If you’re a small business owner with a target market in just your local area you might have the same feeling as many others have found to be true in the past:
”I’ve tried online advertising before and it didn’t work”
In our business, we hear this all the time from business owners in almost every industry. It is always the worst for small businesses who sell products and services to just their local area. We need to stop and take a look into why the internet marketing attempted failed to achieve the results that were desired.
- Was the audience targeted properly?
- Did the advertisement have a call-to-action or incentive to purchase?
- Is the website engaging and also encouraging visitors to buy?
If any of those elements are missing or less than perfect, you could be missing out on thousands of valuable customers, not because of the internet not working well as an advertising medium, but because it is not being used to its full potential.
First, take a look into the website or landing page to make sure that when the right visitors land there, they will take action and become your next customer.
Ask the question “What action do I want the visitors to take?”. Although it may seem obvious to you, it might not be as obvious to the visitors who land there from an advertisement they clicked on from somewhere else. Make things easy and painless.
In both online and offline media advertising, sales, promotions, and coupons are always one of the easiest ways to get someone interested in making the trip to visit your business. You may want to simply have the visitor enter their email address to receive special offers by email or let them print a coupon right from the website.
If there is the possibility your customers might want to bring a friend while visiting your local business, let them share the offer on some of the common social networks. It’s easy to add the ability to share web pages through social networks with some of the easy to use tools from sharethis.com or addthis.com (and however many others are out there).
Next, be sure that the advertisement you are running reflects both the content of your landing page and the action you wish visitors to take. Internet advertising is slightly different than conventional advertising because the ads might be clicked on a lot by people simply browsing around or possibly even ignored completely. If you are paying per click (PPC), you want to limit the clicks down to those who have already decided to take the action you are looking for before they even click on your ad. This is why you will want to make sure that the advertisement tells the audience exactly which customers you are looking for by listing the call-to-action in the ad.
Also, when using search marketing, advertisements that are more relevant to the search keywords selected and the content of the page generate better click-through rates and often get the benefit of lower prices when bidding. So it is important to make sure your advertisement reflects the same content as the landing page.
“Groceries on Sale at ” — generic
“Fresh Vegetables on Sale at ” — related to content
“Print this coupon for 25% off Fresh Vegetables at ” – related + call-to-action
Targeting the Audience
Targeting the right audience online can sometimes be tricky for a local business. When it comes to mailing campaigns for products and services that can be utilized by any household, a spray shot of ads mailed to the local area is fairly easy and can be effective when done properly. The internet audience is a bit more spread out and can be hard to pinpoint exact locations of the users. On social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, users are able to put their location in order to be shown advertisements from their local areas. This can be an easy way to narrow down the audience to the local area. The PocketCents network captures the location of each member of the audience before showing advertisements as well to provide the same effect through different mediums such as local newspaper websites and forums. Both social networks and the PocketCents network function similarly when creating an advertisement allowing you to chose a very specific area in which to advertise. Larger search marketing networks like Google, Yahoo and Bing offer targeting to regional areas as well, but results typically cannot be narrowed down as far as most small local business owners might prefer. For many small businesses, the location of the audience members who see the advertisement matter less than the keywords used or the websites that display the ad. This tends to be one of the biggest reasons local advertising on the internet does not provide the best results. While creating advertisements for the search marketing networks, it is usually a good idea to include keywords for your local area along with location keywords in your advertisement.
“Print this coupon for 25% off Fresh Vegetables at in Detroit, Michigan”
With the website landing page set up to encourage visitors to become customers, the advertisement set up to generate only the most qualified visitors, and the audience narrowed down to target just the people in the local area, local internet advertising can generate just as good or better results than conventional marketing and on a smaller budget.
Your website is a powerful tool in generating revenue for your business. After you build your website, the next step is getting as many interested people to your website as possible for the lowest advertising cost. Many people fall victim to the outdated concept of “build it and they will come.” Back in the ninetys, websites could generate traffic simply by word-of-mouth gossip and being picked up by search engines. Times have changed and the general concepts of marketing online have changed along with it. Let’s start by going over some of the best ways to generate free traffic to your website.
1. Optimize your website
The first and most obvious traffic source to focus on is, of course, search engines. When an internet user is searching for your website, you want that person to be able to find it as easily as possible. While constructing your website, research your industry to find out the most you possibly can about what terms are searched for the most often and which phrases tend to lead to sales. You may wish to consult with a professional search engine optimization (SEO) company to help out with the research or you may be able to find free or inexpensive tools online to perform the research yourself. Before spending any money on paid advertising, be sure to properly use the keywords and phrases throughout your website and optimize the pages for the best possible free search results. If done correctly, search engine optimization can generate residual traffic to your website every month at little to no cost.
2. Submit to search engines and directories
After optimizing your website, it is ready to be captured by search engines and placed in the search results. Submitting to as many search engines and directories as you can is the next step in getting your website exposed to the world.
3. Generate keyword rich content
Adding new content to your website on a consistent basis can add more ways for search engines to find your website and increase your rank in the search results. Although achieving high search engine ranks is a bit more complicated than simply adding the right content, creating articles, blogs, videos, press releases and other media promoting your website, products, and services is very important.
After you have gathered as much traffic from the ‘free’ sources, it’s time to focus on paid marketing to rapidly increase the growth of your business. Check out the next article about generating additional traffic to your website.