Just because your company is online does not mean that you do not need a marketing or an advertising strategy. Instead, you need to start looking for ways that you can publicize your online business locally and through simpler methods.
Though you might have your business online, business cards should still be a part of your marketing strategy. Whenever you are out and about, make sure you hand out some of these cards to as many people as possible. This will make sure that everyone has your website name and a description of what you do.
Some people are also distributing postcards that can help to give more room for you to explain what your online business does, offer a coupon, and more.
The goal is to get your website name in front of as many people as possible, so having your website written down is a good way to ensure that you never have to rely on the memory of someone else.
You can find business cards at the following sites.
- Moo. Moo.com
- Vistaprint. Vistaprint.com
- Overnight Business Cards. Overnightbusinesscards.com
Try to find a design that is similar, if not the same, as your business website to ensure that you are being as consistent as possible with what your customers can expect to see from you.
How many emails do you send every day? Whether you are an online business or not, email has become the way that you communicate with friends, family, and business associates. Instead of just signing your name as you normally do, you might want to include something more exciting that advertises your business.
Think about adding an email signature that will be listed at the bottom of all of your emails from this point forward.
The signature could look like this:
Apple Founder and Innovator
Helping customers find solutions to their computing problems.
Something as simple as this will provide anyone who reads your email with enough information to know what you have to offer. Even if the person does not end up buying anything from you, your email signature might end up in someone else's inbox, helping you spread your advertising power.
Online businesses that are not grounded in some area of the world are often less effective when they advertise. Everyone wants to support local business, so you should make sure that your surrounding area knows what you have to offer and what you can do for them when they want a certain product or service.
While your website should certainly let people know where you are primarily located, and you might want to talk about local events and news stories, you can also begin to create a presence at local events in your area.
Become a sponsor at local events, set up a booth, and so on. Talk to local charities about how your business can become involved, and so forth. The more that you show that you are around in your local community, the more you will begin to grow a local following, as well as one that is more global.
You might also want to talk to local newspapers about your business, what you have to offer, and why you are going to be at a local event. This local news story can generate plenty of publicity for your online business.
If you are a part of a larger market, you may want to become a part of the trade show circuit. You can choose to have a booth or a stall at one of these conventions, or you might want to simply go to network. With your business cards in hand, talk to people who might be able to help you with your business.
Trade shows are also a great place to learn about new products that might work well for your store, and you will get to try them out so that you know if they are the right fit for your company.
Try to attend at least one trade show a year to see what is new and exciting in your market, and then spread the word about what your company does and how it fits in with the rest.
You will also want to become a part of networking communities both in your local area and online. When you begin to network more often, your name will become more common among those who are interested in what you have to sell.
Online, you can find communities like LinkedIn where you can post a professional profile and begin to connect with groups who are committed to the same interests you are.
If you want to focus on more local connections, it is a good idea to talk to the local small business association to see when the group meets. You can talk to other local business owners to see what they are doing, what is working, and how you can help each other.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a hot topic for those with businesses online. If you are not thinking about SEO, your business is missing out on more traffic, more visibility, and more profits.
Why You Need to Optimize
When you look for something online, you might not think much about the process anymore. Instead, you just go to a search engine, type in what you want to find, and then review the results. Those sites that are optimized are the ones you see closer to the top of the list, and that is where you want and need your online business site to be.
When you optimize there are benefits.
- Your site gets listed higher. Google and other search engines look for the most optimized sites and then list them higher on a results page. Since most people will choose their final website destination from the first page or two, your site needs to be listed as close to the top as possible.
- You get more hits to your site. The more people see your site in search engine listings, the more likely they are to come to your site, boosting your hits.
- You generate more profits. And the more people that come to your site, the more likely they are to make a purchase, which means you will generate more profits.
- You will increase your visibility. As more people come to your site, your site will continue to be ranked higher, allowing your site's visibility to continue to grow.
- You boost your reputation. People trust sites that are ranked higher on search engine results pages, which means new customers will trust what you have to offer.
You need to optimize your site, but it is not just about keywords anymore.
In the past, keywords were the one thing that you knew you should change and improve upon when it came to site optimization. All you needed to do was add more keywords or the right keywords, and you would get to the top of the page.
Things have changed in the past few years because search engines realized that people began to take advantage of the system. This does not mean that keywords are any less important, but rather that they are only a part of your overall optimization strategy.
Here is what you can do with keywords to best optimize your website.
- Find the right keywords. Think about what main words people will use when they go to look for a site like yours. What are the most commonly used keywords?
- Find less competitive keywords. Using the Google AdWords keyword tool, you can find out which keywords are most popular, but also which keywords are less popular. You want to use a mix of these keywords since it will help you compete against bigger websites.
- Focus on quality content. Though you might want to include more keywords in your articles, search engines like Google are more interested in sites that have high quality and relevant content on their sites.
- Use no more than 5 percent keyword density. When you do add keywords, do not allow them to make up any more than 5 percent of the total word count for the page.
