As a small business owner, marketing can be tough enough. Yet understanding common marketing terms and acronyms can be down right confusing. Here’s some questions you might be asking: So why do I need to know these marketing terms anyway? Can someone at least explain the common terms? When do I use them? What ones should I use for my small business?
The reason you need to know marketing terms as small business, is that as you work with a marketing expert or whether you do it yourself, you need to understand what they are talking about. This way, you don’t get caught in the myriad of marketing scams.
A Few Common Acronyms
SEO (search engine optimization) this is referring to the organic or unpaid search results on the web once settings are made on websites and typically submitted to Google Webmaster and Google My Business for ranking.
SEM (search engine marketing) is paid website traffic which happens when your business purchases ads through search engines like Google or Bing. It’s also known as paid searching. There are different types within this marketing tool. PPC (pay per click) or PPC ( pay per call) CPC ( cost per click)) and CPI ( cost per impression) All are performance based on a bidding system and you only pay for what is used. The most well know name is Google Adwords.
SSM ( social media marketing) This refers to marketing your products or services through your social media pages such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram etc. Your social media strategy can be done in many ways; from simply making regular postings of words and media to paid advertising through these channels on a PPI (pay per impression) bases. You may see SMO ( social media optimization) that refers to the promotion of your website through social media channels.
EMA This is better known as email marketing or marketing automation. This type of marketing is still the most affordable and highly effective marketing tool. Email marketing starts with sign ups usually with a “carrot” to attract subscribers. This allows you regular sending of email campaigns to educate, inform and promote. Extending EMA to marketing automation allows trigger emails which are a series of emails sent over time, and include but are not limited to, birthday emails, abandoned shopping cart reminders, relevant or personalized customer emails based on website activity and so on.
Which and when do I use these?
When to use these online marketing tools depends on you business type and where you are in your online marketing journey. Having said that, it’s always a good idea to combine all online marketing channels for the best results.
If you are a new business or just built a new website, then you must make sure your business is found online by search engines like Google as a start. Using social media marketing for regular posting is free, but you may need a little push by using paid promotions to get known. Remember that likes and followers don’t bring in business, but they do provide a platform and audience to share your message.
Email marketing and using an attraction of a free offer, is highly affordable and effective marketing. If your business is online with a shopping cart for purchasing, then email marketing automation is a must to communication with your customers and encourage more sales. Start building your list of subscribers early in the game.
If you have the the budget, paying for online ads will give you the boost your website ranking needs rather than gradually getting found through Google searchers. Most small businesses don’t start here, but use these paid tools to boost existing sales.
The most important message is that you need a marketing plan in place to map out your strategy and set your marketing budget for your business type. Using an affordable and experienced marketing expert will provide better results with better return on investment.
What are your thoughts?
It’s a rapidly changing world in marketing. Learning what is a fade or what’s a trend can be tough if you want to be on the leading edge and not the bleeding edge. This last year we have seen lots of changes for websites on the security front. If you have been reading my blogs, then you know the year started off with websites needing better hosting. They required faster loading times to keep viewers engaged. Websites also needed daily backup ups for safety and then malware scanning and removal for security.
So why is SSL security necessary now?
Recently SSL security certificates or https have been highly recommended to be added to your website. Why? Because it may seriously affect your business and your revenue. This change I’m referring to is about messages in the URL (www.yourdomain.com) ) showing up in browsers like Google as non secure which potentially will scare away your viewers and reduce your website traffic.
As of October 17th, 2017, Google recently updated its’ Chrome browser to warn visitors when a site they visit isn’t secure. Research surveys discovered that 82% of visitors abandon websites that aren’t secure or that provided these new warnings. On top of these warnings, Google’s search algorithms now lower your search rankings and results for websites without security certificates.
So what is recommended for your business?
If you have an ecommerce website, then it MUST have SSL security (https) for transactions to take place. Your ecommerce website needs to keep customers purchasing and keep you customers information and credit card numbers safe. However, a majority of websites are non secure (http) so I strongly recommend adding a SSL security certificate (https) to ensure no loss of visitors or lowering of website SEO ranking.
What are the associated costs with SSL security?
The SSL certificate requires an additional annual recurring fee and the time for you or your website designer to secure every page and media file if you have an existing website. If you are starting a new website, make sure you purchase hosting with SSL security. It’s not a matter of adding more expenses to your online marketing or to your small business budget. But one must ask themselves, “What’s the cost for my business of losing viewers, customers or lowering my existing search rankings?
