By now all of us – or at least most of us – know that we need a website and that the question is what we should do with it, not whether it should exist. Yet I meet small business owners, almost weekly, who don’t have websites and are still deciding what to do about it (if anything at all). On the flip side, I also meet business owners who have brochure sites—the kind of Web presence that never changes, never shares and never connects. It is better than having nothing. But in a world that seems to crave more and more connection, adding something more than just directions to your website is important.
Sure, it is easier to build a brochure site and forget about it (been there, done that). But the bottom line for small businesses is this: We cannot afford to miss out on the opportunity to connect with our people (target market) on their terms.
So where are they? Online? On blogs? On Facebook? On Twitter?
To know where your clients are, you have to know who they are and this includes
- what they like
- where they shop
- how they spend
- what they like to do
- the kinds of things they talk about
If you can put yourself in their shoes (which is easier when you are a part of the market you serve), then you can figure out where they are and what they like — and cater to it.
Hubspot.com recently released 100 Awesome Marketing Stats, Charts & Graphs. This report is a synthesis of marketing data from sources like BlogHer, MarketingSherpa, Comscore and Ad-ology. They say that their sources used original data and research to support their conclusions. In other words, Hubspot did the heavy lifting and consolidated what they consider to be the key online marketing information into one place. The list gives some insight into where people are online and what they are doing.
A few things stood out to me.
1. Millions Are Online
There are a lot of people online (75 percent of U.S. adults) searching for products, local stores, news, advice and more. As small business owners, our products, our local store, our news and our advice should be online too. But it needs to be relevant and put into a language that connects with the reader. In other words, our news doesn’t matter unless it’s important to our audience. How you say it makes the difference.
2. Most Are on Facebook
Chances are that if your people are online, then they are probably on Facebook (93 percent of U.S. adult Internet users). You may want to get that fan page up and give your (potential) clients a chance to “like” you and connect.
3. Email Still Matters
Email is still the preferred way of sharing content. It is the top activity that people engage in online and the top way they share information (Slide on page 95, Chadwick Martin Bailey, September 2010)
4. The Smart People Are on Twitter
I am not trying to be funny (well, a little). Hubspot referenced a report from Edison Research that highlighted the education level of Twitter users. It seems that in comparison to the general population, they are more educated and early adopters who are ready to test and respond to the latest products and services. The Twitter community (21 million) is not the large volume that the Facebook community (152 million) is, but they are educated and focused, making Twitter the perfect place for business networking and relationship building.
4. You Need a Web Home
You need a place online—a website, a blog—that your Facebook and Twitter accounts can send people to. You need a spot that adds value to your clients and gives them a reason to remain connected to you before, during and after purchases. And you need to own that space, build it up and strategize around it (your website).
We have to work to do. But with the right advice, the right tools and a consistently applied strategy, we can get it all done–and get results.