The business world in the 21st century is dominated by the worldwide web. The sheer amount of opportunities, and confusion, this has created is mind-blowing, and can be more than a little intimidating to decision makers; no matter their field of expertise. The fact that the Internet is still relatively young, coupled with the fact that its very existence promotes the creation and dissemination of new technologies on a daily basis, means that it is nearly impossible to understand the nuance and subtlety involved with internet marketing unless one is directly involved in the field.
The general lack of understanding concerning internet marketing is the purpose behind this article. Everything a person needs to know in order to properly market their business on the Internet can be found here, broken up into the ten key components of internet marketing, and a brief description of each is given to fill in some of the blanks. These steps will, if followed, be an efficient, cost-effective way to begin marketing your goods or services over the Internet.
Web Design, Development Strategy, and Web Promotion Plan
The business world of today has gone digital. It has been transformed into a world where the intangible has become just as important as the tangible. The physical structure that houses a business enterprise can actually be less intrinsic to that company’s success than the website that promotes that space. This is a quantum shift, to say the least, and companies either adapt to the new model or fade into obscurity and fail. The keyword of the day is web presence. That means website development and design are all-important for continued success in the 21st century.
A company website, or a personal one for that matter, must be informative and powerful to be truly effective. There are many web development companies out there that employ the very best professionals in the field to help you plan, design, and implement the best site possible for your intended business mission. It is possible to do your own web design for your site, but these companies offer affordable and high quality solutions to end-users that will most likely far exceed your ability.
The decision to develop and design your own website will take a great deal of creativity and color sense. Websites are simple code. The design is what sets one apart from the others, and attractive, eye-catching sites will far exceed the performance of mass-produced template designs. Search engine optimization, which we will go into a bit later, is very important when creating content for your site, so ensuring your site is search engine-friendly and keyword rich is of the up-most importance to the success of your site.
The website you design, or have designed, will require a good web hosting company to realize its full potential. Finding a good company to provide this service allows you to focus on the specifics of your web development and design, and leave the monotonous details of server specifications and configurations to the professionals. Companies like bluehost or hostgator are perfect choices, and offer excellent rates for their service.
Once the site is fully developed and designed, the next step on the path to internet marketing is the creation of a web promotion plan that includes the previously discussed web design and development strategy. Website promotion is the most important piece of the internet marketing puzzle. There must be a solid promotion strategy behind your website, or you will not get the site visitors that drive profitability. In order to create such a strategy, it is vital to define your objectives and your audience.
Search engines, and the ways in which they function, should be considered before every single internet marketing decision. Over 85% of people use search engines to find information online, so working with the engines instead of against them is of the upmost importance. Because of this dependence, the domain name that you choose is tightly wrapped up in the success or failure of your online venture. Try to choose a domain that is as specific as possible to your industry, and, if at all possible, purchase all the possible variances so someone does not come along and steal your good name.
No matter what you are selling, be it goods or services, there is always going to be competition for your customer’s dollars found on the Internet. If you open a browser and go to Google what do you find when you type in your specific keywords? The odds are good that at least the first page will be full of possible competitors, so take some time to look over their sites. This is free market research, and could give you some valuable insights into possibilities for your own design. Using someone else’s work without compensation is never right, but getting inspiration from related materials is fine. In fact, it would be foolhardy to not see how your competitors are selling themselves to the public.
One of the greatest assets any company possesses are the customers who keep it running. These people represent an excellent resource that should be cultivated at every opportunity. The statistics back up this concept: up to 42% of previous customers will be future customers. So, developing relationships with your existing clientele will improve your returns. You should never stop looking for ways to provide better service to these customers, and free offers and special discounts are excellent ways to generate brand loyalty. Once this has been established, you can ask these satisfied customers for referrals and testimonials. This will go a long way to promoting your business to like-minded customers.
Relationships are an enormous, and vital, piece of any good web promotion plan. The relationships formed with customers are great for promoting your site through testimonials and referrals, as was discussed before, but they are far from the only relationships that are beneficial to a business. Finding and cultivating relationships with possible partners is just as important to internet marketing success. Try contacting the owners of websites that relate or add value to your products and services, and asking for link exchanges. This will connect your sites in search engines causing both sites to rise in relevance, and will give both companies access to customers they may not normally have attracted alone. This is a rare win-win in the business world, and should be taken advantage of whenever possible.
Communication is key in almost every human endeavor. This is just as true with website promotion as it is with any other type of advertising. It is all about getting your message across, and how does one do that if no one knows what that message is? It is imperative that you talk up your site constantly. This can be accomplished in a myriad of ways, but direct communication of the site’s mission and goals of service should always be included. Every piece of literature, business cards included, that your company puts out should do its part in promoting your site on top of accomplishing its intended goal. This may not be the easiest thing, or the most comfortable for some people, but, for every chance to give your website information to a potential customer you miss, you create an opportunity for your competitors. This is unacceptable in any successful venture, so make it your top priority to mention your website in every conversation.
