For Internet users, access to more than 644 million active websites is no more than a few mouse clicks away, according to a study conducted in 2012 by Netcraft, a UK-based computer security firm. If you run an online small business that’s trying to stand out from the crowd, the sheer size of that number may make your breath away.
Don’t panic. Despite the ever-increasing crush of so many online neighbors, it is still possible for even the smallest business to get noticed thanks to the magic of thoughtful, creative marketing.
Consider Launching an Indispensable App
There may be countless Web sites competing for your ideal customer’s attention, but there’s likely only a few dozen icons beckoning him from the glow of his smartphone screen.
By creating and giving away an indispensable app aimed squarely at your target market, you can earn some of that iPhone real estate. That puts your logo in front of your prospect every single time he thumbs through his phone, and it can also offer him one-click access straight to your Web site.
Concerned that a mobile app won’t get you in front of customers often enough? Don’t be. According to a recent report on Marketingland.com, 40 percent of Internet traffic now takes place over mobile devices.
Make Use of High-Value Internet Properties
Instead of lamenting YouTube’s ability to draw tens of millions of daily visitors while you struggle for traffic, start looking for ways to leverage its success to get your brand in front of some of those users hungry for the latest viral video.
You provide the video and let it provide the infrastructure. If you serve a niche that tends to hang out in a few highly-targeted online forums, then leave helpful, relevant comments on that site’s popular posts.
Don’t Neglect SEO Best Practices
While you’re busy building your mobile apps and trying to get meme’s incorporating your product or logo to become the latest Facebook sensation, use good, old-fashioned Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices throughout your Web site.
Strategically building long-tail keywords into your site’s copy, properly structuring your pages and providing a steady stream of useful content will make search engines love you—and bring traffic to your virtual doorstep.
Diligently Maintain Your Reputation
While your online marketing efforts should lean heavily toward getting the word out about who you are and what you do, it’s critical to keep an eye on your online reputation. Set-up a Google Alert to email you when your business is mentioned online.
Keep an eye on consumer review sites like Yelp! and know what customers are saying about you. Monitor social media channels such as Twitter and offer to resolve customer complaints quickly and easily.
If past mistakes are haunting you online, companies like Reputationchanger.com help clean up the damage and restore your good name.
Get Out into the Real World and Meet Your Customers
You may conduct your business online, but your customers live in the “real world.” They still want to do business with people they know, like and trust. So go meet them and give them the chance to know you.
Look for conferences and trade shows that match your niche. When you find one that looks promising, attend. If the show offers a large potential audience or is capable of bestowing some prestige on your brand, offer to present or speak.
If these gatherings don’t sound appealing, brainstorm. There are certainly other ways to get out there and meet targeted prospects.
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