Using the Internet to drive business is no longer optional; local businesses must actively promote their services online to drive new customers. While established companies may be able to operate based on their past success, new companies cannot skimp and must use a multi-faceted approach to find enough customers to survive. Fortunately, the basics of online promotion are not complicated.
The first step is to create a main website. One of the main goals of online promotion is to drive viewers to this website, so it is important that it is both informative and appealing. The page does not need to be fancy, and the popularity of mobile devices should encourage website operators to stick with clean, attractive designs that look great on both desktops and mobile devices. Further, the company’s location and contact information should appear as text and not in an image or Flash element. Smart phone GPS systems can automatically direct a user to the business, but they can only read text elements.
The next step is to use basic SEO techniques to ensure that users find the page when using search engines. Search engines drive a significant amount of traffic, and the search engines must be able to find the website. Manual submissions are useful, but links from business directories and other websites help as well. Further, some targeted articles will help drive the website higher in search engines‘ ratings, and traffic from searches can be the difference between a profitable business and one that eventually fails.
A growing tool that businesses are using is Facebook. Facebook has nearly one billion active users, and the number of people using the platform continues to rise. Further, Facebook users are often friends with others who live nearby. A page about the company gives users way to share information with their friends. Informational or entertaining information is often shared among friends, so some clever updates may be able to get the company’s name in front of many new people who have never heard of the business. Incentives can help drive the number of “likes” that a page receives, and proper management can turn a Facebook page into a company’s most valuable Internet resource.
There are also paid options to consider. Pay-per-click advertising has proven to be effective, and Facebook’s advertising platform has been a major success for many businesses. For basic promotion, however, a bit of work and perhaps some professional help can lead to tremendous results.