Small Business Online Marketing Advice For 2010

marketing-bldg-blocksEveryone writes and blogs about trends and predictions for the coming year, so we’ll join the crowd. John Arnold wrote about 10 online marketing trends for 2010 on Entrepreneur.com. We’d like to list them here and debate whether or not we agree with his assessment to “test, invest or rest” the tactics. Many we agree on but there are a few we disagree with so here’s our small business marketing advice for 2010.

1. Search Engine Optimization: SEO is useful because it’s all based on specially placed keywords that help your blog or Web site rank in Google and other search engines. People and businesses are going to continue flocking to Google to find everything that’s on their minds. But small businesses are still fuzzy on what makes a good keyword and how to use it to rank higher in searches. Add in the importance of long-tail keywords and you’ve got a situation ripe with confusion. Despite all of this, SEO is going to continue to be one of the biggest drivers of online marketing success for small business – and many know it. Plus, there’s lots of places on the Web to help small business learn how to do SEO successfully (ahem, you’re at one of those places). Here’s an additional resource to help you with SEO: Search Engine Optimization Bible

JA says test

UM (UnderstandingMarketing.com) says invest

2. Paid Search: Also known as Pay Per Click (PPC), paid search is the sister of SEO. You still rely on specially selected keywords to drive traffic to your site, but instead of natural placement in Google, you’re competing for the paid placements and ads on the Google pages. PPC works but only if you’re spot on with your keyword selection. Although the prices will continue to come down, those little costs can certainly add up if you’re not on target with your keywords. Because there’s an investment here we’re not as bullish as John, but we still feel you should test it out. For small business marketing advice here’s an additional resource to help you understand paid search techniques: Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing Handbook

JA says invest

UM says test

3. Email Marketing: This is one area we both agree on. Email marketing is a great way for a small business to reach out to customers, existing and new ones, because of two primary reasons: 1) most people still prefer email as their number one source of information, and 2) it’s a relatively inexpensive way to do marketing. These two reasons, coupled with the big opportunities in landing pages for even stronger conversions, makes us very high on this tactic in 2010. Here are a few additional resources for you to do landing pages and email marketing: Landing Page 101, and of course The Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing.

JA says invest

UM says invest

4. Social Marketing: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and a host of other social networking tools came on strong in 2009, especially for small business. Every time I went to a small business in the last six months the owner not only told me he/she was highly interested in social marketing, but many of them were already using one or two tools. Look for social marketing to be even bigger in 2010 for small business because of it’s very inexpensive cost for marketing as well as it’s strength in local marketing focus. Here are a few more resources for social media marketing for small business – Twitter, or check out Facebook Marketing, or even take a peek at The Facebook Era.

JA says test

UM says invest

5. Blogging: More small businesses now have blogs either to complement their existing Web site or actually to replace their Web site. Small business online marketing advice says either one can be an effective strategy, even for events promotions. But John makes a good point in saying blogging to drive traffic is different than blogging to drive sales. Using a blog to drive traffic is still a good idea. But even we’re not sold on the notion that you can set up a blog and all of a sudden turn your blog into a cash register. Add in the fact that a blog is most successful when it’s a community and you may want to consider putting on the brakes if you want your blog to be a sales machine. Here is another resource for building a successful blog, 42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business.

JA says let it rest

UM says let it rest

6. Web Presence: This one is a bit interesting since it may not be what you think. Yes, having a Web presence is an important fact. John’s not debating this, nor will we. Where you place emphasis on your Web presence is the discussion here. In 2010 small business will have to change its way of thinking in that it’s all about getting traffic to your Web presence. Rather it’s more important now to place your Web presence where the traffic is. Do paid search on others’ Web sites or even places like YouTube.com, for example. If you know lots of eyeballs will be on other Web sites, you’ll want to consider placing your Web presence there as well. Here’s another resource for you The Online Advertising Playbook.

JA says invest

UM says test

mobile-marketing7. Mobile Marketing: An interesting marketing platform that will get more looks in 2010 is mobile marketing. Some companies now have the technology to beam messages to your cell phone from wherever you may be headed. For example, if you are walking through the doors of a Best Buy, imagine if you all of a sudden get a text message on your phone that includes a Best Buy coupon. Small business can take advantage of this kind of technology as well. It deserves more look, though. Here’s another small business online marketing advice resource for mobile marketing, The Mobile Marketing Handbook.

JA says test

UM says test

8. Podcasting: Ask yourself if you can name five podcasts or Internet-based radio shows/stations? If you failed to do so you’re probably in the majority. We like blog talk radio and we also like podcasting. But is it something you’ll want to focus heavily on for marketing as a small business in 2010? Probably not. Podcasting is a technology that has struggled to get on its feet and will most likely continue to struggle in 2010, and it doesn’t help that many small businesses are often intimidated about doing their own podcast. It may still be in its infancy with a bright future, but just not right now. There are some really fantastic shows on blog talk radio and you should put on your PR hat to take advantage of these. Here’s another resource for podcasting for small business, The Complete Guide to Audio and Video Podcasting or also check out Podcasting Bible.

