The Role of Online Marketing in Running an Online Business

If you do not have a solid marketing strategy, you will not get the customers you need and want to come to your online business. The more you work on your marketing today, the more you will be able to grow your business and create momentum for your company.

For many, the idea of marketing sounds too overwhelming to attempt, but online options online are much easier than you might realize and they are friendly even to those who are not necessarily comfortable with being online just yet.

Benefits of Online Marketing

Online marketing is as essential as any marketing you might do for a business, but when it is done online, the results can be far more impressive. While many think that online marketing is the same as traditional marketing, just online, it is not.

There are many more benefits to online marketing than traditional marketing for your online business:

  • Wider reach. Because online marketing does not have to limit itself to one location, it can reach more customers online than you might have gotten on your own through newspapers or magazines. You will be able to extend your marketing into the global market, which adds up to more chances for a new customer.
  • Lower cost. Much of the time, online marketing strategies are free or low in cost. When you are a new business, this can add up to big savings over the course of your business' life.
  • More chance to spread. If you post something online that appeals to a person, there is a great chance they will send it to someone else, who will send it to someone else, and so forth. Your messages can go viral, allowing you the opportunity to maximize the power of each of your advertisements.
  • Many platforms. The platforms in which you can place your online marketing are numerous, and seem to be growing every day. The more that you can post your message in more areas, the better you will be able to access the customers who want what you have to sell.
  • More flexibility. You can easily change your online marketing campaigns whenever you like to appeal to people that are in your target audience. When you do this, you are able to respond quickly to changes in your market, allowing you the chance to truly have a flexible marketing strategy.
  • A greater network of resources. Online businesses like to stick together. When one person has something to share, others are more likely to help spread the word. Once you are a part of this team, you will notice that you get more support and you are able to offer support to others in return.

Online marketing is crucial to your success, and it benefits you greatly as soon as you begin.

Facebook Marketing

Your Facebook page might seem like something that is only designed to help you waste time online, but it can actually be used as a powerful online business tool. What you need to do is look at your profile as a way to introduce yourself and your expertise to others. When you shift your mind to look at your page in this way, you can see just how powerful this social marketing tool really is.

Create a Business Page

A Facebook business page is a free way to begin to establish your presence in the online market. This page is something you will set up separate from your traditional profile, allowing you to have a professional page where others can like you and begin to follow the postings that you put on your page.

You have a number of ways that you can personalize this page, helping you to create a clear brand for your company, and you can continue to customize the page as you begin to grow with your customers.

First, you will either need to have a Facebook account or you will need to verify your email address to ensure that you can set up a page. Once this is done, you will need to choose a unique name for your page, which should be your company name. If this is not available, try to match your domain name. And if this is not possible, then try to find something that is as close as possible to either of these names. Note that you cannot change the name of your business page once you have more than 100 fans.

You have a variety of categories from which to choose, though the ones that will probably be most useful to online companies are the following.

  • Companies and organizations.
  • Local businesses and pages.
  • Websites and blogs.

While you might also fit into other categories, realize that you want to choose a category that is most suited to your actual business goals so that people can find you easily and begin to see what you have to offer.

You might find too that you need to change this category after a while, but this is normal and easy to do. Check to see what category seems to garner the most results on your Facebook page. You might find that your audience knows your category better than you do.

You can also include details about your business here, including when you began, what you offer, what your mission statement is, and so on. Of course, you also need to include your website address so that people can find you.

You might also want to make sure that you are filling up all of the boxes that you are provided so that anyone who comes to your Facebook business page gets all the details they need to choose you as a business.

Clean Up Your Personal Profile

You might have noticed since getting on your Facebook account that you have not been using this as well as you might have liked. If you have pictures of yourself in less than pleasing positions, you might want to clean your Facebook page up, the personal one.

  • Remove any questionable content. If there is anything on your Facebook profile that might not seem to support your business, make sure that you remove it. Delete questionable status updates, photos, messages from friends, group memberships, and more.
  • Use the privacy controls. You can choose to make your account private to anyone but certain people you actually know. For most online businesses, it makes sense to only friend people that you actually know in real life and keep your business discussions and details on a separate business page.
  • Only friend close friends. From this point forward, it is a good idea to only friend those people that you actually know.
  • Keep it clean. You might decide to keep your Facebook page open to everyone, and if this is the case, make sure that you are keeping the page as clean as possible. Think about what might happen if a customer saw the posts you make and what they might think about it.

Remember, once you put something online, it is difficult to take it off again. Instead, make sure that you keep your Facebook page so clean and friendly that even your mother could read it without blushing.

Post Relevant, Interesting Content

Once you have a Facebook business page, you need to start posting interesting and relevant content. This will allow you the opportunity to connect with your fans and give them something of value.

You want to make sure that anyone and everyone who comes to your Facebook page or that sees your posts on the wall knows that you are interested in helping them out in some way.

