Today, small business owners must wear more hats than ever before. After nailing down your idea, business model, and finally, your product — you still have to figure out how to reach potential customers and inspire them to take action. With so many options available to market your business, knowing where to start can seem overwhelming.
Fret not! Google has a ton of free tools to help you and your business get online, get found, and get inspired.
Did you know that, according to BIA/Kelsey, 97% of online consumers use the web to find local goods and services? For most small businesses, the need to be online is obvious, but many are still stuck at the first step: building a website. With America Get Your Business Online, small business owners can build their own website with a customized domain name, get a year of hosting, and access online marketing tools and trainings – all for free! You can also measure how successful your website is at driving business goals by using free website analytics tools like Google Analytics.
Once you’ve created your website, you can begin the journey from a digital newbie to marketing superstar. The first place I’d recommend any digital marketer start, whether budding or experienced, is Google Trends. With Google Trends, you can find valuable information around any given keyword or phrase – including fluctuations in search volume, corresponding news headlines, search activity by geography, and related keywords that are rising in popularity.
Let’s take a look at an example for the keyword “recipe”:
Right away, we can pull meaningful insights from this data. For example, searches for recipes have been steadily increasing since 2004, with pretty regular patterns of interest. This suggests that recipe keywords will likely be a strong and stable place to invest your efforts in paid and organic search. We can also see that there is clear seasonality in searches for recipes – peaking consistently in November and December. This may mean you can expect both increased volume and heightened competition during these time periods.
These insights can help you make smart decisions when it comes to your marketing dollars and plans — helping you determine where to focus your efforts, anticipate future trends, and avoid declining categories. Try looking up a few of the keywords related to your business and uncover the trends underlying your most valued keywords!
Finally, everyone experiences moments of “marketer’s block,” during which you just can’t come up with fresh ideas to solve your business challenges. During these times, I like to check out Think with Google, a hub of research, resources, and creative inspiration to help drive your business forward. Here, you can find valuable information by industry, digital channel, or marketing objective.
Another incredible source for inspiration is the Creative Sandbox, a collection of innovative online marketing campaigns. One of my favorite examples is a campaign for Geox Amphibiox, a line of weatherproof shoes. Geox needed a compelling way to prove their claim of being the most waterproof shoes available. So, they selected four fans and sent them to the rainiest place on earth — Cherrapunji, India. Using an array of digital media, they captured and broadcast their experiences to the world. Check out the campaign and its results for more information.
As a small business owner, you may be thinking, “I don’t have the budget to pull off something like this!” But regardless of your marketing budget, this example shows the value of finding a creative way to prove your claim, and the impact you can have when harnessing the power of “show, don’t tell.” By identifying the underlying strategy of the campaigns found in the Creative Sandbox, you can think about them in the context of your own business, and best apply them to to accomplish your goals.
The digital marketing landscape is changing by the minute, and the resources and information you need to take part are out there readily available to you. As a small business owner, your need to get found online is undeniable. By taking advantage of the plethora of free tools offered by Google, you can help take your company from an idea to a success — and do so smartly and efficiently. So, what are you waiting for?