In the marketing module of our Small Business Management course, our students learn about marketing action plans, and throughout the course come to create their own marketing plan for their soon-to-be business.
Ok, so you’ve got a website and on it you have all this information about your company — who your people are, what you do, how customers can contact/connect with you — and best of all: you get heaps of page views every month! Talk about winning the Internet! You’ve got this website marketing business down, am I right?
Except that maybe you don’t. And for this reason, we’re currently developing a new Digital Business Course to help businesses transition into the online world. A big part of that transition involves understanding how web analytics work, which is the bread and butter of any successful website — and indeed, successful business.
How to Use Web Analytics
To get the most out of web analytics, you kind of need to change the way you view your website. You need to see it as a form of marketing, just like an advertisement in a newspaper or a piece of direct mail. Once you start treating your website the same as you would any other marketing activity, it’s likely you’ll have some questions you’ll want answered.
Your Conversion Rate – Do YOU Know It?
Somewhere on this list — though we imagine that it would be on the top — should be “What’s my conversion rate?” To answer this question, you need web analytics. We recommend Google Analytics, namely because it’s free and extremely easy to use.
Your conversion rate is the number of people who have visited your website and carried out some form of action — signed up to a newsletter, made a request for more information, downloaded an e-book, and so on. In short, it’s any action that involves the exchange of information that you can later use to develop into a sale.
But the real genius of analytics lies in how it allows you to isolate problems with your website’s content and refine them. For instance, if you have a rather average conversion rate, but a high bounce rate (the number of people who leave your website within 30 seconds of landing on it), there’s a good chance that’s there’s something wrong with the keywords you’ve selected for your SEO. Or you’ve selected keywords that your website’s content doesn’t address properly. Either way, you need to fix this.
Finding Out How Your Customers Think
Once you do, you should see you bounce rate drop off and your conversion rate increase, which means more opportunity for more sales. And just think: if you didn’t have analytics, you’d have never known. This is what makes web analytics invaluable for small business owners, because it gives you rare insight into what makes your customers tick — what are they really looking for, and how can you adapt your business to meet their needs? — and provides you with the opportunity to meet those needs.
In essence, small business owners now have the same resources at their disposal as large multi-nationals, who typically spend bucket-loads on research and development, focus groups, and the like, trying to ascertain what exactly their customers are looking for — and even then, often don’t get it right.
At EzyLearn, we use web analytics extensively to ensure we’re constantly meeting the needs of our students and potential students. Through web analytics data, we ascertained that a number of small business owners were looking for a cheaper alternative to MYOB, so we developed two new cloud-accounting courses: the Reach Accounting Training Course and a Xero Training Course to satisfy that need.
For any new business, it’s important to market your new business so develop new leads and customers, but it’s also important that your marketing costs don’t outweigh your income. In the marketing module of our small business management course, we talk about Google Adwords, which is a low-cost way to advertise your business online, using keywords.
Another Option is Facebook
Facebook is also another option for businesses large and small, but we think it works particularly well for small businesses, due to the community-minded nature of Facebook, itself.
There’s an old saying around EzyLearn: People like to do business with people they know, like and trust. Facebook helps you to develop online relationships with your customers, allowing them to get to know, like and trust you.
But in case you’re still not convinced, here are another 6 reasons why you should be on Facebook:
Population and penetration: We know that over 1 billion people are on Facebook, but what’s the penetration rate for a market, like the USA, for example? 67 percent of internet users in the US are on Facebook; in Australia that penetration rate is much higher—82 percent.
Age: Facebook skews young—83 percent of 18-29 year olds are on Facebook—but the 45-54 age-bracket has also seen 46 percent growth since the end of 2012.
Income: The incomes of Facebook users higher than any other social media platform. 73 percent of Facebook users earn more than AUD$75,000 compared to 17 percent for Twitter.
Mobile: Social media is the most popular social media app on smartphones and accounts for 66 percent of total social media sharing on iphones.
Gender: Like every other adverting medium, Facebook also skews toward women, but it’s still more gender neutral than Google+ or Pinterest.
Education: Nearly 75 percent of Australian Facebook users have some form of university or tertiary education.
