So you’re launching a new online business. Perhaps you’re still in the planning stage, or maybe you’ve got your website up and running and are looking at ways to bring in some loyal customers.
One of the great things about doing business online is how easy it is to market yourself. But if don’t have any experience of promoting a website, it certainly won’t feel easy at first.
In this guide, we’ll look at the marketing tactics your online business should prioritise. We’ll also give you the information you need to get started with each of the marketing tactics we look at.
Oh, and although we’ll be presenting the various tactics in order of importance, you should remember that the best online businesses use a mixture of all these tactics to reach as wide an audience as possible.
And one last thing before we get started – although we’ll be linking to guides throughout this piece, everything we talk about here is covered in depth in our Online Business Training courses. All the courses are free, and they’ll teach you how to get to grips with the marketing techniques we cover in this guide. It’s a great way to teach yourself the skills you need to start and grow a successful online business.
Now, let’s look at the marketing techniques you’ll need to master to make your business a success.
Search engine optimisation
If you’ve done any research into online marketing, you’ll have come across search engine optimisation (SEO).
SEO is the process of making sure search engines like Google are easily able to understand what your website is about, and are able to include your site in the search results for relevant search terms. If you achieve this, people will be able to click on those results and head to your website.
SEO is important for two reasons. The first is that Google has the potential to drive a huge number of visitors to your website. And clearly visitors are potential customers.
The second reason is that the process of SEO – that is making sure your website can easily be found and accessed by search engines – will also make it easier for those visitors to navigate around your site.
For all these reasons, SEO should be the foundation stone of your online marketing.
SEO is a huge topic and a great place to get started is these 7 simple SEO steps for a new website. It covers the basics of how search engine work, and how you can start to make sure you rank well for search terms that are relevant to your business.
If you’re running a business that has physical premises – a bar or a restaurant, for example, then you need to think about local SEO as well.
If you’ve ever entered a term like “pubs near me” or “hairdressers in West London” into Google, you’ll probably have noticed that as well as the usual links, you also get a map featuring the location of businesses. Those are the local SEO results.
The foundations of good local SEO are the same as those of “normal” SEO, but there are some extra steps involved.
This guide will help you get to grips with local SEO.
Have you spotted the ads that often appear when you do a search on Google? They’re the result of pay-per-click advertising (PPC).
PPC’s biggest advantage over SEO is that it allows your website to appear at the top of search results almost instantly.
Of course, as the name suggests you have to pay every time someone clicks ones of your ads; something that you don’t have to do when someone visits your site via “normal” search engine results.
So the key to PPC is ensuring that you make enough sales from it to cover your costs and make a profit.
The most basic way to make a profit using PPC is to simply make sure the cost of the number of clicks it takes to sell a particular product isn’t more than your existing profit margin for that product.
So for example, if you’re selling an item for £100 and the profit margin is £25 and you know (or predict) that you sell one of those items for every 10 people that looks at the page, then the most you can pay for a click and still make a profit is £2.49. (10x£2.49=£24.90.) In reality, you’ll want to make a bigger profit than this, but that simple formula is a good starting point for PPC campaigns that work.
AdWords, which is Google’s PPC advertising platform, let’s you set both a budget and the maximum amount you’re willing to spend per click through to you website. That means you can experiment with PPC without spending a fortune.
Email marketing is often overlooked, but it’s a hugely important part of online marketing.
Why? Well both of the online marketing techniques we’ve looked at so far involved getting traffic from search engines. And that means you’re not fully in control of how much traffic you receive.
If you’re relying on results from SEO, your rankings could drop, potentially leading to a drop in traffic. If you’re using PPC ads, a rival business could outbid you, meaning your ad is seen by fewer people and you get fewer clicks.
This is where email marketing comes in. Now email marketing won’t allow you to attract new customers to your website, but what it can do is cement your relationship with people who have already visited your site.
If you get visitors to sign up to your email marketing campaigns, you can then contact them directly without them having to navigate to you via a search engine again.
Not only does this give you a source of traffic over which you have control, but it also allows you to engage with people who weren’t ready to buy when they first visited your site.
You can read more about getting started with email marketing in this guide.
Social media is a handy tool for businesses of any size, but the key to using it successfully is commitment.
Neglected social media platforms look bad and they make your business look bad.
That means if you’re going to use social media marketing, you need to have a plan.
You need to plan what you’ll be using your social accounts for – what kind of content will you share, why and when? You’ll also need a plan in place for what to do when someone complains about your business via social media. And finally, you’ll also need to think about whether you’re going to make use of paid social media ads.
Content marketing is the big thing at the moment, but really for most businesses it’s something of a luxury.
That’s because creating content that gets you noticed takes time, effort and money that a lot of businesses would rather spend elsewhere.
Done well, content marketing will get you noticed on social media and help attract links and mentions that will boost your SEO. But it’s not easy. This kind of marketing should be a next step for when you’ve master the basics and are ready to move things to the next level.
You can learn more about getting started with content marketing in this guide.
Remember, in an article of this length we’ve really only scratched the surface of each of these marketing techniques. If you want to start to get to grips with things, why not head over to our Online Business Training courses and get learning? If you’re just starting out and haven’t got a site yet, then Designing and building your website is the course for you. But if you’re looking to grow an existing online business, then you can leap right in with Getting more customers and visitors.