Imagine how disappointing it is to spend ages working on a new website, only to find nobody comes to visit it.
It’s a reality I’ve prepared many clients for over the years. The truth is that a website simply isn’t a “build it and they will come” scenario. You need other ways to market your business online.
A site that’s merely launched with no further effort made may prove easy to find if and when people search specifically for you or your brand. People may also visit as a result of typing in the address from a business card or a printed advert. In fairness, that’s all some companies want and expect.
But surely it’s better to achieve more than that? Ideally you want brand new customers discovering you through online channels.
That’s what this article is about. Here we look at five ways to market your business online, and the basics of how they work.
If you’re setting up in business afresh, or you have a website that feels sad and neglected, it’s well worth a read.
Videos and Podcasts
People expect much more than just written articles on the web these days. According to reports, a majority of people have a preference for video content, and podcasts are increasingly popular too, with over 50% of US households now listening to them. (HomeWorkingClub now has a podcast of its own, which you can find here 🙂 )
The great thing about these formats is that there are lots of ways to get involved. You can “dip your toe in the water” without committing to producing lots of content of your own. For example, you could:
- Produce a few YouTube “how to” videos related to your business’ niche, and then link to your own business website in the description.
- Seek out relevant podcasts and volunteer to be a guest.
The point here is that you don’t need to become a YouTube star or a podcasting sensation in order to tap in to these increasingly popular formats.
That said, if you see a flurry of new leads as a result of your initial efforts, you may then decide to take things one step further!
Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a key component of many companies’ internet marketing strategies.
Many different activities contribute to forming an SEO strategy: These include researching and including the right keywords in your content, obtaining links from relevant websites, and ensuring your site performance is up to scratch.
SEO is an incredibly fast-moving industry, with the goalposts constantly moving as the search engines tweak their algorithms. Ultimately, only one website can be at the top of the search results for any given search term, and grabbing that spot can mean lots of customers finding you “organically.”
Social media is a huge part of many people’s lives nowadays (though a slightly smaller part of mine these days, as I discuss in this article).
Many businesses choose social media as the first place to promote their businesses, and plenty of consumers find new products and services whilst browsing their feeds.
Pinterest specifically springs to mind here. It treads a fine line between being a social network and a search engine in its own right. In fact, many bloggers, especially in niches like food, crafts and personal finance, use Pinterest as their main means of generating traffic these days.
One key piece of advice, if social media is going to be one of your key ways to market your business online, is to focus on just one or two networks to begin with. It’s far better to gain total mastery of a single network than to thinly spread your efforts across every possible social site.
What’s more, some social networks are more suited to certain business sectors than others.
If you want to give your business an online head start, one way to do it is to pay.
This can mean using Google Adwords to gain a paid slot at the top of the search results, or paying Facebook to boost your posts or place ads in the feeds of a targeted audience. All the social networks have paid advertising options.
One thing to be aware of is that there’s quite an art to paid online advertising. It’s possible to throw a lot of money at it without breaking even, so it’s essential to ensure that your efforts actually bring you paying customers. A bunch of Facebook likes or Twitter retweets are great “vanity metrics,” but they don’t mean much unless you’re actually making money.
As such, when it comes to paid advertising, it’s important to know what you’re doing, and to measure your results carefully. There are plenty of courses out there, or another option is to buy in some help from an expert.
Blogs and Content
Content marketing is popular and can be very effective. Most progressive companies produce informative articles in an attempt to draw people to their sites, often in conjunction with paid advertising and SEO.
The key thing to think about here is just how valuable the content you’re producing really is. Are you truly providing something that’s not already been done 1000 times before?
At one point, all it took was a polished infographic or a listicle article, but the internet’s a much more competitive place nowadays. Your content needs to be bigger and better than what’s already out there, and the more unique, the better.
Do you have some brand new data that nobody’s ever shared before? Can you provide some unique expert insight that people will genuinely appreciate getting for free? That’s the kind of thing you need to aim for.
Simply churning out the same kind of content people can find everywhere else is unlikely to gain you much traction. Be different, and be BETTER.
Trying to decide which ways to market your business online is complicated. It’s not helped by the fact there ARE so many options, with the possibility of wasting plenty of time and money if you choose the wrong things.
But the good news is that it’s possible to try things without spending much. It’s also usually possible to do modern marketing by investing time and effort, rather than money.
So don’t be downhearted if your shiny online business isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Plough some effort into one of these ideas, and you WILL find your target customers once you’ve cracked the formula.
- To read about setting up a profitable blog of your own, check out this article.
- If you run a service-based business, here’s a huge list of ways to find new clients.
- If you like the idea of reaching new people using Pinterest, have a look at this course.