Running a successful business requires a marketing strategy that puts your company in front of potential customers on a daily basis. In today’s increasingly digital world, a high-quality online presence is the most important component of almost every business’s advertising blueprint.
If you haven’t given adequate time and resources to your digital plan, knowing where to start can be the most difficult part of the equation. With so many options available, determining what you truly need can be overwhelming – especially on a strict budget.
While countless digital marketing products exist that can all have a positive impact on your bottom line, there are a few basic aspects of an online strategy that stand out as being the most essential. Not only is it crucial to have these in place, but it’s also important to have them optimized to get the best results.
Here’s a list of the top three most important digital components for spreading brand awareness, developing leads, and most importantly, generating sales:
1. An Effective, Easy-to-Use Website
Surfing the internet is the new window-shopping. The biggest difference? A customer is no longer restricted to the businesses they come across on the street.
The old saying goes, “You never get a second chance at a first impression.” When it comes to your potential customers viewing your business’s website, this couldn’t be more accurate.
Your website is much more than just a place to provide information, share news about products and
services, or offer online purchases. It is the digital representation of your entire business. If you’ve been
neglecting your website or haven’t updated its appearance in years, there’s a good chance you’re falling behind your competitors.
Aside from the visual components and information that separate a good website from an outdated one,
the quality of your website also impacts your search ranking. It’s important to give your business the
best opportunity to rank high on search so potential customers are able to find you.
Some key considerations and questions that you should ask when evaluating your website are:
- Is the website mobile friendly?
- Is the contact and location information up-to-date?
- Am I regularly updating the site with new, high-quality content and imagery?
- Is it user-friendly and with clearly labeled and navigable sections?
- Is my website providing a good impression of my business?
If you have concerns with any of these questions, it’s a good idea to find a website professional to assess
and improve your site.
2. An Accurate, Built-Out Google My Business Listing
If a website functions as a digital “interior” of a store, your Google My Business listing is the storefront.
It’s likely that you’ve come across hundreds of Google My Business listings without giving it a second thought, but as a business owner, it’s crucial to make sure everything is in order. If you aren’t taking advantage of all the features Google My Business provides, you’re neglecting the first “touchpoint” between your business and potential clientele.
A Google My Business listing is that box of information that pops up when you search for a business on Google. At its most basic, it includes a business’s hours, phone number, address, and a link to their website. While those are all good things to make available, there are many more options to utilize when optimizing the listing.
Here’s a list of the popular options that can be built out on a GMB listing:
- The basics – hours, phone number, address, button linking to website (accuracy is key)
- Relevant images that show your business’s interior, exterior, and products
- Appointment or reservation links (if applicable)
- “Services” filled in with your business’s offerings
- Products, which allows you to show prices and images of goods that can be purchased
- Posts that can promote specific offers, events, or general updates about your business
In addition to all of the functions of Google My Business, it also is the first place most people look to get reviews on your business. The importance of reviews for every type of business cannot be understated. Achieving a 4+ star rating on Google can do wonders in the minds of your customers, and monitoring what people are saying provides invaluable feedback to business owners.
While getting good reviews is important, the game doesn’t stop there. Businesses that respond to the reviews people leave on their Google My Business listing develop a better online reputation and are viewed much more favorably by Google’s algorithms.
Google My Business allows users to set up review notifications so responding to reviews can be easy and convenient if you have the right system in place. Even a quick “Thanks for your thoughts” for positive reviews or a “please contact us privately to fix the situation” for bad reviews can have a major impact on potential customers.
If you don’t have a fully-optimized Google My Business listing in place, you’re missing out on potential sales. This valuable platform is especially powerful for local businesses that rely heavily on their reputation and relationship with customers.
3. Social Media
Your grandma, your best friend, and even your strange co-worker all have one thing in common: they’re on social media.
Businesses are more accessible than ever via their social media channels. On the other side of the equation, customers are also much easier to reach when businesses utilize all of the features social media has to offer.
For small business owners who have an endless amount of work on their plate, a good social media presence can seem more like a luxury than a necessity. This may have been the case at some point in time, but in today’s world, it’s nearly a requirement to have an active profile on the major channels.
Formulating an effective social media strategy takes some research and knowledge, but it’s worthwhile to establish yourself in the communities where most of your potential customers are spending their time.
A few components of a good social media strategy for businesses include:
- Updating profiles with current imagery
- Posting about new happenings, special offers, events, etc.
- Connecting with customers on a personal level by responding to comments or private messages
- Utilizing paid advertising features to reach specific audiences and acquire new customers
If you feel like you don’t have the time to dedicate toward creating your own impactful social media presence, finding a good outside agency or social media specialist can be one of the best investments you can make for your business.
The Wrap Up
Digital marketing is a two-way street between businesses and customers. If you’re able to create a favorable view of your brand online, potential customers will take notice, and current customers will develop that ever-important brand loyalty.