Insights

Online Marketing 101: How To Market Your Small Business Online

By Stephen Osomba – August 19, 2020

The advent of the internet is arguably one of the greatest things to have ever happened to humankind. Although some say the internet is a curse, it has brought about a lot of opportunities that have largely improved our quality of life overall. For those in business, it is the ultimate gateway to reach your customers wherever they are all over the world. This comes at a time when internet penetration levels have increased significantly with more people being connected online than ever before. Thus the congregation of people on the internet provides a perfect opportunity for your business, big or small, to promote its products/services on the various online platforms.

So, how exactly should you go about online marketing for your small business?

To successfully promote your business online, you should have a presence in the digital world. This can be done in two ways. One, you can design and develop a website for your business. You can do it by yourself. If you are not tech-savvy, you can contact experts to help you put up a professional website that would be easy to use and attractive to your customers. Just like a physical shop, the website acts as the interface between you and your customers in a virtual world. It is through the website that customers get to learn about your business and can get in touch with you whenever they are interested in purchasing your products or services.

Two, you can choose to set up a social media page for your business. There are so many social media platforms in existence today, from Pinterest to WhatsApp. However, you only need a presence in those platforms that your customers tend to use frequently depending on their persona. For example, Instagram is recommended for businesses that deal in fashion, travel, food etc. because of its powerful visual orientation. With an understanding of your typical customer and nature of your business, set up a page to connect and interact with customers. In Kenya, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most mainstream social media platforms.

Having set up a presence on the digital space, either through a website or social media page, the next thing that follows is building your business brand online. It can be done in several ways depending on your skills and marketing budget. One of the best tactics to boost your business online is to run advertising campaigns throughout the internet. You can do this on social media pages or promote your website via Google Advertising because organic (unpaid) reach is usually limited.

In regards to social media advertising, Facebook and Instagram, provide the best return on investment given their wide reach. They are easy to use and cost-effective. What's more, you can run different types of campaigns to enquiries from customers. You can set the ad to receive messages, calls, comments, or even collect contacts (emails & mobile phone numbers) for follow-ups. You can also direct potential customers to your website to purchase products. While they might be cheap, you must invest in a higher ad spend to get high-quality leads. At SMD Consulting Associates, we would recommend a minimum of Ksh.1000 per day. However, for competitive categories like fashion, it might cost much more since they are so many bidders targeting the same audience. When not advertising, you can always post interesting content on your timeline at least once a day to engage your social community. Don’t bore your customers with sales messages. Ensure your content is varied and meaningful.

Google advertising, on the other hand, provides two platforms for reaching a wider audience. These are search engine display network and YouTube. For the search engine display network, Google delivers your ad to various websites on the internet where your target customers tend to visit frequently. Being a search engine company, they have a powerful system that has accumulated vast information about people’s online behaviours and it, in turn, leverages this in advert targeting. The other option is YouTube which has grown immensely during this COVID-19 pandemic period as people surf the internet looking for interesting content to keep off boredom while staying at home. To promote your business on YouTube, you will need a video, preferably short and catchy, highlighting your product or service. The ads can run as long as you like. However, we would recommend a minimum of 90 days for you to get reasonable results.

Other techniques that you can use to promote your business online include blogging, influencer marketing, search engine optimization, and email marketing. Apart from blogging that you can do by yourself through simple online learning, the rest may require intermediate skills or an expert to execute successfully.

So, in summary, to market your business online, you need to set up a website and/or social media page and run online advertising regularly to reach more people on the internet. When marketing your business online, it is advisable that you take a long term view with a focus on building a strong brand rather than a short term view that emphasizes sales lift. A strong brand will generate sales on its own in the long term. Also, it is important to take note that online marketing is just but one of the many modes of reaching your customers. Therefore, it’s not the end in itself but rather a starting point. Thus it shouldn’t be the only means that you use in promoting your business.

Need help in marketing your business online? Call 0748 812310 or Email consult@smdassociates.co.ke

Stephen currently serves as the Lead, Communication & Marketing at SMD Consulting Associates