The Beginner's Guide to Marketing Your Small Business Online
Do you scroll down Facebook as you queue to pay for your groceries? Do you update your Instagram feed during your daily commute?
You're not alone — your customers are doing it, too. In fact, the average person in Southeast Asia spends as much as 3.6 hours per day online.
This presents an opportunity to promote your business. You don’t have to rely on TV or print ads to get your products or services out there. Through online platforms, you can now reach our audience wherever they are or whenever you want to.
This is the ultimate goal of online marketing.
If you’re running a small to medium business, leverage this guide to up your online marketing game. Get to know the key factors for building a successful online marketing strategy here.
8 Key Factors for Online Marketing Success
1. Know your target audience
Defining your target audience is the first step for any marketing strategy.
If you don't know exactly who you're marketing to, how do you make sure you're communicating the right message?
Think about your ideal customer:
- Who are they?
- What are their biggest problems and challenges?
- How can you help them?
- Where do they live?
- How much are they making?
If possible, compile a list of your current customer base or check who your competitors are targeting. Your goal is to define consumers who are most likely to purchase your product or service.
Defining your target audience gives you insights on what they need and what message they want to hear. In turn, you get to craft to more specific messages and resonate with your audience at a more personal level.
2. Establish your business website
In the online world, your website is like your shop window. When done right, you can use it to entice potential customers further inside.
Don’t know how to make a website?
Don’t fret — it’s easier than you think.
A website builder lets you create a professional website in a matter of minutes. Website builders have ready-made templates, drag and drop features, and social media integration— allowing you to start connecting with customers 24/7.
Include the following on your business website:
An overview of your business
Talk about who you are. What’s the idea behind your business? How did you get started? How do you aim to help your customers?
Your products or services
Show people what you got! List your products and services on your website. Make sure to give brief descriptions for each and highlight their benefits.
If you offer a wide variety of products or services, arrange them into categories. This will make the viewing experience easier for your visitors.
Take things a step higher and turn your website into an online shop. Give your customers a chance to purchase your products wherever they are or whenever they want to.
Your contact details
This is a no-brainer. Let visitors reach out to you for any questions or concerns by adding a form on your Contact page.
If you have a physical store, consider adding a map of your location. This allows you to connect with consumers through multiple channels. Where possible, include links to our social media accounts.
A domain name
In layman’s terms, a domain name is your website address. Its what users input on search engines when looking for your business online.
Like your business name, a good domain name serves as a powerful branding tool. So think short, concise, and memorable. Ideally, domains are kept below 20 characters.
Once you take ownership over a domain, start personalizing your email account as well. Instead of generic @gmail or @yahoo.com accounts, gain extra branding points by setting up an email account on your domain name. This conveys a more professional brand image and builds customer trust.
3. Polish your search engine optimisation (SEO)
How often do you find yourself making a search query on Google? If you’ve lost count, then you’re not the only one. Millions of users type in queries on search engines per day — making SEO a must-do for any online marketing strategy.
SEO measures how high you rank up in search engine results. And the higher you rank in search engines, the greater the chance for click-throughs conversions.
There are two major factors affecting your SEO: on-page and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO involves optimising your website pages and their content. It consists of the following:
- Website optimisation: Title tag, meta tags, meta description, keywords, Robots.txt, and website structure
- Content optimisation: Keyword in content, keyword in H1, H2, and H3 tags, hyperlinks, image alt text, title tags
- Other: Internal links, outbound links, Sitemap, W3 Code validation
Off-page SEO, meanwhile, focuses on giving your website more authority through links from other websites. It involves doing the following:
- Link building: From social media, other websites, online business directories
- Reviews: Review sites such as Google Reviews, Trustpilot, Facebook, and Trip Advisor
- Other: Email marketing, press releases, participation in blogs, forums, and online community boards
For more information on how to improve your on-page and off-page SEO, check out our no-fuss guide.
4. Create your content
Once you've got your keywords figured out, use them to start building your content strategy.
Remember that when it comes to content, choose quality over quantity.
Make sure you create content that’s useful for your target audience. Solve their problems, entertain them — do whatever to keep them engaged.
There are a lot of content formats to take advantage of. This all depends on the nature of your business, target audience, and your online marketing goals:
When you think of content, blogs usually comes to mind first. For many marketers, blog posts are an integral part of their online marketing strategy.
Creating blog posts offer immense opportunity — they can rank on Google, they’re easily shareable on social media, they’re quick and easy to make, and they don’t cost a lot.
