Nobody Knows About My Business
Whether you’re a new coffee shop opening in a strip mall or a startup software as a service (SaaS) company looking to be found online, most new businesses struggle with getting on the public radar. Establishing a customer base can be difficult, but it can be especially trying when you’re entering a niche against experienced competitors.
Digital marketing offers countless solutions to help both brick-and-mortar and online businesses be found where people are looking for their services: the web. Small businesses can invest in options to help increase online exposure to potential customers without having to build a 6-figure website or blow their entire marketing budget in ad spend.
Starting options can include:
- A Google AdWords campaign for carefully selected keywords to help more people find the business right away
- An SEO audit of the company’s website to ensure that it’s on track to be competitive for relevant search queries in the long term
- A Facebook Ads campaign (sometimes more cost-effective out of the gate for local businesses than AdWords) targeting people interested in the business’s services or matching the ideal demographic
- Claiming local map listings on Google, Bing, Yelp, and other common sites
- Launching a blog to begin building content and thought leadership in your niche
- Connecting with online influencers in your area to share your content
While none of these is a silver bullet, they are all accessible points of entry for any business looking to build a reputation and establish an audience.
I Don’t Know What Marketing Channels Are Working
Too often, business marketers allocate money to various channels such as print, TV, or online simply because they “know TV works” or because a friend told them to “do SEO”. But, how can you truly know if a marketing channel is effective? Of course, you can measure increased business in the time that you’re running a TV ad or an online campaign. However, digital marketing has a nearly built-in ability to correlate specific leads and sales to specific channels.
With Google Analytics, you can break down performance of various online channels, like social media, organic search and paid search. By comparing metrics like overall traffic volume, average time on site, conversions, and conversion rate, you can determine which of these are most effectively driving quality visitors that engage with content and, ultimately, those who convert into customers.
But those are all online channels! What about offline marketing, like TV ads? While the tactics for improving data assessment associated with offline and more traditional advertising is improving all the time, you can already use a few methods to correlate offline channels with online results:
- Unique URLs shown in a commercial or printed in a newspaper ad
- Trackable phone numbers
- Direct traffic and brand search spikes during campaigns, or specifically when ads are airing
For more advice, see our article on Tracking Offline Marketing in Google Analytics.
I Don’t Have Time to Manage & Analyze Everything
Talking about tracking marketing channels is all well and good, and in theory you may be all for it. But the details start to add up in hours. You need to invest time into properly setting up analytics, monitoring the results, and altering campaigns according to the numbers. Looking at all that data across AdWords, Google Analytics, and other platforms can quickly become time consuming. Thankfully, several options exist to streamline tracking the metrics that matter.
The caveat here is that you should hire someone who understands data analysis and how to interpret online marketing data. It’s also important to periodically take a deeper dive into data and configuration to assure you are getting the best quality reporting. To begin, below are a few tips on quickly positioning data for efficient monitoring:
- Google Analytics dashboards allow you to choose key metrics and quickly see them in one place. For instance, you can track overall site traffic, engagement, performance by channel, top pages, and conversions all at one glance.
- Scheduled reports can email you PDFs of a dashboard or other key reports you want to monitor, so you don’t have to take the extra step of logging in every day.
- Linking AdWords with Google Analytics and properly tagging other campaigns, such as email marketing, ensures that the data funnels into one place.
- Third party tools like Megalytic allow you to build report templates that integrate data from multiple sources and show custom metrics, while allowing you to easily assess timeframe comparisons.
My Business Has Reputation Issues
Any number of problems can impact a business’s reputation, from a disgruntled customer leaving bad reviews to a faulty product making news. Those reputation issues can originate or carry over to the web in a number of ways, from a 1-star review average on a Google “My Business” page to an unfortunate news article that ranks for the brand name, making a bad situation in print leave an even worse impact online.
While some problems may be more difficult to resolve than others, a number of online tactics can help to preserve a business’s reputation online.
First, representatives can proactively reach out to satisfied customers, encouraging them to leave positive reviews. The more good reviews a business obtains, the more the average rating can outweigh negative reviews.
Next, respond to bad reviews with thought-out (not cookie-cutter) responses, apologizing and talking about how your company will address the issue. Of course, use discretion, as some trolls leaving bad reviews are better off left alone. Don’t get caught in a trap of arguing or appearing caustic toward people who have no intent of changing a negative opinion
Next, if negative press ranks for a business’s name, issue a statement about the problem that took place, working on ranking that article. That way, people who read about the problem that happened can also read about the business’s steps to address it. In addition, if not already built, establishing new business profiles on sites like Facebook or Twitter and even lower-tier sites like MerchantCircle can help to outrank press articles for the brand name, especially after the news becomes outdated.
Finally, always try to approach negative news or reviews with objectivity and introspection. While some incidents are regrettable but unavoidable and some customers can never be satisfied, always first ask if there is a legitimate problem that your business needs to address. All of the online reputation management in the world won’t make up for poor customer service or a faulty product. Before you waste your time and money battling an image concern, make sure you’re dealing with the real issue and not just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
We’ve covered a few ways that businesses can use digital marketing tactics to address common problems. But even if your company doesn’t conduct business primarily online, your potential customers are still looking for you and assessing your reputation there. That means everyone needs to have a thorough strategy for brand positioning on the web. If you don’t take charge of it, it may wind up taking on a life of its own. Seizing the opportunity to determine your business course online and off will allow you to maximize your brand credibility and influence. It doesn’t mean you won’t run up against the same common problems as every business owner, but you can learn from the experience of others and tackle those challenges head on, as well as prepare to face the next ones.