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Getting started with online marketing

More and more small businesses in South Africa are moving towards online advertising to get their product and brand messages across. Having said that, there are still a large number of them who are apprehensive towards making the leap to this form of marketing.

According to the 2010 Compete Online Shopper Intelligence Study, 94% of consumers use the internet to research products and services worldwide.

This figure makes for a pretty convincing argument in terms of employing an internet marketing strategy. There's no longer any doubt that modern day consumers use the internet to research and make their purchasing decisions.

Inefficient or non-existing online marketing can cost you dearly as chances are that your competitors are already attracting your customers.

The hardest part of doing anything is getting started. With the help of the Google Engage Program, I have compiled a short list to help and hopefully inspire you to move in the right direction:

1. Set your goal

Determine what you want from your web site. Set one or two goals for starters. Do you want to:

  • Increase online sales
  • Drive customers to contact you and or create more "off-line" sales
  • Drive more foot traffic to your physical store
  • Creating Brand awareness
  • Get people to sign up for your newsletter etc

2. Identify your target

Who do you want to attract? Who are your customers? What are their problems? Are they currently doing business with a competitor? Answering these questions can help you successfully channel your marketing efforts.

3. Learn from your current customers

If you have a web site, run a survey, or simply pick up the phone and ask your customers where they found your web site. This is where accurate reporting from a statistics program such as Google Analytics can also help you get more insight into your customers.

4. Check out your competitors

Learn from your competitors. See what they are doing to attract their customers, but also be vigilant to learn from their mistakes.

5. Set a strategy

Consider everything you have found out about your current and potential customers and take the time to plan your approach accordingly. Plan it properly! Include your online strategy into your marketing plan and set a budget.

Be prepared to revisit this strategy, as most online marketers generally take a "test and repair" approach, which works best. However, the more accurate your research, the more accurately you will target your potential customers.

6. Track your results

Online marketing is unique in that it is measurable. You can almost immediately see whether your strategy is working or not by simply tracking each and every link pointing back to your site.

Google Analytics has proven to be the leader in this field and best of all, it's free!

About Helena Green

Helena Green is a digital freelancer working under the brand of Get Me Online. Her mission it is to implement growth in small businesses by harnessing the online and digital environment to increase sales, building their customer base through her experience and knowledge of the internet and its various marketing avenues. She has been working in the online arena for the past 15 years.

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