WRITTEN BY HELEN PALMER
As December rolls in, our minds turn to reflection on the past year and our resolutions for fresh avenues of business for the incoming new year.
What simple strategies can we implement now to help market our businesses more effectively for 2012?
Search engine optimisation is a must for any website these days, if you don't want all your hard work and investment to be in vain. Having had your website built, you want people to be able to find you and your business rather than your competitors.
Spending vast amounts of money on Adwords isn't always the way to go, as it is not adding any value to the website itself and the older, dare I say traditional (since it is still such a young industry), techniques are being left behind by the social media phenomenon sweeping through the online world.
The coming year heralds a combination of the two disciplines to truly engage your audience and hit the high notes with the search engines themselves.
With a combination of tools such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs, coupled with the mainstay strategies from SEO like keyword research and good technical set-up, you will be able to dominate your marketplace by being seen as the expert or specialist.
Employing a great strategy plan that encompasses some or all of the tools mentioned above and harnessing it to your overall marketing plan will definitely have you ahead of the game, but only if you commit to a plan that you can consistently work.
For instance, writing a blog which is part of your website; using keywords that you know people use when searching for your business; publishing on a weekly basis, will greatly enhance the chances of dominating the first page in Google for those keywords.
Take it a step further - link your blog post through to Facebook and post a link from Facebook back to the article. You have now improved your chances of attracting the attentions of your target audience. Spread the net wider through Twitter, create a video on the subject, post it to YouTube, create a buzz of conversation.
Post to your LinkedIn profile and groups and you are spreading the word very quickly, inviting people to get to know, like and trust you. Most importantly, opening up the conversation and allowing others to express their opinions will position you as the expert in your field, and of course, the arbiter of information.
Don’t forget mobile communications, either. Set to become one of the most important tools in the online marketer’s arsenal, the iPhone or smartphone’s ability to allow users to surf the net makes it a goldmine for businesses to have their most relevant information – their contact details – easily displayed for immediate use.
Having a mobile friendly website which displays quickly and easily will have your information delivered super fast to your audience and has the broadest reach.
With more than 5 billion mobile users – world population figures are 6.8 billion - there are almost five times more mobile devices than computers. Amazing reported figures of 90 percent read rate on texts makes mobile marketing the only media that reaches consumers while they are on the go.
It is extraordinarily effective with a relatively low cost and high return on investment (ROI), is easy to measure and has immediate impact. Do you think you could use this in your business?
Imagine your list could fill your downtimes. Say Monday and Tuesday evenings are slow in your restaurant, for example. Blast out a message cleverly timed to entice people on their way home to offer “Two for One”, “Buy One, Get One Free”, or “Free Bottle of Wine” deals.
It works for any business. What about a car dealership? Great offers on pre-owned cars just come in…or real estate agents, what fantastic home have you got on the books?
Reach out to your customers in a way they want to be connected to you. Whether that is through mobile, Facebook, Twitter or instant message, start building that relationship.
The more time you spend, the greater amount of exposure, it goes without saying. However, the art is in hitting the right balance for you to be able to manage your time commitments to maximum effect and still be able to run your business for peak performance.
Helen Palmer is The Social Media Sorcerer, working with business owners to maximise their social media strategies for effective online marketing results.
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