You will want to post things like:

  • Articles from the market. Since you are keeping up with your market, you will have articles that you find online. Take these links and post them regularly on your Facebook business page.
  • Advice for customers. If you have advice to pass onto your readers, why not share it with your audience?
  • Links to specials on site. When there are special deals on your site, you might want to post them on Facebook. You can also entice people to like your Facebook page by telling them that you will post new specials there first.
  • Status updates. Update people on your business, your life, and more. This creates a personal connection with your audience and it allows you to create a relationship with your readers.
  • Polls. Facebook now offers you the opportunity to create polls that people can participate in. You can ask fun questions or serious questions that can then inform your business practices.
  • Questions. You can also ask questions of your readers on your status updates, helping to engage your audience and create a discussion that involves everyone.
  • Quotes. If you like to share inspirational quotes, your business page can share them.

The more content that you have on your Facebook page, the more likely it is that people are going to see what you have to say and they are going to begin to listen, especially when you continue to provide valuable content each day.

Use Your Personality

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While using Facebook looks to be easy and formulaic, you cannot forget the human factor. You need to make sure that you extend your personality to your readers so that you do not seem like a computer.

Try adding some humor to your posts and share some of your hobbies. This will make sure that you are going to become a real person and a part of your audience's life. When you talk to people as though they are friends, you will see that people respond to you more easily.

They want to help you out because you seem like a real person who really cares about them.

Give People a Reason to Come Back

There are a few different things you can do to make sure that you will have readers return to your page.

  • Post consistently. Make sure that you are posting on your Facebook page at least a few times a day during the hours that you expect most of your customers to be able to read what you have to say.
  • Post valuable content. It cannot be stressed enough, you should always post things that you think will help the readers that you have.
  • Interact with others. When people comment on your posts and your polls, you should comment, answer questions, and become a visible part of the dialogue.
  • Post special deals. A good idea is to post special deals on the Facebook page only so that you encourage people to come back again and again.

And when you do not know what people want, do not be afraid to ask on the Facebook page. This will help you hear more about what your readers are expecting from you and then you can make sure to deliver their expectations.

Use Pictures and Videos

Another good way to make you more real on your Facebook page is to include pictures and videos that will interact with your audience. You might want to include videos of you talking to your audience, or you can post pictures of upcoming products.

Try adding more than just text to your Facebook page to break things up and to make your page all the more exciting for everyone who 'likes' you.

Twitter Marketing

If you want to do things differently, Twitter is the place to be. This is a microblogging tool that allows you to connect with an audience within 140 text characters.

You share short things throughout the day, and you can share links, pictures, and small status updates. Just like Facebook, this allows you to connect with your audience and it will allow you to create a following that bring customers to your online business.

Here are some tips to use Twitter most effectively for your online business.

  • Figure out 'why'. You might want to come up with a reason why you're using Twitter before you begin. Are you trying to connect with readers? Are you trying to show your authority? Are you looking to connect with others in your market?
  • Watch what others do in your market. Try following a few related Twitter accounts in your market. See what they are doing and how people respond to their tweets.
  • Post interesting content. Like the Facebook page, it is a good idea to post interesting content as often as possible. This allows people to begin to see you as someone who is not just trying to market, but that you are trying to help those who read your tweets.
  • Link to Facebook. You can connect your Twitter account to your Facebook page or in the opposite direction. This will help you post the same information to both accounts, but without having to type in the information twice.
  • Post original content too. That said, you do not want to post the same information everywhere. Make sure you switch things up with unique content so that you do not look like you are automating your posts that much. You want to seem like you are the one that is posting everything, not a posting service.
  • Post consistently. Post regularly throughout the day, even if they are short. This will show that you are an ongoing part of the conversation.

Twitter is not always for everyone since you can gain a lot of followers in a short period of time. It is essential that you try to interact with as many of them as possible. Respond to tweets, retweet them, and make sure that you show you care about the people who take the time to read your tweets.

You can personalize your Twitter account to include a short description of who you are and what you do, as well as a website address. Look at others' profiles to see what it takes to be exciting and effective.

Blogs and Marketing

A blog might seem like a very simple tool, but it is actually a very powerful way to market your online business. You might have noticed that many online businesses often have separate blogs or blogs that are a part of their actual site, helping to connect with their audiences in a new and a different way.

When you create a blog, all you need to do is to use a blogging platform program that might be included with your website design program, or you can use one of these two popular blogging programs.

  • Wordpress.
  • Blogger.

Both are free blogging platforms, so you do not have to spend any money to use them. Often, businesses will actually begin with a blog and then even turn that blog into a main website.

Right now, we are going to focus on how you will use a blog to spread the word about your online business.

Blog Appeal

If you want people to come and to return to your blog, you need to make sure your blog is as appealing as possible. Though you might not know what appeals to your customers yet, look around to see what other blogs are doing and what works for them.

Here are some basic tips.