One of the keys to successful website promotion is keeping a regular schedule of reviewing, editing, and upgrading your site and services. This will assist you in ensuring that your message is constant and unambiguous with regards to what you do, how you do it, and what it costs. By doing something productive to your site on a regular basis you can guarantee that your message stays clear, and your offerings are current and meaningful. Even if it is only 20 minutes a day, working on your website with your plan in mind will bring success sooner than you might think.
The Internet is a wonderful tool for promoting your business. One of the most important aspects of this medium is its ability to automatically track and record data. This allows for the testing and measuring of enormous quantities of data that directly impacts your business. The successful analysis of this wealth of information will give you the power to adjust your strategies, refine your product selection, and target specific visitors with directed marketing campaigns. This has the potential, if used in an efficient and responsible way, to dramatically increase the profitability of your business.
Establish Rankings and Practice Good SEO Techniques
There are many different search engine optimization (SEO) techniques used by websites to improve performance. The most widely used technique is the use of specific, appropriate keywords to move up the list of search engine rankings. These are the words that search engine users will input to try to find the information they are looking for. There are programs available that will provide the most used keywords pertaining to your product or service. These words can be placed in the titles, headings, and content of the website, and should be used throughout as often as possible without degrading the message you are trying to convey. This will allow your site’s visitors to easily find the content they are searching for on your page.
When writing content for your site it is imperative that you stay above 200 words. Search engines tend to favor sites that offer meaningful information, so regularly update your content to keep it interesting, relevant, and informative. Many sites use the blog format because of the preference search engines show toward regular content updates. This is, as was stated, very important in terms of the search engines, but should never be done at the detriment of your customers. You must never forget that your mission is to satisfy their needs, and providing useful insights and information on your site that directly affect their experience will always trump search engine results.
Another excellent technique for increasing your site rankings in search engines is the utilization of web links. These links, especially when used as previously discussed, will give potential customers alternate avenues to your site, and, in most cases, cost you next to nothing to implement. Exchange links, or links that are negotiated with other site owners, will create partnerships with industry specific companies that enhance your products or services, and, as their name suggests, will be absolutely free in financial terms. This is an excellent low-cost strategy for improving your site results and company profitability.
Effective Email Marketing
Email marketing is a relatively inexpensive way to market your business to potential customers. Many people think of email marketing as “spam”, but this is not the case when handled respectfully and offering things the recipients have either intimated they are interested in or explicitly asked for. The steps to effectively using email to market your company are pretty simple and straightforward. Yet, it is important that you follow them in order to keep your company from becoming an irritation to your customers. No one likes a spammer.
A good email marketing campaign begins with finding out exactly the audience you are attempting to influence. Tying your email campaign to specific historical purchasing trends is a good way to get a significant return on your investment. It is very important to try to make the email seem personal to your customers in any meaningful way you can. This can increase revenue by up to nine times compared to a similar generic email campaign. Make sure that your email establishes the value you can bring to your customers lives through the services you provide, the goods you offer, and any relevant testimonials that back up your points. This will please your customers, and increase brand loyalty.
Any successful email marketing campaign follows a specific life-cycle This life-cycle can be used to plan your campaign’s many steps, and analyzed to develop any necessary alterations to the original. Here is a summary of the life-cycle of a common email marketing campaign:
- Acquisition: Identify your prospects and launch your campaign.
- Persuasion: Engage your prospects by introducing sales opportunities. Reinforce your prior emails with follow-up campaigns that establish meaningful sales conversations.
- Conversion: Seal the deal in order to grow your revenue stream. Address your customer’s needs and expectations, and define how you will meet each one.
- Retention: Maintain contact in order to retain current sales relationships. Any new needs the customer may have can be addressed during this phase of the life-cycle.
- Loyalty/Renewal: Engage customers in discussions about renewing contracts, upgrading service, or new product launches. Ask for referral or case-study permission.
It is important to remember to include calls to action and informational tools in your correspondence. The inclusion of contact phone numbers, email addresses, and company website is priority one in email writing. Provide testimonials and case studies to reinforce the salient points of the overall campaign. This is also a good time to exercise the partnerships you have created with other site owners by including referrals to their sites. When providing goods or services, it is a good idea to include any samples (pictures of work done, products sold, etc.) for your customers to review.
Affiliate, Reseller, and Associate Programs
The domination of your niche on the worldwide web will take many different steps along the way. There are innumerable ways to go about this, including all the things we have already discussed, and each of them has its own value to offer. Affiliate, reseller, and associate programs are just such a valuable tool for companies looking to expand their business in the digital age.
