Digital marketing is a different world altogether. Almost all kind of businesses are on the web today fighting among themselves to come on top. The competition is stiff and one needs to be the best to be able to leave a mark.
There are many ways of promoting a business online, and the right way depends on a number of things including the nature of your business. Promoting your business online takes time to learn. You can get ideas by looking at other successful businesses. You can read blogs that give you advice. I decided to interview a leader in business to pick their brains regarding online promotions. Here are Rudo Morrison (Trinidad & Tobago), and Gordon Henry (Jamaica), founders of Carnivalinfo.com.
Aj: What inspired you to launch a Carnival business?
RM and GH: Even though carnivals are one of the largest industries exported from the Caribbean, it is nearly impossible to find objective content online about the large-scale events. More than 100 carnivals take place in the western hemisphere with millions of participants every year. There is a large and diverse demographic for the industry.
Carnivalinfo.com was created to provide Carnival stakeholders with the opportunity to reach new and pre-existing customers. Our mission has been to offer a 'one-stop shop' for information on these events that occur all over the world.
Aj: What's the key to making a small business a success on the Internet?
RM and GH: Several factors will make your niche market a success on the Internet. You have to be flexible with your strategy.
Aj: Explain how you customize what you do for each business.
RM: We are 100 percent focused on our visitor needs. We tweak our service constantly that we hope will provide a more compelling experience. This customer service focus allow us to offer our business clients a unique perspective on how to interact with our Carnival community. We've found that typical web ads are far less effective for niche markets. We help our clients build complete web campaigns for the best return on investment.
Aj: Can you cite two examples of different strategies that turn a small business into an Internet success?
RM and GH:
Effective Social Media -- Using instagram to tell a visual story about your brand can be an extremely effective means of promotion. Studies have shown that Instagram users engage more than Facebook and other social media platforms. In fewer than six months, we've seen CarnivalInfo's Instagram page grow to 50,000 followers, which has resulted in a 17 percent increase in traffic to our website.
Partnerships -- It's vital to reach out to other businesses in your niche. Forming symbiotic relationships with stakeholders has been important in gaining a deeper understanding of our audience. We are always on the lookout for partners who can provide value to our audience.
Aj: Search Engine Optimization and keywords are crucial to a small business' success on the Internet and Google. What are the keys to conquering that and becoming an SEO success?
RM and GH: With Google frequently updating its algorithm, the best strategy for SEO is to provide relevant and timely content with good link structure. With this approach, we have been able to achieve top first page Google rankings.
Aj: What makes your website innovative?
GH: CarnivalInfo is the only source on the Internet that provides a complete directory of carnivals as well as information on how to participate in them. We have built tools to allow carnival organizations all over the world to contribute content to our platform free of charge. In doing so, we have become the largest Carnival entity on the Internet.
Aj: Some small business owners are afraid of the Internet and don't trust it.
How do you help them to overcome that fear? Any examples?
RM and GH: Moving to an online presence has been a daunting task for many businesses in the Carnival industry. You have to understand what you wish to accomplish online. This will help avoid a lot of the 'snake oil' that exists currently.
Ask for numbers
If you intend to market online, be sure to ask for statistics and demographic information; this will ensure that you are reaching your target market.
Aj: Putting it all together, what does it take to make a small business a success online?
RM and GH: What we've learned over the past three years is that there is no specific formula for success. A combination of factors play a role in driving traffic to your site. Concentrating on the needs of your visitors while remaining flexible with your approach are key components to realizing success online.