- July 29, 2021
- Posted by: Muskoka Marketing Admin
The Importance of Online Marketing in the Barrie, Orillia and Muskoka Area
The right combination of digital tools and marketing channels will work to drive new customer acquisition and help your business grow. Join us as we discuss what it takes to ensure your business has the best mix of online marketing tools and platforms to succeed.
Establishing a solid online presence can be a daunting task. With so many platforms and digital tools to choose from, selecting the right ones isn’t always easy. Because of this, many small and medium businesses understandably struggle in deciding where to start in order to get off on the right foot online and get the most bang for their digital marketing buck. Ultimately, there are a handful of core elements, such as search engine optimization and social media marketing, that every business needs in order to effectively market themselves online, and these are what we’re here to provide guidance on today.
Muskoka Marketing has helped many small and medium businesses solidify their online marketing with strategies that are proven to deliver the results they need. Plus, being located in the heart of the Muskoka area gives us a unique perspective on the nature of the business environment from Barrie to Huntsville, and everywhere in between. We know the area, we know the people who live here, and those who visit throughout the year, so you can be sure these strategies are built to relate specifically to the needs of local businesses and help them meet their marketing objectives.
Start At The Beginning With A Dedicated Website
This may sound obvious, but many businesses still don’t have an actual, real website that they own. Some may have a Facebook page as their home on the web, others may have a directory listing that they purchased many years ago, and others may simply not have any online presence at all. Whatever your current situation might be, all businesses should have a dedicated home on the web that is 100% their own space.
The reason we are so strongly emphasizing that your business needs is OWN SPACE is that while other alternatives like social media pages, directory listings, or mini-sites that exist as part of other larger websites can be a valuable element of your online strategy, they come with limits for your business in ways that may not be apparent on the surface.
For example, these alternatives introduce changes to how they look or how they function at any time, which directly affects your online presence, and you’ll be completely powerless to do anything about it. Social media platforms in particular are known for introducing changes to functionality and appearance on a regular basis.
In addition, these website alternatives don’t offer the same level of authority for your business in search engines like Google, and can have a negative effect on your business’ ability to rank high on the search results pages. This means that you’ll likely not show up for high-value potential customers at the critical moments when they are looking for your products or services.
In a nutshell, you really don’t want to put your business’ online presence entirely in the hands of a third-party platform that keeps so much control away from you. Owning a dedicated website for your business keeps the control where it belongs; with you.
The Essentials Needed For A Good Business Website
Whether you’re building a new website from scratch, or are looking to refurbish and update an existing website, the core elements of a good website must be kept top-of-mind from beginning to end. These fundamental aspects include things like search engine optimization, site structure & navigation, high-quality content, and mobile experience, just to name a few.
In order to be found by customers online, your website needs to look good in the eyes of Google and other search engines. This means you need search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure your site is checking off the list of things that search engine algorithms look for when calculating who gets the top spot on the search results page.
In a nutshell, Google’s algorithm works to deliver the most relevant results when a user searches for a particular piece of information. It determines relevance based on a large array of factors, such as how new or fresh your content is, how much content is on your website, how intuitive and user-friendly your site is, how fast it loads, and how many external sources link back to your site. This all means that if your site has great content, it loads fast, is easy to navigate, and has lots of outside sources to prove your authority, then you’re much more likely to appear on page 1 of the search results. That’s how search engine marketing really works.
How Important Is It To Be On Page 1?
Well, there have been many studies on search engine usage and consumer behaviour, and they all lead to one undeniable fact; page 1 is where the winners are. Over 80% of all major purchases start with an online search, and 75% of all people never scroll past page 1 when looking for information. There are many other interesting search engine usage stats that paint a similar story, but at the end of the day these kinds of numbers are too big for any business to ignore. The bottom line is that your site needs SEO, because without it you’ll be handing your competitors all that visibility in getting seen by the most valuable customers.
