It was recently unearthed that only 50% of small businesses in Australia have a website, according to the Telstra Small Business Intelligence Report. That statistic alone blows my mind but when you combine it with the knowledge that 48% of customers won’t even consider buying from a business if it doesn’t have a website, it becomes even more shocking.
Consumers want to find, understand, and contact you online, so frankly, having a website and a presence on other digital platforms is essential for small businesses as a means of
- acquiring new customers
- increasing loyalty amongst existing customers
- driving referrals and word of mouth sales
- increasing your competitive advantage
In fact, I would argue that there are at least seven tools every small business needs for successful online marketing.
1. A business website
Perhaps the most obvious requirement, a well researched, beautifully designed and properly structured website that answers your potential customers’ questions should be the core of your brand’s online marketing tools. This is because consumers want to find out more about you independently.
They don’t want to have to pick up the phone and speak to somebody. They don’t want to drive to your store or office and meet you face to face. They simply want to find out how you will satisfy their need or want, quickly and without having to make direct contact – at least until they’ve decided that you are the brand they’d like to go with.
If you don’t have this information easily accessible on a website that you control but your competitors do, who do you think the consumer will choose? That’s right, your competitor.
2. Google Analytics
Once you have a website, you’re on the right track to increasing your small business revenue. However, it’s not enough to simply launch the site and let it stagnate without regularly reviewing, optimising, and learning from it.
Google Analytics is a free and easy to set up software that reveals invaluable information about the people visiting your website, their behaviour once they arrive, and how effectively your site is helping to achieve your business goals.
Using this data you can much more easily identify the interests and needs of your potential new customers; what gets them over the line and what causes them to abandon your website.
Whether it’s driving footfall to your store or obtaining phone call bookings or appointments, your business goals can be better achieved with Google Analytics as a tool.
3. Google Search Console
Another free and easy to implement software, Google Search Console supports your website by showing you the words people use to find your site, the rate at which they click your listing in search results, and where your website ranks on Google for a range of potential search queries.
If you’ve built and optimised your website correctly, with a focus on search engine optimisation that helps you to rank well for the search queries most relevant to your business, Google Search Console is the best tool for tracking how your website is performing organically.
It also highlights any potential issues Google may come across when crawling your website, such as missing pages and non-mobile optimised pages.
They say the key to power is knowledge – Google Search Console gives you that knowledge for free. Take it!
4. Google My Business account (needed for Google Maps)
You know when you conduct a search on Google that brings up a suggested business as a card by itself, complete with images, the address, opening hours, social media profile links and a Google Maps location? That happens because the business has created a Google My Business account.
For all businesses with a brick and mortar location, creating a Google My Business profile is an absolute must. It is the best way to stand aside from the crowd on a Google results page and the easiest way to communicate essential information to those looking at visiting you in-person.
Even if you don’t have a physical business location, go ahead and create an account anyway using your personal address and opt to hide this from search results.
5. Listings in online directories
Back in the day, small businesses would list their details in a good old-fashioned print directory, like Yellow Pages. Well, guess what, Yellow Pages still exists!
Nowadays, it’s an online search directory that allows you to list your business for free, which in itself might not be a huge generator of business for you, as many consumers prefer to simply use Google.
However, listing with multiple reputable online directories can help your website to appear in more search results, especially if they are locally-focused.
A few examples of generic directories include:
- Yellow Pages
- True Local
- Pure Local
Of course, there are plenty more out there, but be sure to only list with those that are free, up to date, and regularly appear in your own search results.
If you have a specialist trade, you might also want to consider listing with industry-relevant directories such as hipages.com (Australia) or checkatrade.com (UK), though these sometimes come at a charge.
6. A documented online marketing strategy
This one is a little different from the rest in that technically it’s not an online tool. Still, it’s important to remember as an essential requirement you need to have before you start online marketing.
Too often I speak with business owners who have jumped into digital marketing channels, like social media networks and Google advertising, without any real plan for how they will use these platforms to achieve tangible business outcomes – sales, revenue and return on investment.
Posting online with disparate messaging, images and branding and with no real understanding of the pain points of your potential customers or even existing customer base is the quickest way to wasting your time, effort, and money.
Prior to being active on any digital channel, take the time to
- research your target audience – where are they online, what types of content do they consume, what are their needs and wants?
- outline your online marketing objectives and how these
specificallylink to measurable business targets
- set KPIs to monitor performance
- document your chosen channel mix – how and why these channels are right and the process for using them. Have sub-strategies for each channel
- assign responsibilities to team members to ensure consistency
- set timelines and deadlines to assess and improve
Effectively, have a documented plan that, should somebody else pick it up and read it, concisely details your quarterly, six-monthly, or annual online marketing strategy.
7. Social media profiles on all major platforms – but don’t use them all!
The decision on which social media networks are right for your business is dependent on your business offering, your target audience, and the capabilities of the channel.
Just because Facebook is the largest personal social media network, doesn’t mean this should be your primary online marketing channel. By conducting your audience research, you might find that your customers are much more likely to use Pinterest or YouTube to research your product or service, therefore, these are where you should focus your efforts.
Having said that, it’s a simple matter of brand protection to claim your business on the most popular social media networks. Set up a profile, ensure your branding is consistent across them all, but in keeping with the tone and style of the platform i.e. your LinkedIn page may differ from your Facebook Page in terms of copy and cover photo.
To start with, I suggest claiming profiles on the following social networks:
Then, once you have completed your online marketing strategy and uncovered the insights about which social media channels to use to reach and engage your audience, put 90% of your focus on these and simply maintain the other channels with up to date business information.
8. A great-looking email signature
Creating an email signature that is nicely designed and contains links to all your social profiles is something many of my clients struggle with.
When you email a potential new client, you want your signature to be more than a standard sign-off.
You want to impress with an email signature that represents your brand perfectly and which tempts the recipient to click a link back to your website or follow you on social media. You might even want to add a banner that promotes a sale, event, or piece of content.
One software that is simple to use and helps you create beautiful email signatures, is called newoldstamp. There is a free plan which does the very basics but for full flexibility, you can sign up for the Pro Signature Creator. You can sign up quickly and easily right here.
Ready to set your small business up online?
I know what you’re thinking; it’s only eight essential tools but this seems like a lot of work!
For small business owners, adding these tasks to your already extensive to-do list might seem overwhelming, yet it will be worth the effort in the long-run.
If you don’t have the time, expertise, or confidence to implement all of the above alone or even with the support of your internal team, consider getting support in the form of an agency, recruit, or expert freelancer. I’ve outlined the differences and benefits of each in this post.
Keen to get started with marketing your small business online? I can help! As a remote freelance online marketing specialist, I work with businesses in Australia and the UK to use, improve, and profit from online marketing. Send me a message and we can arrange a call.
Occasionally on this website, I may use affiliate links when recommending services and products, which means if you make a purchase using this link I earn a very small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products and services I have personally tried and tested and which I strongly believe add value for my clients and readers. Thank you for supporting my business!
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