Market your business online in 2018 and beyond with this easy to follow 10 step guide.
How to market your business online?
An important question that every entrepreneur needs to ask themselves everyday is “how do I market my business?”. Whether you are just starting out or have been in business for decades, the question remains the same. In this article we will try to answer this question in terms of how to market your business in the present and also in the future.
Technology is shifting the balance of influence away from the major corporations and towards the individual. Digital marketing is shifting this balance in the way we act in business. Influencers are now the brands. Your favourite YouTube personality, Snap Chat idol or Facebook person has more influence on how consumers spend their money. However, before we go into influencer marketing, let’s dive into answering how to market your business in 2017 and beyond.
1. Use Social Media to Build Your Tribe
When building your online shop, store or ‘global empire’ many people tend to focus on one thing and that’s pushing sales, sales and more sales! Now there are two issues with this approach.
People tend to buy from other people, so your mechanical and robotic approach to promoting yourself on a social channel could actually be counter-productive.
Secondly, social channels are a place to bridge the humanity gap. This exists when person A – the shopper is on a piece of technology attempting to buy from person B – the seller on another piece of technology. So the robotic sales, sales, more sales approach just won’t work here!
Your approach on social media, should always be about the “tribe”. What are your customers into? What content would they “like”, share with their friends or return to your site for more? Social is the place to build the tribe, the people behind your brand – the ambassadors. Relationships are key so focus on building deeper relationships and not trying to gain as many followers as possible.
2. Have More Conversations with Influencers
So your building the tribe, right? Having conversations with your niche audience providing them with high quality content that they love you for? Great! The next step is to find the “influencers”. These are the people who have a voice and can get your message to the masses. Essentially, an influencer is a person who has already built the audience that you intend to interact with. These influencers are the gate-keepers and can help you and your brand grow at a faster pace.
3. Have a Website that Converts Visitors into Leads
The content is engaging, the tribe is growing and your brand looks like a pretty cool place to hang out. Now, everyone needs a place to get together. A website is a great tool that a small business owner can share what they love about what they do. You can provide expert advice. Perhaps, you can provide more in-depth content and a forum to discover more about your “tribe”. A website, lastly and most importantly is a place to do business. Your content will drive the traffic but the quality of the website is what makes the real difference.
Your website has to do a few things and needs to do them well:
- Fast and efficient (Performance) – providing the information your visitors need to make purchase decisions quickly and process these decisions from page to page efficiently
- Attractive (UX) – people make decisions emotionally and the way they feel about the look of your site could make a big difference
- Assuring (Credibility) – “does this look like a secure place for me to part with my money?” is a question that your visitors will think about subconsciously. Any red flags such as spelling mistakes, poor design/structure, site speed issues, bugs etc will lose customers fast
4. Track and Measure Your Results
For a small business, results are everything. Knowing how well you’re doing and where you can improve is essential to drive growth.
- Is there a particular page where your customers tend to drop off?
- Has there been any issues affecting the speed of your site?
- Are some products performing better than others and should you push these to increase sales?
These are questions that can be answered using Google Analytics to track your performance.
5. Use Email Marketing to Convert Leads into Customers
This is a topic that a lot of marketers tend to get wrong and may not use the best practices.
In short, you need to build the list the right way and contact your potential customers in an appropriate manner. Segmentation, subject lines, personalization and content are just a few of the variables that you can test to improve how you convert your leads into paying customers.
6. Give Something of Value Away… for Free!
One strategy that works really well is give-away’s! Freebies easily warm your way to a customer’s heart. We tend to see these work well with competitions on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. The give-away could be in the form of:
- Educating a customer with a free e-book
- Samples of products
- An actual product – the higher the value the more information you can request.
This is a great way to build that email list. You can also use this as a method to increase brand awareness as people like and share your competition.
7. Listen to Your Customers
Social listening is often an overlooked discipline in marketing. “The customer is always right” is a saying that bodes well if you intend to find more like-minded customers through your marketing efforts.
- What are your customers talking about?
- What issues can you and your business address?
- Can you come up with solutions to help your customers have a better experience when dealing with your small business?
These are just a few questions you can ask yourself.
