Online Marketing and Promotion - What It is and How to Do It Well

Intro to small business and online marketing

Even though most businesses operate, some more than others, on the Internet. It not only applies to selling but now they have now they have added it to their marketing and promotions arsenal. This is because with the Internet, a company based in the USA can reach potential clients in Australia. That is the power of online marketing. This article will go into some detail about this area from planning to implementation to aftercare. So without much further ado, let's get that show on the road...

First and foremost, this area can be summed up using the term 'e-marketing.' What it means is using the technology that is available (databases, CRM technologies, e-mail etc) to help sell, market and promote products and services. It is important to add that technology is an auxiliary method in promoting what you have to offer. That is, it is to be used as a support not as a replacement. The fundamentals of marketing are always the same which is to find out what people want and delivering the right messages and products to them. It is just that the ways of doing this has changed with so many methods available for businesses to use from PR to email marketing. Using e-marketing means that the small business can now take advantage of cost effectiveness and ease to really put them on the front line in terms of what they have to offer.

E-marketing uses the Internet, SMS (mobile phone), databases even digital television to achieve marketing aims.

If your business choose to promote or sell online, there are things that you need to do to protect not just yourself but your (potential) customers. You need to disclose your full business details, any TAX information as well price and cost information. I will go into the different aspects of this area and try and discuss them in some detail:

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) - I have heard this phrase so many times, I even used it to write my MBA dissertation because it is so widespread in the area of business. There are so many preconceptions about it but the underlying fact is that when and if used correctly can help boost sales, increase your customer base, help you to better understand your clients and their needs. So what is it? The main method of CRM is the use of the database. Databases are used by most companies to help manage sales as well as clients. When used correctly, they can help separate the 'wheat' from the chaff i.e. find out which of your customers are profitable and which ones are not. It can be used in the overall marketing strategy of a company and help you to streamline saving as well as making you money. There is a lot of software put there that can help (Microsoft, SAP, Peoplesoft) but you need to look at a few things before you start implementing this:

How it will work with the systems that your business already has in place

The budget

How far the system will go - the scale of it

You can set one up yourself which is a good option if you are a small business or just starting out. You can get a specialist to do help you but this can be expensive and I would ask that you do not consider this until you are much larger and need more complex systems in place.

Email Marketing - this is a very powerful and fairly inexpensive way of directly marketing what you have to offer. You can get the message out very quickly to a large amount of people. What makes it better than most paper-based marketing is that it can be tailored depending on who you are trying to reach. If you are going to use this method, make sure that you have people's consent and make sure that you do not reveal people's details on the email that you are sending. Here are some tips for this area:

Make sure you keep the language simple and jargon free

Research your audience and tailor your correspondence accordingly

Ensure that there is an option to opt out should they need to

Don't bombard people with it

By all means offer incentives but be realistic in what you can offer them

SMS Marketing - this is the use of mobile phone text messages. These can be very useful as most people have a mobile phone. However, you may not be able to get all the information you want on the message. So it is a good way of getting people to the website or signing up to receive your email newsletter.

Website Selling/Marketing - this is the main method businesses use to sell and to promote. If you are planning to sell online then make sure:

You inform your customer how and when a contract is formed between you and them

Customers can check/amend/cancel their orders

Your terms and conditions are readily and easily accessible

When marketing using a website, the use of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can help bring traffic to your site. In the current crisis where customers as well as businesses are looking for different suppliers and clients and one of the main ways they do this is to go to search engines and use those. Being visible is key because searchers will not go beyond the first couple of pages of results. So make sure that your website is up to scratch. Here are some tips for you:

Have well written and clear content that describe your products/goods clearly

Link, link and link again

Use key words frequently and well

For more on this area and how to really use this area to your advantage, please read Kevin Leland's excellent SEO ranking article by clicking here and about SEO keywords here. Remember that there are also laws and regulations that you must follow and non-compliance can be costly for you, your customers and suppliers. That is promotion you can do without.

Well I hope that this helps you budding businesspeople and entrepreneurs out there. Take care and God bless...

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Mark Cruz
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