So you've finally entered the digital marketing arena. You've built your website, you're even getting some traffic. You may have a business Facebook page and know how to Tweet. Heck, you even know a little about SEO! So you pat yourself on the back, get ready for the mob of customers, sit back and wait. And wait. But the in-store sales haven't budged. Unlike Field of Dreams, just because you built it doesn't mean they will come. You have to drive that traffic to your website and here's how you're going to do it.
The Big 3
There's a lot of ways to get exposure for your small business, but when it comes to digital marketing, there are 3 proven ways to drive local traffic to your website.
- You can pay for it. This is known as Paid Media.
- You can create it. You create it so you own it...Owned Media.
- You can earn it. Called, of course, Earned Media.
Here's a good Infographic that puts it all together. You probably already use many of the elements listed, the key is to make sure every element you use directs your audience to your website.
Since most small business owners are familiar with paying for marketing, and everything else, we'll start here. The Infographic covers some familiar, but important, territory in this category but our intention here will be to focus on the digital angle of driving local traffic.
Paid Social Media
The future of marketing and advertising will be largely social media based. For the first time in history, consumers and businesses have the ability to interact at a very high level. Your customers are on social media a lot...and they are more than willing to tell you what they want. You just have to make sure they can find you. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Google+ and more are where you will find your customers and how they find out about you. More often than not, your local traffic looks first to online searches to find what they want because it's quick and easy. The phenomenal growth of this medium provides you with the ability to connect with your local customer in a targetable and measurable way. Check out this great resource to help you get started.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
Just what it sounds like. You pay each time a customer clicks on a link you have created for your website. The link will typically be an ad or banner on a targeted website. This strategy has been around for awhile and is effective because it allows you to be geographically specific so you can target your local customers. The return is often quick and as long as you take a little time to learn the ropes and keep an eye on your ROI, you should get good results. For a primer on PPC, head over to this informative piece on the subject.
Your customers probably use Google when searching for your type of business. AdWords gives you the unique opportunity to reach your local customers when they want to buy. You decide how much you want to pay to have your ad featured. The more you pay, the higher your ad is placed. But small businesses can still compete at a reasonable cost because of some local friendly features.
- You can set your location targeting to cover your local area only
- Your ad can have your contact info such as phone number and website
- You can even have your location designated on a map insert
- You have the ability to track your keywords and upload data to AdWords to see how your campaign is working
To learn more and get the ball rolling, there's probably no better place than Google itself to start your AdWords campaign. You can find just about everything you will need here.
Think of owned media as an extension of your brick and mortar business. It is media that you create that reflects who and what you are. Your brochures, mailers and even your trucks are owned media. So is your company website and company blog. Social media pages, emails and twitter accounts. This part of your strategy is all about building your brand and building relationships with your customers. It takes dedication and hard work to consistently maintain these branding channels because relationships take work and this is no different. The great part about owned media is the high level of control you and your company have over the medium and the often lucrative returns when it's done right. Remember, people buy from people and owned media is the perfect way to express who you are to the customers you want. Your customers would just as soon buy locally as long as you make it easy for them to find you. There's a good overview here about owned media with further links to help you out. (Notice how the linked article talks about earned media and paid media as well? It is difficult to even find content about one of these elements without the other two because they are so dependent upon one another.)
Once you understand owned media enough to create your own campaign, make sure you follow the following tips for the best return.
- Make sure all elements of your owned media are consistently sending the same message
- Define your target audience as precisely as possible and target them with laser focus
- Your message must contain value for your customer, not just a pitch for your company
- Digital marketing is interactive and constantly changing...be ready to keep up!
Here is a good place to learn about earned media. Not only is it a good article about earned media, it is a perfect example of earned media. It's featured on HubSpot and they want us to know that they offer marketing services. I wanted some good information on the subject, found the article via their owned media and because the article had value, I have linked to it in this article to help you. If your content has value, your customers will appreciate it and be much more likely to do business with you. See how it works?
Earned media is very much about social media. It wasn't that long ago that one of the Golden Rules of marketing success was word of mouth. Before the digital age, it was the birthday card you sent to your best customer. They told their family and friends and they, in turn, became your customer. You have to be good at what you do or sell a good product, of course. But after that,
it's all about service. Not much has changed really, there are just a more mouths talking. A lot more.
Some statistics report that as many as 1 in 5 customers will review a business online. Today this word of mouth comes from blogs, “Likes” (Facebook), Tweets and dedicated review sites like FourSquare and Yelp. The power of this medium is undeniable and is growing rapidly. Mashable reports that 90% of Yelp users say positive reviews affect their purchases. Great customer service will help you get those great reviews and more customers. But you have to earn it.
There is plenty of information on all of these marketing mediums online so there really is no excuse for not learning at least the basics. The Big 3 are distinctly different. Each requires a different approach, a different set of skills and a different level of commitment. But us all 3 together, even at a most basic level, and you will begin to see more customers, generate more revenue and make your small business a more profitable staple in your community.