How to Market Your Online Business
This is the second article in the 3-part online business series and will focus on perhaps the most difficult challenge facing any online business: how to get noticed. The Internet is a truly huge place and, if your business is just starting out, then your site can be thought of as no more than a drop in a vast ocean. So what techniques can you use to get your online business noticed?
Being 'generous’ is in no way implying that you should be charitable to the people who visit your site, rather that your site should attract visitors for reasons other than the products you sell. If you really want to differentiate your online business from others selling the same product as you, then you need to provide an added incentive for them to click on the link to your page and not the link to your competitor’s. This can be done in a variety of ways:
A blog – having a blog on your web page is a great way to attract and keep customers. Becoming an authority on a subject will attract a host of like-minded people to your page, which indirectly exposes your offered products or service to a rapidly growing potential customer base. Starting a blog will also serve important SEO functions, which might just bump you above your rival in the Google search results page.
Competitions – nothing catches a person’s eye quite like the opportunity of winning free stuff. Competitions can be a great way of hooking indecisive customers into your business. For example, your online business could offer a fantastic prize to one lucky winner but require people to subscribe to the business’s newsletter in order to enter. This competition would also spread through word-of-mouth, which again helps to market your business. Therefore, even though you’re giving away a prize, your business’s consumer reach would grow exponentially.
Social Responsibility Programs – another sure-fire way of getting your business noticed is through social responsibility programs. A ‘social responsibility program’ refers to any attempt to give back to the community at large, whether it’s through a charitable donation or an attempt to help the environment. Implementing such a program will draw media coverage to your online business and will give you a ‘good guy’ image.
It has been mentioned again and again and again but using social media to promote your business is fast becoming essential. If your online business can generate follows on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, then you can rest assured that any product related information you post is being read by real people. On the other hand, although social media is essentially useless without followers, it is never a good idea to buy them. Some businesses choose to pay people to follow them on social media; but having a mass of followers with no real interest in your product is not really beneficial!
One extremely effective form of marketing that is only now starting to be fully explored by online businesses is YouTube. YouTube has over 1 billion unique visitors every month and is thus an extremely powerful marketing tool. Getting a video noticed on YouTube is a lot easier than getting your business noticed on Google, however, the first will lead to the second. A successful YouTube advert for a business must be humorous – there really is no other formula for success. There is a long, laugh-filled history of business adverts that have gone viral, so there’s no real reason why your business’s advert shouldn’t.
An admittedly brave marketing technique also exists but it really does require your site to be in top shape. This technique entails having your site professionally reviewed on other web pages. This can be a fantastic marketing technique as people are more likely to trust your products - and site - if a non-affiliated authority approves of them. However, it is a particularly risky technique as your site could receive a negative review, which could then have crippling consequences for your long-term future. If you aren’t keen to gamble, then adding the option for customer reviews on your own website is also an option. Having your site and general sale processes reviewed is important on a marketing front as it adds credibility in the eyes of prospective customers who are uncertain whether they can trust your business. A host of positive reviews is likely to get your business noticed as both trustworthy and efficient.
Another marketing option for your online business dates back to before the age of the Internet, namely real-life marketing. Many will consider advertising in newspapers or fliers an out-dated method, and for the most part these people may be right. However, if there is demand for the product in your local area, then advertising through these methods may reap rewards, but the primary non-internet form of marketing is networking. Although your business may be online, this shouldn't stop you from approaching certain brick and mortar businesses who might be interested in supplying your product.
Leave it to the Professionals
Paying someone your hard earned money to do a job you can do yourself may seem like a galling prospect, however, it is often the correct decision. To put it bluntly, marketing your own business is tiresome, time consuming work, but it is work that must be done. Therefore, if your online business would be better served by throwing yourself into other more pressing aspects of the business, then hiring a company to carry out your business’s marketing is actually a good decision. A marketing company will not only manage your social media presence but will also set up site luxuries such as blogs and strategic advertising. Marketing your business online is a very manageable job but it’s always going to be time consuming.
If you have the time on your hands it is better to market your own site, but if time is of the essence there is no shortage of professionals who would be willing to do it for you.
This concludes the three part series on all things online business related. Remember, if you prepare your business adequately for the future and market it correctly then there is every chance it will flourish.