- Use keywords in other spaces. Know that you can use keywords in other parts of your site, like the picture descriptions, meta tags, and others. Using keywords in all of these spaces will help boost your search engine ranking.
- Link to other sites. Whenever it seems reasonable to do so, you will want to link to other sites from your main business website. Choose these sites carefully to be helpful to your readers.
- Have other sites link to you. Hopefully, your reputation online will encourage people to post your link on their site also, when you post a link to them.
- Include intralinks on your site pages. On your website, have links between your pages. For example, on your home page, you might want to have a part of your text include a link that takes people directly to the product page. This boosts the navigation of your website, which is also something that can boost the search engine ranking.
Links show that your business website is not just a single site with a singular purpose. When you are linked to others, you sort of show how popular you are on the World Wide Web, and you begin to show that you are already connected to more people online, which boosts your ranking.
You can also make sure that you always post a link to your website when you comment on blogs, post on forums, and write articles for article directories and for other blogs.
To make sure that your business site will show up in search engines, it can help to register with every search engine you can think of. While you can skip this step and still end up on the front page of Google, it never hurts to register your site in as many places as possible.
- Universal Business Listing.
You can also use services like GetListed that will post your site in local search directories, which also can optimize your site.
You can also check to see where your website ranks in every search engine. When you do not see your site, contact the company to see what their guidelines might be to get you listed.
Traffic Analysis Tools
When you are trying to grow your online business, you want to make sure that all of your efforts are working toward the eventual goal of online success. To make sure that people who visit your site are actually ending up as customers, you will want to look into using traffic analysis tools.
These tools can tell you a number of things.
- How many people come to your site.
- How long visitors stay on your site.
- What pages are being looked at most often and least often.
- How many people have visited your site during the entire history of your business.
You can customize these tools to show you the information you need so that you can begin to make educated guesses about how your site needs to be changed or revised to be most effective with your audience.
When you think about your favorite companies, you might think of one main message, that is what a brand is. If you can create a brand for your online business, you will allow others online to instantly think of this message whenever they think of you, and vice versa.
Your brand becomes the way to stay in the mind of your customers, and it allows you the opportunity to continue to be effective in your sales pitch and in your marketing techniques.
What is Branding?
Branding can be thought of as another way to develop your reputation in the online setting. By creating a one sentence description or phrase that perfectly sums up what you want others to think of your company, you allow others to instantly understand who you are and whether they want to do business with you.
Branding is something that should be repeated and followed in all of the marketing you do, helping to solidify this main message, and to help others begin to understand what your business truly is, and what it truly offers during each transaction.
Branding is all of these things.
- A message.
- A slogan.
- A logo.
- A character.
You can create a brand by simply repeating the same idea again and again, allowing the message to spread in all of your marketing tools. Before long, others will be able to hear your message and think of your company.
Benefits of Branding
Branding can sometimes sound like simply repetitive marketing, and to a certain extent that is true. Branding is actually the building of an online reputation, which allows you to see a number of benefits:
- More name recognition. The more that you spread the brand of your company, the more likely your company's name is going to get recognized online.
- Increased trust in your company. You will also begin to notice that your customers (new and old) begin to trust you more when you have a solid brand. When you know what you have to offer, others are more likely to want it too.
- Improved brand market strategies. Having a message that is somehow always a part of your marketing strategies allows you to show people that you have a certain thing to offer that no one else in your market does.
- More consistency of marketing messages. When you are more consistent with your marketing messages, you allow your business to be seen as someone that can be relied upon, again and again. You are not changing who you are, even if you decide to change what products you might have to offer.
Branding allows you to stand out from the rest when you create a unique branding idea that is suited only for your business. This brand development might take some time, but it will allow you the chance to truly connect with your audience in a meaningful way.
How to Create Brand Awareness
Choosing a brand actually begins when you choose your product and the way that you want your company to be seen by others. Think about the things that make your company different from all of the rest. Whether this is your customer service, your humor, or your product's quality, try to find the one thing that will set you apart from everyone else that you know in your market.
This will and should become the foundation of your brand. For example, if you can offer the fastest shipping of anyone online, then you might want to create a branding campaign that focuses on this feature.
Fastest shipping because you should not wait for your order.
This might be a line that you put on all of your advertising pieces and that is prominently displayed on your website as well. The more that you begin to repeat this message alongside your company's name, the more that people will think of it when they see your company's name.
You can use your branding message in:
- Blog entries.
- Banner headings.
- Website design.
- Order forms.
- And others.
You want to make sure that your marketing message is a part of anything and everything a customer or potential customer might see. When you do this, you will begin to create a clearer identity for your customers and you will show them that you have something that no one else has.
Once you begin to focus on one brand message, it is generally a good idea to stick with this message as much as possible. You do not want to switch messages too often since that can lead to confusion and it can cause you to have troubles connecting with your market effectively.