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This Small Business Week: Don’t Neglect Your Online Presence

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Posted: Friday, May 9, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:32 am, Sat May 10, 2014.

(StatePoint) If you own a small business, you know that online visibility is one of the keys to success. And these days, harnessing the Web is crucial to any marketing plan.

“While most small business owners know they need a strong Web presence, many of them are not taking enough action to build and maintain it,” says Tim Carroll, Vice President of Small Business Engagement at Deluxe Corp., a provider of marketing services and products for small businesses.

In fact, of those small business owners who put a high level of importance on Web presence, 70 percent spend less than one hour a week maintaining it, according to a new Deluxe study. In contrast, only 1.2 percent spend 10 or more hours each week on their Web maintenance.

National Small Business Week, May 12-16, is the perfect time to learn how to use the Internet to keep your business top of mind with prospective customers.  And Carroll offers some top tips for maximizing your company’s presence online.

• Interact: Since current and prospective consumers use social media, you can’t neglect this marketing approach. Social media marketing isn’t just about gaining followers. It becomes a vehicle for sharing your company’s message, as well as driving traffic to your website. This will ultimately help generate new customers and referrals.

Don’t be afraid to use Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to ask customers for feedback and show your personality. Use calls to action to acquire new followers, engage them further and encourage reviews of your services.

Many small businesses turn to consultants or social marketing services for help with developing and executing a social media strategy. When effective, these efforts will place a brand in front of its target audience. Small business owners should look for a service that also tracks results in order to gain insight into how its customers engage online.

• Website: “Today, a business without a website is a business without a face,” says Carroll. “A clean, easy-to-navigate, and mobile-friendly online presence is one your customers will remember.”

Unfortunately, less than a third of small business owners think they are proficient or extremely proficient at maintaining their individual company websites, which is why many seek outside help developing a site and building content.

• Search engines: With 91 percent of Internet users utilizing search engines, according to the Deluxe-commissioned study, search engine optimization can be your key to better visibility online. After all, a website is hardly useful if no one can find it.

Additionally, consider search engine marketing services to help your online advertising and to make use of local searches by more effectively targeting your customer audience.

• Email marketing: Small business email marketing is the centerpiece of any effort to stay in touch with existing customers, while reaching out and finding new ones. Use it to promote new items and offer special discounts to loyal customers or to simply keep in touch.

More tips, strategies and information about marketing your business online can be found at www.Deluxe.com.

Small business owners know they need to be online. It just takes commitment and the right tools to capitalize on the potential.

Photo Credit: (c) Sepy - Fotolia.com

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