So this coming year, keep your website secure, your customer’s information safe and website traffic increasing with your SEO efforts by adding SSL security.
Website Design Today
So you have a small business and you want to get a new website design or refresh an old one. But you want to make sure your internal staff or your website designer have all the right features and components. Perhaps you are asking yourself these questions? What are the latest trends? What is required for better SEO? What does my business need? What’s not good to have anymore? What does my target audience want to see? These may be just a few of the questions you may have. However, there may be questions you don’t know to ask. I’ll try to address the key areas to make sure your website is the best it can be.
When considering your content, keep in mind for your website, ‘Content is King’. That being said, you need to know your home page for search engines like Google, are heavily weighted at about 80% so focus on that page the most. Understand your target audience and be able to convey your story clearly by introducing each section. Keep in mind you need a minimum number of words for good search ranking. Additionally, your copywriting needs to free of jargon; So, identify your keywords and phrases and make sure your readability meets industry standards. For those few people that like writing, remember too many words can be a deterrent for most viewers. Remember less is more. Choosing the right words and phrases make good copywriting for readers.
Your colours should be based on your branding and logo. Remember simple things like primary colours, secondary colours and your contrast colours. Colours create thoughts and emotions so choose wisely. Photos still speak a thousand words and like colours, they create emotions more powerful than you really think. Stock photos are a good place to start, but original professional photos are best if you have a budget. Videos are key today whether produced, animated or testimonials. Some may argue uploaded and others social media embedded for better search results, but you must have video to capture attention. Sliders (motion timed photos usually across the top of a website) are hot items right now encouraged viewer engagement combining text, photos and video. Podcasts may be a consideration depending on your business model as well. It’s a best practice to make sure that either video and podcast do not autoplay ads because most viewers consider that annoying.
The latest is animation, text sections or photos. Website design today must not be just static, but need to be highly engaging to keep viewers on your website. Speaking of engaging, your website must be responsive to grab viewers who use various sizes of devices. It’s not just to keep them on your website but to improve your search rankings with Google and Bing. Social media icons are pretty much a given. However, newer features like chat boxes, pop up signup forms and booking widgets should be considered for your type of business.
The following are a few best practices in this area because I certainly do not have the space to write out everything. Here’s the most important: Always start with good hosting with backups and malware scanning. Starting in the new year your website will also need SSL security (https) with your domain to get better Google search results. If you are a DIY person then choose best of brand website builders. Beware, there are less expensive builders to build your website on but they come with a cost. Often they have compromised features and questionable search friendly platforms not to mention your own possible lack of marketing design knowledge. Today’s growing platform for most small business is the WordPress platform with about a third of the world’s websites and blogs resting on it. Why? Because they are a good user content management system and Google’s search engine likes to find a word based platform. That being said, your website pages have must external links to related topics or businesses.
Your website needs to have good onsite, offsite and local SEO to be found by search engines like Google and Bing. “Build it and they will come” is not a good philosophy for websites. It’s a waste of money to build and not get found. Equality along with that, your content must stay current. Just don’t build it and leave. Having new and fresh content should be part of your SEO strategy. Your website should always be a work in progress. Regular blogging is a good way to increase SEO and stay current. Hiring a ghostwriter if you are not a writer is a good investment. Offering promotions or freebies also works.Your viewers and potential clients will thank you.
Online marketing is not child’s play! Are you a small business owner or business partner? Are you starting a new business and your budget is tight? Or, are you trying to reduce your marketing costs? Perhaps you just like to try things for yourself. Those are all good in their own right, but is it the best thing to do for your business? As I learned in my personal life after a divorce many years ago, when entering the dating scene again, ‘just because I can date again didn’t mean I should’. I needed time to heal and I needed to spend time elsewhere.
Priorities and time management
Just because you can figure out how to make a website, how to set up your SEO and how to create online marketing campaigns, ‘doesn’t mean you should,’ for several reasons: For example, I could crawl under my car and change the oil as I used to when I was a poor student in order to save a few dollars. I could also lay on my back under my kitchen sink and learn how to replace my kitchen taps. These both could be a good learning experience, but is it worth the time to achieve meager results and possibly cause more damage? There is a good chance I may have gained small knowledge and left with a good feeling, but is it worth my time? The old adage ‘Time is Money,’ is still accurate. Spending time doing things I’m only okay at, is not likely the best use of my time and I may miss out on other much more important opportunities to grow my business..
