Whether you run a small business, are starting a YouTube channel, or you’re in the process of growing, you may feel stretched thin when it comes to online marketing. One entrepreneur site may tell you that SEO is key, while another may tout social media as the forum with the most potential. Don’t let targeted articles confuse how you should approach your online presence. The truth is that online success looks different for everybody.
Why Do I Need a Dynamic Online Presence?
Offline marketing is very important for all business, but without online marketing to support other marketing practices, your business may never reach its full potential. This is true for one-man startups and family run companies that started back in the mid-20th century. Nobody who wants his or her business to grow is exempt from online culture.
There are over 3 billion internet users globally. That is 40% of the global population. The US has a 7% growth rate in internet users annually and approximately 280,000,000 internet users. The number of people and devices connected to the internet grows every single day, making it nearly impossible to ignore on a personal or professional level.
Internet users today are savvier than ever. They may not understand the principles of web design, but will quickly recognize poorly optimized, maintained, and updated sites. What’s more is that the snap judgment an internet user makes visiting your site can make or break a future business-consumer relationship. You have about 3 or 4 seconds to make an impression on an internet browser. The average human attention span online is about 8 seconds. If you aren’t currently developing a regular strategy for online marketing, now is the time to start familiarizing yourself with the landscape.
Building Your Strategy
Marketing strategies come in various shapes and sizes. Before you start engaging online, consider stepping back and outlining your plan for moving forward. Taking a few preparatory steps will save you time and money now and into the future:
Target Your Market with a Buyer Persona
The first step in developing your strategy is to think about your target market and buyer personas. You don’t need a marketing degree to parse your consumer base. You can even start out with “soft” data. Sit down with your team and think about the average personality types of your consumers. Are they young professionals, retired males, or stay-at-home parents? Once you have 3-5 stereotypes, you can further outline what your typical consumers look like from a demographical perspective. Include information about their daily habits, general belief systems, and other aspects that may influence their interactions with your business.
After you have worked on your “personas”, you may automatically start thinking about where these individuals might spend their time online. It’s easy to associate demographics with certain social media sites and online activities. Use these outlines to inform all of your online marketing decisions.
Build a Long-Term Plan for Investment
You may not have much or any money to put into your marketing campaign when you start out. At first, you can market yourself with friends and colleagues. You do, however, need to save and plan for the future. At some point, growth, opportunity, or necessity may require you to hire marketers or outsource SEO, web design, or other online marketing requirements. While every budget will vary, the majority of marketing budgets account for 1-10% of a business’ total revenue. Start small and build up over time.
Aim to spend 15- 20 hours a week working on your overall marketing efforts. It might help in the beginning to log the time spent. The good news is that many online activities literally take minutes of your time and can yield major results. Consider trying to budget in 30 minutes to an hour of education every day, too. Whether you’re learning about online marketing techniques or more about your industry, any business-related education will benefit your online marketing habits.
Where to Spend Money Now
Make an allowance in your budget right now for optimizing your website. A faster, more efficient, and more streamlined website will always support any other marketing activities. Use a professional hosting company and a knowledgeable web designer to ensure your content is highly deliverable across devices and scalable for future growth. If you have anything left over in your budget, consider investing in sponsored social media posts and pay-per-click advertising. Both are low cost, effective online tools that even one-person enterprises can leverage to improve online visibility.
What to Do Today and Everyday
Develop content that can be shared across multiple platforms. Use your allotted marketing time to create omni-channel content. What you post does not have to be long, research-quality, or statistically backed. It does need to be relevant to your audience, meaningful, and honest. Here are some content ideas and the platforms you can use to get your message across:
- Keep it simple, and try to answer a question about your company or tell your audience a little more about how you operate. Spotlight a customer or employee story, or give a few tips from your industry standpoint. You’d be amazed at what you can get across in as few as 250 or 300 words. Share content on your primary website blog and social media accounts, send to local media outlets (including newspapers), and submit to online forums.
- Videos are powerful marketing tools. Show someone how to do something or provide an inside look into your business. There are a number of mobile device applications that will allow you to create a video without the costly investment. Use apps like Vine, Facebook’s Riff, and iMovie to create your content. Share it on social media sites and your website, and upload to YouTube.
- Infographics and pictures. Visual content is great for marketing and only takes up a second of a user’s time online. Post pictures of your staff or industry infographics everywhere.
Get even more bang for your buck by linking your social media accounts so content is automatically pushed to several platforms. Try a different technique every couple of months to see which forums work best for your company.
Latest posts by Rachel Winstead (see all)
- Why Video Will Never Take the Place of Solid Written Content - September 1, 2016
- Eight Tips for Marketing Your Content in a Crowded Online Space - August 25, 2016
- Crossing the Fine Line Between Originality and Plagiarism - August 18, 2016