Optimizing Your Online Outreach

Let’s face it, most consumers are online in some way or another. Many are online more than anywhere else – such as in your physical stores. Third parties across the nation can help support you in your online goals, but sometimes that simply is not in the budget – and we get that. Here are a few tips you can apply to your business today that can help your online existence thrive.

1. Sign up for free trials with e-mail marketing companies. Some even offer online support – or coaching – to help you maximize your e-marketing potential. Take advantage of these offers. Constant Contact has a great support system, for example, to help you with email campaigns. Find your comfort zone and what makes sense for you. But don’t neglect email marketing – this is an important piece to your online outreach puzzle.

2. Always aim to grow your email subscriber list. Use a combination of your website, your brick and mortar store and your social media networks to do this. Do not overlook collecting email addresses at special events, either. When working with other businesses through events or B2B projects, be sure to collect their email lists, as well. There may be some limitations here – but it never hurts to ask.

3. Sign up for practical webinars and other online learning tools that help support email marketing, online optimization and social media support specific to small businesses.That’s the key, though. What works for small shops do not always work for medium to large size businesses. Cater your online outreach to your store size and – quite frankly – reality. If you are pitching a local audience only, for example, then drive your online communication to connect with other local businesses, groups and residents. This also means participating in webinars and other learning experiences that supports your goals.

4. Consider introducing online surveys to your website. You can use them for many things, such as gaining inventory ideas, event ideas, gaining customer demographics and so much more. Most survey companies offer free trials that can help you avoid paying a fee upfront. Use these surveys to collect customer data, thoughts, product interest information and more. Hearing from your customers and caring enough to ask is your goal here.

5. Blend your print, in-store and digital world together with one cohesive look. When you have a store, it’s important to create it as a “brand” that seamlessly collides from one area to the next. Online should not be an exception. Are you proud of your website? You should be!

Additionally, remember to always offer your email subscribers the chance to unsubscribe if they want to. Of course, that isn’t your goal but it is important to include. If you end up working with a third party to help support you in your goals, be sure to utilize all their options in supporting your business. These may include:

1. Split testing – This samples how emails are opened based on different layouts and when sent at different times during the day.

2. Email lists – Some companies can offer email lists that are separated according to demographics, age, product interest, etc.

3. Direct mail – Email is one way to gain an audience, but good old fashioned direct mail remains strong.

Finally, trust your gut. A change in your choice of words, the pictures you use or when you send things out can make all the difference in your online optimization. A final thought? Be consistent. Just like exercise, you can expect results overnight. But stay dedicated and you will see rewards.


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