JA says let it rest

UM says let it rest

9. Online Video: Not only are videos fun and easy to watch, but with YouTube also a part of Google, videos are very searchable with keywords and tags. Small businesses should definitely be running to purchase video cameras like the Flip to easily produce videos they can post online. 2010 will be a big year for videos and online marketing. Here’s another online video resource for you, Marketing With Video.

JA says invest

UM says invest

10. Coupons: The use of tools like social media marketing and mobile marketing will make coupon offerings pretty innovative, intuitive and exciting for small business. Technology even makes it easy to utilize coupon marketing for local audiences, too. Even some “older” marketing tools like landing pages, which have proven their worth in providing great ROI for incentives like coupons, will continue in 2010. We’re bullish. Here’s another resource for you in using coupons for your small business, Hug Your Customers, and also Customer Loyalty is Priceless.

JA says invest

UM says invest

Here’s John Arnold’s list.

What are some of your marketing predictions for small business and 2010? We’d love for you to chime in here.

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Comments

  1. Nice Post Must Say… Thanks for excellent share of knowledge..

  2. The ways you’ve setup your recommendations is a bit troubling because it seems to imply that you should “invest” without “testing”. Nothing could be further from the truth. They should all say the same thing: test. There are so many variations in market, audience, product / service, and core competencies that the only real way to know what will work for you is to try it and relentlessly test and optimize the results. Not terribly helpful when you’re just starting out.

    • John Sternal says:

      Ryan your point is well taken. We may have been implying that our recommendation to “invest” is as a result of assuming most small business had already gone through the test phase for certain tactics. But yes, you are absolutely on the mark. You always want to test a new tactic before going all in.

  3. Peter says:

    Mobile marketing will cease to exist during 2010. The mobile is now grown up and capable of accessing the internet. Thus all online marketing is now mobile marketing. If your website is not readable on a Blackberry, Nexus or iPhone you will be missing out. That means no more bloated 100 page+ websites, no Flash and no “contact us” that uses Outlook. Simple Landing Page/Action Page for key search terms. SEO will become ever more crucial as other ways of finding you wither away.

    Twitter will die back to take its place among Facebook, MySpace etc. as one of the social networks and something else will become flavour of the month. Clever marketers will need to use all of these, along with email and SMS, to get the best effect.

    Geolocation will be the big thing over the next few years as Search gets local. It will be badly used initially – how annoying is it to get a text every time you enter a store!?

    Tablets will replace netbooks and make truly mobile internet a commodity.

    Get ready for it all. Technology – you ain’t seen nothing yet!

  4. #1 Invest the time to get the skill
    #2 Depends. Test.
    #3 Change. Email yes. The old way? No.
    #4 Invest. We have always relied on social marketing. Just have new tools to do so more now.
    #5 Change it up. Invest. Team blog, collaborate.
    #6 Invest. Need a hub at the center.
    #7 Wait. Saturation needed. The definition of mobile marketing will change.
    #8 Podcasting means recordings for MP3 players and mobile devices. Invest but again, change it up vs. the old.
    #9 Invest. But where to place the video? How about the blog or website as hub? Look at the statistics for the average views for videos watched on Youtube.
    #10 Coupons / Discounts? Use the new tech to send same message? Maybe but not an automatic win and a temp fix with another coupon needed behind the last.

    Sadly the trends will include the same messages and methods using new tools and tech. It’s time for a change.

    This was an excellent approach. Following along with an opinion on top of an opinion with resource links? I like it!

    @michaelhartzell

    PS Prediction: I agree with something Justin Brooke said the other day.

    The year of the Affiliate. The FTC is even jumping on with new rules for affiliate sales. This blog is a perfect example with affiliate links to Amazon with recommendations. If we could set up more non-profit groups needing funds with participation in affiliates, they would have more support to their cause.

    Prediction:
    Gobble up. If the big companies wait too long, another will grab the opportunity for gobbling the new technology. There will be gobbling up and consolidating going on this year more than ever. Seesmic just acquired Ping.fm. Who else? My crystal ball is fuzzy.

    • John Sternal says:

      Thanks for the great insight, Michael. One comment about affiliates. I agree that it’s a highly underrated revenue generation system. But in our experience affiliates is all about traffic since it’s a numbers game. It may not be as cut and dry as “build it and they (traffic) will come (revenue)” but it’s close. Our recommendation on affiliate business is to first focus on building up a blog to get a lot of traffic (into your store), then worry about making the cash register ring. We’ve seen it time and again where people have wonderful merchandise in the store, but if no one’s coming into the store it’s all for nothing. Along the way you also have to find a way to sell so that it doesn’t appear blatant.

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