DIY design and online marketing
If I have heard this story once, I have heard it a hundred times. I honestly admire small business owners or their staff who want to take on new challenges like designing their own website and doing their own online marketing. I understand how the DIY strategy can potentially save your company some money. However, from experience and knowing how marketing changes daily, I’m suggesting ‘doing it yourself’ or using untrained staff can have a double-edge sword effect. Designing a website is not as simple as the experts make it look. Your need to understand the home page needs a marketing and content writing expert to tell your story. Like an iceberg, ninety percent of the website work is what you don’t see. What you can’t see is how much SEO is required for a Google searcher to find you. That simple process alone requires no coding errors, proper keywords, good copying writing for readability, fast loading times and great responsive mobile results. Marketing requires current training as the tools of yesterday don’t work well and have poor ROI. Additionally, not to mention, marketing today can change daily so it requires current training across all platforms from SEO practices to pay-per-click advertising.
Best practices and recommendations
The rule of thumb for DIY digital design and online marketing is to figure out what your time is worth per hour (annual income $$$ divided by 2112). Don’t waste time on marketing projects that cost you more than you would’ve had it done by an expert. The hard part is knowing what the true cost of your efforts that end up poor or meager results. These efforts could affect your business sales growth or your company reputation with poor quality or bad ROI. Unless you or your staff have the time start marketing training, it’s usually better to hire a good marketing freelancer or marketing expert that is current trained to handle to digital design and online marketing. Perhaps there is truth to “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” Focus your efforts on what you do best and stick to your core competences.
Many small business owners struggle with technology and to stay current, but the reasons differ. Some owners just want to stick to the tried and true, others worry about the cost and the learning curve and still others fear the future rather than embrace it. Here are a few trends to keep you in the know and reasons why you should consider updating your technology, marketing and tools. Where are you on the technology scale? Are you a 3, 5 or 8 out of 10?
Statistically, only a third of small businesses have a website. Having said that, many websites are still not mobile friendly yet and many are still the old static website designs. How will updating help you business? Nowadays your website needs to be responsive so that it can be viewed on all device sizes. This type of mobile website ranks better with search engines like Google so your business is seen more. Having a new design allows motion and media which keeps viewers more engaged and less likely to move on to other sites. To have a current website today, it can include integrated booking calendars, customer account logins and shopping carts for products and services. These are just a few reasons to make you higher on the technology scale
If you haven’t established an online social media presence, then perhaps it’s time to start a least with a Facebook profile and add a Facebook Page (business). Not sure how? Ask a tech savvy friend or family member to help get you started. Once you’re comfortable with that, add a YouTube channel and upload some videos and a Linkedin professional profile. Furthermore, stick to the common social media and add a twitter, Instagram and Linkedin profiles. Your website and marketing should be integrated to make all your marketing to work together. You could be close to a 6 or seven on that technology scale now!
Are you still sending out flyers and expecting the same results as ten years ago? Today a high percentage of people search online for products and services. With online marketing not only are the results better, but your customers can be targeted and results measured to tweak for further campaigns. Online marketing or digital marketing today includes SEO (website settings to make sure your found), social media marketing reaching out to online followers, Google and Facebook ads and email marketing reaching out to existing customers. Recently, marketing automation for online stores and sales teams are where online marketing is currently. How’s your technology knowledge now?
So you’re still using an office PC tower with older Windows and Microsoft office software and no back ups? Perhaps your phone is a flip phone or a Blackberry? What are current tools of the day and why should you upgrade? Today’s office tools include laptop or tablet with online services containing email, word processing and cloud backup storage. Connected with this technology is a smart phone that allows full sync with your other devices enabling complete remote access to files, emails and file sharing. Today’s current business includes online accounting to allow remote expense adds, quotations, invoicing and payments. Cloud backups and storage are old news, as remote collaborating and video web meetings are now commonplace.
To figure out what works for you, do a little research for current business tools or talk to a few business colleagues asking them what marketing tools works for their business and ask why. Make your small business current today. Become a 9 or 10 and be up-to-date with technology! Make it work the best for your business.