7 Interactive Marketing Tips For A Small Business To Get Started

The tool that would become the Internet was born on October 29, 1969, when researchers at UCLA tried to transmit the word “login” to colleagues at Stanford University. The system crashed after sending the first two letters. On the next try, only the first letter was transmitted before the system crashed again. So it is that, today, those researchers wryly recall that the first three letters ever sent via the Internet were: “lol.”

The Internet has come a long way. Now, even for small business, the Internet is a marketing must. The good news is that easy-to-use tools and applications have spread almost as fast as the Internet itself. With a few hours and no more than basic computer skills, even the smallest business can take advantage of the Internet’s power.

For small business owners who are unsure as to how to build an Internet presence, here are some tips for getting started.

  1. Instant website. Before investing in a custom website, consider using a web template. Resources like www.Weebly.com, for instance, offer a choice of user-friendly, pre-designed pages for a professional-looking site. Templates let you personalize the site with your own logo, headlines, text and photos. Many let you build basic sites for free, with added functionality for a modest charge.
  2. Keep it simple. Arresting graphics and animation can attract attention. But too much can be distracting or, worse, take longer to load than people are willing to wait. The purpose of a website is to communicate, not to show off technical wizardry.
  3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO). When people use “search engines” like Google, Yahoo or Bing, optimization can move your site higher on the list. Sophisticated SEO procedures allegedly help, but there’s a lot you can do on your own. When writing your site’s text, use words as often as possible that people are likely to search (“keywords”). Also, keep updating your site. Search engines tend to “crawl” frequently updated sites more often than stagnant ones.
  4. Cash in on social networking. With more people building networks of online friends in lieu of meeting in person, word-of-mouth advertising has moved online. If you want people “talking” about your business, your business needs to be included in online social circles.
  5. Sheer numbers alone make Facebook a great starting point. If you visit www.facebook.com, the site will guide you from set-up to inviting people to become friends and fans. Next, sign up at www.Twitter.com. To keep people involved, post frequent messages (“tweets”). Always remember that these are social sites, where blatant selling can fall flat. Involving people in thoughtful dialog is the key to involving them in your online circle.
  6. Sales, not hits. “Hits” refers to total visits to a website’s pages. While a website cannot sell unless it attracts hits, hits alone do not ensure sales. It’s wise to keep track of both.
  7. Ask your kids. Need guidance on the many features of Facebook, Twitter and other online applications? Consult with a teen or even a pre-teen (especially if they are representative of your market). Technology is no puzzle to them; they grew up with it.

Using the Internet for marketing no longer requires a degree in computer science. Thanks to modern online tools, any business can have a useful, profitable web presence. For most businesses, the first step is simply to get started. As the saying goes, there’s no time like the present.

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