion webpages and is by far the most popular search engine on the internet drawing traffic from all over the world. It is becoming virtually impossible to market your business on the internet without making use of Google. This is because of the sheer amount of innovations that the search engine has introduced particularly in terms of its contextual advertising model. According to projections by Piper Jaffray, internet advertising spending would amount to $55 billion. Jupiter Research projections for the US search and display advertising was $15 billion. All these go to show that the marketing model that Google operates will be heavily relied upon by the businesses on the internet far into the future.
Google’s popularity in the online search market has made it almost indispensable as most businesses move a significant of their operations online in an attempt to get to a larger audience across the globe. Recent statistics certainly prove Google’s preeminence in that market. It is estimated that 66% of the searches conducted on the internet worldwide in December were done on Google. That is two thirds of the entire number of searches conducted worldwide. Google has also introduced what it refers to as Universal Search. This simply changes the way search is conducted as it includes video, news, images and maps all in the same search, allowing you to choose the specific option you wish to get results on the search term. For instance, if you search for a particular enterprise, you can click on news to get available news updates on that enterprise or video results or even image results on the same enterprise. It provides you with a more complete experience. The importance of this to marketing your business is that you can aim at providing images, videos and news of your enterprise so that all will be found in the course of the search and with the convenience of a click.
One very important component of Google’s universal Search model is the Local Search. This allows people to find local business that pertain to localities using Google Maps. The emphasis today is on local search in order to enhance the visibility of businesses.
In order to put together a viable marketing strategy for your business, it is very important to include Google in the mix. The entire gamut of tools that Google provides can make a huge difference in the way your business is marketed online. Web Analytics, Adwords, Adsense, WordTracker, Buzz, Ad Planner, Google Local Business Center are just some of the tools available to you.
The success of eCommerce is largely a function of the company’s ability to integrate its online and offline efforts and provide the very best experience for its customers. The seamless integration of the various components of the enterprise’s operations is also dependent on the efficacy of the software platform it utilizes. These eCommerce software programs or solutions as they are known make it possible to create a seamless operation of the entire operations of the enterprise. There are a number of such solutions in the market but then their levels of effectiveness in different areas vary. Each therefore has aspects in which it is strong while there are areas in which it might have some weakness. Important areas include flexibility in design, database assistance, additional programming needs as well as product/shopping cart integration. We will examine some of these eCommerce solutions as well as their upsides and downsides.
1. 2CheckOut: Operating out of Columbus Ohio, this resource can be located online at www.2checkout.com. This resource presents a good alternative to PayPal. Its ease of use makes it very for beginners to make use of it although it may not be realistic to use it for thousands of products. Although it has higher fees than PayPal and less suited for an experienced web designer as it cannot be customized, it is still very ideal for beginners in eCommerce. (more…)
Direct mail marketing is one of the most effective marketing tools in the arsenal of a small business. It combines the factors of cost effectiveness and precision with variability.
Typical advertising mail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The efficacy of direct mail as a marketing practice stems from the fact that the marketing message is delivered straight to the prospect thus cutting out the noise created by the other materials contained in marketing collateral such as brochures and catalogues.
Direct mail, while not being without its own disadvantages confers a lot of advantages on a small business. The biggest incentive for a small business to include direct mail is probably the lower cost of getting across directly to the prospects.
Direct mail also works with some tools in order to be effective. These tools include the following:
i. Sales Letter: This is one of the most fundamental yet potent tools in the direct mail marketing kitty. A great sales letter simply identifies a problem, presents a solution to that problem and then makes an offer to send something free to that effect. The sales letter is usually short enough to keep the attention of the prospect but long enough to provide the necessary information at that time.
ii. Flyer: This is one of the cheapest tools of direct mail marketing. It just requires that the small business owner print a simple flyer that will not discourage reading. It is important however, that you fold the flyer well so that it survives the postal journey. Additionally, the exposed parts of the flyer would need to contain sufficient information to entice the prospect to open and read further. These tactics are usually very effective.
iii. Postcard: Postcards are also very inexpensive but effective in generating leads in marketing. These days, postcards printing need not be done through conventional printing procedure as a small business owner can simply get a nice design and then order the print online via the internet. The size determines the volume of the marketing message that will be included on the postcard. It is however, important to note that a postcard is typically small so the marketing message has to be generally brief and direct. Make it a point to ensure that important information like your website address and phone numbers are very visible so as to encourage visits.
iv. Special Delivery: Well, special deliveries are really more expensive than ordinary snail mail but then it quite certainly guarantees that the prospect will read it. This is because a marketing material sent via express mail like FedEx or UPS indicates that the prospect is very special. It is also important not to overdo the marketing message, just keep it simple so that the prospects do not get turned off.
v. Invitation: This is also a bit more expensive than the usual mail. The incentive here is that it allows the small business owner to get very personal. For example, an invitation to a launch sent with a personalized invitation is more likely to generate interest and likely positive response.
Click-Through Rate (CTR) is a method of measuring the response to an online ad. It is taken in percentages and determined by dividing the total number of times the ad was presented to the user by the total number of times the ad was clicked on. It is applicable in a variety of online ad campaigns including banner ad campaigns, email marketing campaigns and Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns.
CTR is therefore one of the most important metrics for measuring the success or otherwise of any online ad campaign. A high CTR is something that many companies try hard to attain and increasing CTR in the course of a campaign is also a key objective. This is because the higher the CTR, the more likely that the conversion rate will increase. This boils down to increase in the profit margin. There are some techniques that can be used to improve the CTR of an ad campaign.
