Although marketing online (web sites, email marketing and etc) are important and low cost ways for small businesses to spread the word about their business, marketing online is not just something you do and wait for traffic to follow.
Jeff Cornwall, Director of the Belmont University, Center for Entrepreneurship writes that small businesses must ensure they take a more active role in their online activities and more importantly enabling customers to be a part of the action.
Jeff writes – Motivate customers to talk about you through excellence in customer service. Customer service is not what it used to be, so if you can create an exceptional experience people will tend to talk about it. The service must be consistent, genuine, and enthusiastic.
– Create incentives to spread the word through a referral “thank you” program. Offer customers a future discount or send them a small thank you gift, such as a gift card, for each new customer they send your way.
If you sell custom made leather goods, wouldn’t it be nice if your customers could comment on what they purchased. If customers could rate the various items. If customers could submit photos of their purchases to show others.
All of this is ACTIVE online marketing and not just PASSIVE marketing.