Small Business Website Marketing

 In Marketing

There are thousands of businesses based on the capabilities of the web and the connectivity to the world available online.

Most of these businesses have at least a viable plan for utilizing the power of the web. There are websites that offer entertainment and earn revenue from advertising. Some sites offer waress and services for sale or provide access to information sources for small fees. The options are as inexhaustible as an entrepreneur’s imagination.

This article is intended to help the small, local business make the best use of the web for improving the local customer base upon which the business depends. A small niche restaurant, local flower shop, bakery or auto repair center does not have anything to sell directly to website visitors. In most cases these businesses have nothing to offer to anyone outside their community and do not need to advertise outside that small locale.

Almost everyone has some vague idea that a website is a good thing. People have their own personal sites or pages and there are few businesses that have not been approached by web designers offering to build a site for them. Many have paid for a web site and in truth have a tiny presence on the web. Very few reap any reward from the expense of setting up a simple site and even fewer ever make an effort to follow-up on the potential that a web site has for growing a business.

Here are 7 relatively easy techniques for making the best of a small business website.

Advertise the website as a major part of your regular advertising.
Almost all small businesses will have an advertising budget. The website URL should be included in all advertising. It should be mentioned in radio and television ads and featured prominently in print ads. Give the prospective customer some reason to visit the site by announcing discounts or other online specials in conventional adverts .

Use the site to develop a mailing list email and/or regular mail
When visitors come to the website there should be some incentive to get them to give you their contact information. A mailing list is a very powerful advertising tool. The cost of a discount coupon or some product being offered as a prize in a drawing can be paid back quickly with a large focused mailing list. This mailing list is then used to announce weekly specials or new products or services.

Keep the site content fresh – weekly updates and specials.
Web users nowadays have learned to expect entertainment and fresh content from the websites they visit. Content can be reviews of new products, local stories about the winners of the prize giveaways on the site, videos, or almost any visual content with entertainment value. It is important that this content be updated often to keep visitors coming back to see what’s new.

Offer regular specials exclusively for site visitors.
There should be some special offers available to website visitors only. The print ads and any on-site posters should announce the fact that website visitors have special access to specials. The idea is to get your customers to visit the site and join the mailing lists. A local business will benefit greatly from a focused local mailing list.

Keep the site modern
Modern websites are dynamic and personal. Use the tools available to web programmers to establish direct communication with each return visitor. Combining a simple database with a visitor registration form and cookies will allow the site to greet each return visitor by name. The visitor’s recent history and preferences can be saved. It is even possible to let a visitor select the language, text size and colors used on the site when he or she visits. Along with making sure you have a good modern web design, another important aspect of the modern website is accessibility. The site should include support of text readers for visually impaired and the ability to detect and adjust for the type of device being used to view the site.  Smart phones and the new devices from Apple Inc. are extremely popular. Any successful website will have content that displays the right way on these new handheld devices.

Make sure your site is included in any local business directories
Every metropolitan area has at least one service that lists local businesses in directory form. Many of these are free to businesses at the basic service level with fees increasing depending on the extras a business wants to add. A website link is as important as a phone number and address to the modern consumer. People want to know what to expect before visiting a new restaurant or what the business hours are for a local photography studio. Today’s small businesses are often focused on niche markets and a web site is the ideal way to describe the businesses focus to potential clients.

Use some type of high-tech traffic generating tricks such as SEO.
A potential customer using the web to find a local business will enter search terms that describe his interest. In order for a small business website to be noticed it needs to be positioned on the first page of any search engine results. In national or international searches, web businesses spend jillions to fine tune and optimize their positions in search results. This is called Search Engine Optimisation and it is a huge business for internet-based companies.
For the small, local business the search optimisation is centered on the location and the service or product. Basic SEO techniques can be used to help a small site be found in searches for the local area. Include post codes, County, City, and even neighborhood in any content. Try to get other local businesses to link to the site. Make sure the specifics of the products or services being offered are listed. The more specific the content keywords are the more likely a site will be near the top when a search for specific terms is performed.

These seven suggestions, when used together for full effect, will establish a website as a powerhouse. Very few small businesses are in a position to fully implement this set of actions. Large web-based companies spend millions to implement this same set of actions to get maximum visitors to their sites. Small businesses who simply want to supplement their through-the-door traffic with a website can implement those suggestions that seem most appropriate for their business niche. It may become necessary to make a decision about priorities – spending time on website optimisation or spending time on the core business.