Friday, 17 June 2011 00:00
My husband Robert and I started our business only six years ago, and in that time we have been overwhelmed by how fast our small idea has grown into a very big one. We have always used TV and print advertising to drive business, but it has taken a while to get our heads around online marketing.
Over the past couple of years however, we have really seen the value in online marketing through search engine optimisation. While this has also led us to remodel our website and subsequently increase our Google ranking, we know there is still a lot more we could be doing.
Last week, we attended the Yellow Pages Driving Your Business Series digital marketing seminar in Brisbane, and picked up some really important tips that we can now use in our own business. These are the top six hot tips that we took away from the event.
Your website is effectively your online shopfront and reflects your brand. If you have a website that doesn’t function properly or looks amateur, this can directly affect the reputation of your business.
Another important thing is language. A lot of businesses use technical or jargon-filled language that is difficult to understand. You need to think about the words people use when thinking about the product or service you offer and search for information on it. If not, your website will never be picked up in a typical Google search.
Most importantly, make your call-to-action easy to find. For example, put your business contact numbers on the home page, so they are easy to access.
Given how interconnected everything is online, understanding all the digital marketing opportunities before heading off in one direction is important.
For example, search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) go hand in hand, so it’s important that whoever is developing your SEO/SEM strategy understands your business and is consistent across both.
Understanding the range of digital channels, and importantly how your customers are using them, is crucial.
One great example we are excited to explore is online video. Providing information to your customers through online video is an extremely effective way to give your business a voice and personality in just 30 seconds, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to develop a professional product. The video the presenter demonstrated at the Driving Your Business series cost less than $1,000 to film, produce and edit, and the business is now able to share the video in a number of ways online.
The main thing we learnt is that not every channel is for everybody. At THE Shed Company, for example, we could use video to demonstrate the process of installing a steel shed. However, for a business that provides advice, like an accountant, this may not be an appropriate channel. You have to consider all the opportunities and determine whether your customers are turning to these channels for information.
At the end of the day, there are lots of different channels, but the information you put through these channels is what’s really important. This content needs to be relevant to your customers and continually kept up to date.
We are thinking, for example, about starting a blog for our business. However, before we do this, we have to decide whether we have the resources to write regular posts, include links to other regular posts and develop content our customers and franchisees care about.
A reality that hit home at the seminar was the fact that our customers and potential franchisees are talking about our business online, and we need to be part of the conversation.
Facebook and Twitter are two channels we have started to use in our business, but we still have more to do. What was reinforced here was very much the idea that we need to continually update feeds and posts. More importantly, we need to ensure we use these channels as listening tools. They are great for finding out what is important to our customers and provide an opportunity for us to speak to them directly.
One great thing about online marketing, which we never really appreciated, is its ability to measure return on investment. As a business, we definitely get the importance of marketing, but it is difficult to justify huge spend when it is so hard to track the impact on the bottom line, or you don’t see the customers walking through the door.
With digital marketing, there are great tools available (such as Google Analytics) to track the number of people clicking through to our website from different places around the web.
If for no other reason, this is a great one to get involved, but your marketing consultant will be able to talk with you about this.
To date, we’re pleased with our foray into digital marketing. It has been really useful to see the whole picture and where everything fits in. We can now go back to our own business and reassess our digital strategy to create better results.
Janet Hamilton, from Queensland-based business THE Shed Company, attended the Driving Your Business seminar series, hosted by Yellow Pages.
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