Let’s assume you’re a business owner looking to grow your business online. How do you even get started? While it may seem daunting, it does come down to following some simple, cost-effective strategies that not only establish your online presence but ultimately help you identify, connect and win new customers.
When you consider that 6.378 billion people worldwide have cellphones – representing 80.63% of the world’s population – then it’s fair to assume having an online presence is essential to your business’s success. Not convinced? Well, consider the following differences between offline marketing’s limited reach and high costs to today’s preferred online marketing approaches.
Offline Marketing Once Dominated the Landscape
There was a time where marketing to customers was a static process. TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, flyers, and print advertising were the dominant marketing platforms. Businesses were able to dictate their marketing message to customers.
These antiquated marketing strategies were not only extremely expensive, but they also didn’t provide the kind of instant feedback that companies needed. Businesses controlled the marketing message but had to wait for results, ones that were often difficult to measure and nearly impossible to track.
Let’s assume yours is a small business using direct mail and flyers to reach customers. The problem is that these outreach approaches – like all offline marketing strategies – are single-use marketing tools. They don’t last forever which is why you have to keep spending money to send more direct mail and flyers.
Online Marketing is Cost-Effective
In this global marketplace, you have no choice but to be present online. Your competitors are constantly reaching out to customers. They have gone beyond just having a website. They have complimented their website with an online marketing strategy that puts them in constant contact with their customers.
Companies nowadays can instantaneously reach customers anywhere in the world. Offline marketing doesn’t allow that to happen without a large marketing budget. Online marketing is more cost-effective and any company – regardless of size - can enact online marketing strategies without a large marketing budget.
The best part of having an online marketing strategy is that it’s not a single-use marketing approach. It lasts forever and therefore generates better returns.
Your Company’s Website
Everything begins and ends with your website. It’s not enough just to have a website that’s updated once every couple of years. The best companies understand that their customers are speaking to them through their websites and it’s the customers that ultimately determine how successful a website is.
You must come to see your website as the quintessential marketing funnel. This is your company’s best tool for turning prospects into customers and for converting these new customers into repeat customers. This ultimately involves measuring your website’s success and having a willingness to adjust its content and design around the real-time feedback your customers provide.
❑ Google Analytics
Wouldn’t it be great if you could see what your customers do in real-time when they’re on your website? Better yet, wouldn’t it be useful if you could see exactly what links customers click on and specifically which landing pages capture their attention? Well, you can with Google Analytics, and the best part is, it’s free.
Google Analytics provides up-to-the-minute insight into what your customers are doing on your website. You’ll have invaluable insight into what your audience’s demographics are, what countries they come from, which content on your website performs best, which website links are clicked the most, and you’ll even be able to see how users interact with your website via a heat map.
Set aside your ego and personal preferences about your website. Get accustomed to the microscopic data that Google Analytics provides and use that data to improve your website’s design, layout, and content. The more your website aligns with what your customers want, the more effective you will be at generating business online.
❑ Upgrading Your Website’s Layout and Design
A nondescript landing page with nothing but the written word won’t capture your audience’s attention. Your website’s layout, design, and content must combine text with video, infographics, and high-definition images. Do away with the idea that having a website is a necessary evil. Start thinking of your website as the single best way to win business.
According to some estimates, consumers take no more than half a second to generate an impression of your website, which is why making that all-important first impression is so critical. Get to the point. Don’t clutter your landing pages and website with redundant information.
Understand the role that white space, colors, fonts, and images play in capturing your audience. Upwards of 55% of your visitors will spend less than 15 seconds on a given landing page so make sure your content and layout are well-structured.
❑ Content Marketing Strategy
Your online success depends upon a content marketing plan that speaks directly to the needs of your market. The key is to generate content that changes with your constantly changing customers. A content marketing schedule will help you achieve just that by planning your content well in advance.
Your goal with a content schedule is to release a steady stream of engaging content. Your topics should be based on recent news, emerging trends, and how your products or services help to eliminate common problems. A content marketing strategy will not only improve your website’s performance but will ultimately help you generate more leads.
You want to drive as much traffic to your website as possible and keep your audience engaged once they get there. The ultimate goal is to increase the number of website visitors that take action. These actions could involve them leaving their contact details, making inquiries, asking for a follow-up, or placing an order.
