Three Internet Marketing Activities for Small Business

NJ Small Business Guide

Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB) face the very same marketing challenges that their predecessors once faced at the turn of the 20th century. That is, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” This popular saying, which illustrates how difficult it was to qualify the response to advertising, is attributed to business man and Post Master General John Wanamaker. Today’s advertising ecosystem is complex and diverse, making decisions on where to invest your marketing dollars is more data driven.  

Traditional media outlets, such as magazines and newspapers, serve the SMB well by keeping their company name and message at top of mind. Layers of complexity were injected when digital marketing was added to the mix of advertising options. Making sense of this so called “new media” is simpler than you’d expect. There are only three types of activities a consumer partakes in when using a computer or smart phone. They Surf the Internet for information that interests them (including shopping); Search the Internet to find information and answers to questions; and Socialize with family, friends and, yes, even businesses. A modern marketer’s goal is to have their advertising message show up during all these activities. After all, we don’t know when or where they will make the decision to engage with your business.  Google has coined this the ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth). Let’s take a deeper dive into each of these three activities.

1. Surfing the Internet

When surfing the Internet, the consumer is relaxed reading about last night’s sports scores, learning new recipes, catching up on the news or hearing the latest gossip about his or her favorite celebrities. SMBs should take advantage of this by placing banner ads on these sites. Advances on delivering these ads to the right consumer, at the right time, with the right message, make them a must-have in your marketing plan. Today, these ads can target your potential customer by his or her behavior on the Internet or what he or she likes to read when surfing around your businesses location. Finding your best customer online is no longer a guessing game.

2. Searching the Internet

If your customer is searching the Internet for answers to questions, your SMB can get your business in front of them through Pay-Per-Click campaigns.  This solution allows the SMB to only spend their marketing dollars when the computer user types in a question, reads your ad copy, decides they’d like to learn more information about you and finally click through to your website.  Imagine only paying for advertising when the consumer visits your virtual business (organic website). 

3. Social Media

Social media can’t be ignored.  In fact, more than 50 percent of Millennials’ buying decisions are first impacted through Facebook. Having a presence on all social media outlets is a necessity.  No business wants people talking about them without their voice. Control the message you put out by developing relevant content that engages your target audience. Be creative and have fun – after all, it’s social!  Think of it as joining your local chamber of commerce, supporting your town’s little league or buying an ad in your local church publication.

Whether your SMB is looking to acquire new customers or maintain your existing client base, develop a marketing strategy that integrates these three Internet activities. Make decisions based on the metrics provided by each and be driven by data.  Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll know which 50 percent of our marketing dollars are working for us.

About the Author: Jeffrey R. Horn is president of the New Jersey Advertising Club. He serves on the NJ Bank Marketing Association Committee and Monmouth-Ocean Development Council’s Marketing Committee.  He also works as a digital specialist for Gannett.

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