If you’re looking to target any or all of these demographics for your small business marketing campaign, then create a Facebook page and start marketing your services to your followers.
The Difference between Public Relations and Marketing
For some reason, marketing and PR are two activities that are often confused with one another. Perhaps that’s because many companies combine their marketing and PR departments, or maybe it’s because people don’t really understand what PR is.
At its most basic PR is the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and it’s public. Marketing, on the other hand, is the business of promoting and selling products or services, which includes market research and advertising.
It’s important to keep these two definitions in mind when undertaking either activity, because if there’s one thing PR is not, it’s selling, which is the ultimate goal of marketing.
That doesn’t mean that PR won’t result in eventual sales, but it shouldn’t be the primary objective of a PR campaign, (although it’s not uncommon for many established PRs to forget this subtle nuance between the two).
If it’s done right, PR is a great way to generate buzz about a new business or product, particularly for small businesses that may not have a huge marketing budget.
Simple Ways You Can Create a Buzz for Your Small Business
For a home-based bookkeeper or virtual assistant just starting out, PR activities to generate interest in your business could include holding an event with other home-based bookkeepers or virtual assistants and inviting local business owners along so you can educate them in the benefits of employing a remote worker.
The goal for an event like this would be to build relationships with your “publics” — people that may come to employ or use your services—but not necessarily to win new business on that particular day.
Alternatively, you could contribute to a few online business publications on what it’s like being a remote worker, or seek opportunities to be quoted in those publications.
Ultimately, that’s the goal of any PR campaign: to gain exposure for yourself or your business by educating and informing first. The selling part comes second, which is where PR differs substantially from marketing, of which the ultimate goal is to promote and sell.
If you’re a remote worker, why not give your business a PR boost in addition to your regular marketing activities — contact us and tell us your success story. In fact, this very blog is always looking to hear how our students are doing since completing one of our courses, so if you’re now working remotely as a bookkeeper or a virtual assistant, get in touch! It’s great exposure for your business.
THERE MAY BE SOME debate over whether having a LinkedIn profile actually helps professionals make valuable connections with other professionals, but the same could also be said of traditional networking.
As a writer, I probably should network more, but personally, I don’t find much value in it. In the past I have either fallen prey to someone wanting publicity for their pyramid-scheme-type business or I’ve turned into a borderline stalker myself; harassing someone who perhaps only gave me their business card out of a feeling of social obligation.
Besides, a business card tells you nothing about how competent or capable that person is at their job. For writers and journalists, I’ve always found it pretty easy to validate their claims on Google; for other professionals: not so much. Until LinkedIn, that is.
The Professionalism of LinkedIn
LinkedIn may not connect you with the recruiter of your dream job, but Twitter doesn’t guarantee you’ll become BFFs with Mariah Carey, either. What LinkedIn does, however, is give you an online professional profile.
And it’s the rather perverse nature of today’s digital society that makes an online professional presence invaluable; LinkedIn itself can act as your calling card, demonstrating how others endorse you and your work; it can act as your resume; and it can help you to actively find the right job.
The Power of a LinkedIn Profile
Any time you meet someone, you can pretty much guarantee they’ll Google you. Whether they’re prospective employers you’ve interviewed with, people you’ve met in a professional setting (clients, industry alums) or even colleagues, you can bet at some point or another they have Googled you.
What that Google search turns up can totally change the way they interact with you.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve LinkedIn-stalked a fellow writer only to discover their LinkedIn profile is not so impressive, after all. From this point on the entire dynamic of our relationship has changed immediately; suddenly I feel I’ve got the power.
On the other end of the scale, discovering the meek-mannered, unassuming but otherwise seemingly-unimpressive editor I chatted to with extreme ease is actually a former Vanity Fair staffer or contributor to The New Yorker adds another dimension to our relationship — usually, I’m putty in their hands.
And it’s in this context that, yes, a LinkedIn profile does work. Whether you’re using LinkedIn as a job-hunter or a networker, your LinkedIn profile tells people everything they think they need to know about you.
The old phrase — first impressions are lasting impressions — is out. It’s online impressions that are the lasting impressions.