The Internet and social media have revolutionised the way most businesses communicate with customers over the past decade. There’s still a place for traditional marketing and advertising, but it’s now possible to reach large audiences with a very small budget. Online marketing allows business owners to build trust and develop relationships around the world in ways that couldn’t have been imagined in the past.
One of the problems of online marketing is that many business owners don’t know where to start. New ideas and trends are constantly emerging, and it can appear very confusing if you try to keep up with all the changes. The key is to stick to the basics and not get distracted from your purpose. Signing up to the latest social media services and spending hours creating videos and graphics may not be necessary if you understand the basics of online marketing.
The following five tips will help you to stay focussed and achieve success with Internet marketing.
1) It all starts with a website.
Some gurus may tell you that a Facebook fan page is the best way to build your online presence, but a traditional website is still the foundation of online marketing. Prospects and customers searching for your business with a search engine will expect to find a website, and some may not deal with you if they don’t find one. Your website can be a hub pointing to social media sites, product reviews and a blog. Even if you don’t trade online you will benefit from having a basic online presence telling customers what you do and how to contact you.
2) Social media marketing works over time.
Marketing using Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites is usually a long term game. There’s little or no financial cost to this type of activity, but it does involve investment of your time. You’ll make a few mistakes along the way, but social media marketing is proven to work for the vast majority of businesses if you stick at it. Activities like telemarketing and print advertising may deliver returns more quickly, but they don’t have the same impact as digital marketing methods over the long term.
3) Track and measure the results.
One of the most common mistakes made in marketing is to not track the results, and this is even more important when it comes to online activities. At the very least you should decide on a number of key metrics, such as the number visitors to your website after sending an email. Software is available to provide much deeper analysis of how visitors find your site, the pages they visit and how your site performs in search engines. It’s also worth tracking the performance of your keywords and the number of inbound links to your site.
4) Thought leadership can beat good SEO (search engine optimization).
A few years ago experts advised that good SEO was the key to attracting visitors to your website and increasing revenue. This is still true to some extent, but establishing yourself as a trusted expert is now a more powerful way to market your business online. Thought leadership is the process of publishing and distributing information, ideas and insights to build a reputation as an expert. A blog is an excellent tool for this. Buyers want to deal with you if they recognise you as an expert, and you are less likely to encounter objections in the sales process if they come to you.
5) Quality beats quantity.
Online marketing activity is a reflection of the way you do business, and it’s important to maintain high quality. It can be tempting to scatter content and updates across the Internet in the hope of reaching a large audience, but it’s better to focus your efforts with targeted marketing. Always check content for mistakes, and ensure photographs and images are of suitable quality.
Online marketing can involve some trial and error, but it’s a great way to grow your business and reach new customers.