A Guide to Digital Marketing

As many of us know, starting a new business is not the easiest task imaginable. From the moment you open your business on, the real race begins – for clients, for differentiation and uniqueness in the face of competition, for revenues and profitability, etc.

One of the most important elements in marketing a new or existing business is spreading the word and making it accessible to potential customers. In this age of consumerism, businesses must expose themselves, their products, their prices, and their identities to the relevant target audience, in order to raise interest and awareness that will positively influence sales and increase profitability.

With the understanding that advertising is a necessary step, we now ask – advertise where? In principle, all advertising channels are at the disposal of the small business owners – print, internet and radio campaigns, billboards, flyers, business cards, print directories, and online and mobile advertising.

In practice, the high cost of advertising in national media channels render them unsuitable for small businesses, and therefore they should opt for channels that enable local, targeted, smart advertising and combine it with digital publishing – which is the main, least expensive and most effective channel for small or medium businesses: Targeted exposure on specialized websites, prominence in Google search results, a promotional or commercial website for your business, mobile advertising, and advertising on social networks.

Advertising on specialized websites

There are specialized websites that provide information on a great number of businesses and appeal to a large audience of internet users. Examples of such sites are the business-oriented website Zap Group (Yellow Pages Israel), The restaurant guide Zap Rest, The Netex Group, and others.

The importance of being featured on these sites is due to their function as digital “Yellow Pages.” A customer who wishes to find a business or service provider in a specific area will normally enter the one site that provides information on all business owners in the area and will find what they need in a focused and efficient way. Your presence on these sites is important and significant, as millions of people visit them every month.

In praise of the wisdom of the crowds

These specialized websites also take into account users’ reviews of  businesses – another digital tool that gives you great power as a business owner in Israel.

Many customers base their choice of business on reviews found on these specialized websites. A highly-rated and well-reviewed business benefits from free advertising by satisfied customers and from the popularity that ensues.

True, some reviews a negative. Every business owner fears them and at the same time has to learn how to cope with them; but when handled in a dignified and service-oriented manner, the user’s negative experience can be corrected and the business owner’s integrity will be valued by their customers.

Search engine optimzation – SEO

In order to have your business website recognized by search engines (such as Google, Walla, Bing, and others) it must be coded appropriately. Maintaining appropriate content, high-quality programming code, relevant links, and more, will have your business ranking high among search results and ensure exposure to an audience of potential clients that your business couldn’t reach in any other way.

Another important point to consider is the mishandling of your website’s promotion, which could lower its ranking or make it disappear from search results altogether, thus harming your business. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your business is promoted by a professional and reliable SEO agency.

Google sponsored links

One way to quickly promote your business online is to start a sponsored ad campaign. AdWords, Google’s advertising product, enables a business owner to have their ad displayed as a “sponsored link” in Google search results when a potential customer performs a search for a product or service provided by the business. AdWords ads reach some 85% of internet users around the world.

In this context you can build an online advertising campaign for your business while selecting relevant and appropriate keywords (from a pre-defined index), tracking and evaluating results, and ensuring you only pay for ads when they bring you results (that is, only when a user clicks the link to your website). Here, too, we recommend retaining the services of an agency specialized in this field.

Advertising on social networks

Advertising in social media is done mostly through the major networks: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

The strongest and most significant platform in Israel today is Facebook, a platform that, if used wisely, can contribute greatly in advertising your business and communicating its marketing messages, all for a relatively low cost. You can upload photos and updates on new products or services, enter in a direct dialogue with your consumers, learn from customer feedback about your business’s strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly, increase your potential clientele by sharing your page and its content.

Make sure you open a business page rather than a personal profile for your business. This is a common mistake made by business owners who don’t consult an expert beforehand. The advantages of managing a business page are numerous: The page allows anyone to join and be exposed to the business, you’re given access to the page’s activity statistics, and you have the option to start a sponsored ads campaign (Facebook ads) that will focus on reaching your target audience.

Internet companies worldwide offer to set up and maintain your Facebook page, design it, and develop marketing tabs leading to your home page, contact page, photo galleries, coupons, competitions, and more.

The author, Smadar Bracha, is director of marketing at zapgroup

 

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