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Ten tips for growing your business on the web

We handed these out to the businesses that attended Step Up Stroud yesterday, an event to help identify how businesses in our part of Gloucestershire can grow and improve in tough times. It’s not a comprehensive list but helped prompt debate. Most SMEs understand the need for a web presence but with some exceptions, they’re not making the most of the opportunities.

Why? A combination of insufficient time and money but more fundamentally, a poor understanding of the possibilities and the kind of structured approach needed to make any marketing effective. These people need help.

10 TIPS FOR GROWING YOUR BUSINESS ON THE WEB

1.    Create a strategy for the web with monthly targets and plans. Ensure that you have measurement tools in place. Google Analytics is free and enables you to measure the visits you get, the keywords visitors use, which pages they go to and what actions they take. By understanding where your visitors come from and which sources of traffic create the best results, you can generate more value from your marketing budget.

2.    Think beyond websites and embrace the web. It’s now critical to build your site’s visibility in Google but there are many ways of doing this – search engine optimisation, pay-per-click, data feeds, blogs, video and news releases may all play a part. Running a blog can open an online dialogue with customers. With the growth of social media be aware of the need to manage your online reputation.

3.    Your geographic reach can be extended on the web. If you sell online, you may have a potential global market. If you provide a local service like accountancy, your national web presence can still help. For example, you could trade leads with accountants in other areas.

4.    E-commerce businesses have many routes to market beyond the search engines. Shopping sites accept XML data feeds of your products in return for payment when your links are clicked. Affiliates can provide traffic and you can trade on e-Bay.

5.    Set primary and secondary ‘desired actions’ for your site and set them up as ‘goals’ in your Google Analytics account. A primary action might be to complete an enquiry form with a secondary being to subscribe to a newsletter or to download a white paper.

6.    Professional and semi-professional businesses can position themselves as experts on the web by providing authoritative content. A frequently updated website or blog will be favoured by Google, attract links, get book-marked and build a long term business asset. Set up a profile on Linked-in and a “page” (not a “profile” if it’s for a business) on Facebook – these are not just ‘fun’ sites – they make you more accessible and help position you as modern and innovative. They help build connections and if you invest time, they can generate business.

7.    Communicate with your customers by email with messages that help them. Minimise ‘news’ of the “Doreen in Accounts did a Fun Run’ variety. Emailed mini-courses can be an effective way of building credibility with prospects – seven emails with a sales message at the conclusion have proven successful.

8.    Consider creating a video for YouTube, which is now one of the most important information sources on the web. The content doesn’t have to be entertaining but it must be useful and unique. SolidWorks published 100+ videos on its website and on YouTube and gets 10,000 visitors a month with no other promotion.

9.    Promote your web presence offline – obvious but not always done.

10.    Local businesses such as restaurants and pubs should open a Google Local Business Centre account free. This enables you to be listed against the local map for your category of search, to show photos, videos, business hours etc and to track where your local searches are coming from. You can add menu and payment options and even offer printable coupons. The tracking data can help inform your menus, where to place offline advertising and where you might best open a new branch.

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Inventors of the Bath Melt - they look so good you could eat them - KAT needed a more contemporary looking website and an e-commerce system allowing them to control all site content, including a diary.

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search engine optimisation We were delighted with the way you interpreted our needs and delivered an e-commerce system which meets all our expectations.All in all, a job very well done. Thank you. web marketing

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