We spend hours every day online, and every business today should know that they need to develop an online marketing strategy. Some smaller businesses which do not have an online storefront or much of a presence online besides a website may conclude that online marketing is a low priority.

But it is precisely those businesses which need a robust online marketing strategy the most. People are more likely to look up small businesses than large chains because they do not know what they will find at the small business as opposed to the chain.

If small businesses do nothing, they thus lose all control over what potential customers will find when they Google the business. Furthermore, the field of online marketing is constantly changing, with strategies which may have been effective in 2015 or 2016 no longer being so today.

Businesses often face time and money limitations with online marketing, but the good news is that certain strategies are cheap and scale up quickly. Here are five useful strategies to attract online customer interest.

Online Review Management

Businesses may spend money on a professional-looking website, but most people’s first destination to learn about a business will not be said website. It will either to be social media, or review websites like Google Reviews or Yelp. It is estimated that a single bad review from Yelp can lose your business 30 customers, and 90 percent of customers read online views before visiting a business.

There are whole guides on how to manage reviews, but the basic goal is to encourage positive reviews and address negative ones. Ask customers to leave positive reviews and give them a link to where they can do so.

For negative reviews, contact the reviewer within a few days, and handle it professionally and courteously as you would any customer complaint. By showing that your business listens to angry customers and addresses their concern, you can win further customers.

Social Media Marketing

As noted above, social media is the other spot people will visit to learn more about your website. Every business should at the very least set up a Facebook account, and look at Twitter or Snapchat depending on what your business needs.

Business News Daily has an excellent guide on which social media platforms to use. It is better to have one or two dedicated social media accounts than to spread yourself out too thin on too many platforms.

And what should you put on any social media account? The most important thing is to be authentic and have a constant stream of interesting content. A simple starting idea is to talk about your business and how it creates its product. From there, other ideas can flow.

Email Marketing

Social media is new and exciting, but email marketing is arguably the most effective means of online marketing. Far more people, even teenagers, own email accounts than social media accounts. B2B companies in particular need to emphasize email marketing since email is a more professional means of communication.

Even if you invest a lot of money in traditional search engine marketing using an expert in SEO, email marketing will still form the core of your efforts to reach out to customers that have expressly shown an interest in your business.

In addition to being professional, email marketing is incredibly easy. Collect subscribers from your regular customers, and then send out a regular newsletter advertising deals, talking about your company, or whatever will work to attract the customers. The most important with all of these forms of marketing is have regular content which constantly keeps your company somewhere in your customers’ mind.

Mobile Marketing

As people get more comfortable checking their emails and going online with tablets and mobile devices, companies have to come up with a mobile strategy. There are few turn-offs bigger than attempts to load a website, only for the format to be completely off because it is not designed to be loaded by a phone.

Make sure that your websites are mobile-friendly, and consider developing an app if your business can spare the cash. Note that according to Upwork, designing an app for your business will easily cost you at least $10,000.

Hold Events

Businesses must create a steady stream of content in order to attract and retain online customer interest. But spice up your social media posts and emails by holding small events which offer unique ways to engage with your customers.

The Reddit subreddit Ask Me Anything is a classic example of how small business leaders can interact with a unique demographic, but videos and voice chat are more appealing forms of communication than text.

Webinars and podcasts offer a chance for you to speak aloud with your business, possibly show how things work live and unscripted, and market events. The result is a highly authentic experience which tells an interesting story, and that is precisely what customers want to see in 2018.

Note that none of these approaches, whether email or social media marketing, are contradictory to one another and businesses should be using them to complement one another. By creating a proper online strategy, you can take control of your business’s reputation and not leave it in the hands of fickle customers.

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Matthew Davies
Matthew Davies is a creative and passionate HR Director with 15 plus years proven experience up to board level in international and world-class corporations. He has had the privilege of working on a wide range of projects that have enabled him to apply his leadership and technical skills and he have proven expertise in managing change, business integration and outsourcing.

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