Internet or online marketing has become an essential tool in helping small businesses improve sales and profits. In order to reach and interact with their customers, there is a range of online marketing tools that small business owners can use. These include online advertising, social media marketing, reputation management, and more. Small business owners must know how to create an internet marketing plan that identifies prospects and details the steps needed to create interest in a product or service.

The first step in developing an internet marketing plan is identifying the objectives. Once the objectives are identified, the next step is to come up with strategies that will help reach the objectives and will achieve the ultimate goal which is to increase profits. After that, think of a competitive advantage that shows how your products or services are better than the rest. Next, promote the products and services through newsletter campaigns, social media, directory marketing, and other effective online marketing tools.

Marketing Trends

More and more companies are finding social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn highly effective and essential tools that aid us in our everyday life. Social media can help small business drive traffic to their websites, build customer relationships, promote products and services, and increase the benefits of promotional spend.

Aside from social media, the following internet marketing strategies are also valuable in starting an online business according to Laura Lake of About.com:

1. Start with a web promotion plan and an effective web design and development strategy.
2. Get ranked at the top in major search engines and practice good search optimization techniques.
3. Learn to use email marketing effectively.
4. Dominate your marketing niche with affiliate, reseller, and associate programs.
5. Request an analysis from an Internet marketing coach or Internet marketing consultant.
6. Build a responsive opt-in email list.
7. Publish articles or get listed in news stories.
8. Write and publish online press releases.
9. Facilitate and run contests and giveaways via your website and social media sites.
10. Interact with your visitors.

Impact of Attractive Websites for Small Businesses

The Internet offers infinite possibilities. Most potential customers begin their search for a product or service through the Internet that is why having a website is very essential for small businesses. Small business owners have to be mindful of the strategies that are necessary to make their websites work. Online marketing for small businesses can be very promising, but when not executed well, it may turn out to be detrimental.

A web design is very important to catch the attention of the users. Domain authority, trust rank, local and global presence, technical support and expertise, user friendliness, visual appeal, accessibility, professional look, and content of the website are some factors that guide the preference of users to a particular website and internet service provider. Small business owners must make sure that their website must not only meet the visitor’s needs, but also encourage them to promote returns.

Success Stories

Building a website has its share of challenges and rewards. Some clients of 88DB.com share their success stories.

Carlo Sampan, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Mean Green (http://ph.shop.88db.com/meangreen/) has experienced birth pains but these did not hinder him from improving his business. “We lacked resources and we had a lot of adjustments to do. But the rewards kept coming. We have partners and clients that put their trust in our capabilities. The support of family and friends also motivate us to pursue and carry on with the business.” Mr. Sampan said.

Mr. Sampan believes that to be a successful entrepreneur, one must look at things from the physical, systemic, and financial perspectives. More than the impressions, reach, exposure to existing and potential clients, a website adds professionalism and credibility to one’s business. “A website is an extremely useful marketing tool. It helps customers in locating you and in building brand and product awareness that eventually helps in increasing sales,” Mr. Sampan added.

Dr. Ivy V. Alvarez and Dr. Luis Guillermo, owners of Animal Wellness Veterinary Co. (http://www.animalwellnessveterinary.com/) points out the benefits of doing business online. “Having your own website is like having a brochure for the whole world to see and to be able to tell them what you want them to know about your business. Most of the people now feel more comfortable if you are online and can see your facilities beforehand. We have gotten a good number of clients from online inquiries,” Dr. Alvarez and Dr. Guillermo shared.

“The first year of the business was very financially challenging. We invested all our money back into the business. Patience and frugality are the best virtues you can have if you’re starting a business. After the third year, everything became easier, smoother, with us having more and more clients. The reward is watching the business grow. We are now one of the top veterinary hospitals in Cebu and we like to think, the most modern,” Dr. Alvarez and Dr. Guillermo added.

Before building a website, these basic points will allow business owners to develop an online presence that meets their business goals and encourage visitors to return to their site: 1) Who is your target audience?; 2) What are the objectives of your website?; 3) What does a visitor expect from your site?; 4) Why should a visitor return to your site?

“Hiring a professional website service provider for a small business includes many benefits including better layout and functionality, technical expertise, and guidance. If you want something that reflects your business, it’s better to look for a reliable service provider,” Dr. Alvarez and Dr. Guillermo shared.

Sources:
Five Questions to Answer Before You Build Your Website
http://www.theinternetdigest.net/articles/five-questions.html
Top 10 Internet Marketing Strategies
http://marketing.about.com/od/internetmarketingstrategy/a/internettips.htm

This post sent by Jesseca de Roxas Gutierrez