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Online marketing for small business

An overview of the online marketing mix for the self-employed and SMEs

1.) The website

The basis of the Online marketing strategy is always your own website. It is the central success factor, because many of the other measures are ultimately intended to lead users to your website and achieve a goal you have defined there. Be it contacting us, ordering, making an appointment or downloading an e-book. The company website is your figurehead on the Internet. This means that your website should be "optimal" in many ways and you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What is the goal of the website?
  • Is the website geared towards your target audience?
  • Is it easy for users to find their way around, do they know where to go next, where to click?
  • Do the pages contain contact options everywhere?
  • Are the texts of your website adapted to the target group?
  • Is the unique selling point of the product or service really clearly presented?
  • Is the website search engine optimized so that it is at least technically possible that it can be found on the Internet? With a website with the technology from 10 years ago, this will only be possible in the rarest of cases.
  • Is the website integrated into your other communication activities?
  • Do you use good visuals?
  • Do you use a content management system?
  • Does your website have an imprint and a privacy policy?

A website quality check or SEO audit draws your attention to many points, such as the search engine optimization of your website and what you can improve.

2.) Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Under Search engine marketing one understands

  • the "becoming visible" of Internet pages on Google, Bing and other search engines, search engine optimization (S.earch E.ngine Optimization = SEO)
  • the placement of paid advertisements, search engine advertising (S.earch E.ngine A.dvertising = SEA), mostly from Google's top dog, the Google Ads advertising platform.

The main goal of search engine marketing is to attract visitors to your websites (or landing pages, see below).

The most frequently used search engine in Germany is Google. Of course you would like to appear on the first page of Google search results without having to pay for it. This is understandable, but there is also some work involved, because the SEO work is not simply finished at some point. It has to be optimized and adapted again and again.

Good SEO work starts with the planning and programming of the website. With a Content management systemLike WordPress, you are well advised as a small and medium-sized company, because it is easy to maintain, even without extensive programming knowledge. The subsequent search engine optimization is already taken into account and prepared during the programming.

In order to achieve a good position in the organic search results, you have to consider a few factors:

  • Deliver high quality content
  • Use the right keywords or keyword theme worlds
  • Have a website that also looks good on mobile devices (responsive design)
  • Good internal linking of the content on individual pages
  • Links from other pages that fit your website thematically and qualitatively (backlinks)
  • Implement options on your website that enable sharing on social networks.

3.) Landing pages

These "landing" pages are specially developed websites on which the visitor lands after clicking an advertisement, a text link, a banner or a button in your newsletter. The landing pages should be designed as simple as possible so that the user can immediately recognize the advertised offer and carry out the desired action (e.g. the order). The aim of the landing page is to turn visitors into qualified prospects or customers and must be consistently designed for the respective advertising medium and target group.

Important aspects of a good landing page are:

  • The image and text must match the advert
  • The navigation has to be very cautious so that the users do not leave the page
  • The important information must be visible at first glance, less is more
  • It must be clear what the user should do next (call to action)
  • The added value must be communicated quickly

There are of course other landing page tips that you should keep in mind.

4.) Display advertising / affiliate marketing

Under display advertising, too Banner advertising, one understands all advertising measures on the Internet that are displayed as graphic advertising, be it as animation, image or video. These are integrated into websites and are provided with a link to the advertised page. Pop-up advertisements or other displays, which are often perceived as annoying, are also part of it. However, banner advertising is particularly popular in the private sector in combination with partner programs within so-called Affiliate networks.

This form of advertising involves partner programs in which you provide advertising space on your website. The advertisers offer money for clicks or for purchases made, but of course only if the ad was actually clicked. Most of these affiliate programs run through service providers who take care of the entire technical process.

For smaller companies, display or affiliate advertising is only recommended if there are close thematic overlaps, e.g. if advertisements for travel guides for the region are placed on the website of a hotel.

5.) Content Marketing

In recent years, the constant technical improvement of semantic search at Google has meant that Google has been able to place more and more emphasis on "good content", i.e. content of all kinds, above all texts. Content and SEO are closely interlinked. So you should high quality current content publish on his website, do not leave any old offers or the event calendar from last year. That should go without saying.

What then defines “high quality content”?

If your pages are found via Google, the visitors stay on the page for a long time and don't jump straight back from your website to the search results page, then Google rates this positively and evaluates the content as worth reading so that it is displayed higher in the search engines.

A good website is a website that you would show your critical friends and acquaintances at any time. Write own textsthat weren't copied from another site and write for your target audience. That's good for your readers, and that's good for Google too!

However, content marketing doesn't just refer to the texts on your website. You also distribute content on social networks. The more small and medium-sized companies, self-employed and freelancers cavort on the social web, the more important the social media marketing strategy becomes.

It is not always necessary to publish your own spiritual pearls or information about your product or service. Of course, you can also share and comment on interesting, thematically relevant content from others. Also Pictures and videos are part of your content strategy.

6.) Email Marketing

Email marketing, too Newsletter marketing called, belongs to "dialogue marketing", i.e. a direct dialogue with customers or interested parties is established. With the help of email marketing, businesses are able to get their Addressing target groups personally.

Due to the low shipping costs, the practically immediate delivery and the individual design, newsletters are very popular. Another advantage is the possibility of measuring the success of the campaign very precisely and optimizing it for the next dispatch.
However, there are also some legal requirements that must be observed so that e-mailings are legally compliant. Companies should use their existing address pool and take further measures to gain new newsletter subscribers, e.g. through a corresponding registration option on the website. Of course, you have to determine beforehand what you can report to your customers on a regular basis and which offers you can make, in other words what Added value for the newsletter subscriber should be.

7.) Social Media Marketing

Today belongs a profile in the social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Xing, LinkedIn almost in good form. Unfortunately, many small companies in Germany are still very skeptical about the point of having a presence in the networks. Often they already have a profile, but do not maintain it due to lack of time. However, the right social media strategy and its concrete implementation offer many advantages:

  • Increase visibility on the internet
  • Customer and prospect acquisition
  • Customer loyalty
  • Recommendation
  • Communicate quickly and cheaply with customers and prospects
  • Marketing the website and increasing the number of visitors (traffic)
  • Build trust and online reputation, create an image
  • Lower marketing / PR costs
  • Handle support
  • Receive feedback on the product (market research)
  • Maintain professional contacts
  • Recruit staff
  • Exchange information, use social media for further training

8.) Web analysis

Another important tool in online marketing is web analysis. That is what it means Measure various success criteria using a web analysis tool such as Google Analytics for your website. This tells you how many visitors your website had, which pages were clicked on how often, how long the length of stay was, which keywords the visitors used to find your website and much more. Because without knowing the various metrics, you cannot optimize your website accordingly, but fish in the dark.

The best-known web analysis tool is Google Analytics, which is extremely powerful and still free of charge (there is a premium account for a fee, but it is of no interest for small and medium-sized websites). There are other tools on the market that focus on different things and all have their place, especially if you have very specific requirements. For small and medium-sized companies, however, Google Analytics is sufficient to have a good insight into the success of the website.

Conclusion

Don't get confused or discouraged by the wealth of information out there on the subject of digital marketing. As I said, the basis is your website. If you see potential for improvement there, it is best to start optimizing right away. After that, it's best to continue with a measure that suits you best. For example with a Facebook fan page, because you may already be using Facebook privately. This is how you take your first steps into the social web or dare to use other online marketing tools.