In terms of research, a great tool, not just for SEO (find out what SEO is on this post “SEO: What is it?“) but for social listening is Google’s Keyword Planner.
We tend to use this to understand what our potential customers are searching for on the internet. We were inspired by the numbers of people a month that search for terms like “how to market your business”. If this is what people are searching for then hopefully we can provide a few answers.
Another tool is Google Trends, and this is great to see what topics people are talking about over time and when certain interests become more popular.
8. Build Consumer Confidence with Reviews
In the music industry, they say that “You’re only as good as your last song”, the same could be said of your business. Your last review could mean more sales or a sudden dip in performance. Review sites like TrustPilot or TripAdvisor are great places to build customer confidence and brand advocacy. Customers tend to tell the truth and aren’t afraid of voicing their opinion online. Bad reviews could be great sources of information gathering to know more about your products and decide which ones to drop. Use these as learning tools and sometimes, you can turn the negative reviews into positive marketing tools!
Generally speaking, it’s always best to respond to every review and show customers you appreciate their feedback. If not, at least respond to the negative reviews. Potential customers tend to ingnore the ten 5 star reviews and read the single 1 star review instead. This is just human nature.
9. Be So Good that They Can’t Ignore You!
When you’re good at what you do, people tend to notice. Customers leave more positive feedback and some might even go out of their way to promote your business and the work you do. How you treat people will be reflected in your social channels, review sites etc. Customer service isn’t something you can always get right but great customer service is sometimes rare and when someone receives this they will more than likely remember you. Who knows, your work could go viral in a tweet or blog post so make sure it’s good.
This is an example of when things can go wrong!
10. Always Strive for More. Good Can Always Be Better
So everything is going well. You are getting consistent sales and you think it can’t get any better. The truth is, things can always be improved.
- Revenue can always increase
- Conversion rates could be optimised and
- There can always be more leads!
- This goes back to point number 4. “Track and measure results”.
You have to continuously monitor your websites performance and make adjustments. Technology moves forward so quickly, you really don’t want to be left behind.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often misunderstood by the average business person. Often if you ask someone to define SEO, the usual response is “It’s that Google thing, right?” or “It’s about getting to number one on search results”. Well, both of those statements are in some way true. However, they show a lack of understanding of its impact or the thought process behind a successful SEO strategy.
In this blog post, we’ll break SEO down to it’s fundamentals and bridge the gap of digital marketing knowledge you may have. Next time, when you are looking to find an SEO company or marketing agency you know exactly what you are paying for. Most importantly, understand that this is a long-term strategy and needs to be developed over time.
We recommend to implement SEO for at least 4-6 months to notice significant effects.
1. What is SEO?
SEO can be defined as the systematic approach to ensuring you are reaching your audience through organic search. Organic search would mean, through unpaid search results. For example, if someone needs to find a solution to a problem such as “How to lower blood pressure”. The top results that appear are what the search engine would think are most relevant. The deciding factors would depend on a number of aspects such as outside sources linking to the same content (inbound links), the structure of the web page, the keywords used and the quality of content such as videos, images and even word count.
The average mobile phone is more powerful than computers from only a decade ago, so more recently factors include how mobile-friendly your website is. Search engines are simply “crawlers” or as we like to think of them, “detectives” and need to find the most relevant information for the end user – possibly the consumer of your product or user of your service. Although a great website design is important, it is not a leading factor when it comes to search engines.
Search engines are simply “crawlers” or as we like to think of them, “detectives” and need to find the most relevant information for the end user – possibly the consumer of your product or user of your service.
2. On-Page SEO
On-Page SEO relates to what you can do within your website to enable the search engine to detect relevant information.
- Focus on hierarchy – How does your website appear? Does it flow from page-to-page?
- Keep content fresh and up-to-date. Relevant information is usually the most recent as out-of-date information could be deemed irrelevant.
- Optimize your layout with defined page headings (H1, H2, H3 etc)
- Use bold texts where possible to highlight keywords
- Is your website of high quality? – Are there images, videos, slides or other visual content that would make your website more user-friendly
- Are you linking content to other pages on your website? (internal links)
3. Keyword Research
Before you focus on your on-page SEO strategy, research the words that your target audience will likely be typing and optimize your page based on these keywords.
