Bridges to Business: 5 Tips for Building Online Presence

By Vadim Arustamyan and Mallory McQueen

With more than 80% of Americans using the internet regularly, online marketing should be a priority for all small businesses. Good online marketing will recruit prospective customers, engage existing customers, and build a community around your business. The best part about it: it’s relatively cheap (in fact, most services are free), and it allows you to communicate directly with your customers. IINE’s Bridges to Business team bring you 5 simple tips for growing your web presence.

1) Build your own website. For less than $100, you can have your own domain name and web hosting for the year. No experience with web development? No problem. There are plenty of free tools out there to help you build a site and claim your space on the blogosphere. Check out WordPress, for starters.

2) Start blogging. Write short articles that are relevant to your customers (what we’re doing at IINE!). This will allow you to talk, engage, and interact with your consumers.  New content gives your customers a reason to keep coming back.

3) Use social media. There are a lot of networking sites available nowadays, but there is no need to be everywhere. Find out where your customers are, and build a strong presence there.  Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are great tools for attracting and engaging customers. Also consider Yelp, which allows customers to post reviews about your business, and Google Places, so people can find you!

4) E-mail marketing. Stay in the forefront of your customers’ minds with monthly or quarterly e-newsletters. Entice customers with special deals and coupons, or just let them know about new products or events. Start your mailing list today with MailChimp or Constant Contact, but be careful not to spam.

5) Google Adwords. Almost half of all web traffic starts at a search engine, such as Google. Most internet users only look at the first page of results, and it can be challenging for a small business to appear in these “organic” search results. Pay-per-click sponsored ads are a great way to appear at the top of the list and increase your visibility. Refine your keyword strategy to ensure that your customers can find you based on their search.

The best part about online marketing is that you can track and measure your results. Sign up for Google Analytics (it’s free!) to find out who is looking at your website, how they arrived there, and what they like about it. Then use this feedback to make improvements, and increase your web traffic.

Interested in growing your web presence, but not sure where to start? Contact us at bridgestobusiness@iiboston.org or 617-695-9990 for more information about being paired with one of our volunteer web developers for a free website!

Photo used under Creative Commons License, courtesy Intersection Consulting.

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