In 1995, Clifford Stoll made a bold argument that because of the limits of the Internet (at that time), e-commerce wasn’t going to fly. Of course, with 20-20 hindsight we see his argument didn’t hold water. But who else in 1995 could possibly have imagined what the Internet could — in just a few short years — do?
Online marketing is giving traditional marketing a run for its money … fast. That’s why these days, if you’re running a business, regardless of its size, having a web presence is crucial.
But maintaining a website isn’t all there is to online marketing. Not so long ago, having a website was enough so that when you built it, people would find you. Sure, there was a little marketing and SEO involved.
But times have clearly changed. Having just a website is no longer enough, and the search engine marketing game has shifted into some higher gears. That’s because the way people use the Internet to find information on products and services has dramatically changed.
But the changes that have taken place in the way we do business online shouldn’t turn you off. In fact, some of the recent changes in online marketing have made it a lot easier for small businesses to compete against the big ones.
Your website’s score card
Let’s start with the website, the centerpiece of your online business presence. Take a look at how your business performs with just your website. Try answering the following questions:
- Do you receive at least five inquiries a month through your site?
- Is there a way for you to measure your site’s performance (i.e., are analytics installed)?
- If you have analytics installed in your site, do you regularly look over the stats to monitor traffic, audience interaction, and everything else that tells you about your site’s progress?
- Have you updated your site or blog within the last two to three months?
- Do you have incoming links from other websites, especially those that are related to your site?
- Do you provide a way for your audience to find basic information via your website?
So what’s your score? Here’s the thing: If you have more than two no’s among your answers to the above questions, chances are your web presence is not as effective as it could be. You may be missing out on crucial opportunities for your business each time visitors take a look at your site.
You should know by now that the key to an effective web presence is to operate a site that is interactive, supported by great content, and driven by engaging marketing activities.
The following are four areas you should look into to make your website the centerpiece of your business. Concentrate your energy on these items, and your site will have a more effective online presence and perform better.
An interactive site
Having a website is a first step toward creating a strong web presence. However, it’s incredible to see how many people even today have assumed that a website isn’t necessary because of the explosion of social media. Social media has enabled the less techie entrepreneur to set up shop with just a Facebook or Twitter page.
Folks, having a website says a lot about the credibility and capability of your business. But the not-so-techie entrepreneur often finds running a site an intimidating and tedious task. After all, it requires a firm grasp of programming and SEO, right?
Well, not actually. The good news is, along with the explosion of social media came the user-friendly features of website content management. WordPress is one of the most powerful and easy-to-use platforms; even a 12-year-old can use it to set up a working site from the ground up. With newer platforms, you can create highly engaging sites that run 24 hours a day without requiring you to learn about programming.
Also, the biggest advantage to running your small business on such newer platforms as WordPress is that they allow you to update your site easily, with fresh new content. I want to emphasize freshness, because it is one of the key ranking factors that the search engines are considering these days.
And of course, what’s a site without a great and highly engaging content, right? Content is still king. It still plays a huge role in attracting visitors and in ranking your site well in search.
With great content, you can attract massive followers for your business. You can also convert your visitors into paying and loyal customers.
And with great content, you can effectively position yourself as the go-to guy within your industry. But you can only achieve this if you constantly share valuable information that people will love you for.
A majority of the people using the Internet still use the search engines to find information on products and services. Sure, we all like to read the recommendations from people we are connected with on Facebook, but most of us still want some control over the information we’re looking for.
And because people still largely use the search engines, if your business isn’t on the first page of Google or Bing, your customers will move toward your competitors instead. Therefore, search marketing should form a huge part of your marketing activities.
Social media marketing
Lastly, one of the largest and newest challenges to achieving effective online presence for your business is immersing yourself in social media marketing. It’s not the Holy Grail of online marketing, but getting social is a sure-fire way to achieve great exposure, higher traffic, and even conversion.
One of the keys to a successful social media marketing campaign is determining which platform is best suited to your type of business. Which audiences do you wish to interact with? Also, you need to be very determined to keep your social media marketing campaigns active by consistently posting updates on your social media pages.
To help you choose which social media platform is best for your business, remember the following:
- LinkedIn is great for B2B campaigns, and for networking with professionals and fellow entrepreneurs
- Facebook is great for finding new customers and marketing to people with whom you are already connected
- Twitter is great for marketing to strangers
- Google+ is great if you are looking to establish a strong presence not only in the social space, but also in search.
In a nutshell, in order for you to create an effective online presence for your business, you need to create an interactive site, produce high-quality content on a consistent basis, follow basic SEO rules, and establish an active social media presence.
If you’ve got questions on how to create an effective online marketing campaign for your business, contact us for a free site assessment.