  • Keep the navigation simple. You want to keep the navigation and the menu of your blog as simple as possible. When you do, your readers do not have to hunt around to find old blogs and they will not have to worry about whether they will be able to find something that they want to read.
  • Use easy to read fonts. Though it might seem to be more visually appealing to have fancy fonts, this is not going to help those who might not have the best vision. Try using Courier, Verdana, Arial, or Times New Roman when you are writing your blog. The easier it is to read, the better.
  • Keep posts short. Likewise, you need to keep in mind that most people online are not looking to read pages and pages of blogs. They want to read your ideas and then move on. Keep your blog posts to no more than 500 words so that you can keep their attention post after post.
  • Archive old posts. You will also want to take advantage of the archive option on the blogging formats, allowing your blogs to be grouped by date so that they can be easily found again.
  • Tag your posts. When you tag your posts, you will offer yet another way for people to easily find blogs posts that pertain to them. The more effectively your blog is set up, the more easily people will be able to use the information you have decided to include.

Consistency of Message and Tone

Whether you are an avid reader of blogs or not, you will notice that many blogs have a distinct voice, helping them stand out from the rest of the blogs on the Internet. You too will want to create a clear message and tone for your blogs, allowing people the opportunity to get to know you and what you have to offer.

When it comes to your message and tone, try to find something that is consistent. Are you a friendly blogger? Someone who focuses on business advice? Figure out what will work well with your business idea and then create a tone that people will appreciate.

Friendly tones work well to engage audiences, but having a clear message for your blogs can also help to create the best possible reputation for your blog in relation to others.

Reader Interaction

A blog is not a static piece of marketing. Instead, you want to focus on allowing your readers to become a part of the blog experience. Include their ideas and their questions in your blogs, and answer the comments when people take the time to comment.

The more that people feel welcomed and invited to your blogging conversation, the more they will return to share their ideas. Many of these ideas can inform your business and the direction you want to grow your company.

Stay Away from Sales Pitches

While it might be tempting to include a number of sales pitches in your blogs, readers will begin to think you only created a blog to sell to them. Even if this is true, focus on the information you are sharing, not necessarily talking about the products or services that you have to offer.

Think about things that your readers want to know about that are related to your business. For example, if you are selling clothing, maybe you can write blogs about how to care for clothes so they last longer.

Try to create blog entries that inspire readers to see what you have to offer on your website, without directly asking them to buy from you.

Using Videos in Blogs

Another great way to use blogs is to create videos that will help you become a real person to your readers. You can easily create videos that can then be embedded in your blog posts, helping people have a more interesting experience.

Here is what you need to create a video blog.

  • A basic digital video camera.
  • A good light.
  • A digital microphone and voice recorder.
  • Some sort of video editing software.

You can share with your readers what you have to say in a blog and then put the text below to help them see what you have to say in more than one way.

You can then take these videos and post them on YouTube channels to further extend your marketing reach and drive traffic back to your website.

Supporting Other Bloggers

You might have noticed that many blogs online talk about other bloggers too. When you do this, it is the concept of, "I will scratch your back if you scratch mine." Compliment other bloggers and promote their products if they are related to what you have to offer.

This shows that you care about your blog readers' needs and not just about making them go to your website to make a purchase.

When you show that you are interested in your readers getting what they want, you will boost your credibility and you will allow your readers the opportunity to trust you more. They will be more likely to buy something from you when they know you always keep their best interests in mind.

Guest Blogs

You can also encourage other bloggers to post blogs on your site, so long as they are related to what you have to sell or offer. This will further your reputation and it will encourage new readers of those bloggers to come to your site.

Ask guest bloggers to provide write-ups.

  • Review your products.
  • Write about market trends and concerns.
  • Share their own stories and ideas.

The more that you develop your blog into a place where people can learn, the more you will encourage readers to come back for more.

Making Readers Come Back

You want your readers to continue to come back to you to hear what you have to say and to find out what you have to offer. You can do this in the following ways.

  • Writing consistently. You will need to commit to writing blogs at least a few times a week. There are scheduling options in the blogging platforms that will allow you to schedule your blogs ahead of time so you can have blogs ready to be posted most days of the week.
  • Have multi-part blogs. When you have a larger topic to cover in your blogs, make sure to spread it out over more than one blog. This encourages interested readers to come back to see what else you have to say.
  • Having contests. Everyone likes to win something, so have regular contests and specials for blog readers only. This will encourage people to come back to see if you are offering anything exciting.
  • Including polls. Polls are a great way to gather information from your customers, while also encouraging more traffic to your blog. People love to share their opinions, after all.
  • Taking reader questions. Have blog posts in which you ask for readers to post questions that they might have about your products or your business. This will help you see where you might need to improve your website and it will show readers that you care about their needs.
  • Posting inspirational stories or articles. If you have inspirational stories or articles to share, this can be a great way to appeal to the emotions of your readers in a way that drives more traffic to your site.
  • Encourage sharing. With Twitter, Facebook, and other share options at the bottom of each post, ask readers to share links to your blog posts if they think others might want to read what you have to say.
Blogs are becoming essential to the success of online businesses, so the more time you spend on this marketing strategy, the more results you will see for your online business.