Many people probably have no idea what these programs are. Outside of the Internet these programs have no real meaning, though they do have their corollaries in the real-world. These programs are revenue-sharing arrangements between companies selling products and services. They offer commissions based on business you drive to their site. There is an easy signup process where you are provided a partner ID by which their system recognizes you. These are excellent ways to increase business, and require no financial investment or any kind of payment.
All that is required to take advantage of this opportunity is providing banner ads, small graphics, or text links from your site to the vendor. Whenever a customer is referred from your site to the vendor site their system will recognize your ID, and you will be issued credits for any sales they make to these customers. This is an excellent way to earn extra revenue from your traffic, and, especially if you can find a vendor that relates to your own products or services, offer extra services to your visitors.
Internet Marketing Consultant Analysis
It is very important to realize that in an environment as complex and prone to change as the Internet you will need the help of a professional to fully exploit the opportunities presented in the digital realm. Internet marketing consultants are an important asset for any company looking to make the most of the worldwide web, and their services are relatively inexpensive when compared to the possible revenue streams a good marketing strategy can open up to your business.
The highly skilled professionals in the internet marketing field can show you where improvements are possible. They will author a recommended course of action for your company to follow to reach the goals you have set for your efforts. It will address all of the areas they identify as strengths and weaknesses, and answer all of the questions you may have concerning the overall process. This insight and experience can be the difference between true success and mediocrity or failure.
Build a Responsive Opt-In Email List
An opt-in email list is the term used for a group of people, or businesses, who have given permission to receive “bulk” email. “Bulk” email refers to any email that is sent to many people at the same time. Typically, this is some form of mailing list, newsletter, or advertising. A company that can boast a responsive email list has a direct line to its customer base, and a better understanding of their needs. This is an advantage that every company should be fixated upon. There are several types of opt-in email:
- Unconfirmed Opt-In: An email address is submitted to the list software, but no steps are taken to confirm the address truly belongs to the person submitting it. This can cause email from the mailing list to be considered spam due to simple typos in the original submission.
- Confirmed Opt-In: An email address is submitted to the list software, and a confirmation email is sent to the address to confirm it is really the user. The email will contain a link or request a reply email to verify the user wants to receive emails in the future. This is the preferred method since if no action is taken upon receipt of the verification message the user will not continue to receive emails. This can eliminate any chance of spamming being attached to your company name.
Publish Articles or Make News
One of the best ways to drum up visitors to your site is to publish articles that pertain to the goods or services you provide. Finding ways to get mentioned in news stories is excellent as well. The ways to do this vary depending on your area and industry, but usually a charitable donation or giveaway will accomplish this while also enhancing your philanthropic reputation.
Writing and publishing online press releases is another excellent way to make a name for your business on the Internet. Press releases were once used exclusively with the media, and the distribution of your information was controlled by their choices. Today, however, an online press release allows your company to generate buzz for your products and services, and drive more traffic to your site. They are a great tool for increasing visibility online, and increasing your ranking in search engine results.
More than a third of all people polled (34%) said they went online for news within the last 24 hours. This number represents an enormous revenue pool of untapped customers, so online press releases, picked up by high traffic news organizations, can make a huge difference in the success of your online efforts. It at least makes their creation worth your time.
Run Contests and Giveaways
There are few more effective strategies for increasing traffic to your site than running an online contest or giveaway. Human beings are very fond of things they win, or are freely given, and will give their allegiance in return for the chance at being picked the winner. The creation of an online contest takes very little work, and, since the prize is inevitably one of your goods or services, relatively inexpensive to operate successfully. The real goal of any company setting up such an event should be the partnerships with other companies to enhance the reward, and further any relationships with partner websites you may already have. The most important aspect of this type of Internet promotion is the quality of the award given, and the perceived fairness of the contest.
Blog and Interact with Visitors
Blogging is an effective, efficient way to promote your site, your products, and your services. It allows for the creation of the most current, relevant content for your site, and will give your customers a reason to come back again and again. Return traffic breeds customer loyalty, and word-of-mouth advertising, that can dramatically increase your site’s popularity among your targeted audience. It also gives your visitors the ability, through likes and comments, to interact with you on a more personal level. This is proven to create an atmosphere of trust and good nature that will only strengthen their ties to your products and services. That, in the end, is the most important goal of any company.
It’s so easy, darling!
Internet marketing…I love you!
All of the information in this article has been compiled in an attempt to make the transition to an internet marketing strategy as simple and stress-free as possible. Most of these strategies are either very inexpensive or totally free, so they represent a negligible financial investment. What they do require is time, planning, and maintenance. While this may seem intimidating at first, it will become much easier with time and experience. In the hyper-competitive business environment of today, businesses have no choice but to put their best “digital” foot forward. Following all the steps listed above, and using the helpful tips shared, will give your company the best chance to make the transition a successful endeavor.
Blog – Lift Conversions – Welcome to the Worldwide Web by Spencer Wade