You’ve done some research or shopping online and you notice that quite a few of those business sites have links to Facebook or Twitter. Or, maybe there was a section in the side column where you could sign up for their newsletters or to receive special offers and such.
Have you thought about using those tools for your business? Below I’ll compare a website, an e-newsletter, and a social media account and provide examples for using them.
Your Website – You DO Have One, Don’t You?
You have a website and you think it looks pretty good. You had a web developer put it together for you and it has all the information about your business: your products or services, maybe some history about the business or about you personally, relevant to the business. Good layout, nice pictures. People will find your website and your phone will be ringing off the wall. Right?
Hopefully, your web developer implemented SEO (search engine optimization) best practices, using keyword-rich content, and a well-organized site that’s easy for the web crawlers and search engines to follow.
Don’t forget to refresh the content from time to time to keep the web crawlers interested. Maybe a calendar of events, links to news items or press releases, and a sign-up and an archive for your e-newsletters. (My WHAT?)
Characteristics: In depth; most complete reference for your business
Cost: Development and maintenance; hosting costs
Email is one of the first things people check when they log onto their systems every day. Email marketing uses email to send valuable industry related information to a target audience.
Let me emphasize one thing: “email marketing” is NOT a series of “blast-o-grams”! Email marketing is meant to enhance the relationship between your business and its potential and/or existing clients.
Think of the businesses with whom you’ve signed up. You read their messages because they contain information you can use. Or, maybe you signed up with your favorite hardware store or shoe store because they send out coupons from time to time to their “valued customers.” They are nurturing their business relationship with you, their customer.
Can you think of how this could work for your business?
Characteristics: Timely information, 2 pages or less is ideal; discrete audience
Cost: Can be free with some limitations; your time, creativity, and industry/business knowledge
Social Media Marketing
Examples of “social media” are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Although, many other social media sites exist, personally, I think these are the most useful for businesses today.
Social media is so named because you can “socialize,” whether it’s to comment on a Facebook posting, post or answer a question on LinkedIn, reply or retweet through Twitter, or comment on or share a YouTube video. By definition, all social media applications have a way for you to share or participate.
Social media is an opportunity for interaction with customers you don’t yet know. You don’t need a contact list. You just need to provide content that people find interesting. These are usually quick messages, often with links to more complete information. You build a community of followers and provide content that has some immediacy. An example is posting an announcement or a reminder for a sale, a concert, or a race to be held in a week or in a day.
Characteristics: Quick messages, often with links for more information; audience can be anyone who’s interested
Cost: Most applications are free; your time, creativity, and industry/business knowledge
This is a great diagram to illustrate Depth of Information vs. Frequency of Content Update. (Reference: Constant Contact®, Inc.)
So What Do I Use?
I could say: “Use them all! They work well together.” And, they do.
However, you really need to assess your type of business and the audience you attract.
And, realistically, you need to decide where your time is best spent. It takes thinking differently about the marketing and sales side of your business. It takes some planning and time to create your messages. But wouldn’t you be doing that anyway?
Next time: Blogs: Where Do They Fit In?