If you’ve been in business for some time, then it’s safe to assume you’re already quite knowledgeable about the world of marketing and promotions. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t benefit from a quick refresher on the basics of marketing and growing your business online. Even the most experienced of business owners and marketers can easily make the mistake of taking the basics for granted, so it definitely pays to look back on the baby steps of growing a business from time to time.
Mastering the Basics
You need to design your website such that it is easy for search engines to find and index, thereby increasing visibility for your business. Flickr.com photo by OliBac
The worldwide web is indeed very dynamic and ever-changing, which makes it very easy for you to catch the habit of chasing every new trend that comes along, hoping to attract a huge traffic and gain generous profits from it. What you may not realize is that that’s not how things are done by companies that are consistently on top of their game and ahead of their competitors. Although these companies definitely spend some time, money, and effort in researching and taking advantage of new trends, their dominance is actually the product of mastering the basics.
What, then, are the online marketing fundamentals you need to stick with and become an expert in? Read on to find out.
Optimizing Your Site and Content
Regardless of whether you run a brick-and-mortar store or an online shop, you’re sure to understand the value of visibility. You need to let your target market know of your existence and make it easy for them to find your business. Unless they are aware of who or what you are and how they can find you, you aren’t likely to succeed in growing your business. Ever.
So, how do you ensure visibility for your business? For a brick-and-mortar shop, gaining visibility entails choosing the right location (in an area frequented by your target customers), putting up a clear signage, and advertising the business and its location. For purposes of online marketing, gaining visibility entails setting up a website and then effectively optimizing the site and its content. This means you need to adopt an effective SEO strategy as the focal point of your online marketing campaign.
If you’re not an SEO expert, don’t fret. We are, after all, discussing the basics here. By the time you’re done reading, you should at least be well-equipped to get started. Let’s begin with a simple definition of SEO: This is basically the process of designing your website such that it is easy for search engines to find and index. As a result, your site will likely land at the top of search results when online users search for products, services, or information related or relevant to what your business has to offer. This is how your business becomes more visible to your target market.
Of course, there are also things you can do outside of your website to ensure that your site stays on top of search results. This can make things a bit more complicated, so here are a few specific tips to help you along:
- Claim your local business listing on Google, Bing, Yelp, and other local directories. This helps get your site at the top of results for local searches.
- Set up social media accounts and be active on social platforms. Post regular updates and engage in meaningful conversations with your followers. This encourages people to talk about your brand to others.
- Create a blog, post regularly on that blog, and be sure to respond to comments and questions from your readers. This helps you build online authority and extend your brand’s reach.
- Make your site Google-friendly. Google is still the most popular search engine in the world, so it definitely pays to focus your SEO efforts on understanding and following Google’s guidelines, even as you continue to optimize for other search engines as well.
- Always create and publish high-quality content on your website and blog. Among the biggest factors that affect your search ranking is the quality of content you publish. High-quality content is also something people appreciate and is likely to encourage them to share your links on their social media accounts, thereby further extending your brand’s reach and improving visibility.
Ensuring Positive Customer Experience
Your business will never grow unless you are able to gain the trust and loyalty of your target customers. And in the world of the Internet, one of the first things you need to do in order to gain people’s trust is provide them with a positive experience on your website, blog, and social pages. Their experience on all of your web pages should be such that they are encouraged not only to keep coming back to your site, but also to share the good news about your site and your brand to others.
Let’s say an online user finds your site at the top of Google’s search results page as a result of excellent SEO efforts. The user decides to click on your link and lands right smack in the middle of your website. Is that reason enough for you to celebrate? Not necessarily. Remember that traffic does not always convert into sales. Should you stop at ensuring that your site lands at the top of search results and your brand is highly visible on social platforms? Definitely not! The moment you get people onto your website isn’t where the fun ends; it is where the fun begins…
So, how do you provide your audience with the best possible experience on your site? Here are a few tips:
- Make sure everything looks professional, from your brand logo to your web design, to the structure and wording of your content and even your responses to questions and comments from your social media followers, blog readers, and site visitors. When everything they see and read on your web pages is professional-looking, people are more likely to trust your brand.
When everything from the brand logo to the web design and content looks professional, people will be more likely to trust your brand. Flickr.com photo by ell brown
- Make each visit memorable. There are already so many businesses that look, speak, and act professional; you have to make sure you stand out. Do some research on the possible personalities of your target customers. What do they usually do when they’re online? What kind of websites do they usually visit? What do they like about those sites? This helps you define your target’s unique selling points and allows you to design your site such that they’ll be sure to keep you in mind the next time they find themselves in need of the kind of product/service/information you provide.
- Make things convenient. Do whatever you can to make every visitor’s journey through your website as uncomplicated as it can be. If a visitor can get from the Home page to his/her chosen product in a single click, that’s great! If you can get the entire shopping process down to three steps or less, then that’s even better. Note that when it’s easy for someone to navigate your site, he/she is likely to consider it a professional and memorable site as well.
In order to ensure the success of your online marketing campaign, it has to be driven by data. The process needs to begin with a compilation of every single bit of information you can get about your target customers. You then need to design your products/services, website, SEO strategy, and entire online marketing campaign based on the information you’ve compiled. This helps you ensure that the products/services you offer are attractive to your target market, your website is something they’ll appreciate, your SEO strategy is relevant to them, and your entire marketing campaign communicates effectively with them.
Anchoring your strategies on solid facts helps ensure maximum engagement with your target customers and earn their loyalty. It optimizes the potential for conversion from new site visitors and encourages repeat transactions. The thought of starting out collecting a boatload of data may seem daunting, but there are actually simple steps you can take to get started.
- Open a Google Analytics It’s free and it gives you access to a lot of useful data.
- Copy and paste your Analytics code into your web pages’ source code. Be sure to do this for every single page of your website.
- Check out the Google Analytics tutorials. Again, these tutorials are free and they will help you understand the various types of data you may analyze via Google Analytics.
- Explore! Don’t be afraid to dig into all the facts you can find about your site visitors.
It is true that you’re going to face a lot of competition when you choose to grow a business online. Going online opens you up to global competition. But that’s no reason for you to balk at chasing your dream of having a successful business. The key is to get the fundamentals right and striving to master them. If you’re able to do this, then you can easily get your first customers to spread the word and practically do the selling for you. And the vast reach of the Internet even opens up excellent opportunities for you to capture new markets!