You may have heard a lot about using the internet to help your small business grow, but if you’ve been a brick-and-mortar retail shop, business-to-business company or are in the service industry, making the leap to the digital world isn’t necessarily as intuitive as some experts make it out to be.
After all, your products might not immediately translate well into an online format or you may simply believe that your customers don’t need or want to see your company on the web. Going online is about a lot more than just expanding the buying experience for your current customer base, it’s also about growing your business by exposing yourself to new markets.
Getting Started on the Internet
Taking those first steps can be overwhelming, there’s a lot of advice to be had from self-proclaimed experts from every corner of the world, but you don’t have to invest all your savings into a full blown internet marketing campaign.
Instead, you can start with something basic and work your way out from there—there’s no fault in it, especially if your company isn’t primarily focused on increasing product distribution through eCommerce sales.
Here are some easy ways to get going:
Build a basic website. A simple website doesn’t have to be 20 pages of copy, but there are a few things you do need. An “About” page that tells your company’s story, a “Contact” page that clearly explains how to reach you and how to find you and a “Home” page that talks about your business and what you have to offer are the bare necessities.
Your visitors will see your home page first, make sure to include a few eye-catching, high-quality photos of your products or your team and some well-written copy explaining how you can help. By itself, a static page like this won’t generate a lot for search, but it will give you an internet presence that you can use to enhance other online profiles.
Google My Business. Get your business set up with Google My Business. Here you can add important information like your address, business hours, phone numbers, menus and a link to your website to help generate more calls. When someone asks Google for “businesses near me” like yours, Google My Business will include your company on the list if you happen to be in the area. This may not be a huge lead generator, but it’s free, so the ROI can’t be beat. Many people check Google My Business for store hours before setting out for their favorite shop, even if they’re regular customers.
Business Review Sites. Companies that offer a service, rather than a product, may find that they get extra traction from joining several of the plentiful business review sites on the web. There are some designed for specific industries, like HealthGrades for medical professionals, and some that cover multiple industries, like Yelp and Angie’s List. Although your Google My Business account will allow consumers to leave reviews via Google, others will automatically turn to Yelp or Angie’s List when researching a new company to do business with, so be prepared with multiple accounts.
Once you have the basics established, you’ll be ready to dive deeper into internet marketing for your small business. In part two of this two-part series, we’ll look at different ways to market your business online, whether you’re interested in branching out into eCommerce or simply expanding your marketing reach.