1. Avoiding Blatant Advertising: When you consider the volume of advertisement that internet users face coupled with that which they to face offline, they just develop ‘ad blindness’ after some time. Sometimes therefore, advertisements work much better when they do not look like ads. You can try using the ads in side menus or as a text placement within the site content. (more…)
Click-Through Rates (also known as CTR) is a method by which the success of an online advertising campaign is measured. CTR is determined by dividing the ‘number of visitors who clicked on an ad’ placed on a webpage by the number of ‘impressions’ (the number times that the ad was delivered). The result is represented in percentages. If therefore out of a hundred (100) impressions of a banner ad, just one person clicks on it, the CTR would then be 1%. The popularity of banner ads has dropped and with them, the CTR. The average CTR for a banner ad these days is about 0.2-0.3% as against above 5% when the banner first began to appear. (more…)
Rewards programs have become an integral part of the marketing plans of many enterprises especially small businesses as it helps to not only attract new customers but also retain existing ones. Of course, creating a strong customer value proposition is also at the center of any rewards programs. A rewards programs could be simply built in-house by an enterprise to save costs but then if there is a budget for it, that function could be outsourced to a professional firm specializing in that field. The advantage of outsourcing the design and execution of your rewards program to a professional is the wealth of experience and long list of collaborators that the professional would have built over time. These would include third party companies and major merchants. The following advantages could accrue to a small business by virtue of such collaborative rewards programs:
i. Creation of a series of rewards that would have appeal cutting across the customer base
ii. In conjunction with partners, design a partnership plan that would have a long-term and strategic value.
iii. Infusion of the rewards program with innovative items such as experiential opportunities and local rewards.
iv. Reduction of offsetting of program costs via marketing activities that are co-funded, marketing exposure, co-branded partnerships as well as merchant funded rewards.
The fact remains however that reward programs, no matter how well designed, enticing and beneficial, still needs to be ‘sold’ to customers. There are therefore various incentives that can be used to encourage customers to buy into and participate in the reward program. Some of these incentives include: (more…)
Direct mail is a marketing practice in which the promoter or seller of a product or service sends marketing messages directly to the prospect or buyer. The uniqueness of the direct mail practice is the opportunity it affords the seller of delivering the message without using another medium so that there is no loss of control of the way the message is delivered or presented to the prospect. Another point of differentiation from other forms of marketing is that the promoter also gets use one distinct opportunity to promote, pitch and probably make the sale.
There are different types or methods used for implementing direct mail and these include sales letters, catalogues or other pictorial marketing collateral, sales letters combined with brochures. (more…)
Banner ads were one of the earliest types of ads that appeared on the internet and were certainly very popular. HotWired ran the first banner ad online in October 1994 for AT&T and subsequently became a source of revenue for online advert companies, generating estimated billions of dollars in ad revenue. Actually, banner ads became increasingly unpopular as a result of the roaring success of the paid search model popularized by Google. The standard measure of a banner ad’s success is the Click-Through Rate (CTR) and at its peak, banner ads had a CTR of 5% and above. These days however, banner ads command a CTR of just 0.2-0.3%.
In spite of the drop in the popularity of banner ads, it still remains a viable means of advertising and still appears on a lot of websites. Unfortunately, a great deal of the complaints regarding the efficacy of banner ads is as a result of the inability of the advertisers to observe the basic rules and changes in order to realize good results. There are some practices that can be incorporated into a company’s banner ad program that will have a positive effect on the campaign. (more…)
‘The money is in the list’ has become a classic statement among internet marketers as well anyone who wants to do serious work online. As our focus is on internet marketing in this instant, it is important to state that having an email list is one of the surest ways on making sure that your efforts on the internet yield positive results. Of course, driving traffic to your site is a prerequisite but then how do you drive traffic to your site in the first place? While SEO methods are quite reliable, having an email list will make things far easier for you in driving the desired traffic to your site. (more…)
The major objective of a rewards program in marketing is the creation of vibrant customer value proposition. There are many of such programs in existence these days including bonus points as reward for purchases made, frequent flier rewards and frequent buyer plans among others. Whichever type of rewards program you choose to implement, it is very important that it not only engages your customers and participants in the program but also differentiates your rewards program from others. Customers usually react positively to enterprises that indicate that their loyalty is valued and they prove this by participating in rewards programs.
Rewards programs therefore need to be a critical part of an enterprise’s marketing strategy. The design and inclusion of rewards in a marketing strategy however needs to be a carefully planned and executed process. In order for it to be a success, some factors must be considered and these include: (more…)
Statistics is one of the most important factors in the success of any business, online or offline. Our focus here however, is on the importance of statistics in online marketing. The internet is a very vast terrain and as such, demands a lot of work to succeed. The kind of statistics that you will need depends on the nature of business you operate. The nature of the business also will determine the kind of campaigns you will need to design and execute to get your business noticed, drive traffic to your site and generate the right amount of interest to get your target audience doing exactly what you want them to do such as making a purchase.
There are many tools for carrying out research in order to derive these statistics and work them into your campaign. Additionally, you have to understand that there are also statistics that apply generally to the industry you in which you are operating. In executing an email campaign in promoting your services or products online, you will have to make use of certain statistics. These are very germane to the success of your campaign and your online business. It is also important that you see how your campaign is faring on all each of the statistics. These statistics include the following: (more…)