But with great power comes great responsibility.
Make sure to publish blog posts regularly, provide information about your products or services in them, add links to your other content, and add relevant keywords for SEO.
Lead magnets are bonus items offered to customers in exchange for their contact information. They improve organic search rankings, increase brand visibility, and generate leads by building contact lists.
Lead magnets are typically in the form of digital, downloadable content. They should offer valuable information that readers would want to take offline.
Here are lead magnets to consider for your online marketing campaign:
- Ebooks. How-to guides, FAQs, reports, or anything that is valuable for your readers.
- White papers. White papers tackle a particular problem, provide a solution, and help the reader make a decision. White papers pack a lot of information — allowing you to showcase your expertise in a certain subject matter.
- Templates. Templates are outlines or tables your readers can fill in. They provide value to your readers, as the latter can use them anytime.
- Checklists. Provide your customers with actionable content by preparing a checklist. Say for example you’re in the wellness industry, create a grocery list filled with healthy food options.
- Case studies. Feature testimonies from your clients to further convince visitors to buy your products or avail of your services.
Lead magnets should do exactly as they’re called — generate leads and ultimately, improve conversion rates. So add a compelling call to action to nudge prospects to take the next step.
A picture is worth a thousand words. An infographic is worth a ton of information.
Infographics let you present information in a visually appealing manner — through graphs, charts, images, and the like.
Remember these tips when designing infographics:
- Credit your sources. Your data is likely to come from various sources, so give credit where credit is due.
- Show don’t tell. Keep content and designs simple, eye-catching, and easily digestible
- Organise the information into categories
- Add social sharing buttons
Consumers are shifting to videos faster than ever. Mobile video viewership — in particular — is growing at an increasingly high rate in Southeast Asia alone.
So including video in your content marketing strategy is a no-brainer.
Videos are more engaging than written content. They’re more flexible and pack tons of information that viewers can consume in a short amount of time.
Distribute your videos across many platforms, like social media and email. Integrate them into your blog posts, too. Consider making video versions of your blogs and other textual content to give your customers another option to consume your content.
Read our beginner's guide to content marketing here.
5. Publish content on social media
Social media usage is booming in Southeast Asia. It's grown by 90% in the past 12 months, so marketing on relevant social media channels is no doubt good for your business.
Use social media to your advantage with these steps:
Understand the audience for each social media platform
Perform market research on the audience that uses each social media platform. Know their demographics and the significant numbers — including time spent on each platform, most-used features, the peak times of their app usage, and more.
Choose the right social media channels
Managing content for several channels exerts more time and effort — especially if you’re a one-man team.
Select only the channels relevant to your business by considering the following factors:
- Your social media marketing goals (or your online marketing goals in general)
- Your current resources and skills
- The demographics of each channel
Get matching handles for your social media accounts
Matching social media handles make your business easy to find online.
To maintain consistency, use your business name as a handle for all your social media accounts.
Determine your content formats
Each social media platforms sport different content formats. From instant updates on Twitter to photos and videos for Instagram.
Go over the content you’ve created and match them with the right channel. Here are general content types that perform well on major social media platforms:
- Facebook: Live videos, 30-45 second videos, curated content, blog posts
- Instagram: Hi-res images, videos, stories
- LinkedIn: Quick, informative videos, high-quality blog posts, company news
- Pinterest: Infographics, photo guides, “Pin-worthy” posts such as images, videos, etc.
Create a content calendar
Finding content ideas, creating and then publishing them on a regular basis already sounds like a lot of work on your plate.
To better manage your tasks, create a content calendar. Marketers use calendars to get a birds-eye view of their online communications. It also helps you maintain a consistent flow of content throughout social media.
Keep your posting schedule flexible. Go through multiple test runs to determine which posts generate the most engagement.
For the best results, have a mix of organic and paid traffic from social media. Facebook and Instagram both have advertising platforms with fantastic targeting options. This makes it easier to reach your target audience.
6. Venture out to email marketing
In Southeast Asia, the open rate for email sits at around 24%. Worldwide, 34% of the population access their email accounts. That’s 2.5 billion people around the world.
It goes without saying that email marketing — when done right — is an effective strategy for customer acquisition. Think about the last time you felt curious enough to open an email that read ‘Hey Joe, Here’s Something You Might Like”.
You proceed to consume the content in a few seconds…
You thought ‘Wow, I wanna read more’...
Then you clicked on the Read More button at the very end…
It’s one thing to reach your prospect’s inbox, nudging them to your direction is a different challenge.
