2017 online marketing plan
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Small Business Online Marketing Strategy for 2017

Marketing is a process and not an event. While there must be structure, smart business owners know that adding to, changing, and in general adapting the plan is an ongoing process. Small business owners who want to create online marketing strategies for the upcoming year need to keep this in mind. That means focusing on strategies that work together and create a cohesive approach to reaching customers online and retaining those who have already entered the fold. Here are some essentials that must be part of the overall plan for online marketing in 2017.

A Website for All Devices

Gone are the days when it was enough to create an informational website with pages that looked pretty on a wide screen. If you are serious about attracting attention and building a stronger consumer base, that website has to load fast and look great on multiple devices.

Consider a florist who wants to reach more people online as well as drive in-store sales. In the past, that meant focusing mainly on creating introductory pages and setting up a store that would display easily on a desktop screen. Now that same website must display on the smaller screen of a tablet or a smartphone.

If a mobile version of the website is not already available, now is the time to talk with a website provider and create one. Depending on how image and content rich the current site happens to be, coming up with an attractive and easily to navigate responsive version could take a few hours, or it could take weeks.

Entrepreneurs who are just launching new businesses may have the edge in terms of website creation. Instead of adapting something that’s already up and running, there’s the opportunity to come up with a single design that displays equally well on multiple devices.

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How Does AMP Fit in With the Website Display?

AMP is an acronym for Accelerated Mobile Pages. The purpose of AMP is to have some or all of the pages on a website load near-instantly on a mobile device. This is easier with pages that are static, such as pages that do not contain video or some type of animation.

Think of what this means to someone who decides to do a little shopping while grabbing a burger at a place offering free WiFi. Heavy graphics, animation, and video pop-ups slow the load time for the page. While it’s great that the shopper found your site easily with search, not everyone will wait while those resource-hogging elements finish loading. Instead, they will be off to find another site that lets them locate what they want, place an order, and get back to the burger.

Will Blogs and Landing Pages Still Be Worth the Time?

Just as the company website is not about to disappear from the online marketing plan, devoting resources to blogs and landing pages is still important. Ideally, they need to accomplish three things.

  1. Provide enough information to pique the interest of readers and motivate them to click deeper into the site.
  2. Content must be unique and relevant enough to merit high placement on the main search engines.
  3. Load quickly on everything from a smartphone to a desktop computer.

Using a blog to drive traffic to the main site does require dedication. People expect to see fresh entries on a regular basis. Keeping to a schedule is not too much to ask. Building a readership provides a gateway to more sales and more information that can be put to use for another important part of that 2017 online marketing strategy.

Should Some Resources Be Allocated to Banner and Other Types of Online Ads?

Using Google Adwords or a similar service is not only viable for florist but highly recommended. What you need to keep in mind is that the keywords that serve as the foundation for those ads must be precise. Bidding on generic popular terms is a quick way to blow your budget. Try keyword phrases that are a little different, fit in the text logically, and you can capture some great value.

You can seek help from an expert to come up with ad designs that will increase the chances of those ads being displayed on directly relevant pages. That means more click-throughs and more chances to earn a new customer.

What About Social Media?

Social media will continue to grow in relevance in terms of viral marketing and customer sharing. Just remember that Facebook Pages are not a substitute for a high-quality website.

Think of social media as a tool to engage with a broader range of potential customers. Use the posts and features on those sites as a way to make it easy for people to find the company blog, get to a landing page, or go right to the online store and place an order.

Remember that encouraging existing customers to Like or Follow a social media page helps them to know when something new is posted. They can in turn share that post with their friends. Word of mouth has always been a valuable marketing tool, and social media is today’s word of mouth. Make it easy for customers to share and rest assured a significant number of them will do just that.

The Value of a Clean Link Profile

Forget about posting links anywhere that does not have direct relevance to your business. It’s fine to include links when they are logically associated with the page content, but be careful about creating off-topic links. All the major search engines will identify that type of activity as attempts at manipulating the search results and penalize the site.

Now is a great time to evaluate where and how links are placed in different areas around the web. If it seems to be a bit of a stretch to relate the link to what is being discussed on the page, it needs to go. Google allows you to disavow links to your site that you know are spammy and can’t be removed.

Consistent Citations and What They Mean to Creating a Positive Impression

One of the areas where many business owners struggle is in creating consistent business citations. The start of the year is a good time to go through your online business listings to confirm a consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone number). Inconsistencies across major listing sites can hurt your search rank for local queries.

The Email Campaign: A Best Friend or a Worst Enemy?

Direct email campaigns, like their more traditional offline counterpart, will still be a valuable tool in 2017. To be successful, those campaigns must be aimed at consumers who have expressed an interest in receiving information about those goods or services. In other words, the list of email addresses must be qualified.

Buying a list of so-called qualified emails is risky business – or even illegal – these days. A better approach is to build a targeted email list using great content and other online tools already in place.

Invite people who like a page or follow a feed to opt in by visiting a sign-up page on the main website. Offer recipients an incentive to sign up for your list as well. You can even include the subscription link in your email signature.

As the list grows, use it wisely. Put some thought into the email subject line, the text, and provide those targeted consumers with information they can put to good use. Tools like MailChimp do an excellent job of helping you to segment your lists. Consistently interesting and helpful direct emails will increase the return on the investment and lead to more sales.

Remember that trying to take a shortcut and buy a list can backfire easily. While some will merely delete the unwanted mails, others will report your spam and impact the future deliverability of your emails to all clients. Avoid the easy route and build that list with care. Over time, it will become one of the most valuable marketing tools in the arsenal.

Remember, marketing efforts that are honest, provide useful data, and resonate with customers who have a genuine interest in the products offered will never be out of style. See 2017 as a time to build on the strengths of what has worked before while eliminating anything that could harm the marketing effort or the company reputation. The result will be a marketing strategy that attracts new customers, keeps old ones happy, and increases overall business volume.

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Publisher at Canadian Florist
Ryan Freeman is the Publisher of Canadian Florist, 5th generation florist, and President of Strider Online Marketing. He has been engaged in web design and online marketing since 1994.

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