Two challenges every small business faces are increasing brand exposure while also building a loyal audience. To run your small business successfully and continue to bring in new customers, your brand will need to use both traditional advertising and online marketing to its advantage. However, these two methods are very different. Traditional advertising usually includes television, radio, print media, direct mail, telemarketing, or shopping cart ads. The cost of traditional advertising lies with the creation of the ad and its promotion, leading to something polished and professional. On the other hand, online marketing includes paid online ads, content strategy, and social media presence. The following misconceptions should help your small business clearly see how to treat online marketing differently from its traditional advertising, saving you money on potential costly mistakes.
No. 1: Online advertisements are just like radio or T.V. spots. One of the worst mistakes your small business can make is handling online marketing exactly how you would handle traditional advertisements---and expecting the same quick results. Bigger brands will spend millions of dollars for coveted Super Bowl T.V. ad time in an effort to increase their recognition and appeal to a mass audience. However, your business’ online ads don’t need to be expensive (or reach a mass audience) to be effective. For example, your small business wouldn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on generic Google ads that are targeted to the most internet users possible. Though it seems counter-intuitive to target smaller groups online, generic internet ads tend to create a traffic of consumers who are not necessarily interested in your business’ offering.
No. 2: Online content should be targeted to a mass audience. With traditional ads, your business’ content will want to appeal to a wide array of demographics on different levels. Creating successful content for a large audience is a skill in and of itself. However, your business’ online content should exist on the other end of the spectrum, appealing to a hyper-targeted, niche audience. In the online world, it is much more effective to create and write content with a narrow focus. Try thinking of specific answers or solutions your audience needs--and your business can offer. Instead of ranking for a single keyword such as “bears,” for example, your small business will want to achieve a high rank with a specific, long-tail keyword phrase like “escaping from a grizzly bear attack.” The general keyword will attract users looking for various content information such as the Chicago Bears website, people looking to buy a teddy bear, as well as those who are researching the habitat of bears. However, the long-tail keyword phrase will bring in consumers who are looking for a direct result and already have an established need for your brand.
No. 3: Content on the internet won’t build trust. On average, an online shopper will visit a website at least nine times before making a purchase. Unlike traditional advertising, your business’ online marketing strategy will need to build trust with this digital audience by offering valuable information that will bring customers back to your website, blog, or social media profile(s). Creating quality content is vital to increasing your brand’s credibility and positioning your business as a resource for your audience. Traditional advertising also seeks to establish trust and loyalty, but on a large scale. With traditional ads, this is usually achieved through well-written copy, high-quality ads, brand recognition, and influencer/celebrity sponsorship. For your online marketing to be successful, your business will need to put its online content on par with its traditional advertisements, always striving for the highest quality possible.
No. 4: Quality content will create high traffic overnight. Coming up with unique, high-quality content and online ads (as necessary as it is) will not yield instant results. Content marketing is a long-term game, as it is tied to building up your business website’s overall SEO. Although your written content will want to appeal to search engines through backlinks and keywords, your business will not want to create content with SEO at the forefront of your brand’s agenda. This could result in irrelevant links, unsound information and organization, and keyword stuffing. Instead, your small business will want to continue to build content for the living, breathing people of your audience. Taking this approach will naturally generate synonyms for your business’ keywords, answer the questions your audience is asking, and organically segment your content, so that it’s organized and articulate. The more genuinely engaged people are with your content, the more time they will spend on your website or blog, which will lead to more trust from the major search engines. The key is time (and knowledge of your audience).
No. 5: Content will generate new leads like a well-timed advertisement. Launching traditional ads around major holidays and events such as Labor Day or Christmas might generate more leads at a faster rate. However, it is very rare and difficult to create content that goes viral on the internet. This is why your small business ought to continually craft high-quality online content. Doing so will build your website’s traffic over time, and once your traffic reaches a new level, it is likely to only gradually grow from there if you sustain an output of high-quality content and engagement. Once your business has established an archive of regular posts, search engines will visit your site more often and rank it more quickly, but again, this takes time. The magic of online marketing and content is that one piece of content heralds the possibility to keep generating traffic and leads months and years after it is published.
Blog by Melissa McElhose, STARKART staff writer