Improve Your Email Open Rates
1. Craft interesting subject lines
When it comes to emails, first impressions are everything. Your subject line should draw in people the moment they see it. So think Relevant, Valuable, and Straight to the Point.
Email subjects are ideally kept at 50 characters or less. Take different approaches when creating your subject:
- Personalized: Pique your customer’s interest by including their names. Ex: “Hi Joe, stop procrastinating” or “Happy birthday Joe, here’s 20% off!”
- How-to and lists subject lines: Play up traditional how-to and list posts by providing a guarantee your readers will learn something. Ex: “Grow Your Revenue by 10% in 24 Hours” or “10 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight”
- FOMO: Everyone secretly has a fear of missing out, right? FOMO marketing taps in your customers fear of missing out on a great deal. Ex: “3 Days Left of Our Anniversary Sale” or “Hurry! Free Shipping Ends Tonight”
2. Secure your custom email address
Sitebeat packages let you create up to five email addresses on your account.
3. Link your emails to landing pages
Pairing emails with landing pages boost your conversion rates.
So what is a landing page? And what does it have to do with email marketing?
Generally, landing pages are designed to convert leads to buyers. Emails, on the other hand, are an effective way to lead visitors to your landing page.
To craft effective email and landing pages, make sure you create matching designs for both pages and a single call to action.
3. Track your email marketing performance
At the end of the day, brilliant campaigns are nothing if you can’t measure results. To check if your efforts meet your marketing goals, figure out which metrics you want to track.
- Clickthrough rates determine the percentage of recipients who clicked on the links on your email.
- Conversion rates calculate the link on an email and completed a specific action. For example, they filled out a form asking for their contact details.
- Bounce rates show you the number of emails that failed to reach their intended recipients. This lets you remove addresses with high bound rates from your email list, reducing the risk of landing on spam.
- List growth rate is exactly as the name implies. Analyzing this metric helps your email list growth. Note that you are likely to reach a natural degrade of 22.5% per year — this is likely from several factors such as email change, abandoned addresses, unqualified leads. So, maintain multiple touch points (social media, website, online advertising, etc.) to widen your market reach.
7. Calculate your marketing budget
Careful budgeting is essential.
It isn't just about figuring out how much you can afford to spend on marketing. You need to define your marketing goals to determine your budget as well as your target ROI.
Ultimately, your budget depends on what you planned for your online marketing strategy.
Here are common factors to consider when calculating your marketing budget:
- Talent fees. This is when you need to hire talent for creative tasks like graphic design, website development, copywriting, and more.
- Online expenses. Calculate your expenses for website hosting, domain hosting and renewals, online ad spend, and more.
- Software costs. Include software costs when using apps for content management, campaign measurement, design, and more.
- Logistics. Yes, take note of your office supplies, equipment, and more.
- Salaries. Don’t forget to pay the employees that execute your campaigns and strategies!
8. Think of offline strategies
Although online marketing is essential, traditional offline marketing methods are far from obsolete.
For the greatest impact, you should do both.
When you run campaigns both online and offline, it provides more opportunities for you to reach your audience. Make sure you have a cohesive brand identity across all marketing channels.
Next step: Get a boost through paid methods
Content marketing, email campaigns, social media posts — these organic marketing strategies do wonders for growing your brand.
But for an extra boost, invest in paid search. Use paid search to:
- Get immediate results. Pay-per-click platforms (Google Ads, Bings Ads, Facebook Ads) are excellent for anyone looking for quick results. Think product or business launches, promos, events, and more.
The moment your ads are approved, it’ll be displayed to your target audience — directing more people to your website and giving you a higher chance for conversions.
- Win over local search. If you’re running a small to medium business, you’re likely marketing to a certain country, region, or city. Local PPC lets you target your ads to specific locations. In turn, you dominate local search result AND increase brand visibility.
- Get highly-targeted traffic. PPC campaigns let you set specific demographics — including keywords, locations, time, date, etc. Facebook ads, for example, lets you target audiences based on their Liked Pages. This allows you to deliver the right message to your target audience.
Both PPC and organic marketing are important components of marketing, so it isn’t necessary to choose one over another. Instead, incorporate both strategies in your online marketing plan. When in doubt, you can always talk to PPC professionals to make the most out of your investments.
Ready, set, market!
Ready to jumpstart your online marketing game? Let’s start with one of the oldest — and most effective — marketing tools in the bunch: Your website.
Get started by setting up your own professional website with Sitebeat.