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Utilising Online – Advice for SMBs

Talk Business Magazine grills Edward Leake, MD of Midas Media, on making the most of online tools

Do you think the average business is utilising the internet to its best advantage?

I doubt it but then I don’t blame them, doing business online involves so much these days – you really need a Swiss Army knife of expertise. I think the biggest area of neglect comes in the form of data analysis, yes it may sound like a mundane subject but if interpreted and acted on correctly it can transform a business online. It doesn’t have to be hugely expensive to monitor and analyse either, so long as the business targets are rationalised against the costs then the resulting value can be identified and exploited.

What online trend is having the biggest impact on business?

It really depends on your position and industry, but as a one size fits most (if not all) answer I’d say Responsive Web Design is up there. Responsive really started to gain traction in 2012 and at the time many in the industry called it a fad. Thing is, a fad becomes a trend when it gains ground and a trend becomes the accepted normality when we all start using it – and a lot of us have.

For those that don’t know, what is Responsive Design?

It’s a web design approach aimed at crafting a seamless and optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices, including mobile.

For SMEs, usually budget is the overriding factor tempering what they can do

Why do you think businesses are still avoiding mobile?

Time and budget would be my guess, but that’s a short-sighted view because the potential of lost business over time could be far greater. If your website holds a traditional shape and form it will be awkward on a mobile device, but some users will persevere. However the same can’t be said of eCommerce website design, if you retail online and your site isn’t mobile friendly and even if your visitor really wants your product, they’ll likely give up before they commit to purchase.

For a business looking to go mobile, what would be your top tip?

Get the navigation right, it’s a deal breaker! If you make your site easy to navigate on mobile, people will use it. That should be your starting block. Also consider that space is at a premium, so tailor and offer your premium content first.

Whilst on the subject of mobile, Social Media continues to grow; what value do you see in it for businesses?

You have to think about your positioning. Facebook was born out of technology supporting many social activities, a platform for self-promotion not company promotion. You have to ask yourself where does my company ‘message’ fit, or worse, shoehorn in to this environment? Twitter being so immediate and response orientated is arguably the better business tool for most, it just feels more tailored to the purpose with direct interactions and conversations that aren’t mere meandering ‘status’ updates.

I think the biggest concern for organic is how much paid space is creeping over

And in comparison how do you see SEO and Organic Search changing?

That’s the million dollar question. What works today might not work next week, and what works next week might get you stripped of all credibility a week after that. Google has released several major updates this year that have each tackled certain areas of the search results pages, each one has a ripple effect and those ripples are ever widening. It really is a minefield.

I think the biggest concern for organic is how much paid (or sponsored) space is creeping over. I’m not convinced Google will eventually monetise the whole first page of it’s search results, that would be incredibly risky, however it’s clear that paid exposure retains and continues to gain traction with time.

Is Google still the king?

Yes. Over the past 3 years we have worked with over 100 client websites and so we see a lot of data. Google is still the biggest single source of traffic and that won’t change anytime soon.

utilising-online-marketing-design-midas-media

It’s clear that things are rapidly changing online, what advice would you give to businesses?

Strategy, content, test, adopt. What I mean is you should always apply a well-considered plan to your online efforts, make sure the content is on message and well-targeted, test variations and then adopt what works. Rinse and repeat. If you’re doing it right you’ll grow, not only that you’ll generate profit – if you’re targeting the profitable business areas that is!

And what about new and small businesses, would your advice be different?

For SME’s usually budget is the overriding factor tempering what they can do, so their budget needs to be spent in the right places. The single ‘right’ place to spend would be on the most profitable area of the business, what really makes you money? Build a plan around pushing that product or service. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune but the reality is the more you put in, the more you’re likely to get out.

I know that sounds very much like common sense but the SMB owner is a busy person, it’s not surprising how quickly the obvious can get buried among the many other aspects of doing business.

Article originally published in the 2013 November issue of Talk Business Magazine.

Ed Leake

Author: Ed Leake

Ed is the director of Midas Media and has served in the technology industry for just shy of twenty years. Ed believes in the constant development, improvement and the maturing of ideas. Outside of work Ed enjoys motorsport, yet more fresh coffee and doughnuts.

  • Mathew

    How has The internet helped to excel business online? How has it increased sales? etc
    cheers

  • Brendan Oliver

    I want to start a T-Shirt business online and have some really great ideas. I want to do this ASAP because I don’t want anyone else to steal my ideas. But I know that right now is probably not the BEST time to start a business because of the country’s economic situation. Do you think I should do it any way? Why or why not? Or should I just wait a couple years?

    • MidasMedia

      Hello Brendan,

      Firstly you shouldn’t do anything ‘asap’; thorough planning should precede any ventures online, especially in business. In terms of waiting that might not be the right thing, instead of using guesswork we can draw up a feasibility report for your market – this will go in to considerable detail and include business modelling.

      Our reports enable you to make an informed decision on whether or not the market is right for you. We typically charge in the region of £1,200-£2,000 +VAT for our comprehensive reports, they are worth their weight in gold because they reduce your risk considerably.

  • veemodz

    I am starting a business, I have planned to do it online. So I need a web service company which can offer me web hosting, web design and Internet marketing services. Ideally I’d like the company located in the midlands, Somewhere around Leicester would be ideal.

  • Dawn Murden

    Brendan,

    Starting a business is a big decision, and many entrepreneurs say there is never really a perfect time to do it. There will always be something holding you back, e.g. finance, family, personal problems, location and so on.

    My advice, as the editor of Talk Business Magazine, would be if you’re serious and willing to put in the hard work then go for it. But MidasMedia are very right when they say planning is integral. You should devise a competent business plan which takes everything into account; funding, market research, the future of the business, and so on.

    We have plenty of great article to help you along the way, so please check us out at talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk

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