While the Internet gives businesses big and small the same access to a global audience, getting its attention is another matter. That takes time many front offices don’t have, particularly in season.
Thank goodness for programs that help you manage it. Take search engine marketing. All the biggest companies employ people devoted to keeping their Web sites atop the list of certain key-word searches. Google’s Adwords program allows you to pay to have your ad appear atop the page of specific key-word searches.
While effective, Adwords requires a lot of attention to get good results while staying within a manageable budget. You can set daily budgets for each ad you place, and Google charges against that budget on a per appearance basis. The options and complexity of the program are dizzying, which is why a lot of companies either have a person who focuses just on Google or hires a consultant to help.
For DIYers, start simple, with a text ad to appear only on Google searches (another option allows you to have ads pop up on other Google-owned sites). Get in the habit of checking the metrics on the ad when you get into work every morning. If people aren’t clicking, change key words. Change the wording in your ad. Make other tweaks until you get results.
For marketing via social media, Hootsuite is a great simplifier, allowing you to post the same message to your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds at one time. It also has an automated scheduler that automatically posts your messages at times of the day and night when social media activity is at its peak.
The free version of Hootsuite is enough if you’re posting on a weekly (or less frequent) basis. But if you’re a heavy user, consider upgrading for a monthly fee to get additional tracking features that help you see whether your initiatives are actually working.
One drawback to Hootsuite is its Instagram posting method. Because Instagram is a mobile platform, you’ll have to upload the Hootsuite app to your phone to get reminders to make those posts manually. Your pre-written message will be ready to be pasted into the Instagram caption.
For email marketing, try MailChimp. It lets you integrate a number of contact databasing services such as Google Contacts, Salesforce and Constant Contact so you can easily upload, download and categorize email lists from within the Mailchimp program.
Mailchimp also offers a number of layout templates for email marketing campaigns. Drag-and-drop tools let even novices easily place copy, logos and photos. But if you or someone on your staff is good at page design, you have the freedom create some really slick, professional-looking campaigns.
Mailchimp also links to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, which allows you to automatically post to those platforms when your email campaign is sent. And when it comes to sending campaigns, Mailchimp has an algorithm that pinpoints delivery time to maximize exposure.
These and other programs will help you look like you have your marketing strategy in order, even if you don’t feel like you do. When it comes to marketing, looking good is half the battle.