Building Blocks for Business: Getting a Strong Start With Online Marketing
You’ve got all your website design ducks lined up in a row. You hit “publish”. Congratulations! Your site is now live to the world.
You wait for the sales to roll in. Your web developer said this would be a piece of cake. “If you build it, they will come”. But, there’s a problem.
It’s been weeks, and you can almost see the tumbleweeds rolling across the screen. What now?
You need to actively promote your site. That’s what now!
How To Understand Online Marketing
Most business owners sort of rush into online marketing, not really knowing where to start. If you’re like most people, you’re being hit on all sides by marketers telling you that you need to:
- Do social media marketing
- Set up pay-per-click ads
- Reach out to influential “thought-leaders” in your industry
- Comment on blogs
- Join forums and get involved in discussions on LinkedIn
- Do on-page SEO
- Send out press releases
- Submit your site to directories
- Start posting to Reddit and other similar sites
- Start making videos for YouTube
- Make infographics
- Publish more blog posts on your site
The list goes on and on. It’s actually pretty overwhelming. How is a small business supposed to do all of this? Where do you get the money for it? And, how do you track progress from all these different outlets?
You don’t. You can’t.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t ever use these marketing strategies, but think about what you’re doing with online marketing. You’re building an audience.
If you already have experience running a brick-and-mortar store, you know this as “foot traffic”. If you don’t have it, you don’t really have a business. Well, online, you need the same “foot traffic” to get your business off the ground.
And, the most successful businesses have “regulars” – people who keep coming back to either buy or “hang out” and fill up the store and make it look busy.
You want the same thing to happen with your online presence. You want your website to be populated with “regulars” who are commenting on blog posts. You want past customers to keep buying from you. You need that “core audience” to attract new customers.
And, you do it by putting your brand on a street corner where this is already a lot of “foot traffic.”
Now, in the real world, this is harder to do because a bad location is a bad location. But, online, you can always “move” your operation to a popular platform where there are lots of people.
It’s called guest blogging. Whether you write a post for a popular blogger in your niche, or you get something published on a popular site like The Huffington Post, you’re temporarily moving your brand away from your own site and onto someone else’s – someone who already has an audience.
If you’re having trouble getting noticed by a blogger, you can always try to make a name for yourself by joining forums that are populated with your ideal customers and posting new threads or topics there.
Once you’ve got a small audience, you can expand and learn about other types of marketing that will augment the basic strategy. For example, you might use something like the YouTube Marketing Simplilearn course to augment a guest blogging or forum posting strategy.
How To Find, And Sell To, Your Ideal Niche
There are two ways to go about doing this. You can either find an existing problem and fill a need or create a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist yet. The former is much easier to do than the latter.
The biggest niches online tend to be in the self-improvement space, the personal finance niche, the entertainment niche, the tech and gadget niche, and the weight loss or health and fitness niche. If you can find a problem to solve in any of these markets, you’ll have a much easier time marketing your products and services.
You can also take an indirect approach by cross-promoting to a related niche. For example, if you’re selling weight loss pills, a direct approach would be to approach health and fitness blogs or weight loss blogs about submitting a guest post.
But, you could also approach bodybuilding blogs (bodybuilders go through phases of bulking and cutting, where they gain weight and then have to lose fat quickly before a competition). In that way, you’re indirectly promoting your site by going after markets that are related but perhaps not your primary market.
The Secret To A Good Brand Story
You need a good value proposition. Value propositions detail what you do in a way that is clear and understandable by your customer – your ideal customer. It’s not copywriting jargon. It’s not industry jargon. It’s a statement that explains exactly what you do for people.
You should formulate your value proposition as an action statement. And, it should be something that isn’t easily reproducible by another company or individual. Basically, what can you do for your customers that no one else can?
For example, let’s say you run a coffee shop. You want to sell your coffee, but there are a lot of coffee shops in the area. In fact, there are a lot of coffee shops in the world. The problem is that they all pretty much sell the same thing.
And, most people believe big box operations, like Starbucks, sell amazing coffee.
What can you offer as a small coffee shop? One word: quality. What most people don’t know is that almost all large-scale coffee shop operations have to bring in their beans from all over the world. There’s no way they can keep the beans fresh and, unfortunately, coffee beans start to go stale after 2 weeks from the roast date.
Most coffee shops don’t publish the roast date of their beans – they’re concerned primarily with making a high profit margin on each sale.
As a small coffee shop owner, you can source your beans from places that are local, get fresher quality coffee, and perfect your grinding and brewing process. The difference will be night and day in terms of the taste and freshness.
Coffee that’s cold-brewed within two weeks, for instance, doesn’t taste bitter, doesn’t need cream and sugar to mask its taste, and has subtle flavors that come out in the finished product.
This is a unique value proposition.
Do the same kind of thing in your niche. What can you do that others either won’t do (because they’re lazy, too cheap, etc.) or can’t do?
Converting Visitors To Cash
This is another stumbling block for a lot of businesses. If you can’t convert customers, you don’t have a business. You just have an expensive website and lots and lots of bandwidth charges.
After you’ve acquired traffic, you need to sell them. Then, after the sale, you need to keep them interested enough in your business that they keep buying from you. This is the process of conversion optimization.
It’s Part Art, Part Science.
You need to start out by building a conversion funnel. It all starts with awareness. If customers aren’t aware of you, then they obviously won’t be buying anything from you. Next comes consideration. They need to consider your offer – you need to make them an offer that’s appealing and relevant.
Once you’ve sold the customer, you need to build loyalty, and then you want your customers to become brand advocates – spreading the message so you earn referral traffic (the holy grail of traffic and customers).
Conversion rate optimization isn’t about testing, or tracking ads. It’s not about creating clickable graphics and logos, or clever ad campaigns.
These are all tactics.
Conversion optimization is more about understanding your ideal user, his psychology, and what will make him buy from you, over and over again. Most of the successful marketers online let the customer guide the sales process.
Of course, it helps to have tools, like Google Analytics or KissMetrics, but, at the end of the day, you need a compelling offer, delivered to the right group of people, at exactly the right time. Conversion optimization is the process by which you figure that out.
Chandana is a Senior Content Writer for Simplilearn.com. She has a M.A. in English Literature from Gauhati University and is PRINCE2 Foundation certified. Her unique and refreshing writing style continues to educate and inspire readers from around the world.