An A-to-Z of Small Business Online Marketing, Part 2

This is Part 2 of my simple (but not so short and sweet) A to Z of online marketing terms. It covers N to Z – with a few letters in between that were a bit of a challenge! As with Part 1 A-to-M some of these topics will be expanded upon in their very own blog posts, and I will endeavour to update this one with links to those posts as I create and publish them. In other words, bookmark them both and check back occasionally for updates.

N is for NICHE.


Business and marketing become simpler when you understand exactly what it is that appeals to your target audience. Sometimes that means trial and error. Or running a survey. Or just asking your customers what appeals to them. You might also need to hone your Unique Selling Proposition (see U is for Unique) and even modify your product range.


Discover and develop your niche so you can target your marketing to match a group who are ready to engage and/or buy. When you realise that only boys like Blue Widgets, you might choose not to spend time on building a Pinterest page, but instead target the more male-dominated Google+.


Knowing your niche also helps you gauge what type of content to publish, and where. (See C is for Content in Part 1)


N is also for NETWORKING.


Networking is a skill, but one that can only be honed with practise.  [<– Tweet that]

You can network online via interest groups on Facebook or Google+, but real relationships work best offline.  Try to find groups in your area that relate to your niche, then get along to a group and start networking. The main rules to follow are:


  • Be yourself.
  • Use your ‘elevator pitch’ when introducing yourself, but only sell if you’re give the signal to (don’t push!)
  • Don’t expect instant rewards – relationships and trust take time.


O is for OPT-INS.


The act of opting-in is a signal from people that they are interested in what you have to sell, and are happy to be marketed to – at least for the moment. Whether that opt-in is a verbal indication when you’re selling or networking, or the ticking of a box on your online form, treat an opt-in as respectfully as you would a highly valued client.


For online opt-ins, make it clear what they will receive – a monthly newsletter, a brief daily email, irregular special offers, exclusive access to training, etc.


Don’t forget that pre-ticked opt-ins are not an acceptable form of consent, and that an opt-out or unsubscribe mechanism is required by law (in Australia, the Spam Act 2003).




Pinterest only commenced in 2010, but has grown rapidly to now have about 70 million users. It’s been proving itself as a sales and marketing tool for many businesses, especially those in retail with a mostly female market (about 70% of Pinterest users are female). Being a highly-visual medium it suits those businesses with attractive products – beauty, fashion, food, décor and photography.


And just because you only sell Blue Widgets for men (see N is for Niche), if you find that women buy them to give as a gift you might do well to build a Pinterest board of Gifts for Men.


Pinterest items also have longevity as they are not listed chronologically. When someone visits a Pinterest board, they might click or share a Pin weeks or months after it was posted.


You can setup a Pinterest business profile, which includes analytics tools and additional sales features such as ‘rich pins’, allowing you to indicate pricing, availability and where to buy, even before someone clicks through to your website.


P is also for PPC.


Pay Per Click (known as PPC) is the most common type of paid search engine advertising. Google’s AdWords is one of the most well-known forms of PPC advertising (See A is for AdWords in Part 1). The Pay Per Click refers to the amount paid by an advertiser to get their ad or link clicked. If it’s website-to-website, there may be a set amount paid, or with AdWords and other search engines, the advertiser can bid to pay more than competing advertisers.


Generally where you see the word ‘sponsored’ or ‘ads’ they were paid for using PPC.


Q is for QR CODES.


QR code to visit Right Hand Design
Scan this QR code with a reader and visit my landing page

QR Codes are those distinctive square ‘barcodes’ that appear in all sorts of places – on the labels of products, on advertising posters, business cards and other printed materials.


QR stands for Quick Response.


They can be scanned by devices such as smartphones, via a QR scanning app that converts the lines and dots into the intended form – a url for a website landing page or Facebook page, a virtual business card with contact details, a calendar event, a Google Maps location, you name it.


Generally black and white, they can also be printed in colour and customised, like the one here.



Q is also for QUESTIONS.


