A lot of small businesses today are realizing that having a small business website is critical and are taking this step . . . but they don’t realize that getting a website is just the first step of the online journey, and that there are many more steps required in order to get results.
For instance, I recently got a call after my cousin launched a website (yes, I am the one in the role of the ‘family/friend web helper’, lucky me!) My cousin got his charter fishing website built via a programmer friend, and he had another friend design his logo (which was not the best work, I didn’t want to tell him). Then he called me from Guatemala and said, “Sara, I searched on Google for ‘Guatemala sport fishing’ and other terms and my website didn’t come up. Why is that?” He thought that just by launching the Website, Google would take notice and put him on the first page right away.
I had a similar experience with my best friend recently — she launched a website to sell a bunch of records (she started a small record label), also using a programmer friend of a friend. She thought that just needed to get the website up and that orders would start flowing in. So she launched her website, announced it to her friends on Facebook, and then guess what? Nothing happened. Another urgent weekend call: “Sara, I am really panicking!!! No one is buying my records, what do I do???”
Hmm . . . well . . . awkward silence. I had to tell both my cousin and my friend that launching a website is just the beginning of the journey, just the first step. If you don’t take another step, and another after that . . . then it is highly likely that nothing else will ever happen. You launched a website and that’s it. You can, of course, put it on your business card, and tell your friends — but if you don’t initiate an Internet marketing program and promote your site — your website will never reach it’s potential audience.
So for my cousin — after making some recommendations on how to clean up his website copy and layout, which was a mess — I suggested that if he wanted to be on the first page of Google, he should try Google Adwords. Search engine optimization is out of his reach for now as these days, for competitive terms, it really requires a search engine specialist. My cousin agreed to try Adwords, but wanted to run it himself, so I gave him a basic tour. But I really recommend hiring a company to do this, at least for most small businesses. Google Adwords is not rocket science — but you need someone who is going to monitor it regularly, make tweaks, and get the clicks to convert to sales or phone calls — whatever you are looking to accomplish. If you don’t monitor it regularly and know what to do, you may end up spending a LOT more to get a sale than it would cost to pay a specialist to run the program for you.
For my friend’s record label, I suggested Facebook ads, so she could target the people who like the particular artist whose record she is selling. Facebook has a pretty simple interface and it was easy for her to go in and target people who like this artist — 4,000 people — with an ad. Within one day, she started making some sales and the clicks were pretty inexpensive. Facebook ads are easier to set up and run than Google — but you need to make sure you stay on top of these ads, too, because if you aren’t converting to sales — then you could end up losing a lot of money.
If you are interested in a professionally run Google adwords program — I highly recommend our company Leads. They do a fantastic job of converting online traffic to business and have done this successfully for years. There are, of course, some industries/small businesses where the cost of Google Adwords will be prohibitive. For instance, it was not a good tactic for my record-selling friend, as the clicks for her keywords were averaging $2.00-$3.00 on Google, so and she would have to convert about 25% of her traffic to a sale to be viable (and this level of conversion RARELY happens). But for many small businesses, Adwords programs work great, and can drive a tremendous amount of business.
The other thing to consider when starting with paid Internet Marketing tactics is that you need to stay on top of your website and tweak it as needed to achieve an optimal conversion rate. This often requires a process and series of changes until you get it right. Leads is very experienced with the art of conversion, and there are other companies out there who specialize in this science — and it’s best if you can work with people who have hands-on success with this kind of work. Otherwise — it is a bit like playing a slot machine . . . you put money in and see what happens. If you are very lucky, you may have success right away, but most small businesses will get the biggest bang for their buck by working with experts.
Tomorrow, I’ll be writing about changes you can make to your website to help you convert, so come back and check it out!