Online Marketing is the umbrella term used for marketing your business on the Internet. Online marketing uses a range of techniques to raise your profile, build your brand and advertise your business on the Net. It starts with your website but also includes SEO (Search Engine Optimization), social media and email marketing.
SEO is using keywords in your website copy (or script) so that Internet search engines like Google and Yahoo can locate your business easily allowing customers to find you quickly. Social media revolves around using tools like Facebook, Twitter and My Space to connect with potential customers. Email marketing is what it implies, using your email to help promote your business.
Most businesses want the same outcomes from their website: To generate leads and online sales. To develop customer service. To build a strong brand or presence. To provide information. To attract visitors and generate advertising revenue.
So for online marketing to work for you, there are a few essentials you need to know. Firstly, your website should look professional as this is what gives you and your business credibility. With credibility comes the all important trust. And for a person looking for goods or services online this is a key element in any decision making process.
The website should be well designed and written as this creates the first impression for a potential customer and also helps with SEO. If there are spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or the design looks like it could have been done by a well meaning but inexperienced relative, then a customer is more likely to click onto another site and your business misses out on an invaluable opportunity. Not only that, but your competitor will benefit as the customer will keep clicking on sites until they find one that does look professional and gives an impression that the owner of the site is serious about his or her business. If a site looks dodgy, then why should a customer assume the business is not dodgy. They don’t know you from a bar of soap, so that first online impression is critical.
The second thing to keep in mind is how do you want your website to work for you? How can it generate business for you? Well if it looks professional and is designed and written with SEO then you are well on the way to ensuring your website will work for you. You need to be clear about what you want the website to achieve as once you understand what your website needs to do for you, it will help you to make clear and constructive decisions.
Here are a few tips:
Only include elements of real value.
Check out your competitors so you get an idea of what does and doesn’t work online
Look at the potential financial gains to help you understand the appropriate budget for your website and its marketing.
Find a good website designer who you can talk to and who listens to your needs and wants and who is readily accessible.This is critical to a successful outcome as a good website designer will have helpful suggestions so you can get the most from your website.
So, if you don’t have a website, then find a good website designer. Talk to your friends and family. Do they know someone they can recommend? Look around on the Internet. A good website designer will have a professional looking website because they know how important first impressions are.
Think about your target audience and keep this in mind when talking to your website designer before they start designing your website. What keywords can be used for SEO? What photos will make the site look better? What do you want to include in the script?
If you already have a website, then it would be a good idea to spend some time thinking about how it can work better for your business. Which parts of your website are working for you? What changes could be made to make it look and work better?
Online marketing is definitely the future. Traditional methods like print, radio and phone directory listings are fast being replaced by online marketing. So now it is up to you to decide how to make it work for you and your business.
Although there are many social media sites out there, we will concentrate on Facebook for today. Although LinkedIn has its admirers, it is predominantly a B2B site, whereas Facebook does well for B2C businesses. Facebook has made it clear they want you to do business through their site, and they have made it easy for you to set up your page. Once your page is set up, just how do you go about attracting fans and followers?
Here are some steps you can take:
It seems obvious, but inviting your friends is the first step. How many people have personal pages with 200+ friends and a business page with 20? No one is saying every friend needs to be a fan, but many friends can be fans, and should be. Don’t be shy about asking.
Post outstanding content. Make your posts engaging, entertaining, and informative. Make deals and sales available only to your fans a regular occurrence. The deals could be a free gift, discounts on products and services, or an invitation to a special event.
When a fan makes a comment on your page, respond to it. Thank them for kind words written, or answer a question if one is asked. You should email your frequent commenters, and answer their emails to you.
Engage in their sites. It takes only a minute to look up a fan on Twitter. Hit the follow button and start to follow them. Connect with them on LinkedIn. This will make them feel special, and may give you important information about them.
Post material from other sources, and credit them appropriately. This will build credibility with your fans and make a fan out of your credited source.
Take a poll. Find out what’s on everybody’s mind.
Many business owners are under the false pretense that social marketing has made email marketing obsolete. This is not the case. In fact, integrated together they make a potent marketing tool. For example, social media gives companies another online option to get messages to their audiences. This reduces the need to send so many emails, reducing email exhaustion among recipients. It allows the business owner to get more personalized and targeted with their email campaigns. Further, people who are engaged in social media sites check their email more often than those who do not. According to a survey from Merkle, 42% of social media users said they check their email more than four times a day, compared with just 24% of non social media users. Adding social media share buttons increases the reach of the average email by 24.3% according to a survey from Silverpop, an email service provider.
Smart business people have realized that social media and email are complimentary to each other. An effective social and email marketing effort requires coordination. Here are some things you need to do:
Find out who is on each list. Not all your social marketing followers are going to be on your email opt-in list and vice versa. Poll both lists to see who is missing from each. Social fans should be polled to find out who is not on the opt-in email list, and a poll should be sent to email recipients to determine who is and is not a Facebook fan. You’ll probably find there isn’t as much overlap as you think.
Once you know who’s where, you can start to convert you’re Facebook fans to email subscribers. Put an opt-in box on your Facebook page. Many email service providers provide Facebook opt-in widgets for their customers. Call or email your provider to find out if they are one. Another way to get them to sign up is to offer a small incentive or gift. A % off coupon is a good way to go.
Most email providers also provide social sharing links on their email templates. Use them to entice your email readers to easily become a fan of your page. Social sharing buttons have resulted in a 30% increase in click through rates, according to GetResponse.
Developing the right content for social media and email opt-in lists is the next step. Email recipients want personalized, relevant content that will serve their purpose. But they are also in the market for a bargain. In fact, in a study done by Exact Target, 62% of people who signed up for email did so to get a bargain. That compares to 17% who said they look for bargains on a Facebook page.
Facebook fans sign up to show support for the company, get information from the company feeds, learn about new products and services, and finally, just to have fun. If email is used to inform, Facebook should be used to entertain. Facebook can be a great forum to answer questions and respond to news. A well worded answer or response can lead to more Facebook followers.
Finally, you must track the results. Some of the things you should be monitoring are:
- Click through rates
- Increases in fans or followers
- Opt-in rates from forms on social media
- Social sharing rates
- Comments left on a Fan page or email response
- Traffic generated to your website from either source.
Using email and social media effectively requires some skill, and plenty of time and effort. Once systems are in place, much of that effort can be automated. Both marketing avenues can bring excellent results, but require patience and persistence.