Questions are a good way to get engagement in your online marketing (see E is for Engagement in Part 1). Clever questions in ads can attract attention and have the reader nodding and thinking “yes, that’s me”. Make use of questions on your blogs and Facebook posts to invite comment.


R is for RANK.


Online marketing is often about competing for ‘rank’. That is, the relative position of your website, ad or post compared to others. The internet PageRank for your website, the EdgeRank of your Facebook posts, and Google’s ever-changing Search Rank are all based on complex algorithms.


In general, ranking improves when your site or posts gain higher engagement (see E is for Engagement, in Part 1). What people see in their Facebook News Feed is decided by the EdgeRank algorithm, based in part on what they already engage with, ie. Facebook serves up more of whatever you seem to like best.


The best way to improve your ranking is to be consistent in adding valuable content (with targeted keywords) and keeping your social networking communities engaged.


S is for SEO.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the term given to a variety of methods used to help raise a website’s ranking on Google and other search engines (see R is for Rank). In brief, this can include the use of keywords on your website and blog (see K is for Keywords in Part 1), well-written titles and other meta-tags in your HTML (see H is for HTML), and relevant, quality backlinks (see L is for Links).


For more on SEO, read DIY SEO and an SEO Reality Check.


The term SMO is also gaining authority, referring to Social Media Optimisation.


S is also for SOCIAL MEDIA.


Social Media is a collective term for the social networking platforms such as Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn (and several other smaller ones). The phrase Social Media is a misnomer created by marketers, and businesses would do well to remember that the word Social is the more important part of the phrase, ie. don’t use Social Media to sell, sell, sell.  They are more for Social Networking, where marketing on these platforms is about creating a community of people with similar interests, encouraging interaction and engagement between the business and its fans.


Most Social Media channels are free to join, and to setup a business profile. They do, however, require a significant time investment. Consistency is important and be prepared to stick with it for several months before you may see results.


Social Media should complement your website, not replace it. Remember that your website should be the central hub for your marketing efforts. (See W is for Website)


T is for TWITTER.


Twitter is a social network used for real-time sharing of bite-sized updates or thoughts with interested ‘followers’. Sometimes referred to as ‘microblogging’, it’s a great way to get word out to your existing community, and hopefully they’ll share (‘retweet’) the news to their own followers (also see V is for Viral).


Twitter is great for building a community as well as for alerting people to new blogs, new products, etc. Anything that can be communicated within the 140 character limit of a Tweet. Twitter can be used in conjunction with other Social Media channels and for driving visitors to your blog or website.


One strength of Twitter is that tweets are searchable (check so make sure you use keywords in some of your tweets. People can search and read tweets at, even if they don’t have a Twitter account. Twitter were the first to use #hashtags to help make content searchable.



U is for UNIQUE.


The word ‘unique’ is ubiquitous in marketing-speak: Unique Selling Proposition (USP), Unique Value Proposition (UVP), Unique Marketing Solutions. Take some time to understand what makes your product or service different or special, what sets it apart from competitive offerings, and why clients might choose you. It might be the first of its kind, the best, the cheapest, or simply different. Focus on those unique aspects when writing your website and advertising copy.


U is also for USABILITY.


Usability is something that shouldn’t be overlooked in your quest for a unique, standout website.  Following usability guidelines for layout, colour, contrast, font size, descriptive tags, etc, will ensure that all visitors to your website can enjoy the experience, even if they aren’t super computer-savvy, have hearing issues, poor eyesight or colour-blindness.


Check the Nielsen Norman Group Intro to Usability for more. They are the experts in website usability.


V is for VIDEO.


Video is becoming increasingly popular, especially short videos. They are also considered good for SEO, not because the search engines can understand their content (because they can’t – see I is for Images in Part 1), but because they keep people engaged on your site for longer.


Video production doesn’t have to be expensive these days, with the quality of handheld devices around, but do make sure your picture and sound quality are clear. This is reflecting your business, after all.


Also see Y is for YouTube, which is the ultimate video-sharing website.


