Tips for a cohesive online small business marketing strategy

There is quite a lot for small business owners and marketers to keep in mind when they begin a campaign of advertising on the internet. Social media, search engine optimization, promotional products, inbound marketing, brand awareness, blogging, link farming and a number of other terms might be perfectly intelligible to the novice marketer. However, knowing how to put it all together can be extremely confusing.

Fortunately, there is a clear progression from having no online presence to swiftly collecting contact information and connecting with consumers. It is important not to skip any steps or to make the mistake of trying to do one thing before something that should have come first. Follow this loose guide to gain an appreciation for the thread that must be followed from the real world to the online realm.

1. Form an image
While this process might involve transitioning to the internet, the first step should be anything but. Companies need to determine what the role that they'll play in the online world will be. For instance, functioning as a resource for consumers or clients in a particular industry is one sort of identity that can be adopted. Another is a no-nonsense, one-stop presence that won't waste consumers time. When there is a clear idea of the perception that an organization will have, consider basic elements such as color scheme, mascot (if any), logos and overall style.

2. Create a website
Before links can be collected and Google trolled for inbound hits, a site must be created. For a very basic presence, a site can be constructed in very little time. However, the best thing to do is to purchase a relevant domain name, which both lends a business credibility and helps with search engine results. Web sites don't require a full-time staff member dedicated to updating since they can be contracted out. However, if resources abound, consider bringing aboard someone who will always be nearby to troubleshoot problems for a flat rate.

3. Uncover a keyword strategy
By using Google-oriented tools such as Google AdWords, companies can begin to determine which search terms will yield the most visitors and hopefully the most customers. A liberal sprinkling of these phrases in titles, web page headings and regularly updated content is the simplest way to start scooping searchers from the rolling waves of the open internet.

4. Implement a content strategy
Without frequent refreshment, content becomes mired in stagnation and will consequently cause Google to ignore a website. Decide who, how and when content will be updated and what form these updates will take. News stories, industry tips and personalized dispatches from the personnel at a company are all excellent fodder for a blog or news feed.

5. Connect to a real-world location
Businesses that operate entirely on the internet won't need to worry about this step, but those organizations are few and far between. According to the Chicago Tribune, only 7 percent of all retail revenue generated in 2010 was from entities that existed solely online. Therefore, it is important to register with Google Places and to make sure that online services such as Yelp! and FourSquare have a fix on the street address of a brick and mortar operation. After all – once awareness begins to build on the internet, it is time to unleash that wave onto the real world via real customers.

6. Social media adoption
If the internet is one realm and the real world is an entirely different dimension, social media is the crux at which these two realities intersect. People have their online personas and their actual selves, but nowhere do the lines blur more than on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking platforms. To begin inviting consumers to a real-world location, offer social media connections to the people who have come across a website thanks to Google and other online efforts.  

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