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You probably made big plans for your business in 2017. Did they include pumping up your business’s online marketing? Whether they did or they didn’t, don’t let “but it costs too much” be your excuse for not driving more customers and clients to your business. Here are 7 great ideas for improving your online business profile this year using very little time and absolutely no money. It doesn’t get much better than that.
1) Claim your business' Google My Business page
What do you see when you type your business name in Google? Hopefully, your website will come up number 1 in Google and to the right of the search results you will see what is called the "info box" on your business. In that info box hopefully all of the information is completely correct and the words "Own this business?" does not appear. Why? Because "Own this business?" means that the business has never been claimed.
Here’s what to do if "Own this business?" appears. Click on the "Own this business?" link while you are logged in to a Google account (usually gmail) and begin the process of claiming your business. Claiming your business will give you the opportunity to keep the information updated and appear in Google Maps, Google Local and all other Google properties.
What to do if no info box appears for your business? Easy, just go to https://business.google.com while you are logged into your Google account and start the process of setting up your Google My Business page.
No matter how you claim or set up your Google My Business page, you will probably need to confirm your business via having a postcard sent to you, which you should receive in 5 - 10 days. Google already has some business information for your business, you may have the option to receve a telephone call to that number for confirmation.
The easiest, fastest and simplest way to receive free traffic from Google is to have a claimed and optimized Google My Business page.
2) Claim your review site accounts and ask for reviews
One of the ways that Google determines the quality and authority of a business is by the number of reviews on the internet for that business. This is especially important for businesses that serve a local market.
Your Google My Business page Is also a review site, so once you have that set up, the biggest review site is done. But when you search your company name, which I recommended in item 1, you probably noticed that other sites, usually review sites, are some of the next listings that will come up under your name. Make sure to claim your business listing for each, optimize them with good images and copy and then regularly ask for reviews will help you control the quality of reviews that people find about your business.
What are the most important ones to claim besides Google? Yelp, YP and, if you have a Facebook page, Facebook. There are also industry-based review sites, such as Houzz, Health Grades, Angie's list and others.
3) Commit to email marketing
No other action you will take this year will mean more to the long term viability of your business. You can get a free account at MailChimp that allows you to send 12,000 emails per month to up to 2,000 subscribers. Imagine getting a sweet deal from your distributor on a popular product, sending an email to your list and selling your full order out in a day or two. You can do that and lots more with an email list.
How do you build your email list? Here are a few ideas:
- Put an email signup form on your website
- Ask new customers for their email address and permission to mail to them
- Put out a fishbowl for business cards for a monthly drawing and ask if you can put them on an email list
- Put a link to your email signup on your social media
Once you get that ball rolling, make it a monthly or biweekly to do to create a fun, informative email that makes using your product or service easier and more enjoyable.
4) Understand your customer's "pain point"
Why do your customers give you money? You solve a problem for them - whether it's allowing them to be fashionably dressed or saving them from a legal problem. Whatever your product or service, look at it as a “pain point" for a prospective customer that you solve. You are really in the solution business!
Take out a piece of paper and write down all of the different "pains" and problems that you solve. Now keep that paper handy (hang it on the wall if need be). Every time you need to write an ad, put together a new brochure, redesign business cards, come back to that list and be sure to include at least one, if not more, of these pains and how your business is the solution in every form of communication you make with prospective and current customers and clients.
5) Look at your website on a mobile device
Does it look good? Is it usable? Do the forms work? Does it take forever to load?
More than 60% of all search is currently being done on mobile devices. If your site doesn't work on mobile, well, it doesn't work. Making a website be responsive to the device that is using it is called "responsive design".
Granted fixing this problem isn't free, but recognizing that it's a problem that needs to be addressed is. ;)
6) Look for your top 5 competitors on social media
If you are trying to figure out what you should be doing with social media or you can’t quite figure out what might work for your company, the easy, fast and free way to get some ideas and clear direction is by looking at what your competitors are doing.
Go to their websites. Down near the bottom of their pages should be links to their social media. Once you click through, here are some questions to ask.
- What social media are they committing to publishing regularly on?
- How many likes, friends or followers do they have?
- How often are they posting?
- Are they getting people to post, comment or acknowledge their posts in some way?
Follow, like or connect your personal social media accounts with their business social media accounts. This will give you a lot of insight to how they are doing social media. It will be up to you to decide whether they are doing a good job or not and what you would need to do to do it better than they are.
7) Commit to educating yourself on online marketing
There is a lot to know about online marketing, but that is not an excuse for putting off educating yourself as to how to do it effectively. In 2017, more than ever before, the internet is the first, last and pretty much only place where people go to find a business and the solutions they provide. Look for a solution that stays focused on getting your business the most results for the least amount of effort.
Stormy Knight is Head Coach at Net Sales Coach, an online marketing coaching program based on her 22 years in internet marketing and training. Stop by http://www.netsalescoach.com, pick up her free “7 Days To A More Profitable 2017” and loads of other free resources for small businesses.