3 Stages of Internet Marketing: Strategies for Success

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by on January 16, 2012

Many small business and local business owners are not sure how to raise their online visibility, and which Internet marketing strategies and techniques work best. Experts brag about a plethora of successful methods, ranging from small business SEO service, social media marketing, advertising, blogging and more – but, which ones are really effective?

A good approach is to first determine the current stage of exposure your business receives, and then follow proven strategies and techniques that will raise it to the next level.

This series of posts will describe the three stages, and show which Internet marketing strategies and techniques work at each stage:

    1. Getting started
    2. Broadening your presence and visibility, and
    3. Dominating your niche.

A post will be dedicated to each one; this one kicks it off by outlining the first stage.

Getting Started

If you are not sure whether your local business is just ‘Getting Started’, you are not alone. This first stage can take up to six months, with the benefit of rising search rankings along the way. By the sixth month, hopefully, the increased visibility of your business has generated enough new leads that you are confident it will start earning a return on this investment.

Overt Signs

Local businesses in this first stage are often shown on Google maps, but not likely on the first page of many search results, especially for higher volume keywords that bring many well matched visitors to your website. It is a bit like watching people drive by your store every day without stopping, because the store front sign is not large enough to grab their attention.

Unfortunately, a few local businesses, sometimes through no fault of their own, appear in Google maps more than once for the same location. This is the ‘deep hole’ which should be immediately corrected. Google sets the rules and states that each business can have only one map listing per location. This situation is like a directional sign painted with two arrows, pointing to opposite routes, with the lettering “Turn Here”. It creates confusion, so your listings stays buried deep in search results.

Similarly, a business can claim only one Place Page for each legal entity, even if it operates multiple locations. If more than one appears, Google loses trust, so again, searchers will not easily find all your locations in search results.

Where are the Prospects?

Other signals that your business is still ‘Getting Started’, is when your marketing plans largely ignore what searchers are doing. Is someone maintaining, tracking and monitoring a list of relevant keywords and their search volumes for your business? These words are what people use to search the web for what you sell.

If your business does not keep a comprehensive list of relevant keywords and volumes, or does not know how to prioritize them, then it is missing a plan for enticing prospects to your website. These keywords should be mapped to website pages that contain your related content.  Otherwise, your business is ignoring leads for new customers, or prospects that can be nurtured in a sales funnel.

Establishing Creditability

When you search for your business name, do the results show it in other website results that are within your industry, geographical area and customer reviews? If not, search engines will assign less authority and trust to your business.  Also, if a similar search for your competitor’s name shows citations by more and/or higher authority websites, then your business has a weaker online reputation. Both situations will negatively impact its search rankings.

Choosing Among Options

If your business shows signs of “Getting Started”, you can choose between these options:

  • Do Nothing:  Of course, you can decide not to do anything different.
  • Train In-house Staff:  Identify a person to train and take responsibility for Internet Marketing. The Google Places User Guide and keyword tool are good starting points. For further training, I will recommend a very good training course if you send me a request via email.
  • Hire a Specialist:  Consult an Internet marketing expert who has experience working with local and/or small businesses. A qualified specialist will deliver, of course, the quickest results.

Whether your business is 1) getting started; 2) broadening its presence and visibility; or 3) trying to dominate a niche, an important first step is evaluating your current online exposure. Next, make a decision about what to do. Your business can receive more leads and customers in a cost effective manner, using proven Internet marketing strategies and techniques.

What are your experiences when using the Internet to market your business?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anita Rangaswami April 20, 2012 at 4:57 PM

Very relevent strategies that apply to a business in any industry. Like the way Mary has highlighted some simple techniques to begin navigating through the maze of internet marketing techniques that can be applied to get visibility. I must agree that building website credibility and driving more traffic to the website is just as important, if not more, than building the website:-)

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Mary Brophy April 26, 2012 at 8:34 PM

Yes, a website is just a website until it earns enough visitors that the business and some prospects start engaging. Most website owners, myself at one time also, are surprised that having a website is just the beginning. It is similar to traditional marketing, have a store front is not enough, it is the additional marketing efforts that drive new visitors and customers into the front door.

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Paul Breslau April 21, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Internet marketing is improving local business results. However, some entire industries are changing rapidly due to technology improvements and environmental issues. Health care and it financing is one. Will internet marketing and social media allow private agents to compete with government run exchanges? If anyone is interested in this please contact me.

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Mary Brophy April 26, 2012 at 10:08 PM

This is a good question, Paul. Keep me updated as it develops, since we will all be directly impacted.

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