In addition, search engines are placing increased emphasis on the mobile experience when calculating search result rankings. This should come as no surprise, as mobile device usage is rapidly surging ahead of desktop usage in terms of overall online activity. In some cases, business websites are seeing upwards of 65%, 75%, or even greater proportions of all traffic coming from mobile devices. This means your website absolutely needs to look great and load fast on mobile, or else you run the risk of turning away the increasing majority of customers who use their smartphones as their primary digital device.
Combining Organic Search With Paid Search
The process of optimizing your business for search engines takes time, and the effects of the optimizations may not make themselves known for weeks or months down the road. This is simply the nature of search engine optimization, however there are additional strategies your business can employ immediately to raise your profile on search engines and drive more traffic.
Google Ads offers a pay-per-click advertising model that helps you target people who are looking for specific products and services using keywords and key phrases that are most relevant to your business. For example, a contractor in the Muskoka area may want to advertise to people searching for things like ‘home renovations in bracebridge’, or a golf course nearby may want to be found for ‘play golf today in gravenhurst’.
By running Google Ads campaigns, your business can start acquiring highly-valuable customers and complementing your organic search optimization efforts to yield even stronger results from search engines. Basic Google Ads campaign costs generally run around $1000 to setup and configure a complete account. Ongoing costs of advertising on Google typically start around $1000-$2000 in click costs (billed directly to Google Ads), along with an average of about $550/month to cover agency management and optimization costs.
Critical Digital Touchpoints for Local Businesses
Of course, your website isn’t the only element your Muskoka-based business needs to worry about. There are many other digital touchpoints that influence people during their online searches for information about products and services in your area. In fact, most people look to more than one source on the internet to verify the legitimacy and reputation of a particular business before they take the next step.
These additional online touchpoints can include a variety of digital tools such as Google Maps listings, Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, Twitter accounts, Yelp reviews, and many more. Several of these are available for use free-of-charge and simply require time invested in them to optimize your business’ presence and align with your objectives, while others offer paid advertising features that can be leveraged to increase reach, impact, and results.
While it can be tempting to try and be on every platform, the reality is that it’s far better to focus efforts on a smaller selection and truly make yourself shine on them, than it is to spread your resources thin across too many different online locations. For starters, most types of businesses should begin with a well-optimized presence on Google Maps to increase visibility when people search for businesses like yours within a specific area. This will also work in sync with your overall search engine optimization strategy and help further reinforce your site’s authority in search.
Another place that businesses absolutely should have an established presence on is Facebook with a complete and optimized business page. In addition to helping your business connect with customers and share top-quality content, Facebook pages and profiles are required for any business that wants to engage in paid advertising on the Facebook platform, as well as extending the reach of your paid campaigns to the Instagram platform. As Instagram is a Facebook-owned social media network, the Facebook ad platform covers paid promotional efforts there as well.
Paid social media marketing campaign ad costs usually range between $1000 – $2000 per month, billed directly to the platform, such as Facebook. Initial ad account setup and configuration costs about $700 – $800, with ongoing agency management and optimization costs coming in around $550/month.
Instagram in particular can be a powerful tool for businesses that benefit most from visual marketing, such as home builders, landscaping, interior design, artists, hospitality and recreation, food and dining, and outdoor adventure businesses, all of which are important parts of the Muskoka area business community.
Once your business’ presence is solidified on this core set of platforms, adding more digital channels to the mix as your business continues to grow can make a lot of sense to maintain momentum and expand to reach new audiences and customer segments.
Build A Solid Web Presence The Right Way
The bottom line is that a properly configured and optimized web presence is absolutely essential, and partnering with a digital marketing agency that understands the unique business environment of the Barrie/Orillia/Muskoka area will help accelerate your success and drive the results you need.
At Muskoka Marketing, we pride ourselves on being committed to the community we call home, and provide services to our clients that help facilitate business growth and deliver real ROI from all your campaigns. If your Muskoka-based business is ready to take the next step and build a thriving web presence, now is the time to book your free, no-obligation consultation with our team of experienced digital marketing professionals. We’ll provide the guidance and insight you need to make the right choices online, and will work with you to achieve your business goals.
Contact us today, and let’s start the discussion!