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Top Small Business Marketing Tools and Services in 2017
It's 2017, and if you haven't already, it's time to fully embrace the digital aspect of running a business. Having a good website and engaging your target market with digital marketing is becoming more and more vital by the day. And every hour that slips by without taking advantage of the technology before us is costing you money.
As a small business, I know it can be hard to find the time and money to take on all of the projects you need to tackle. That's why I've put together this master list of tools and services that are specifically designed to help smaller companies just like yours. I'm going to cover everything from website building, to analytics, videos, and social media marketing.
Small Business Website Design
The first thing that is needed is a good website. I'm not going to go over in detail what that means exactly, or why it's important. You can follow those links there to get more details on that. I'm focusing on how you can accomplish all of these things to be competitive on a small business budget. If you are looking to build your own site, here is all the information you need for that. Remember that though many of the options listed on that page start out as free, it costs money to purchase a domain name for your site that you've created. And that's ok. You absolutely want to have your own domain name, and not a subdomain that ends in .wix.com or .weebly.com. Most of these services provide the ability to attach your own domain name for a very low monthly fee. I'm talking just a few bucks here. And the domain name itself should only cost between $10-$15 per year. So if you want to build your site on an easy DIY platform, you can do so for very cheap. The big risk here is if it will actually look good and accomplish the goals you should have for your site and business. I highly recommend that you have someone with some sort of professional experience look at it and give you feedback. It doesn't have to be a professional site designer, but someone in the business world; preferably in the digital space.
The next thing you need to do is install analytics on your site so that you can know all of the information about who is visiting your site, how they got there, and what they do while on your site. This information is of huge importance and will allow you to adjust your site, marketing, and other tactics to better target potential customers. While there are several free analytics tools out there, I highly recommend Google Analytics. It's free, powerful, and it's always a good idea to know what google sees in your site. You'll also want to attach Google Search Console/Webmaster Tools, which gives you a more detailed and in-depth look at how your site is performing in Google's search engine. Even if you don't use a lot of the information available to you in analytics right now, you will hopefully at some point. Having this information as far back as possible is a huge resource for the future, so don't procrastinate creating your free account.
What type of digital marketing help do you need most?
SEO and Local SEO
Now that you have your site up and looking good, you need to worry about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you don't know, that's how you make your site more likely to come up higher in the search engine results for the keywords you want to be found for. For a better understanding of what SEO is and what you should pay attention to, check out MOZ's SEO Beginner's Guide. Here is a list of all the best free SEO tools updated for 2017. You'll notice that Google Analytics and Search Console are on there. I don't just make this stuff up.
To be frank, most business owners don't have the time and/or knowledge to take on SEO themselves past the first couple of steps at best. The conundrum here is finding a legit SEO solution at a reasonable small business price. One with quality work, low prices, and focus on small business customers.
Another aspect of search engine optimization is local SEO. In other words it's the stuff you do to show up higher in the local map results on the search engines. When you do a search for a dentist or lawn care, etc, you'll usually get a little map with pinpoints that show up in the search results. There are some different factors that come in to play here that differ from normal SEO techniques (though these still remain important here as well). Here is Search Engine Land's Local SEO Guide and here is a list of free local seo tools that you can use. Again, this can take some time, so think about where your time is best spent and if paying a little to some reasonably priced digital marketing agency is worth you being able to focus on what you do best.
One of the ways you can help your local seo and get more people to click on your business when you come up in the search results is to get more good reviews. When the list of restaurants come up on your screen, you almost certainly look to see what the average review score is and how many reviews make up that score. I often go and look at a few of the reviews to see what people say. There are several good online review management tools out there. Imagine if you even found one that allows you to automatically text your customers a customized message asking if they had a good or bad experience with your business. If they say good, then it gives them the link to leave a review on your Google, Yelp, or Facebook business profile. If they say bad, then it asks them why they feel that way, and sends that information directly back to the business only, without any reviews being posted online. Connecting with people on their phones that are pretty much always with them helps to get very high response rates. The reviews and feedback are invaluable.
Social Media Marketing
I'm talking about Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and more. It's another must-do that can be difficult to start if you don't know where to start. I suggest this complete Guide to Social Marketing, again provided by Moz. Don't skip this part of marketing. It's not just for millennials who can't put down their smartphones. It reaches nearly everyone.
PPC and Video
Pay-per-click. It is exactly how it sounds. You pay a small amount every time someone clicks on your add and goes to your site. When you search Google, Bing or any other search engine, you'll see that normally the first few results are labeled "Ad" or "Sponsored". This is what I'm talking about. PPC (pay per click) is the main way that search engines make money. It's also a great way to get immediate highly targeted traffic to your site. Now be aware, there is a lot of research and educated account management that needs to go into doing this. Otherwise, it's a really quick and easy way to spend a lot of money without getting much of any results. So be careful. Check out Wordstream's complete beginner's guide to PPC.
One of the most growing mediums of digital marketing is video. More and more video is being consumed online. People are much more willing to watch a short explainer video of your business or product than they are to read through your site. That is one of the reasons why video is becoming a must-do for all businesses.
I hope you find this list useful. If you have taken the time to go through it all and start working on the areas where you have a need, then your business will undoubtedly benefit from it. Let me know if you have any questions or further recommendations.