Every business owner knows that the “If you build it, they will come” philosophy doesn’t work for attracting new customers. Customers have to learn about a product or service before they can consider buying it. That’s where marketing comes in.
However, marketing covers a lot of territories, even if you narrow it down to only online marketing. How do you decide where to invest your time and money to see the best return? What will internet marketing channels do the most to help you grow your business?
The Role of the Website
Having a website is an essential part of doing business in today’s tech-driven world. Regardless of the type of business you have, many customers will skip right past you if they can’t access a website to get the information they want about your business. Prospects expect the following–at a minimum–in looking at a business website:
- Contact information, including locations, phone number, and an online contact method (email or contact form)
- Product or service information, including pricing
- Good design, easy to navigate
- Responsive to viewing on any screen, including desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile
- Links to social media platforms
Other expectations depend on your industry and offerings. If you have a restaurant, customers will expect to see your menu listed. If you sell consumer products, they’ll expect to have a way to buy from you.
The key to making your website work for you is to create a site that encourages repeat visitors. Having a blog is always a good option because it gives people a reason to sign up for your mailing list and return to your website regularly. However, having a blog is only a good idea if you can update it regularly with useful, quality information. Linking to a blog on your website that hasn’t been updated in 18 months can do more harm than good since it gives the customer a negative impression.
Content marketing is an excellent way to both bring new prospects to your website and set yourself up as an authority in your industry, which are both goals of profitable marketing campaigns. Additionally, some of the activities (like guest blogging) is a inexpensive marketing technique and, as a bonus, can help you build referral relationships with other businesses.
To get started, you’ll want to reach out to companies that have an existing audience that matches your target market. Then create an excellent informational article (as opposed to promotional), which provides quality information for readers. In return for getting useful content, the other company usually distributes the article to its readers – through email and social media channels, spreading the word about your expertise. Content marketing gets your business in front of an entirely new audience for just the cost of outreach and an article. Though it can be a time-consuming process, when done right, it will provide excellent returns.
Pay-per-click advertising is pretty much the only internet marketing channel that can provide almost instant results. All you have to do is create a campaign, turn it on, and you can be getting new leads within minutes. The tricks to good pay-per-click marketing are the in-depth understanding of your target audience and close monitoring of results. A lousy campaign can cost you a lot of money and still bring no new customers to your business. While pay-per-click can provide good, immediate results, it is not a “set-it-and-forget-it” marketing channel. A lot of time should be dedicated to monitoring it and ensuring everything is working correctly with the ads, conversions, and budget.
Social Media Marketing
Every business has a dream of creating something that “goes viral” and brings in a windfall of new customers fast. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for creating viral content. To be successful at social media, you need to post engaging content and interact with your followers regularly consistently.
The great thing about social media is that it allows you to beam information about your business directly to people who have already shown an interest in what you have to offer by liking your business page or following you. Also, social media is another inexpensive way to market, and there are multiple no-cost strategies you can use to gain new followers and engage with existing followers.
Like any of the marketing channels discussed, consistency is the key to success in social media marketing. Creating a single great post is unlikely to make any measurable difference in your business, so it’s essential to develop a reasonable posting schedule and stick to it.
If you’re considering new internet marketing channels to promote growth in your business, you’re probably wondering if influencer marketing is a viable option. The answer? It depends.
Influencer marketing can be a way to get your product or service in front of new customers. Still, there are a lot of things to consider before entering into a business relationship with a social media influencer.
How Large Is Their Audience? How Engaged Is Their Audience?
Having a large number of followers doesn’t necessarily translate into having followers who will buy things based on the influencer’s recommendation. You will want to work with influencers who have demonstrated engagement with their followers. Also, having the biggest audience isn’t necessarily the best. Influencers with small but engaged audiences can offer a lot of benefits and be far cheaper to work with than the biggest names.
Who Is Their Audience?
If you’re trying to sell vegan belts and the influencer you’re working with regularly posts photos of hunting trips or steak dinners, it’s unlikely that they have the right audience for your products. It’s important to find and work with influencers with branding and messaging that fits with what you’re hoping to sell.
How Often Do They Do Sponsored Posts?
If an influencer is constantly pushing sponsored products at their followers, likely, their followers won’t trust the recommendations as much as they would for someone who has a more curated approach to posting sponsored content.
What Do They Post Aside From Sponsored Content?
When getting someone else to promote your product, it’s important to consider everything else they post, as well as what they’ll be posting about your business. If your company has a wholesome vibe, for example, then you probably don’t want to work with an influencer who is regularly posting scandalous photos or long, curse-filled rants. Working with an influencer is a partnership, and as with any business partnership, it’s important to make sure your values align.
Influencer marketing can be a valuable way to bring in new business, but it can also result in very costly mistakes. Be sure to do your due diligence and find the right influencer to help with your business, not just the largest.
What internet marketing strategy has brought the most value to your business? Tell us your success stories in the comments.