Small business owners have been stubbornly avoiding creating websites for their businesses. The most popular reason given for NOT having a website: Our company doesn’t need one.
When I launched my web development firm in 1997 – business owners could justify not having a website. Very few people were online. Google was just an idea and AltaVista was the search engine of choice. The few of us who were online logged on using dial up modems.
My earliest web development clients were forward thinking small business owners who saw the bright future that lay ahead on the internet. They were poised to take advantage of the online population explosion. Their forward thinking was well rewarded. By 2003, more than half of Americans had a Facebook account. In 2015, that number had jumped to 81% of adults who use the internet have a Facebook account.
Not only are more people online – but they’re going online using mobile devices. According to statistics shared by PC Magazine, 68% of adult Americans own a smart phone.
There’s a growing number of people who are pulling out their smart phone and looking for answers. Where to eat…where to go… what to do are just a few of the questions they’re asking.
How will your business be included as an answer if you don’t have a website?
Your Website is the Foundation for Small Business Internet Advertising.
When it comes to websites, you have two options. You can register a domain name (less then $20), pay for hosting (as little as $5 per month) and set up your own website. The other option is to engage in a practice known as “digital share cropping.”
Digital share cropping is where you set up your business web site as a page on a social media site. Your website is built on someone else’s web property. This is by far the easiest way, but it definitely isn’t the best way.
Many small businesses set up a Facebook page and use it as their business website. You must realize the “golden rule” is in play here: He who has the gold, makes the rules. Facebook has the gold so they get to make the rules. The rules they make are for their benefit, not yours.
There’s nothing wrong with having a Facebook page for your business. It’s a smart marketing move. What’s not so smart is allowing your Facebook page to be your businesses only website.
Internet Advertising Basics:
Advertising on the internet is driven by the same “principles” which drive conventional advertising. The more “eyeballs” (or ears in the case of radio) you’re reaching – the higher the cost.
There are two conventional ways to advertise your small business online:
PPC or Pay Per Click Advertising
PPC is exactly what it says it is – you “pay” for every visitor who clicks on your ad. Google Adwords is just one of the many Pay Per Click advertising programs available to small business owners.
PPC advertising campaigns can be the best thing you’ve ever done to promote your business – or it can be a black hole sucking cash at an alarming rate. The key to making PPC profitable is tightly targeting your audience and discovering what words they use to search online for your products and services.
Online Display Advertising
Online display advertising is where you buy space on various websites to display your banner or advertisement. You create an attractive banner/button/ad and pay to have it displayed to web visitors on other websites.
When utilizing either of these two forms of internet advertising – you invest your money without a guarantee of making a sale.
The Third Unconventional Way to Advertise on the Internet
If you’re like most small business owners – you’d rather invest your advertising dollars in a “sure thing”. When it comes to advertising – there is a “sure thing” option – it’s called Affiliate Advertising.
Affiliate advertising is where you put other website owners to “work” promoting your products or services. This is a GREAT way to advertise your small business on the internet because you can set up your affiliate program so you only pay when a sale is made.
Creating an affiliate advertising program is quite possibly the most effective form of advertising your small business. Just remember, the 80/20 rule applies when it comes to the sales your affiliate generate. As a general rule, 20% of your affiliates will be responsible for 80% of your sales.
The best thing abut creating an affiliate marketing program, you only pay your affiliates when you make a sale.
E-Junkie is a virtual shopping cart service. It offers robust inventory tracking as well as allowing you to set up your own affiliate sales program. You can get started for as little as $5 per month.
Advertising your small business on the internet is much easier than advertising in other forms of media – and no where else can you track and measure your results as easily as you can online.