Happy New Year small business owners. Prior to the holiday we focused on constructing paid search campaigns designed to drive traffic to your website. This week we’ll continue the conversation, this time taking it in the direction of search engine analytics, focusing on analyzing the traffic coming to your site. We boldly confirmed that as small business owners we know that:
As a local small business owner looking to promote your services, you know two things – well, hopefully more than two but we’re going to start small and see where it takes us. First of all, you know you need to leverage the reach and immediacy of the internet to spread the word about your brand. Secondly, you know you need to stretch your advertising budget dollars as far as they can go. One particular branch of interactive advertising that makes good on both points is Search Engine Marketing. As far as internet advertising strategies for local small businesses go, SEM is a particularly attractive one, as it is quick-to-market, requires few assets in order to get up and running and – done properly – can be a low cost, high payout enterprise.
Mediasync is a PR tool works to help target press releases to the media most likelly to write about yoru business. Instead of drafting press releases and sending them blindly to the world, search by industry or subject matter to find reporters who want to take your story and write about it.
Here’s another PR site that can help small businesses. Reporters use the site when they are looking for contacts to interview for a story. Read through the requests and send your pitch to reporters who can then let the world know about your business. HARO the best small business software for finding PR opportunities.
This customer relationship management software is an online database that helps you track contacts, deals, and customer communications. Multiple users can access the database and it tracks emails along with other notes. It also integrates with other popular apps like Wufoo and Mailchimp.
This is the best small business software for email marketing. Constant Contact makes it easy to create mail lists and email campaigns. Constant Contact offers a 60 day free trial.
Because Hootsuite lets you put all your social media communication under one free umbrella, it’s the best social media management tool. The software includes sites like facebook, twitter, and linked-in to allow for easy posting to multiple accounts. It allows you to schedule messages as well.
Once you start using applications like these, you wonder how you ever managed to work without them. Try them out and come back to let us know how you liked them. Know some great best small business software not mentioned here? Tell everyone about it with your comments!
Finding the time to sort through all the options while remaining productive is a challenge. That’s why I’ve put together this list of the best small business software for productivity and marketing. There are so many great applications that I need to cover these in two posts. Today we’ll focus on productivity. In Part II, we’ll take a look at the best software for marketing.
The best small business software for maintaining easy and fast access to all of your notes is a toss up between Evernote and Onenote. These programs both let you gather notes of all kinds, importing images, annotating them and altering them any way you wish. It’s like having a journal with all your important notes pasted on each page where you have included your comments. These programs are better than a journal, though, because you can organize your notes, copy and paste items easily and even share your notes with others.
Evernote runs in the cloud making your information more accessible, but also more vulnerable. To get the fully featured software, you pay a yearly subscription of $45, which increases your upload limits from 40MB per month to 500MB per month. If you think you’ll be uploading more than this, you might prefer Onenote’s single one time cost of $79.99. You can share Onenote data by creating an html version of your files that others can read but not edit.
Many small businesses swear by this Web application. It offers a real-time back-up, free up to 2 GB, creating an easy way to share documents among employees. Plans are affordable for $10 - $20 per month with limits of up to 100GB storage.
To use Dropbox, you simply drag and drop files you want to back up and they are automatically synced online and to other computers that have Dropbox installed.
iGoogle offers just about everything you need for communications and administration of your business. This fully customizable homepage acts as a virtual desktop and lets you include Gadgets (sometimes called Google Apps) for quick access to many commonly used apps like:
- Calendars, including Outlook and Google calendars
- To-do Lists like Remember the Milk and Todoist
- All-in-one Email
- Various Analytics Apps
The virtual desktop can be configured any way you like, with drag and drop functions. Applications can display at all times, or be minimized to keep them out of the way until you need them. Most popular Web applications can be installed and accessed from iGoogle.
There are endless Google Apps to add to your iGoogle page. These applications work best when used with Google’s Chrome Web browser. Chrome offers additional functionality with many extensions to common Web tools, similar to the iGoogle Gadgets. When all your important Web tools are organized in one location with one-click access, productivity soars.
Check back for Part II of this article, or just subscribe to the blog for notification when it comes out.
Without brand awareness, customers won't know the difference between your product or service and similar items offer by hundreds of other businesses online. No matter how good your products or services, if potential customers can’t differentiate you from the next business, your chances of getting the business are painfully small. Successfully increasing brand awareness requires four key components:
- Target Audience
- Your Message
With so many flashy and innovative avenues in the realm of internet advertising today, it can be easy to get swept up in new glitzy platforms and lose sight of the key goals of marketing: to promote brand awareness and drive revenue.
B2B marketers need to be especially wary of this, as they are not as well served by testing the technological waters as are B2C enterprises. Inherent in B2B internet marketing is the need to maintain an elevated sense of etiquette and gravity; in order to attract business customers, a business needs to position itself as entity that has the capacity to service a need of that customer while maintaining its brand identity and upholding its established core values.
A few things to bear in mind in approaching B2B internet marketing
Identify your expectations…and stick to them. If lead generation is your ultimate goal, don’t get side swept by innovations that promise to increase exposure in a flashy way.
Don’t feel compelled to rush into something because everyone else is doing it; just because your competitor may have generated several thousand ‘fans’ on their Facebook page, doesn’t mean that the fans are translating into customers or that the competitor has the knowledge and skill to channel these acquisitions into a positive yield.
Effective Small Business Branding in the Internet Age
The first thing you need is a new way of thinking about branding. Today, it’s a lot more than a logo for advertising campaigns. To be effective, your brand needs to connect to others on an emotional level. You need to connect, engage and hold the attention of those eyes long enough to get them to remember who you are and what you can do for them.
To be effective, there are three things your brand must do:
- Grab attention
- Communicate the benefits of your business
- Let your personality shine through
And that’s where the core of small business branding lies. Your personality will do more for your branding than any other aspect of the campaign. You and the things that make you unique will make your business stand out, get noticed and get customers.
It’s All About You
Some believe that differentiating your business from others and communicating personality are two different parts of small business branding. But I believe that they are one in the same. YOU are the thing that makes your business unique. Figure out what aspects of your personality made you succeed at starting your business and you will find the differentiators you seek.
For most small businesses, the owner is the greatest advocate you can find. You know the benefits your business brings because they are the main selling points you communicate every day when selling your service or product. You’re also the one with the strong personality who had the dream, took up the call and made your dream a reality.
Your confidence and drive will attract confident and driven customers that can appreciate you for who you are. They will identify with your brand and connect more readily to your personality and your business.
Once you’ve chosen a platform and have your blog set up, you need a small business social media plan in place to ensure maximum return on your investment. Good maintenance requires consistency in creating interactive content for your readers. If your blog is to be an entryway for establishing your social network and communicating with your customers, then you need to keep your blog stocked with relevant content.
1) It's Inexpensive
One of the advantages of marketing on the Internet is that, compared to other methods of business marketing, such as print advertising and direct mailings, this method requires very little in terms of an up-front investment. Plus, if you are a small business owner, you can choose to handle much, if not all of the marketing efforts yourself.
For those of you eagerly awaiting part II, I apologize as enjoying the summer weather has cut into my blog writing. I hope you did not resort to reading all these books on your vacation.
You keep hearing it over and over. Search Engine Optimization is vital to your online marketing strategy but it requires a lot of time. I know your time is limited so I thought I would outline the most important aspects of SEO and how you can get started.
Like most people, from time to time I have nagging doubts about decisions I made. On occasion fear or worry keeps me up at night . Lately it tends to be around my business but you don't have to run a business to identify.