Did you know that 94% of consumers research products online before buying? Or that 3 out of 5 people use search as their go-to shopping resource?*
The fact is, in order to compete in today's digital world, businesses must be online to reach their customers. Moving towards marketing yourself online can be daunting, but don't worry – there's no wrong place to start! Here are Google's top 5 tips for taking the online leap.
1. Set your goals
Start by choosing one or two objectives. For example, do you want to drive visitors to your website, generate more foot traffic to your store or restaurant, or gather emails for a newsletter?
Be as specific as you can about your goal. Putting numbers and targets to your goals will help you stay focused (and feel great after you meet or even beat those targets!).
2. Get to know your customers
Talking to your customers can be the best research you'll ever do. Learning how they found you, or what they think about your website, can help you understand what you can improve your marketing techniques.
Putting a survey on your website or using social media sites to connect with your prospective or current customers are ways to get a feel for what types of people may be looking for your product or service.
3. Check out the competition
Ask yourself this question - how are your competitors reaching customers online?
- Do they have a website, social media profile, or online yellowbook listing?
- How are they marketing to customers - search advertising, group buying programs or post online videos?
Research can help you think about how to differentiate yourself from the crowd. No two businesses are the same, so don't feel that you need to copy what others do online, but do use it as a benchmark while your create your own strategy.
4. Don't be scared for your strategy to fail
Taking time to think through your plan before you begin can dramatically improve your results. Create a budget, find tactics that work within your budget and commit a certain amount of time to your goals.
Many successful online marketers take a "test and refine" approach, which is just a fancy way to say, don't be scared to fail and learn. The best thing about online marketing is that nothing is printed and hard to change. For example, you can alter the text of an online ad almost instantly if it isn't performing well. With online marketing, experimenting is key.
5. Track your progress
Online marketing makes it easy to measure program performance, so learn how to track and understand your results. Most online marketing programs, such as search or social media advertising, provides you with analytics or measurements of your ad campaign. Read the results, then revise which programs you spend money on depending on performance.
Once you've set the goals to create a website, list your business online or start placing ads, your business is on the fast track to reach more customers. As with anything, practice and persistence will lead to online marketing success. And remember, it isn't how fast you get online, but getting there that counts.
*Source: 2010 Compete Online Shopper Intelligence Study