We know you’re a smart, savvy business owner (you’re reading this post, after all), so we know you’ve written a thoughtful business plan that you revisit periodically.
We also know that you have an easy-to-navigate and easy-to-find website, where customers can find and buy what they’re looking for with no hassles. Now all that’s left to do is increase traffic to your site.
For advice on perfecting your internet marketing, we turned to Claiborne Yarbough, the business development manager for Paveya, a North Carolina-based inbound marketing agency. Yarbough spends a third of each day following trends and reading blogs of industry influencers to stay up-to-date on the latest internet marketing.
She says one of the most critical thing a business owner can do to build traffic to her site is to keep the site current.
“Never has relevant, updated content been more critical,” Yarbough said. “I participated in a webinar the other day where the speaker said that your blog is ‘like an annuity that pays out over time.’ Great distillation of the value of a blog.”
For more advice from Yarbough on building a great website for your business and polishing your marketing plan, read on.
What are some best practices for building an effective website for a small business?
- Build a strong foundation for continued growth by working with a professional marketing agency that will understand your goals for your business — that tells you how to construct the website.
- Be realistic. Don’t overbuild the website in anticipation of the business you are going to become. On the other hand, use good technology, like content management software, so that you will have some flexibility in the short and long term.
- You must include a blog. You must write the blog. If you are passionate enough to start a small business then you have a great story that makes you different from everyone else.
- Make sure you leverage your social channels to drive leads and traffic to your website.
What are the most common mistakes small business owners make when building a site?
I can’t tell you the number of times that a small business owner has told me that their “brother/son/college roommate/the 18-year-old across the street” does websites. I also can’t emphasize enough that you get what you pay for and there is a lot that goes into a successful website. If the small business owner doesn’t at least try to set a reasonable marketing budget and use most of it on internet marketing, their company will be left behind. Consider that as we speak, 46 percent of us are online searching for goods or services each month, and 70 percent of these people will use their smartphone to search for a product or service that will result in their taking an action (find the store, make a purchase, recommend to a friend) in less than one hour.
What component should every internet marketing campaign have?
Honesty. Marketing as a shell game is over. Your customers are looking for goods or service and they want to trust the business owner that can provide that to them. Engage them in a one-on-one, genuine conversation (which you can do through a variety of channels) and you will have a successful internet marketing campaign.
Where can a small business owner go for help building a website and marketing on the web? What tools should they use to build traffic?
A small business owner should probably do a search for an inbound marketing agency … this kind of marketing agency is geared to a consultative sales approach that will benefit the small business owner. I can’t say this enough, blogging is so important and it is something that everyone can do.
What tips do you have for launching an effective marketing campaign on social media? What should you be doing beyond posting a link back to your website?
Social media is a great opportunity to be in conversation with your leads and customers. There is nothing wrong with posting a link back to your site (in fact you had better do that). But I see social media as the opportunity to continually refine who your target market is and what it is that they are looking for and what speaks to them. Marketing is no longer outbound only. Be in dialog with your “community.” As you become a trusted resource, your posts or pins will be shared with the holy grail of marketing — the recommendation to friends and family.
Name some companies you think do internet marketing well – what can we learn from them?
Paveya is now a strategic partner with HubSpot (www.hubspot.com), which by far has the slickest internet marketing campaign I’ve seen. I am also very impressed with Amazon and Zappos—the level of consistency of service is remarkable. They invest in it and it shows. Finally, I am also watching Target come up to speed.
What are the top three things every small business owner should know about SEO?
- You have to have it or no one is going to find you. Everyone has a website.
- Don’t be afraid of long tailed keywords. Think men’s-red-athletic-shoes-for-hiking, not red shoes.
- SEO is now as much about relevant, updated content. Can I say one more time how important it is to blog?
How often should you reevaluate your marketing strategies? How do you know when to change what you’re doing or try something new?
You should spend an hour or two every month analyzing and thinking about your marketing strategies. If you are not seeing consistent growth (lead conversion) it is time for a new approach.
Learn more about Paveya and read Claiborne’s blogs at www.paveya.com.