Driving Business With Your Website
In today’s marketplace, no business is complete without an internet presence. For many consumers, the go to way to get information is to find it on the web. In response to the need for instant information, business owners launch websites and social media pages. They want to provide both current and prospective customers with the information that they are looking for. They spend lots of time and money to build a savvy web presence that, if not properly marketed, may go sight unseen.
So beyond building something that looks great, what can be done to drive real life, breathing, and paying people to it? Internet marketing is the answer. Second to website design, internet marketing ensures that traffic makes it to your website. It helps you reach your target audience. Internet marketing allows you to introduce your product. Beyond that, web content ensures that your business stands out against the competition.
What is Internet Marketing?
Internet marketing is about promoting your business online. A key component of internet marketing is helping people find you. Typically, you are “found” online in one of several ways:
- Direct Address
- Web Search
- Social Media
A referral is when someone finds out about your business from another source. It could be a reference or mention on their website or social media feed. It could also be by word-of-mouth or an actual face-to-face conversation. For both referral and direct address, someone is basically provided with your information and it is up to them to look you up. They may search for your business by name or actually type in the web address directly.
The most common way that people expect to be found is by web search. For instance, if you type “natural baby products” into the Google search bar, you get 77,600,000 results. Such a large number of results makes it very unlikely that a web search alone will help to market your business. That is where ensuring that people learn about you comes into play.
To increase your reach to potential customers, you must make sure that people see your business. One way for this to happen is by having links back to your website published in other online forums. When this happens, if your business’ name is listed on a blog or website, you will see that it is usually highlighted and clickable--meaning if someone clicks on it, they go directly to your website.
How do you get “linked”? There are multiple ways to be linked. The most basic way is to actually contact other businesses and request that they put a link on their website to your business. Many businesses also have social media accounts which harness followers and provide ways to advertise your businesses. Finally, there is paid advertising through local, regional and national media outlets. For instance, press releases, media advertising (radio, print, online) are now generally placed in websites and social media. Online advertising may be purchased from businesses such as via Google, Facebook, local television stations and more.
What belongs in your marketing Plan?
An internet marketing plan is similar. It should provide details about who you are trying to sell to. It should also outline how you plan to reach them. However, the tools that you use focus on helping people find you at both your storefront and online.
Your marketing plan should consider the following:
- Target audience--This is who you believe that your business is most likely to appeal to. For instance, if you are selling anti-aging beauty products, your target might be women ages 30 - 55. Your plan should not only identify your target but consider how you are most likely to reach them.
- Geographic location--Many internet businesses are eager to acquire customers from all over the globe. However, if you have a specialized product, you may need to take location into consideration. DIY hydroponic gardening supplies might best be marketed to people in urban areas due to limited space or to areas with short growing seasons caused by severe weather conditions.
- Available Tools--Every marketing plan considers tools currently available at your disposal. If you have a webpage, print or digital newsletter, or social media sites, part of your plan will include improving how these tools are used. It will include strategies to increase your reach to new customers and recapture lapsed or disinterested customers.
- SEO--Search Engine Optimization is a process that uses techniques including keyword searches and more technically savvy strategies to improve a website’s ranking in search engines such as Google, Bing, etc. SEO is focused on “organic” or non-paid traffic to a website. Links, mentioned earlier, may also be a part of SEO strategy.
- Updated content--An internet marketing plan should ensure that the content of the website is not static. People visit websites and social media feeds to get new information. Businesses should have a plan to update the information on the website to discuss new products, events, sales, etc.
- Time & Money--Even if you attempt to do it yourself, it takes time and money to launch a successful digital marketing campaign. The plan should outline activities that must be completed annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily. For instance, if you have a location for people to contact you on your website, someone should be checking and responding daily if not hourly.
- Engage--Just like the cover of a good book, your website landing page should draw people in. A quick glance should make them think “hmmm… this looks interesting.”
- Inspire--Your web content should expand on the initial impression and make visitors want to explore pages, blog posts, photos and more.
- Educate--When someone goes to your website directly or via a search, they are looking for information. Your web content should help them learn something new and interesting.
- Convince--Current and prospective customers should be convinced that your product or service is the one that they need.
- Convert--Once you have convinced someone that you have products they want or need, your goal is to convert them to buyers. Ideally, they will make an online purchase or go to your storefront.
Having a website is a plus for today’s business owners. With proper internet marketing, it can help you make connections with current and future customers. A website can help you expand your reach from your local town or community to people around the world. Don’t miss your opportunity to develop relationships that can lead to increased success for your business.