Thursday, April 5th, 2012
The opportunities the internet offers for businesses are enormous. The number of mediums it provides for connecting with customers and clients are countless. But sometimes having so many options can become a problem.
The sheer number of social media and connecting sites can be daunting to say the least. There tends to be two reactions when businesses are faced with this challenge. Either to avoid it and hope it’s just a fad or rush in and try to do everything at once.
Neither of these are a good idea. Short of certain Mayan prophecies coming true, the internet is here to stay and its role in marketing will only grow. But trying to use all of the tools at once can mean you are spread too thin, using up a lot of resources for very little impact.
Avoid the Deep End
So before you dive in, take a deep breath, step back and think about your online marketing strategy critically. There is no one size fits all internet marketing strategy. Consider what internet marketing tools provide the best ROI for your business. Think about who your customers and clients are and where they could be online.
If your customers and clients aren’t on Facebook then setting up and maintaining a Facebook page for your business doesn’t make sense. You might think you should set one up just because it is free but if you don’t have the time to maintain it and produce fresh content a derelict Facebook page can reflect badly on your business.
Consider your approach. Think carefully about what tools are best for the job in hand. For a B2B company, taking the time to set up a Google+ business page mayhave greater payoff than the same time spent setting up a Facebook page.
Google+ allows you to group contacts any way you like. So you might want to group suppliers in one circle and buyers in another. If clients have had a positive experience with your company you can encourage them to spread the word by asking them about it in a public stream over Google+ and enticing them to +1 your site, perhaps with a reciprocal endorsement. This has added benefits for search engine rankings.
An Ear to the Web
While your business might not have the resources to regularly tweet or poke, your clients might. This can be a useful way of keeping up with news about your clients. Feed aggregators like Hootsuite can gather all of these feeds into one relatively digestible stream. A quick email to congratulate a client on a large sale they announced over Twitter can go a long way to keeping the relationship warm.
It is definitely worth spending a bit of time figuring out where your customers are online. If your business is a niche supplier you might find that there is a healthy forum where people who are passionate about your product come to discuss it. As well as being focused on your industry, forums also have the benefit of being geographically specific.
For all the hype around social media, e-mail is still at the core of most B2B marketing. Emails are the currency of the internet. You will find that most businesses use social media mostly to gather e-mails. As a result, people are inundated with impersonal promotional emails. Use this to your advantage by sending short personal e-mails, sent to a specific person. Your e-mail will stand out above the others.
So before you get overwhelmed by the plethora of options the Internet provides, remember that most of what you know about running a business in the real world applies in the virtual world: Simple things make big differences.