About two months ago, I reached out to my peers in the digital marketing world and asked them to contribute to my online survey. The questions covered topics such as the importance of Facebook in the near future, Google algorithm updates, and mobile website development for small businesses. Originally, I intended to just gather the information for my own edification, but some of the answers seemed worthy enough to share and archive in a blog post.
The starting point for all small businesses is to get their virtual house in order before trying to bring attention to it.
– Jon Henshaw, co-founder of Raven
A Quick Summary
If you don’t feel like scrolling down to look at pie charts, here’s a quick summary from the survey. Don’t forget to scroll down to the very bottom of this post to read the tips from some bright minds in digital marketing that took the survey.
- Mobile website development, specifically responsive design, is going to continue growing in 2014. Responsive design is attractive because it’s easy to implement and CMS platforms like WordPress make it very easy to manage a mobile friendly site.
- Facebook is still important for a small business’s web presence. Even if your Facebook page isn’t driving engagement, an updated page plays a role in branding and search engine optimization.
- Search engine optimization is NOT dead. The quality of your entire web presence (content, website design/build, social signals, etc) matters more than ever. Don’t skip over the basics of optimizing your site.
- Bing (wait for it….) is growing in importance. More internet marketers are paying attention to Bing and making sure that their business ranks well.
- Marketers are still unsure about the role of Google+ for small business. Some say it’s an absolute must, most are unsure, and some even think it’s not necessary to keep it consistently updated.
Internet Marketing is Evolving, and Small Business Needs to Adapt
Shift focus from keyword jamming and an obsession with traffic to building an online audience that will follow you wherever you go.
– Michael Schein, Principal of Michael Schein Communications
The majority of small business owners know just enough about digital marketing to be dangerous. It’s easy to see why they still think that link buying is a magic bullet for any website, and that thousands of Likes on Facebook will propel them to fame and fortune. They go to conferences with charlatan (or washed up) guest speakers, and read news articles that are based off of buzz and irrelevant success stories. Basically, there are a lot of small businesses that can’t see through the mess that’s being thrown their way. Hopefully, the insight from these people will help us as marketers steer our clients in the right direction.
Small Business on Facebook
1. Facebook ads are a great tool for most businesses.
2. Local / small businesses benefit most from Facebook Ads.
3. An active Facebook Business page is still essential for branding and SEO.
The Role of Google+ for Small Business
1. Google+ is becoming increasingly more important to your inbound marketing strategy.
2. Small businesses MUST stay active on Google+.
Website Optimization and Search Engines
1. Blogs are the best way to create fresh, and relevant content for businesses.
2. Optimizing for Bing search is more important than ever before.
3. Google’s Hummingbird update followed the natural progression towards a better search engine experience for users.
4. (Insert sarcastic tone.) The best solution for Google’s Hummingbird update is to pump out as much content on your website and social channels as possible.
Mobile Website Design for Small Businesses
1. Small businesses MUST have a mobile website solution.
2. Mobile responsive website design makes the most sense for small businesses.
3. The best marketing strategy you can have is make your users feel loved. (listen and respond to questions, concerns, comments, and shout outs.)
Pearls of Wisdom from Bright Minds
“Give value until it hurts. Become an advocate for your current clients. Be about what they’re about to the point where they can’t help put you at the time of their mind when it comes to recommending you to their circle of influence.”
Van Baird, Chief Thank You Economist
“There are several things small businesses should do:
1) Optimize their site: Make it faster, responsive and the navigation streamlined.
2) Be social: Create and manage social profiles, and engage with potential customers.
3) Create relevant content: Write content that’s helpful to target customers and make it easy for them to share.
4) Get mentions: Build relationships with relevant sites to increase brand mentions, citations and backlinks.”
Jon Henshaw, C0-Founder
“Start with what users go to most for information depending on the kind of business you have. For instance, restaurants should start with Yelp and go from there. Decide what your goals are – foot traffic in-store, sales online, awareness, etc. and then craft a strategy that accomplishes those goals.”
Sarah DeThomasis, Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships
Sarah on LinkedIn
” If it is a local business they have an advantage of Google+ Local. If it is a small eCommerce site who competes with larger retailers, look for opportunities to trump their low prices by offering better service based on Thank You Economy or similar philosophy.”
Don Rhoades, Digital Marketing Consultant
The Gonzo SEO
“Small businesses need to shift their resources from interruptive advertising to content marketing. No news there. But since they are especially restricted as to time and money, they need to seriously consider how to use the resources they do have to their advantage. Can their employees contribute content? What systems can be set up to help them best do so? Same goes for bloggers and content creators in adjacent fields — they are looking to contribute…figure out how to make it easy for them to do so.”
Michael Schein, Principal
Michael Schein Communications
“Focus on creating quality content that is helpful to their readers. Equal parts helpful, social, and honest (because customers can tell) is a winning combination. Humanizing your business and reminding folks that in addition to providing an amazing service, your children are in the same class, or you visit the same public park, keeps you in their minds over a larger company.”
Ashley Velez, Lead WebOp
What do you think is the single most important thing that a small business can do to improve their internet marketing over the next 12 months? Leave a comment!