It’s a good idea to provide a transcript of anything you put into a video, to offer alternative ways for visitors to access that content (they may have audio or visual impairment, or perhaps just broken computer speakers. See U is for Usability.)


Videos are great for viral marketing.


V is also for VIRAL.


When a tweet, a Facebook post or a YouTube video gets shared and gains much greater reach than its initial audience, it is said to have “gone viral”. Viral marketing is now something that is aimed for, often through the use of humour, compassion, or other compelling traits. If something you produce goes viral, that’s great. Though beware of trying to repeat it too often as people can become cynical of your real motives.


W is for WEBSITE.


What else? Your website is the all-important online face of your business and all your marketing should link to it and drive traffic to it. That includes offline marketing (print ads, business cards, etc) as well as all the online marketing methods mentioned here. Make use of landing pages (oops, I must go back and add L is for Landing Pages to Part 1, not sure how I overlooked that!) with a clear Call to Action (see C is for CTA in Part 1) so that visitors don’t get distracted once they arrive from other locations.


Read Is Your Website Central to Your Marketing for more advice.


W is also for WIIFM.


WIIFM – What’s In It For Me. This acronym should be at the forefront of your thinking when writing anything for your customers. Whenever you devise a new marketing strategy, write a blog, or update your website copy, think from your client’s perspective. Step into their shoes. Rather than telling them what you do, tell them what you can do for them. Describe the benefits to them, rather than the features of your product or service.




Aim for exceptional marketing, certainly, but make sure you offer an exceptional product or service too. The end result is the key to a happy customer. There’s no point advertising that your plumbing service is exceptional because “we always arrive on time”, if the reality is that your plumbers regularly show up an hour late. Be sure you can deliver on your marketing promises.


X is also for eXisting clients.


Never forget those existing happy customers, even when you’re marketing to new ones. While it’s good to entice more people with offers and discounts limited eXclusively to new clients, don’t take ‘old’ clients for granted or leave them out in the cold. Keep them happy, perhaps with a special deal for providing a glowing testimonial, with an anniversary or birthday offer, or a “buy before June 30 and receive 20% off your next order”.



Y is for YouTube.


As mentioned in V is for Video, YouTube is the mainstay for videos, whether music videos, homoe movies, or business-related. It is owned by Google.


You can develop a separate YouTube channel for your business, but also look at embedding those videos into your website, and linking to them from your social media channels. You might create and upload videos that:


  • demonstrate how your products are used
  • show happy customers providing testimonials
  • reveal some personality with a video of your business’ milestone celebrations
  • provide education
  • replay a presentation you’ve given.


Y is also for YOU.


The name YouTube is clever marketing – it says “this is for you, for everyone, it’s yours”. ‘You’ is an incredibly powerful word in marketing (see W is for WIIFM). In all your writing (website, blogs, advertisements) and videos, search through for the words ‘me’, ‘my’, ‘we’ and ‘our’ and rewrite the sentences to work with ‘you’ and ‘your’ (and ‘you’re’ whenever you mean ‘you are’). Writing or videoing for your readers will engage them and keep them interested.


Z is for ZEN.


Zen is about attaining enlightenment. Zen meditation is also known to help reduce pain and lower stress. In marketing, it’s always good to explain how your products or services can solve a client’s pain or problem, or meet their needs and wants.


So use your online marketing Zen to enlighten people about how your business can reduce their pain or stress by helping them or making them happy.


ZERO in on what interests and engages your market and you’ll have happy customers.


On that note, I end this epic A-to-Z series (all 5000 words of it!). I hope you have found some of it useful and will bookmark it as a reference. I’d love your feedback in the comments section below. Let me know what else I’ve left out…



Author: RobynRHD

I'm a small business web design specialist with interests in social media and other online marketing methods. As my blog intro states: "Steering small businesses in the right direction with what I hope is practical, realistic advice and useful tips, amidst the constantly changing noise and hype. I'd like to help you sort out what you really need and how to go about it." I'm a proud Aussie, living in Sydney, and an avid fan of Column 8 in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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