An Online Marketing Roadmap for Businesses

Only 26% of small businesses have invested any time or effort in marketing online.  Those businesses in competitive markets or categories would benefit from developing an online marketing plan or roadmap and getting established alongside the early adopters.

For most businesses, the formula for success starts with visibility and traffic.

southern maryland local searchPeople need to hear about a business or product or see its name somewhere before they purchase.

Online, this is accomplished when a business appears in the search engines, directories and social networks where prospective customers look for information, the business type, product or service.

Get Out There and Get Found

Getting listed in Google properties (Google search, YouTube, Google Places, etc.) are very important but there are some 50 other key online locations where businesses should actively join and participate to get found by their target prospects

This isn’t a “set and forget” strategy. Once a business establishes itself in these online locations, it needs to ensure its information “stays fresh.”

The Internet search engines, directories and social media are similar to big grocery stores. There’s a “sell by” date on most information, which means its relevancy declines over time. Thus, if a business doesn’t deliver new or updated content on a regular basis, it will get “knocked off the shelf” by another business that does.

Engage With Prospects on Their Turf

Businesses are wise to think beyond their Web sites and reach out to prospects and customers where they spend time online, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, other social networks, or through blogs or podcasts. This strategy involves establishing extensions in multiple locations and through multiple channels where prospects can engage with companies in “conversations” that eventually lead to business relationships.

Businesses unfamiliar with social media may think their prospects don’t use it but the numbers suggest a different story. Consider that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have a combined 750 million active users—people who use them every day. That’s more than double the entire U.S. population. The fastest growing demographic among Facebook users is 35 to 65 year old women. Another compelling statistic: 300 million people visit YouTube every month and watch more than 12 billion videos, according to ComScore’s January, 2010 figures.

Proactive businesses are making plans is to get these prospects to follow them, friend them, subscribe to their channels, etc. Once connected, businesses start offering information, expert perspective on the topics your business specializes in, recommendations, news, coupons, membership privileges, etc. in an effort to get prospects to give permission to follow up with them through email, text messages to their mobile phones, regular mail—whichever methods they prefer. These businesses are building relationships with prospects, earning their trust and, ultimately, earning their business.


Continue to Engage and Follow Up

Once a business establishes relationships with prospects online, they need to continue to provide valuable information and continue to make offers because it is proven that it’s 6 to 7 times easier to get an existing customer to buy from you again than it is to get a new customer to buy from you the first time. It sounds simple, but this is where most businesses fail on an epic level. Most businesses miss opportunities to incrementally increase their income because they don’t follow up with their customers.

One of relatively easy and affordable way to follow up with prospects is through text messages. It also provides a simple entry into mobile marketing for businesses.

Text messages are effective because 97% are read—90% within the first hour of receipt. So a business like a restaurant using text message follow up to offer a two-for-one special on a slow Tuesday night to its subscribers can generate a near-instant response.

Furthermore, mobile coupon redemption rates are exceptional—between 5 and 20—compared to traditional print coupon redemption rates, which average below two percent.

To recap this roadmap:

1. Get online in the right places and get found

2. Engage with prospects on their terms and follow up

3. Continue to engage and follow up over time

Visibility equals traffic, which leads to prospects, which leads to more customers.


Strategic Marketing Group 11668 Cygnet Dr, Waldorf, MD 20601 (301) 638-4755 ‎