Customers are googling before committing to a new restaurant, product or service so they can get a sense of whether the business or product is right for them. It’s become natural, automatic behaviour for many.
What does this mean for small business? Get online today. A website and Facebook page are good places to start, of course, but there are other tools to help you effectively foster an integrated, online presence.
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First, your website
Not all that long ago, creating a website was complicated and could be expensive. But today, thanks to easy-to-use platforms like Wordpress, Squarespace and Wix, you can build a fully functioning website without any coding skills – just a keen eye and some time. And adding an e-commerce element is much easier these days too with tools like Shopify. A Telstra’s Digital Marketing website plan gets you a designed and built website with copy, email addresses, a Google business listing and so much more depending on your plan tier – including dedicated support and performance reporting.
Has social media replaced the need for a website? Not just yet, says Eliza Gower, social media and content manager with full-service PR agency Haystac: “Social media and a website work very effectively together and it should make you much more discoverable. You quite literally have a greater share of online space.”
So start with a website or a social media presence and explore the ways they can leverage each other. For example, you can add a piece of code, called a ‘pixel’, to your website to help you re-target Facebook users with ads. This is just one example of how a website and a social media platform can work together.
Effective social media
A 2019 report by We Are Social and Hootsuite states that Australia’s social media usage continues to grow. And as of early 2019, 18 million Australians (of an approximate population of 25 million) are active social media users.
We don’t need stats to tell us our lives are lived online more and more, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that you can find roughly three-quarters of the entire Australian population on social media.
As a small business you likely have limited resources, budgets and time, so you need to fish where the fish are. While you don’t need to use all of the following six platforms in your social media marketing strategy, it’s worth considering them all to see which work for you.
One commute to work on public transport will give you all the anecdotal evidence you need: Australians are glued to their smartphones any spare moment they have. The hard stats tell us that 87% of the Australian population use a smartphone. This translates to 18.57 million active mobile internet users. To cut up this cake a little more: of these 18.57 million mobile internet users, 16 million are on social media.
Think about which platform might work best for sharing great content and take it from there. If you’re producing your own content and thinking about dabbling with ads on social media, start with the tried-and-tested Facebook and Instagram ecosystem before exploring wider. Leverage social media tools to make this whole process easier, and if you’re a local bricks-and-mortar business, Facebook and Instagram are handy for local marketing on a geographical basis. If you’re wondering how to use Facebook for business, there’s also a lot of experts – like Jon Loomer – to help you make sense of all the changes that happen all the time on social media. Also, be realistic: going viral is unlikely, and even a small amount of spend to boost posts can make a big difference.
Once you’ve narrowed down the platforms that suit your business, it’s time to think about measurable targets. This article from Hootsuite gives a great overview of the metrics worth measuring.
Mobile marketing essentials
It’s highly likely that your customers are consuming content on the go, so make sure your content is tailored to mobile. Your social media platforms will give you handy specifications and previews for your content before you post them live, but you need to make sure your website is good for mobile.
Most of the off-the-shelf website platforms mentioned earlier will optimise your site for mobile, but there are still things to keep in mind. If your website is custom-built, there’s more onus on you to make it mobile-friendly.
The mobile-friendly basics
- Test your website with Google’s Mobile-Friendly test
- No two devices operate equally, so make your site accessible to a wide range
- Keep each page to under 5MB. This is a good average size for a wide range of devices and networks
- Set letter spacing to greater than 0 px. Any smaller and they might overlap on a small mobile screen
The latest on SEO
Most of us know that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation but, despite being aware of it, many small-to-medium businesses aren’t using it. In fact, only 26% of small business are using SEO ranking tactics to reach more customers on search engines.
SEO continues to change regularly. Forbes reports that your search rank may soon be influenced by things like how easily ‘voice search’ can find you and how mobile-friendly your site is, which is already starting to happen. Then there are things like the influence of blockchain and the rise of Amazon search optimisation – though those are still a little off in the future. Despite the change, the essentials still ring true. If you run an e-commerce business using tools like Shopify, it’s worth exploring how Shopify SEO works. And take a read of our article SEO 101: 10 things you can do today to grow your online presence. Or test your website now for SEO and more with our Digital Marketing tool.
As well as ranking well in a search engine like Google by following some rules with your website, another way to be seen is through purchasing Google-facilitated digital display advertising.
Google claims that their display network covers 90% of internet users in different formats across websites, news pages, blogs and Google websites like Gmail and YouTube, so it’s worth investigating.
Then there’s Google Search Ads too. These appear at the top of specific search listings and look similar to organic search results apart from a slightly different visual style and a clear ‘Ad’ signifier that makes sure they’re not misleading. Currently in beta, Google responsive search ads allow you to create more flexible ads on the platform.
Google My Business
Google My Business is a free service designed to drive customer engagement, giving the public the opportunity to read reviews, find your phone number or discover your business on apps like Google Maps (or not, if you’re online only) and Google Search. Today, a Google listing is as essential as a website. While some businesses might shy away from enabling reviews, they open up the opportunity for a new and powerful kind of word-of-mouth marketing, and they improve your reputation, SEO and site traffic.
*Originally published April 26th 2018. Updated October 10th 2019.