The start of the year is a great time to make sure your website and other digital channels are all up to date so you can make the most of the power of online marketing in 2023. Not only is it a natural point of the year to reorganise and refresh but, for many businesses, it’s a time when potential customers and/or clients are likely to be checking you out online.
Many SME business owners resolve to grow their networks and build their companies at the start of the New Year. We may attend networking events, become more active on social media, invest in advertising or even expand our services or capabilities. If we’re successful in increasing interest in our businesses then we’re likely to drive traffic to our online channels. Therefore, January is an ideal time to take an objective look at your online presence and ask yourself what impression you might be making on potential customers/clients.
Those of us who aren't so tech-savvy or digitally curious have likely had a website designed, maybe established a social profile or two and then not interacted too much with them. Even if you are on top of your online profiles, it’s wise to have a yearly review and do those all-important online marketing checks.
So here are your 8 online marketing checks to do this January for your business:
Check your Google Business profile is up-to-date
Often, when I talk to clients about Google Business profiles they respond with something along the lines of ‘oh yeah, I think I have one of those.’ Many companies have a Google Business profile but few keep them up-to-date. Yet, this is a really useful channel, especially for local businesses since it is likely to increase in-store visits. Yet it is also proven to fuel online engagement for all types of business. In fact, according to LocaliQ, businesses that feature in the top three local listings in a Google search get a 700% boost in clicks.
Unfortunately, incorrect opening times, listings of services you no longer offer, the wrong address and other errors on your Google Business page can result in a negative customer experience. Therefore, it's important to keep your profile up-to-date. Apart from ensuring information is correct, regular updates will also help fuel SEO.
Get new headshots, branded banners and featured images
Are you still showcasing last season’s products? Or are you using headshots you no longer feel represent you? It’s not just about the impression clients and customers have of your business, it’s how you feel about it. When you open up your website or your Etsy page, you deserve to get the ‘that’s mine’ rush. The feeling of pride in having a brand identity that excites and motivates you. Sometimes, what felt right or uplifting last year no longer inspires us. So, January is an ideal time to give your business a very mini makeover with some new banners, featured images or, if you're a service-based business, some new headshots.
Proceed with caution though, frequent reworking of branding-related materials can dilute your identity and decrease consumer/client recognition. Therefore, if you're not a designer, it's best to harness the powers of a branding or design expert who can ensure any online visual updates emulate a glow-up and not an identity crisis.
Make sure you’ve posted recently on social media
These days, many potential clients and/or customers will check you out on social media. If you haven’t posted in a while they may assume you are no longer trading. Therefore, you should be keeping your social media fairly active, even if that just means one post biweekly. Although this needs to be considered all year round, as the classic 'planning' month, January is a good time to establish a new routine when it comes to social media.
A common misconception is that businesses must be on every social media channel. Actually, what you need is to be on the right ones for your business. Take a company whose target audience is in their 40s it's of little use for them to have a Tik Tok presence, for instance, since their natural customer base are not generally users of the platform.
As a rule, it’s better by far to manage one or two social media profiles very well than to be overwhelmed and allow your accounts to appear inactive.
Update your blog
Your blogs needn’t be very long but they must be regular. As with social media, if your blog appears out of date then clients may question whether you are still in operation. Especially if you are calling your blog 'news' and don’t have anything posted in months.
Don’t forget, you can repurpose your blog content for other channels. So, if you start with your blog and write a full article then this could feed a LinkedIn post. It could be repacked in image form and posted on Instagram. You could also deliver it in person via video as a Facebook Live. When you feed your blog, you’re creating an opportunity to feed your whole content network across multiple channels.
However, if you can’t commit to publishing regular blogs or simply hate doing it, then use a copywriter (like me!) Not only can a professional writer make sure your blogs get written but some copywriters (like me) will help you plan content and ensure SEO is properly implemented.
Review your mission and your values
This is an essential part of your business to regularly review. Whether you are a purpose-led business or you’re profit-focused, you will likely have strong values and motivations that have got you this far. Now and then, it’s a good idea to reflect on the company's overall mission because they do change and develop as businesses grow. Sometimes, values that are at the forefront of the business end up being the foundation but neglect to be a driving force further down the line. At the beginning of each year, it’s worth first reviewing whether your mission and values still ring true, then looking at whether these are being supported in your everyday operations and communications.
Although this technically wouldn’t fall under the banner of ‘online marketing’, a business's online identity is impacted by the company’s values. Usually, our digital communications are more impactful and effective if the brand identity is strong, and brand identity is built on missions and values.
Once you’re happy with yours, check through your online content to ensure your ethics and aims are being reflected in your online marketing, from social media connections through to job descriptions you put out, none should compromise your values.
Get more reviews
We all know how important it is to get reviews from customers and clients. Positive online reviews provide social proof, increase trust and can therefore influence sales. Yet, many business owners struggle to approach clients and customers to request feedback so it’s useful to implement a process.
For online businesses with multiple customers, an automated email marketing campaign that requests reviews for items or services purchased can be very effective. For businesses with fewer clients and a more personal working relationship, a more tailored email is usually required. There is also no reason why you can’t approach former clients for reviews or ask if you can use the feedback they’ve provided in an email as a review of your business.
Crucially, don’t forget to publicise your good reviews as they come in. Again, January is an excellent time to do this. Remind people why they should be shopping with or working with you. Reviews are widely believed to be one of the most effective ways to build online relationships so make sure you’re updating them on your website and showcasing them on your social media.
Check your website layout on mobile
Many of us only ever look at our website on our desktops, yet the majority of consumers are accessing websites on mobile devices. Launching a responsive website does not necessarily mean it will always stay this way. Sometimes when you make updates to your website, or sometimes seemingly for no apparent reason at all, the layout can get muddled, particularly on your mobile site. So, do some manual testing every so often because users are unlikely to let you know if something isn’t working, they just won’t use it which could cost you sales. Testing needn’t be technical - simply scroll through each page and check your layout and links as you go.
Update the copyright disclaimer on your website to read ‘2023’