Online Marketing Techniques and Strategies

One of the biggest challenges that any small or even medium sized company will face when deciding on a marketing plan is to choose the marketing method that is going to be effective within the limited amount of resources that your company has to work with. Social media marketing campaigns are relatively free yet they can be rather time consuming and the amount of hours that will be put into social media will eventually cost your company time and money. The same can be said for blogging since the amount of hours that will be spent creating this content will traditionally fall on the backs of hourly employees that could end up making this a slow and rather expensive option.

While social media marketing and blogging are rather time consuming, they are very effective at providing your company and your brand an opportunity to engage your target audience in a fashion that was unimaginable just a few years ago. Keep in mind that social media marketing will produce twice as many leads as telemarketing or direct mail campaigns. Take the time to implement a system that will allow you reach your audience in a timely manner that will still allow you the flexibility of engaging with your audience at several levels of time consumption. An effective tool for being able to reach and communicate with your audience without taking up too much of your time is to join discussions and engage with your audience through communities and forums. This will allow you to share your expertise and place your knowledge on display in a way that is positive and engaging without taking up your entire day.

The Impact of Your Online Reputation

Small businesses that have taken the time to properly set and create a rich social media presence along with a stunning and easy to use website may feel as if their work is now done. This could not be further from the truth. Once you have established a strong and viable online presence you will now need to protect your online reputation at all cost. The impact that a negative online reputation can have on a brand can be devastating. Essentially, it is all of the positive benefits of having a strong online presence REVERSED! As a small business owner, you will need to actively monitor and address any issues with your online reputation as soon as these issues are discovered.

Unlike in the past when the internet was full of websites that were basically static brochures designed not to provide the customer with a voice, modern sites are heavily reliant on user interaction and commentary. User-generated feedback is now a must and social network interactions are mandatory for any business (regardless of size) that is looking be effective online. Best believe that your customers are talking about the experience that they have had or continuing to have with your company in the form of pictures posted to social media, tweets, Facebook posts, and comments that are left on your blog. All of this activity can be very promising and positive for your company, however negative posts or comments may turn out to be extremely damaging to the reputation of your brand.

Many small businesses make the mistake of addressing complaints and criticisms made using social media privately. It is very important to understand that the world is watching. When a customer leaves a post or comment in a public forum discussing their concerns or displeasure, they are putting their issues on display for everyone to see. Taking the matter private by addressing the poster directly sends a message to the public that you have something to hide or that you are neglecting to address the issue altogether since the public is unable to view your response. Addressing a public complaint privately is also a missed opportunity to put your awesome customer service skills on display. Knowing that all of your customers are potentially watching, it is important for you to understand that when you respond in a public forum that you will be addressing all of your followers. Capitalize on the opportunity to show that you respond immediately to all issues and that all matters are resolved quickly, publicly, and professionally. This is a great way to gain the respect of your customer base that will help to improve and protect your online reputation.

Blogging to Benefit Your Brand

There are plenty of small businesses that are rather intimidated when it comes to blogging. They feel that their level of blog experience and the amount of material that they will be able to produce is only a drop in the bucket in comparison to what large companies are able to produce using digital marketing factories to mass create content. This has left many small businesses feeling as if they are not able to compete against large companies when it comes to blogging for the benefits of branding. The question I ask is… Why would you want to? As a small business owner, you are in position to offer your clients something that the big companies are not able to provide: a custom experience that caters directly to their needs.

When blogging for your brand, do not even try to compete with big companies for numbers that are generated by sending a generic mass produced message, instead focus on delivering a message directly to your target audience that speaks to their needs. You should focus on creating a relationship with your target audience by blogging on topics that are specific to the interest and goals of your readers. By taking to time to focus on creating a small group of loyal followers, you are building a group of readers that are looking forward to your next post. While large companies are mass producing a broad message that caters to the largest possible audience, you have an opportunity to address a much smaller group with a specific message that directly pertains to them. As you begin to establish yourself as an authority within your small group of readers, your audience will begin to grow. This new and larger audience will help to share and spread the message about your boutique brand that is held in high regard since your company cares about its customers and the needs of your audience. In many ways, the online consumer is doing everything they can to avoid the bigger companies. With your brand, they feel a connection to your company and your services, and ultimately, that loyalty is an example of your effective branding.