In such a heavily saturated online marketplace, standing out from the crowd can feel like an impossible challenge for the small business owner. Nowadays, it seems as though new websites and companies are popping up everywhere and, before you know it, your competition has doubled overnight.
To maximise your brand awareness and garner attention in the online world, it’s vital to stand out from the crowd. Don’t become a needle in the (online) haystack!
But just how do you stand out?
Well, for the small business owner, this can be a daunting prospect, but don’t worry. We’ve put together some highly effective strategies to help you make your mark in the online world and attract the customer attention you deserve.
1. Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is becoming an increasingly important tool when it comes to making your business stand out against your competitors. It might be a term you’ve heard thrown around before, but if you haven’t started utilising this potent marketing strategy, now’s the time.
If you’re still not sure what SEO is, let’s give you a run down.
Simply put, SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic (un-paid) search engine results. This means your website’s content can be created with targeted keywords in mind to enhance its visibility to search engines, such as Google and Yahoo.
This might not sound like much, but by using the process of SEO, you can significantly improve your search ratings and help you move your way up through the search engine rankings.
Research bv HubSpot shows that 75% of users don’t even scroll past the first page of search engine results, so achieving that prime placing on the first page will definitely set you apart from your competitors.
2. Create High-Quality, Engaging Content
Ensuring that your website is brimming with fresh, quality content is beneficial for multiple reasons. It not only assists with SEO ranking, but also helps establish your business as a leading authority in its field.
By providing potential customers with content that is valuable and engaging, you will better establish your brand and create greater awareness around your business and services you offer. Having more content also gives you more opportunity to share it online via email newsletters and social media channels, which will ultimately increase your online presence, giving your customers more ways to find you.
If the idea of creating well-crafted content stumps you, then it could be beneficial for you to engage the services of a Professional Copywriter, who can do the hard yards for you. Just as great content can help you stand out online and develop your brand as an authority, poor content can have the opposite effect, making your business seem unprofessional and mediocre. Employing a professional may cost you something in the short term, but could be an invaluable investment later down the track.
3. A Blog
You may now be wondering, how do I share this great, valuable content with my potential customers?
One of the most effective and inexpensive ways to do this is via a blog. For a small business owner, a blog is a highly effective and inexpensive way to create content and get noticed online.
According to recent inbound marketing report, nearly 80% of companies that use blogging as part of their marketing strategy reported acquiring customers through their blogging efforts. In addition to this, 82% of businesses admitted that blogging was a crucial aspect of their marketing strategies.
Blogging not only increases your SEO traffic, but also humanises your brand and lets you create a personality behind your business. This can be an invaluable tool when aiming to stand out online, as customers engage more with brands they deem as friendly, funny and trustworthy.
A blog is a great opportunity to offer helpful and interesting content to potential customers, that allows them to engage with your business in ways they couldn’t previously do. If other businesses out there aren’t offering the kind of valuable content you are, then you’re already putting yourself ahead of the game.
4. Have an Effective Website Layout
Having a clear, user-friendly website seems like a no-brainer, but it can have a huge impact on helping you separate yourself from your online competition.
your website should be thought of much like a brick and mortar shopfront. If you’re operating a clean, eye-catching store while your competitor just down the street runs a similar business from a daggy, dusty shop, which would appeal more to customers?
Obviously, your business would most likely receive the lion’s share of the local business. And your website should be thought of no differently.
If your website is aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-use, you’ll immediately make a good impression to potential customers, separating your website from the lesser-performing sites of your competitors.
It may seem simple, but just by having a well-developed website can help you to draw more attention to your business.
5. Make Your Website Mobile Compatible
Smartphone browsing is becoming increasingly commonplace, so ensuring your website is mobile-compatible is essential for any small business trying to stand out online.
Think about how much time you spend browsing online via your smartphone; on the train to work, during your lunch break, during ads on TV.
If your website isn’t mobile-compatible, this is valuable potential browsing time you could be divesting from your site if it doesn’t convert well to a phone screen.
Mobile optimisation sets you apart in the way that it can help you generate more traffic, increase sales, and boost customer engagement. If a customer lands on a page that doesn’t load correctly because it’s not compatible with their phone, they’ll likely move on quickly, without hesitation, to a competitor’s website.
The first of these is responsive design. This is geared towards crafting websites so that they provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience on any device, from desktop computers and laptops, to tablets and mobile phones.
Your second choice is to create a mobile site. This is a copy of your website, where the server does the work to deliver an optimised page that’s smaller and easier to navigate.
6. Let’s Get Social
It’s all well and good to have a business Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account – but do you use them in a way that draws attention to your business and brand online? If you have created these accounts but simply post on them once every few week, you won’t be reaping the full benefits of social media as a marketing tool.
More and more businesses are embracing social media and it’s becoming increasingly necessary to do so in order to help you stand out online.
Social media gives you a platform from which to share your best blog content, allows you to directly interact with your clientele through messages and comments and gives you another way to promote your products and services.
With people spending so much active time browsing through their social media feeds, you can stay right at the forefront of their minds if you’re appearing there regularly, offering them interesting content and engaging with them.
The prospect of standing out online among so many competitors can seem like an impossible feat. But by engaging with customers via social media, creating valuable content and making your site a user-friendly, mobile-compatible place, you’re already putting yourself ahead of the pack.