If you own and operate a small business today, your biggest challenge is building and retaining a client base. Traditional methods such as newspaper advertising, print and local television are costly and don't provide an avenue to build long term relationships with customers. Luckily, online or e-marketing provides a more cost-effective approach. But what exactly is emarketing, and what are the best ways for a small business owner to take advantage of what is available? Emarketing is the use of online techniques such as paid search, email, and social media to communicate with and nurture potential and current customers. Most companies, regardless of their size, have a Web site today. The trick is how to get people to your Web site and, once there, enter into an ongoing relationship. Here are a few practical recommendations on how you can use these techniques in your business development cycle:
* Acquisition - attract new potential customers to your Web site to learn more about what you have to offer.
* Use paid search on major search engines such as Google to "buy" traffic. The tools available today to control the geographic locations where you search ads will appear have improved greatly - letting you target your campaign to fit your needs. Most businesses would benefit greatly from a simple 100 word campaign.
* List your business in local portals on Yahoo, Google Maps, and Citysearch. These portals have come a long way in the last three to four years and now have a critical mass of information and users.
* Network on professional portals such as LinkedIn in areas relevant to your business. There arc many local associations and forums on these sites that allow you to speak directly to those who are most relevant.
* Conversion -...