Louisiana Online: How Can Local Businesses Make the Most of the Internet?

Image by Steve Snodgrass.

Image by Steve Snodgrass.

Getting on the internet is often seen as something for big businesses and those that want to trade across a large area, but the reality is that local businesses can benefit from it too. It doesn’t require a great deal of investment and it can be a very effective form of marketing. So what do business owners who are considering the Internet need to know?

The importance of being online

Being online has never been more important. Over three-quarters of Americans now have smartphones and most also have computers at home. These devices are in constant use and now rival television as the place where people see the most advertising. What’s more, because a lot of online advertising is targeted to fit individual people’s interests, they are likely to pay more attention to it.

Advertising is just one way to connect with potential customers online. Many businesses turn these online connections into online sales by building a store on a website. It’s also possible to use online marketing to direct people to a traditional store. Other businesses use their online marketing to sell locally based services. The increasingly local focus of many Internet forums and tools is making this easier than ever.

A professional image

At the heart of any online marketing campaign is the company website. This is the equivalent of the storefront or front office and the impression it makes will forever influence what people think of that business. Professional website design is a must, preferably handled by a company that keeps up to date with all the latest design trends and also with the design factors that influence how sites are ranked by search engines – the process known as SEO (search engine optimization). It’s advisable to bring in a professional photographer to take shots of the premises, senior staff members and products or key pieces of equipment, but some marketing companies can handle this in-house.

Once a website has been created, it’s important to keep it updated with fresh content. This ensures that customers keep coming back and it also maintains the company’s high ranking in searches. One good way to do this is by writing a blog, which must, of course, live up to the company’s professional image, with good spelling and grammar. A blog can provide an opportunity to tell customers about any exciting new developments in the business.

Connecting with people

Another way to keep a website looking busy is to integrate social media within it. Social media – such as Facebook, Twitter and local Louisiana forums – are a fantastic way to present the business as part of a community and to build on staff members’ personal connections to reach more and more people. To be really successful on social media, however, it’s necessary to run a professionally-designed marketing campaign that keeps providing those contacts with interesting new material, encouraging them to share posts and links (thereby reaching new audiences), and making them feel that the business really shares their passions and priorities. Special offers and discounts can encourage more people to connect and to stay connected, ensuring that the business will quickly come to mind when people next need the products or services it provides.

Healthcare marketing

Successful healthcare marketing depends on an understanding of people’s specific requirements of a provider, so it’s worth connecting with a specialist marketing company like Sweet Spot MD. Healthcare decisions are something people tend to take their time over, so reaching this market requires a carefully-paced, reassuring strategy that helps people feel good about the business. It needs to be seen as professional, reliable and capable of providing a high quality service – factors which depend on excellent online presentation and effective communication.

Healthcare businesses depend heavily on repeat custom. A well-designed email marketing campaign can enable them to keep in touch with previous customers and make those customers feel valued rather than annoyed by spam. Similarly, a professional approach to text messaging can maintain that connection and it’s even possible to get a bespoke mobile phone App designed to provide customers with ongoing value and to make sure they think of the business positively.

Investing in a professional online profile can feel like a big step but it really is a necessary one in order to keep up with the competition. With the right support from a company that understands the Louisiana health sector, it’s a step that any business can take with confidence.