Answer: Nowadays on the Internet, no, unfortunately they won’t.
Whether you have just built a website or created a Face-book Page/Group, assuming that it will automatically attract customers is the single biggest mistake that many business owners make. This assumption eventually leads them to dismiss the platform as a failure and abandon it.
Business owners mistakenly believe that all they have to do is get a website developed and their sales will automatically start coming in. When nothing happens they blame it on the website, their social media page, their customers… everything and anything but their own lack of marketing efforts. When it comes to attracting customers, setting up a website or social media page is like opening an online branch of your business. Without any advertising, to let people in your neighborhood that your branch is now open, there is a great chance that your business will fail.
Here are some steps your business should follow to ensure a solid start to your developing your online presence:
When devising your marketing plan, you should always define your customer – for each product or service. Who are they? What age? What gender? What are the different customers for different services/products we provide? The internet allows for extremely targeted advertising. It allows you (for example) to market a perfume to a 25-year-old woman, and at the same time advertise a shaving machine to a 35-year-old man. You NEED to define each and every target market for each and every product/service you sell. 2. Locality : Are you selling to a local or global audience? As much as we would like to sell to the whole world, it is not feasible. If your product can only be delivered in person, and not shipped, then marketing to another country could be a waste of time.
If you are marketing to a local audience, then you need to incorporate your online presence with your offline marketing efforts. As the online platform is like online branch of a physical business, you need to include the website or social media URLs in all your print materials and advertising campaigns. Consider marketing your new platform and its benefits using traditional channels such as flyers/posters (those still work in here in Zim) Use in-store posters to let your existing customers know that you have launched a Website/App/Facebook page etc..
In short, you should keep doing what you have always been doing in your store, but remember to add your online platforms in your marketing plans. In addition to this, please see the “For Local Businesses” paragraph in the SEO section below. If you are selling to a worldwide audience, your online marketing efforts will be different. Acquiring and selling to customers from around the globe is more difficult. However, it is not impossible. New developments on platforms like Google, Facebook and Shopify have levelled the playing field so that every business, even a start-up, can internationally.
Therefore, your on-line marketing campaigns to attract customers and include the following:
Just because you built a website, does not mean that people will know it exists. You have to submit your website to search engines like Google, and make sure that your website’s pages contain the required code to let search engines know what your website and its pages are about. However, it is important to realize that just submitting your website with search engines does not guarantee that people will visit it, it’s just the start. Consider this as submitting your business to the phone directory’s yellow pages back in the day. Yes, one or two customers would call if they happened to open the page your listing is on, and see your listing, in a long list of other companies selling the same thing you are. But at LEAST you are in the directory. Consider that other companies are also advertising in the directory, so they have images and bigger space, which guarantees them more visibility. This is what the search engine world is like. Which brings us to “Pay-Per-Click Advertising”, but more on that in a bit.
For Local Businesses, a crucial thing to consider is Google’s local business listings. If you have ever searched for “restaurants in my area” (for example), you might have noticed that Google will give you a map with pinned locations of all restaurants in your area/city, with their reviews, contact numbers and so forth. In your bid to get your business listed locally, you should get your Google Business profile set up, professionally and in its entirety.
Keeping in line with the analogy of the phone directory used in the SEO section above; As there are hundreds if not thousands of businesses all vying for the number one spot on the first page when people search for anything, Search Engines like Google introduced a paid version of listings. In this, your listing will be visible on the first page – IF you have offered an amount that guarantees that it does. This is because this PPC is based on bidding. Example of how the bidding system works: Let’s you have an electronic store that sells mobile phones, let’s call it “XYZ Electronics”. So you NEED XYZ-E to show up on the first page of results on a search engine when people search for mobile phones to buy. You would need to set up a PPC campaign, and Google will ask you how much you want to bid for the top spot. You agree with your team that you are only willing to spend $1 each time someone clicks on your paid listing. This is fair and all good. However, if your competitor set his bid at $1.10 – they will get the top spot on the search engine results page, and not you. Now consider you have nine competitors, all of whom have set their bids between $1.01 and $1.10 – you would have been so close, yet so far, because your listing will not show up. What you also have to consider is that there is depending on your industry (i.e. services and goods you provide/sell), there are thousands of companies around the globe with much bigger marketing budgets, who could bid tens of dollars for every time someone clicked on their listing.
Everyone’s best friend, SMA has become a personal favourite for many people primarily because of three things:
a. Social Media Networks have made it easy to advertise on their platforms. They offer step-by-step instructions on how to set up advertising campaigns for different elements on your business page. Social Media Networks is where people live online. Unlike with PPC, where people just go on search engines simply to search for something – social media networks is where people reside, and spend most of their time when they are online. This means that people will see adverts in their newsfeed, as they are engaging in their friends’ content.
b. With the exception of YouTube, of Social Media Networks provide visual advertising that search engines ordinarily do not. People engage more with images and video as opposed to text. With Pay-Per-Click advertising on search engines, your paid listing is text based, which doesn’t offer the best aesthetics (but PPC has its own advantages as well)
In small budding countries (especially 3rd-world countries), where social media usage trumps that of website surfing, it is in your best interest to run advertising campaigns on social networks where your target audience is most abundant. Keep in mind though that even though social networks provide an easy step-by-step guide to running advertising campaigns on their platforms, there are individuals and agencies who are experts in setting up, monitoring and tweaking their campaigns to make them outperform yours. Remember, we are still talking about bidding for advertising space here. Furthermore, social networks want to make more money from you, so they will not tell you that you could change one aspect of your advertising campaign and save $10 dollars in the process. Such aspects is why hiring an experienced individual or agency to handle your campaigns would be necessary.
Lastly, You NEED Go To Where Your Customers Are:
It is one thing to throw dollars into your marketing efforts, but you should never neglect places where your target market congregates. If you are a Real Estate Agency, you should always share your vacant lists/services in Facebook groups that have people seeking accommodation and commercial spaces to rent. Seems simple enough; however, as with the example of the Real Estate Agency, if you spend a few minutes in Rental Property groups on Facebook, you seldom see any agencies posting their vacancies. Sigh…
In this article, we have just scratched the surface, but we hope that it will help understand the various ways you need to approach your online marketing efforts. In a perfect world, it would be easy to attract and sell to customers online, however it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance (because all your competitors are also doing the same). One thing you should never do is write-off internet based marketing and let your competitors acquire all the potential clients you could have locked in. Business either costs money, or it costs time. If you do not have the money, spend the time in physically posting and sharing your content across social media networks. If you do not have the time, but are willing to invest in your marketing, hire someone to handle your online marketing. By Kevin Matutu
Social Media Konnect is a social media management and online marketing agency based in Harare, Zimbabwe.
We offer tailored online services to individuals, SME's, non-profits, institutions and corporates that wish to establish a better online presence and reach their target audiences. Through carefully planned and executed campaigns, we give our clients leverage to connect with customers, build brand loyalty, increase engagement, increase sales, and in-turn - grow their business.
© 2019 Social Media Konnect, All Rights Reserved. Social Media Konnect is a trading name for NODAYSOFF PBC registered in Harare, Zimbabwe.