Ten Top Tips : Embrace The Web

These days major advertising campaign without an online presence is like TV commercial without sound. According to Nielsen, an estimated 84 percent of Kiwis have internet access, close to 75 percent shop online, and 97 percent have used search engine when researching product or service.
While smaller companies might find the prospect of getting online daunting, it can almost certainly help your business grow, provide an opportunity to reach new customers and turbo-charge your business in flexible way that lets you control costs.
Here are 10 things smaller business owners should keep in mind to help make the most of this online opportunity.

1 If you don’t have website, get one
It doesn’t have to be complex to serve its purpose. Above all, it should be easy to read, cleanly designed and contain all the information your customers might be going online to look for – including answers to frequently asked questions.

2 Make sure people can find you
The web keeps growing – more than one billion documents were added to Google’s search index in the past 12 months. You can make it easier for customers looking for needles in an ever-expanding haystack. Investigate all the free business listings available on the web – the Local Business Centre on Google maps is just one example.

3 Get inside your customers’ heads
Comscore research suggests Kiwis spend more than 16 hours each week online and the internet is now the first port of call for many people when they set out to research, compare and ultimately buy products and services. Armed with this insight, business owners can use search marketing to reach customers when they are looking for local services. For example, Rabobank used it to help attract New Zealanders searching online for investment options. In addition to bidding for their ads to appear when people searched for generic terms for core products like “savings” or “term deposits”, Rabobank also linked their ads to topical searches such as KiwiSaver. And the day after major New Zealand finance company collapsed, they also included keywords linked to that historic event.

4 Manage your ROI
While not unique to online marketing, this concept is easier to manage with online tools. In tougher economic times, online marketing with its measurability and accountability is good option for limited budgets. It also provides unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability.

5 Make the right connection at the right time
Anticipated, personal and relevant advertising always does better than unsolicited junk – so says marketing guru Seth Godin. It’s all about connecting with your customers when they’re open to connecting with you. Search marketing is particularly suited to this.

6 Write “must-click” ads
Just because you’re marketing your company online doesn’t mean you should lower the standard of your advertising. The internet is not the wild west of early days – flashing lights, pop-up ads and horrible punctuation are thing of the past for reputable websites. Create the sort of ads that make people feel they must click on your ad to learn more – convey product benefits clearly, get to the point and include strong call to action.

7 Work out your goals; market accordingly
Once you have clear sense of your business, stay focused on how to reach your customers. You’ll need to know your ultimate goal – such as increased traffic to your site, conversions or brand awareness, so you can measure success.

8 Good marketers measure
Make use of free online measurement tools to track ad impact. This way you can make sure you’re paying for results and reduce waste through better targeting and know your ROI down to the last cent.

9 Test and adapt
Take advantage of the dynamic online advertising environment that allows you to pause, cancel or resume campaigns at the click of mouse. Continually review what you’ve set up, keeping in mind that there’s always room for improvement and that you should be responsive to what is or isn’t working.

10 Embrace the medium
Don’t bring an offline mindset to online advertising – the web is truly global, real time and seamless. You can create campaigns in different languages or targeting specific countries. Auckland-based rental car company Jucy Rentals recognised lot of people used the internet to research their travel planning and bid for their ads to appear on keywords relating to car and campervan hire. It uses similar campaigns in European markets including German terms. Search marketing now delivers more than 35 percent of total traffic to Jucy’s website and has contributed to traffic volumes jumping by more than 100 percent in the past 12 months.

Julian Persaud is head of online, Google Australia and New Zealand.

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