A photo of a woman holding a cell phone with cartoon shopping carts surrounding her hands.

It’s easier than ever to put the power of the digital revolution — online marketing — to work for your massage therapy business.

We go online now for just about everything under the sun. Constantly carrying a digital window to the world around in our pockets has transformed how we communicate, learn, eat, date, vote, browse and buy the goods and services we want, whatever someone is selling, from software to groceries to massage.

The more you know about the latest trends — and about what works and what doesn’t — the more effective your efforts will be.

To that end, we’ll cover a few digital marketing basics and review some concrete steps your massage business can take to boost its presence and performance on the virtual terrain that matters most right now

E-Commerce Essentials

The first things to know about e-commerce, or the buying and selling of goods and services online, are that it’s a massive market and it’s growing each year.

Online retail sales accounted for one tenth of the total global retail market last year, according to e-commerce.com. By 2021, more than 2 billion online shoppers are expected to generate more than $4 trillion in revenue. Online revenue from this year’s holiday shopping season alone will likely exceed $1.10 trillion, says Zacks Investment Research.

If you want to grow your business, you’ve got to meet your customers where they are — and that’s online.

Go Social

Customers increasingly use the web as a shopping cart and as a tool for carrying out their own in-depth market research and sharing what they find with others. By swapping information and comparing experiences with other customers, people shape the narrative about brands as much as, or even more than, the brands themselves.

Major social channels like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the search engines and public squares of choice for today’s audiences. Nearly 80% of internet users are on Facebook, according to digitalmarketer.com, for one example. That makes social venues essential tools for a successful online marketing strategy. [Read “The 5 Biggest Social Media Blunders to Avoid for Success”]

Directly engaging with potential customers through online marketing is a great way to boost your brand’s visibility, reach, impact and market share.

But knowledge is power. In order to connect effectively, you’ve got to understand your audience. This includes getting to know their experiences, beliefs, expectations, likes and dislikes. Doing so helps drive traffic to your site and builds your brand’s reputation for responding to real people in real ways. Some important boxes to check on the social web include:

Plant your flag on popular social platforms. Create an attractive, eye-catching, accessible page or profile that pops.

Listen and learn. This can include polling your followers and then sharing the results to generate further discussion. Remember that your best shot at shaping the perception of your brand is to enter the conversation as a helpful participant clearly willing to listen and respond to feedback — good or bad.

Social sharing can also mean sharing research or industry news relevant to your services and joining in the resulting discussion.

Use hashtags generously. Customers use them reflexively to scan for brands like yours. Hashtags can do a lot to draw traffic to your social profile or website.

Leverage SEO

Traditional advertising is a marketing tool best suited for an audience of passive consumers of scripted information. Remember that today’s spontaneous, bustling digital world of increasingly independent clients and customers calls for a much different approach.

If it’s going to be effective, your online marketing strategy must go beyond organic interactions on social channels. Social outreach is essential, but automation will give you a crucial advantage in the scramble to the top of search results. Enter Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

SEO helps you use your knowledge of keywords relevant to your brand to drive web traffic to your home website or social presence. Proper use of SEO is a complex topic; trying to get a handle on it can be a daunting prospect. But there are some simple tricks and tips to keep in mind.

First, figure out what search terms are most effective in driving traffic to your website. This can be done with Google Analytics or similar tools. It’s also worth brainstorming a list of keywords your audience is likely to use to search for the services your brand offers. Once you’ve got a robust list of terms, incorporate them into the content you generate for your site or social media presence.

Some more specific in-site tricks to help attract organic web traffic include building the right keywords into:

• Your social posts’ first 100 words

• Your image file names

• Your URL

• All of your site’s text (not just the first 100 words)

• Your site’s titles and metadata

• The beginning of your title tags

One effective technique for optimizing SEO is to use long-tail keywords, meaning three- or four-word phrases as opposed to single keywords. Research shows that search engine algorithms tend to take greater notice of longer phrases, whereas one- or two-word phrases more easily get lost in the mix.

Long-tail keywords, which constitute 70% of web searches, are therefore a more effective means of using SEO to draw organic web traffic to your site. The bottom line is that the content on your site needs to fill searchers’ needs.

Go Mobile

Clients and customers aren’t just doing more of their browsing and buying online, they’re doing it more than ever on the move. This makes optimizing websites for mobile use a key digital marketing strategy for any competitive brand.

It also dovetails with the marketing importance of effective web design to make delivering the best mobile user experience possible a high priority. Smaller screen size makes the mobile interface a limited canvas for tricking out your mobile site. But the need to simplify and streamline can also be seen as an opportunity to make your webpage more elegant, intelligible and easy to use.

Here are a few tips for optimizing your mobile design:

• Prioritize and display only the most essential content (information, graphics and cues) for performing a page’s primary function.

• Vet your images to ensure that they clearly convey the main idea or purpose of the page on which they appear.

• When the content on your site or a given page needs to be complex or multi-layered, let users navigate the layers in ways that are intuitive.

• Create a path by which users can easily access the most essential or high-demand information on the site or page. This path should prominently include obvious routes to subsequent action with clear commands.

• Something else to consider is the time it takes your mobile site to load. Slow or sluggish load times are one of the most common user experience complaints about mobile sites. A load time of 3 seconds is the upper limit of what you should allow, or else you risk losing followers and clients. Google’s site-ranking algorithms also benefit fast-loading sites.

• Images are dense and weigh down the loading process. If you need to shave valuable seconds off of your site’s load time, try compressing and resizing your images, which improves performance by reducing the number of bytes web browsers have to download in order to display a page.

Finally, as the old saying goes, brevity is the soul of wit. In an interesting case of people’s expectations and behaviors adjusting to the limits of the technology they use, mobile apps can’t display as much content at once, while mobile users tend to have less patience with long-winded and convoluted text in their mobile user experience.

Your mobile site’s content should therefore reflect your users’ expectation of clear and concise language. This is essentially an editing task. But it shows that effective mobile optimization can involve something as low-tech as writing more simply.

Go Grow!

Developing a strong digital marketing game is more of a necessity than ever. For brands to remain competitive, it’s essential that they meet clients and customers on their terms. As we’ve seen, this means doing social outreach, leveraging SEO to soup up your site’s performance, and ensuring that your mobile web presence plays well with users on the move.

With these guidelines in mind, your massage business will have the best shot at growing by leaps and bounds.

About the Author

Adam A. Glenn writes about tips and trends in digital marketing and social media for TrustRadius. He is an avid reader whose extracurricular interests include hiking, vintage pop culture and messing around with music.