If you’re a business owner, you’re proud of the products or services you provide to your customers. Shouldn’t it be enough to offer the best solution to your customers’ problems and let them find you on their own? Unfortunately, in a marketplace where almost every segment is both crowded with newcomers and dominated by a few success stories, it can be a serious challenge to catch a potential customer’s attention.
Waiting for customers to discover you on their own isn’t a time- or cost-effective strategy, so it’s essential to develop a marketing plan. Marketing online can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be; try one of these six ideas for marketing your business.
Make Big Data Work for You
Where are your customers? What devices do they use? How did they find you? Whenever your customers interact with your website, they’re telling you something; with the right tools, you can use your understanding of their habits to better meet their needs and make more sales. You don’t need to code your own site to collect data; even drag-and-drop site builders let you connect Google Analytics to your website and see how visitors find you and what content they interact with once they do.
With this data, you can tailor your ad budget and marketing efforts to the most effective channels, reducing your cost of acquisition. Businesses that sell software-as-a-service or access to cloud servers can dig into greater detail by monitoring the demands on their services with network visibility tools that reveal the parts of your customer-facing networks where capacity isn’t matched to needs by actively monitoring the movement of data.
Stand Out on Search Engines
As you study your inbound traffic, you’ll get a better idea of the sites your customers visit before they visit yours. Often, search queries are a top discovery channel for online businesses, since customers use search tools to research planned purchases.
There are two approaches to search engine marketing: paid and organic search. Paid search is like other online advertising, where you create an ad and provide a link to your site. Users see your ads when they search for one of a set of keywords or phrases you’ve chosen. These results are marked as ads, but they appear at the top of the search results, offering a competitive advantage. Organic search results are the pages that a search algorithm thinks are best suited to answer a user’s questions; marketers can create content about questions their users are likely to ask and become a trusted source for answers, capturing searches for their product and earning top-of-mind status.
Partner With Influencers
Influencer marketing is a hot category for online marketing. Content creators with social media reach can convince viewers to take a chance on your brand by virtue of the trust they’ve built with their audience, translating to a big boost in sales. When you choose influencers to represent your brand, research their online presence first, considering their relevance to your audience, how well they understand products or services like yours, and their past actions online; rude antics may bring them viewers, but you don’t want your brand’s image to be associated with bad behavior.
You may also want to have both parties agree to a contract that outlines deliverables, how you expect your brand to be featured, and who owns the content the influencer creates. This is particularly important if you are paying to be featured; content creation takes work, and while some small influencers will work in exchange for free products or services, most creators with a sizable audience won’t. Finally, make sure you and the influencer understand local legal guidelines and required disclosures for sponsored content.
Encourage Reviews and Testimonials
When was the last time you bought something important online without reading at least one review? Positive experiences from current customers build credibility with new customers, so if your website doesn’t have anywhere to post reviews, you’re missing out on a major sales driver. Make sure that there’s a system set up for posting ratings and reviews and ask customers how they feel about their experience. An email follow-up after a purchase or a few months into a subscription is an automation-friendly way to accomplish this; include a link to post the review to make it easy to participate. You can’t offer deals or compensation, but the most excited customers are the ones most likely to post a review, so take advantage of that fact by thanking them for sharing their opinions.
Curate a Social Media Presence
You need to be where your customers are, and almost everyone who’s online today spends extensive time on social media. They may not be on every network—Pinterest has a different user base than Reddit—but it’s your job to know which networks they use and be part of the conversation. That means creating and maintaining social profiles and creating a steady flow of on-brand content that’s relevant to their interests.
What you post is determined by the platform: Instagram demands pictures and short videos, YouTube lengthier video content, and Twitter short comments and helpful links. If this sounds like a lot to manage, social media tools like Buffer, Sprout, or Hootsuite can help you plan and schedule content in advance. You can also advertise on social media, but social ads often have lower sales conversion rates than search ads. Whether you do so will depend on if a large proportion of your inbound traffic comes from social media.
Offer Samples, Trials, and Freebies
According to Investopedia, almost half of ecommerce sales are repeat sales, but what do you do while you’re building your client base? One option is to let people try something for free. For businesses that sell physical products, think about giving away a sample size of a new product with sales of your current offerings, hosting social media giveaways, or including your product in a subscription box popular with your target audience. Software and service businesses can offer free trials for a limited time so customers can see how effective your offerings are.
There are many ways to market your business online, but the most important thing is to start. These six tips can get you moving quickly and help you build up your business now