Secrets of Success for a Small Business on the Internet

Obsessing with how rather than now leads to wasted effort, but the basics of Internet marketing are fairly simple.

Timing is of the essence. Everybody knows it but people tend to ignore that factoid when it comes to marketing over the Internet. The really important question is, “Is this the right time to start my Internet marketing campaign?” yet people fixate on how to promote their websites or Facebook pages, not whether it's a good time to do so.

Obsessing with how rather than now leads to wasted effort, but the basics of Internet marketing are fairly simple.

Here are three basic rules to help you understand when you can and should start to market over the Web.

1. Internet advertising requires constant investment of time and money

Every business owner knows that to bring in customers, he must advertise in many ways. It can be via physical means such as fliers, newspaper ads or a booth at a trade show – or it can be over the Internet via ads on Google, social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, or on websites such as the one you’re surfing now.

Using fliers to advertise means that the moment the fliers are sent out, the investment ends. The next interaction with the customer takes place when he enters the business.

Of course, no customer expects to receive a flier that generates new content every day. On the other hand, over the Internet, the business is open 24/7, and the customers want it to have new content all the time.

They don’t care whether it’s a business that’s open all the time such as a locksmith or 24-hour restaurant, or whether it’s a grocery store or factory that’s open for just part of the day.

Remember: technology changes rapidly, and when you build a website or maintain a Facebook page, you have an obligation to your potential customers to keep on investing in these digital assets so that they’ll keep visiting.

2. Effectiveness is king. Define measuring tools in advance

In all spheres, the goals and targets of marketing campaigns must be defined in advance. Here Web-based marketing has a distinct advantage. On the Internet, you can track your campaign’s results and measure its effectiveness quite easily.

But many business owners do not use the measuring tools available to them, such as Google Analytics, dedicated telephone numbers and distribution lists, to name a few. Some owners are completely unfamiliar with them, while others simply have not given the matter any thought.

It is well worth investing time and energy in learning about measuring tools and how to use them. You should start advertising over the Web only when you know how to measure the effectiveness of your ad campaigns.

3. No patience? Then Internet isn't for you

As with anything in life, it takes time to succeed over the Internet as well. While it’s true that you can start working quickly – and, thanks to the free tools that are available, inexpensively too – the path to success is strewn with a great deal of trial and error.

There are no magic tricks that only experts know. Even giant corporations such as Amazon and eBay run thousands of trials at any given moment to improve their marketing over the Net.

If you operate according to Rule 2 above and you’re willing to measure the success of your Internet campaign, you’ll discover much of the time that your first website needs improvement, or that you need to pick different search words for your ad campaign that are a better match for your customer base.

But don’t give up. Sometimes, a small improvement in the ad text can lead to a sharp increase in the number of relevant visits to your site. It’s all a function of how patient you can be.

Emil Salman