Having a website for your business is a great first step to establishing an online presence. But if you want your business to be the first one customers and prospects turn to on the Internet, then it’s important to know exactly how to maximize and improve on all things digital.
No matter if you already have your online store for some time or you are just starting your adventure with e-commerce — you won’t succeed unless you can attract clients to your e-business.
Promoting online is all about marketing to customers using a range of digital options. This includes everything from your website and effective use of SEO through to paid advertising, social media and email marketing. Building an online marketing strategy that delivers real value to your business requires a bit of know-how, as described here.
Consider paid advertising
Paid online advertising is definitely worth considering if budget permits. This can include the more traditional style online advertisements that appear as a direct response to the keywords entered into a search (and charged on the number of times the ad is displayed). Alternatively, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is about bidding on the amount you are prepared to pay per click you receive. PPC can deliver highly targeted traffic to your home page or chosen landing page as the type of visitors clicking on PPC ads are already interested in the product or service you are marketing.
Learn to be social
While it’s not necessary to have a presence on every social media platform out there — it is important to find the right social media platforms for your business so that you increase your chances of connecting directly with your target audience. Facebook is a good place to start and if you post interesting and informational content then you stand a good chance of establishing your business as an authority as well as nurture brand loyalty.
Twitter and Pinterest are also useful for building your brand reputation, with Twitter useful for sharing quick updates and collecting instant updates and Pinterest useful if your product or service lends itself to great images, as does a YouTube or Vimeo channel for great footage. LinkedIn is perfect for establishing a professional image for your business and establishing yourself and your brand as a market and thought leader by being a proactive member of industry groups.
The key to success in social media is providing a marvelous content. You have to be interesting and outstanding, so that people will want to follow you. If you manage to do so, you will have a great marketing channel at no financial expense. So what actually should you do to attract customers using social media?
- use graphics – posts with images usually get 50% more engagement that others
- post regularly – at least on a daily basis, so customers can’t forget about you (but not at all costs – if you post just because you should, it may have a reverse effect!)
- choose the best channels for you business, but always focus on Facebook and Pinterest, because those drive the most traffic to online stores (FB: 56%; Pinterest: 27%)
- engage your users: ask them questions, reply to their comments, try to catch their attention
Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about creating content for your website that gets discovered by search engines. Your web pages stand a much better chance of ranking higher in search results than your competitors if you cleverly include the right keywords throughout your website content.
Remember not to overuse your keywords or place them gratuitously, instead focus on keywords that describe your business, products and services so that you target the right traffic and attract the site visitors your business is looking for. Many established, larger businesses have the resources to have an employee handle SEO, but for individuals or small businesses the fact is that most likely there is going to be reliance on an outside specialist such as MadBeeTech SEO. Marketing businesses such as MadBeeTech that work with small businesses offer a range of affordable SEO services.
Tell great stories
Learn to tell a great story of your business and brand as seen through each customer’s eyes. Give a voice to your most loyal fans by gathering customer testimonials and case studies that you can feature on your website. Encourage feedback via your website and through social media and always be ready to respond immediately to both positive and negative feedback to show customers, prospects, suppliers and the rest of your online audience that you care.
Establish a content calendar
If you’re the type of business that posts lots of content one week then leaves it weeks until you post again then your online promotional efforts will fail to deliver results. Make sure you plan in advance by setting up a content calendar that lets you clearly plan what you have to say and post about week-by-week, month-by-month of the entire year. Establish relevant themes of the type of content your target market is looking for and take advantage of dates on the calendar such as Easter, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Australia Day etc so that you can plan online promotions accordingly.
Sell downloadable files
People love the convenience of being able to automatically download a purchased item. It’s the reason records are out and digital music is in. It’s the reason so many people are turning from printed books to ebooks. If you’re going to sell downloads, make sure to host your site with a web host that specializes in setting up sites that automate the process of delivering purchased digital files to customers. In addition to selling files, you can offer some free downloads from your site as well. People love free stuff, so doing this is a great way to have people remember your site, stay on your site longer, and keep visitors returning to your site. The previously-mentioned MadBeeTech is one solution, as is PayPal.
Be discovered locally
It can be tricky for your business to be the first one found in the busy world of online, so it’s important that your marketing efforts have a local reach so that your products and services can be found in your area. Making use of online offerings such as Google My Business will connect you directly with customers, whether they’re looking for you on Search, Maps or Google+. Explore other local search offerings such as creating a free listing on Yelp and getting listed on Bing Places for Business and Yahoo Local.
Embrace email marketing
Email is a highly effective way to communicate with your target audience and email marketing campaigns consistently get strong responses when it comes to promoting your business online. Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter are perfect to create a dialogue amongst your audience and generate interest — but nothing beats a well-thought-out email when it comes to getting people to respond to your latest promotion.
Start a blog
Successful blogging is a lot of work but the key to success is to be creative and think like your target audience. Work out exactly what type of content is going to appeal to your targets and what information they need from you. Companies use blogs in a variety of ways to engage with their audience — news and announcements, product launches and community relations involvement all make good subject matter as does a personal diary tracking a particular journey or company milestone. Guest bloggers or industry experts who have something to share that your target market will find useful also makes a great blog post for your business.
Online media releases
Take time to produce regular media releases of your company achievements that can be distributed through all available online channels to promote your business. It is a cost-effective way to reach out to a broad and highly targeted audience. Don’t forget to feature your media releases on your website so that your site visitors can keep up-to-date with current events.