This part of SEO is often overlooked but forms the basis of all the other activities and results. Be careful of your use of the keywords however, search engines will penalize your page for unnatural use.
Find a list of best practices to follow below:
- Use keywords in your headings
- Avoid “stuffing” of keywords – remember your website is also meant to be easy to read.
- Do not create pages just for SEO with little or no value at all for the intended audience
- Do not mirror a website or produce duplicate content – be original!
Have you noticed how longer, more informative websites, blog posts or articles tend to be found more easily when using Google? This is because this also factors into how well you rank. We recommend using at least 300 words per page to have sufficient content. However, if you truly want to go for that ‘number one spot’ then dig a little deeper. Do more research into your field or hire an expert to write a guest article. Content that has over 2,500 words will tend to rank higher. Personally, we would say aiming for around 1,500 to 2,500 words should be more than enough for your SEO strategy.
Long-form content that has over 1,500 words will tend to rank higher. However, in my experience anything between 500 to 1,000 words should be sufficient.
Ensure your website is mobile-friendly. This should be common sense in 2016, however, there are a large number of websites that are still optimized for desktop and not mobile. Just recently, mobile search has overtaken desktop search and this trend is only going to continue. Mobile devices are the go-to tool to search for your next purchase, find a mechanic or plumber or to Google that famous actor or actress whose name you can’t quite remember!
5. Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO could be defined by asking yourself these important questions.
- How are you building links to your content? (external links)
- Are these external links of good quality?
- Are they high ranking on search results?
- What authority do they have?
- How are you getting influencers to link to your website?
- How good is your content marketing strategy?
- Do you have good social links?
As you can probably tell, it’s all about links! You may have heard of the term link building before, right? Well this strategy ultimately determines how high you will rank in search results. This is the most important factor and where the cost of expertise comes in when reaching out to a marketing agency or consultant.
6. Link Building
Build authority and credibility.
Internal links are when you link one page to another on the same website. These are important for when the search engine indexes or categorizes your page.
These are links from other websites or sources directing traffic to your page. These inbound links are a major factor for SEO. Why? They build authority and credibility. They separate the experts from the rest of the crowd.
We would recommend to be very selective when approaching companies online that offer a link building service. It’s always best to approach this strategy organically. Seek a digital marketing expert that understands the impact of bad links (low quality) compared to good links.
Examples of good links are listed below starting with the highest in quality:
- Authoritative sites e.g. Government bodies, industry leaders or universities etc.
- Influential blogs or social media
- Network Partners/Companies
- Discussion forums
- Directory links
A great tool to use to discover how a website ranks on Google is the Mozbar which you can download for Google chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
It allow access to important SEO metrics at a glance as you surf the web. Check out our results when searching for “10 best places to eat in Nottingham”. It instantly shows you the websites that are high in quality with page authority and domain authority scores. A restaurant featuring on one of these pages that has their own website linking to it will increase their SEO due to the high authority links.
7. Content Marketing
Content marketing is the art of communicating with customers without selling with the intention of influencing buying decisions. In terms of SEO, this is a great way to build links.
Content could be in these forms:
- Educational blog post (yes, this post is a form of content marketing) or
- Infographic or
- High quality image that is emotionally engaging or inspirational
- A cool video that is highly engaging, funny or share worthy
- E-book or free guide that teaches the consumer a new skill
- Funny videos or memes
Results can be achieved by educating customers, sharing useful information such as guides or tools related to your products or services that you offer or just being a “giver” – a sharer of useful information. Content usually has two aims, either to increase sales or to increase brand awareness. So decide what your goal is before opting to use this strategy.
8. SEO Analysis
The final element of your SEO strategy is tracking and measuring your results. As Google is the most used search engine, we’ll focus on Google Analytics. You can measure basic SEO metrics for your website by analyzing the return on investment (ROI) from your activities.
SEO factors to measure:
- Google ranking or positioning
- Conversions – for example, the number of increased sales from a campaign
More specifically, in Google Analytics, you can measure
- The level of traffic
- Content accessed
- Traffic sources
- Referring sites
We hope you have found this post useful and it gives you a good basic understanding of some SEO principles. You can always do more research, however with so much information on SEO on the internet, it may be easier talking to someone who understands it.