Last week, we expounded on the fact that starting an online business is quickly becoming a trend among those that seek to harness the power of the virtual world. You learned why a business should transition to the World Wide Web. We also provided information on two of the most important aspects of your online business – a website and social networking.
We will return to these two topics as we continue this series; however, this week, we are going to focus on one of the most critical aspects of achieving success with your online business; that is, identifying a need. In many instances, online businesses will identify a product and/or service that they want to offer before identifying a market. Unfortunately, has the potential to be an exceptionally costly mistake.
You must first identify your market and the needs of your target market. Once this is done, everything will start to fall in place.
When internet users conduct a search, in most instances, they are in search of a solution. They have a need, a problem, and a desire for certain types of information, products, and services that will aid in filling their need, solving their problem, and/or providing them with what they want. By identifying a target market, with a target need, you have the ability to create a website that will not only attract, but, will convert. You must be able to deliver results. Your website is the area on the World Wide Web where you will be able to succeed in this endeavor.
Due to recent innovations and the massive amounts of information that are currently listed online, conducting market research to discover ways to identify and fulfill a need are easy. Simply conduct the following:
By taking all of the measures outlined here, you are sure to find your target audience and identify the needs of that audience. Unfortunately, it is a time-consuming process.
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There are mountains of statistics that should give any small business owner pause with regard to the importance of the internet. Here's just one piece of evidence:
"Consumers are using a combination of search engines and social media before making a purchasing decision, a new study by GroupM Search and comScore finds.
In fact, 58% of respondents first turned to search engines such as Google and Bing, while 24% visited company sites, and a mere 18% went to social media, according to a study called "The Virtuous Circle: the Role of Search and Social Media in the Purchase Pathway". During the purchase process, 48% of shoppers used a combination of search and social media, the study found." Information Week, Consumers Combine Search, Social Media For Buying Decisions
The old days of search engine optimization are over. SEO used to be easier for small business because you could afford to be more passive in your marketing efforts.
Today, you have to be moving - constantly - to get good search engine rankings and direct traffic from other sites and social networks. This isn't such good news for local business owners, because it means internet marketing cannot be phoned in any longer.
We encourage our clients to take active roles in their social media and content marketing campaigns as much as possible. Even when we're hired to do the heavy lifting. It is simply no longer possible for any site on the web to rank by putting up "brochure sites" and including a few keywords on their pages, getting a few links, and letting the rankings fall where they may.
The upside - and it is huge - is that there is far more opportunity for targeted traffic, lead generation, and increased profits today than ever before.
Social media offers a plethora of opportunities to connect with new customers and keep the old ones coming back.
Search simply relies on the activity generated by social and various link-building techniques to rank sites. All Google wants to see is an active presence on the web. They watch whether or not people are "voting" for your site with links, Likes, Tweets, and +1's. Also reviews on local places listings.
None of that happens without an active campaign of content marketing (blogging new content regularly) and social engagement signals that prove to Google that what you're doing is relevant and well-liked by your target market.
It's simple, really. There are a lot of moving parts and technical stuff to know about, which makes having a firm who knows what they're doing no longer an optional thing. Not for a business that wants to grow.
We'll keep teaching methods for getting attention from local search and social here on the Brick Road blog. If you have the time to follow our lead, it would be well worth the effort.
Everyone is online and the tiny fraction of old school newspaper readers is fading fast. Online marketing simply has to be made a permanent and serious focus for every small business.
There's almost all the potential for local business growth and customer retention lies on the internet today.
Ask us how to get involved in your business' future. The competition is already making its moves.
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