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How is 2015 looking for small business marketing?

The continuing evolution of small business web marketing strategies has shown a steady move towards the high-tech for the last several years.

2008 – 2010 showed us an explosion in the numbers of small businesses launching and leaving cheap 3 page websites with the simple function of having something on the internet, whether anyone sees it or not.

2011 and 2012 were definitely the year of Adsense, everyone from college students to stay at home moms were starting a blog and setting up an Ad account to get their $8k/month.  Unfortunately most went by the wayside, seeing just sparse content updates until their domains expired, a result of discouragement after Google went on a rampage seeding out and cancelling accounts who use fake traffic sending services.

2013 and 2014 saw a surge in hosted do it yourself website builders (often free of charge with as little as a domain purchase), social media account creations and blog setups.  WordPress made it especially easy to a novice to setup, customize and maintain a blog.  Blog’s with rich sources of interesting content easily found success by having their posts shared across Social Media accounts.  Low cost packages including a Website, Blog and Social Media setup started popping up all over the place, but a large number of small business owners still opted to take the DIY approach.

The result of small business owners building their own sites has been a huge cash influx for companies like Go-Daddy, NetFirms and BlueHost.  Cheap shared hosting and domain names get snatched up for small business owners to experiment with all the best tips for promoting a business organically on Google, Yahoo and Bing.  Not to say that many don’t hire freelancers or web design students to complete web design work, the vast majority still attempt to setup and manage their online presence personally and manually.

Your key to success in 2015 is simple – make it easy and seamless for your customers and prospects to find your business, no matter which platform they want to find you on.  It was acceptable for a business to promote their chosen social media outlets, and simply not mention the ones that aren’t used, but the current state of social media traffic makes it clear that you must make all of your content available on all popular platforms to eliminate alienating your next buyer.

The solution is simple – combine your blog and your website, perhaps with a refresh of your look.  Remember to have a standalone blog page, allow subscribers and comments and post links and excerpts from recent articles on your top trafficked pages for best results.  As you churn out new content, use your website as the launching ground, and subscribe to a service (or have a web developer build a solution) that will automatically and instantly syndicate your blog posts to your social media accounts. If built properly, Google will quickly increase their crawl rates to your site.  Ensuring proper page title, keywords and descriptions will yield great results in your organic search position for utilized keywords and lower your bounce rate (ie. Keep people on your site reading – AND BUYING!).

You should be budgeting at least your cash surplus from your next three sales for a properly planned and implemented strategy.  Remember hosting and domain name are ongoing expenses, but can often be discounted if you purchase multiple years.

Tip: Use this worksheet to get the true cost or return on investment, numbers are representative only:

Total Cost of Project (c): $500
Average Profit per closed sale (p) : $50

Clients Needed to pay for project ( c /p ) : 10

Check the work of the person you’re going to hire and ask yourself if this company (or individual) can get you enough new customers to make it worth spending the money.

What it comes down to is whether you’re hiring a web designer or doing it yourself, 2015 will be the year that divides the small business marketing strategies that succeed from those that will fade away.  You don’t always get back what you put in to a marketing campaign, especially when you’re counting time investment, but if you keep your customers actions and interests in mind it should be easy to adjust your efforts to maximize word of mouth and social media sharing.

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