Google Analytics provides insight into your website’s best-performing content, but it’s also a good idea to see how your competition generates interest through their content. Here are some questions to answer.
Q. How does your competition structure their CTA (call to action)?
A. Identify whether your competition uses a hard or soft sales approach to get customers to take action at the end of their content.
Q. How does your competition use content on its website?
A. Focus on how your competition conveys its message. You’ll likely see your competition using vivid images, videos, and infographics.
Q. Is there a content strategy your competition uses that you should emulate?
A. You’re guaranteed to see something your competition does that you don’t. It’s up to you to decide whether you should adopt the same approaches.
Generating Traffic and Online “Buzz”
There are essentially two ways of generating leads online: organic search and paid search. You might need a combination of both to generate the results you’re looking for. However, before doing anything, you need to define your target audience and buyer personas.
It’s not just about generating traffic. You need to ensure you’re targeting the right people. Defining your target audience and buyer personas will make your content more structured and your paid search strategies more precise.
❑ Target Audience
Any marketing strategy’s success depends upon the company defining its target audience. This means defining who is most likely to buy your products or services. Here are some things to consider.
Q. Are you targeting a distinct age demographic?
A. Understand what age group the majority of your customers fall under.
Q. Are you targeting a market niche?
A. Your solution might appeal to a specific portion of your market.
Q. Are you focused on a specific geographical location?
A. It’s common for businesses to focus on customers that are close to the business.
❑ Buyer Personas
Understanding your target audience is one thing, but defining your buyer personas is another. Think of your buyer personas as a subset of your target audience. In this case, you want to understand the different types of customers you need to target within your target audience.
Q. How many different types of buyers does your company deal with?
A. Try to keep it under 5 so that you’re not trying to cover too much within your organic and paid search strategies.
Q. What criteria set these buyer personas apart?
A. Focus on the specific needs of each of your buyer personas. You’ll need this to produce tailor-made content and focused advertising.
Q. How does your product or service help these unique buyer personas?
A. Not all of your buyer personas get the same benefits from purchasing from your business. Outlining how each buyer persona benefits will help make your overall online strategy more precise.
Organic Search vs Paid Search
Generating traffic to your website through organic search results comes from having a strong PageRank. Generating traffic with paid search comes from spending money on online advertising. While you may require each of these solutions, it’s important to focus on organic traffic first.
There are multiple ways to generate organic traffic to your website. Your website’s content plays a role, but defining how your target audience receives that content, and how you reach them online, ultimately determines success.
❑ Social Media
Everyone knows that Facebook is the dominant social media player. However, not all social media websites are ideal solutions for all businesses. Business-to-Business (B2B) markets aren’t the same as business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-government (B2G) markets.
It all comes back to your target audience and buyer personas. Define the type of social media or online forum your customers are most likely to use. Facebook is ideal for B2C, while B2B and B2G might be best served by social media websites like LinkedIn.
You don’t need a professional studio to take advantage of YouTube. Start making videos about your products and services for each of your buyer personas. Explain to them how your solution solves their most pressing problems.
YouTube allows you to link each of your videos to your website or a specific landing page. Make sure you write a complete description of the video in the description field. YouTube is owned by Google so there is plenty of analytics you can review to determine the success or failure of a given video.
❑ Company Blog
A company blog is a great way to generate traffic. You can provide your customers with a consistent message through your blog’s content. It’s also a great place to embed your YouTube videos while also allowing you to showcase your expertise.
❑ Optimize Local Search
Google My Business is an absolute must for generating local search traffic. It allows you to create a free online business profile with your company’s contact details, location, and website URL. The best part is that customers can click on your business address and instantly get directions via Google Maps on their iPhones.
❑ Online Advertising
You can generate traffic with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising with Google Ads and YouTube, or choose to advertise on your chosen social media platform. However, you must be able to separate your organic and paid search results.
You will need to determine the costs of generating leads through online advertising. Google Analytics is ideal when using Google Ads, and whichever social media platform you choose will also be able to provide granular details on the costs of your advertising efforts.
The ultimate goal is to drive traffic to your website and ensure your website is optimized for turning visitors into customers. Defining your target audience and buyer personas will simplify how you generate content, the type of social media website you focus on, and make your online advertising efforts more specific.
Father, Husband, Investor, Entrepreneur.