There is a rapid growth in the number of small businesses that find it necessary to market their products and services on the internet. Customers are increasingly turning to the internet to compare product features and prices, and to purchase online. A company that does not take advantage of the Web and email to market their business can lose valuable customers.
It is getting easier and more cost-effective to market online. There are many websites, consultancies, software applications, and other tools to help you implement a successful online presence.
Here are 8 key steps to successfully market your business online:
1. Obtain a good domain name.Before you create a website for your business, you need a search engine friendly domain name. Currently, a good domain is difficult to get hold of, but the research work you put into finding an appropriate one is well worth the effort in the long run. A good domain makes it far easier for search engines like Google and Yahoo! to find your website as they crawl the internet. Millions of domains have been purchased over the years, so it is increasingly getting more difficult to find a domain that is suitable for your business. It is very important to get a.com or.net domain name. The search engines are more likely to rate your website higher.
Some tips on selecting domain names:
- Ensure that the domain name hasn’t been trademarked by someone else.
- Select one that is easy to spell.
- Select one that is easy to remember. Simple and descriptive is better – it doesn’t have to be as catchy as “Google” – remember that non-descriptive names require significantly more branding effort.
2. Your Website must look professional and easy to navigate. Your website is a reflection of your business. People who come to your website will either be impressed or turned off by the level of professionalism of your site. The key methods that will help you create a great, successful and targeted traffic generating website are:
- There are many websites, such as Yahoo, that will give you website templates either freely or at a minimal cost.
- If you choose to, you can design a Blog using WordPress which is freely available. Alternatively, there are professional website building consultants who provide custom-built website services.
3. Make Your Website Easy to Navigate. Do not get caught up in trying to come up with dazzling and colourful website. The key to a good site is to make sure that your visitors find what they are looking for quickly and easily. Research has shown that internet browsers tend to be impatient. With the large volume of options available, they will quickly leave your site and move somewhere else – so it is vital that you keep them interested and make their experience on your site comfortable and pleasant. Your product should be simply and clearly displayed, and making a purchase should be easy. This means a clear navigation bar and a good “search” box. Review some of your favourite sites as well as your competitors’ sites. That can help you plan how your site should be designed.
4. Build your email list.Email marketing is one of the most effective and cheapest ways to promote a business on the internet. It is a great way to communicate with customers and prospective customers. So it is imperative to collect email addresses from visitors to your website. Offer them something worthwhile for their email address – such as a discount or a free newsletter.
5. Make use of email newsletters. Utilising email newsletters is a proven method of sustaining existing customers and reaching out to potential ones. The key to an effective email marketing campaign are:
- Design your newsletter very well and pay attention to the content – that is paramount. If the content is uninteresting, you will not hold your reader’s attention. Include photos and graphics. Provide multiple links back to your website.
- Automate your newsletter email marketing. Software applications like Aweber can be used to setup when and how frequently you want your newsletters sent out. All you need to do is write your newsletters and upload them unto the software. You can also include the option for your recipients to opt-in.
- Monitor the effectiveness of your newsletter campaign.
6. Search engine optimization. Millions of searches are performed daily on the Web through Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. The search engines “spider” millions of Web pages. There is a fast-growing tool called “search engine optimization” that refers to efforts to raise your website’s ranking in search results. There are tools designed specifically for this purpose – to improve your ranking, promote your website and reach highly targeted visitors. One such tool is Web CEO, which has a free version.
7. Search engine keywords. Numerous online businesses find that keyword advertising is very effective. If for example you sell computer books on your website, you might buy a small ad or listing on Google that pops up when someone searches for the keyword “computer books”. If the search engine, Google in this case, picks up your paid ad and the searcher clicks on it, he is directed to your website and you pay on a pay per click, or “PPC,” basis to Google, for example 10¢ a click. The goal is to bring highly targeted traffic to your website.
To achieve this you need to do the following:
- Research and purchase the most relevant keywords to your business.
- Create ads that will compel qualified visitors to click on the ad.
- The ad should lead to a page on you site that sets forth the precise product or service related to the keyword. Sending a viewer to your home page is generally not as effective as sending them to a specific product page.
- Constantly review the amount you pay per click and the conversion rate of clicks that result in purchase.
- Test different ad copy and different landing pages to determine what works best for your website.
8. Make it easy for your visitors to purchase. If you sell products on your website, you will need a shopping cart system and a credit card authorization process. Many companies provide such systems off the shelf, such as Yahoo! Small Business or Payloadz if you sell digital products such as ebooks. It is important that the shopping process is fast and efficient. Many websites with complicated checkout processes lose potential buyers who get frustrated with the amount of time and effort involved. Remember, online shoppers are impatient!
Wishing you every success!