By David Brown
Advice from a pro on how you can achieve online marketing success this year.
For many small businesses, 2013 was a tough year – less than stellar economic growth, miniscule gains in consumer spending and difficult access to capital. But many small businesses fought through the difficulties and survived to see the light of 2014.
However, 2014 brings its own set of challenges. In order to go from surviving to thriving in 2014, here’s a look at online marketing opportunities small business owners need to take advantage of to be successful.
- Joining the online era: We will see an uptick in in small business Internet presence. A recent Web.com survey showed that more than half of small businesses don’t have a dedicated business website, even though it is a basic consumer expectation. A professional business website is no longer a nice-to-have, it is a necessity to engage and sell to consumers.
- Local is where it’s at: A significant amount of online search queries involve searching for local businesses. Even the small shop around the corner can be overlooked when a local search results in six business suggestions and it isn’t listed among them.
- Partner up: The list of Internet visibility and lead-generation tools is practically endless – search engine optimization, web development, online marketing, analytics, e-commerce, mobile and social media. Small businesses will recognize the need for a partner with the expertise and resources to save time and get their business going in the right direction online.
- More and more mobile: Today, nearly 30 percent of all web traffic is generated from a mobile device. With consumers expecting a desktop-like web browsing experience on a smartphone or tablet, a mobile optimized website needs to be a priority.
- E-commerce boom: E-commerce will be mass adopted by small businesses and consumers in 2014, but not just for physical goods. Service providers – landscapers, tax professionals, plumbers, etc. – will recognize that offering electronic billing, invoicing and payment processing delivers a far better customer experience.
- Paid versus owned channels: Once they recognize the greater ROI of online efforts, small businesses will increase paid marketing efforts. Small businesses will also use a strong presence on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to build, maintain and further relationships with current and potential customers.
- Talk about gTLDs: Specialized domain names such as “.donuts” and “.mechanic” will rise to popularity with the introduction of the new generic Top Level Domains (TLDs). With more TLD choices, small businesses can fine-tune and assist visibility in organic search results.
In 2014, it’s time that small businesses get serious about growing their online presence. The first step is recognizing the opportunities. The second – and most important – is implementing online marketing plans and taking the actions to ensure that 2014 is a year of success.
About the Author:
David Brown has been working with small businesses to develop their strong online marketing presence since 1999. As CEO of Web.com, a leader in small business online marketing solutions, David oversees the online presence of more than three million customers and is an advocate for small business owners’ importance to the US economy.