Before you start any kind of online marketing activity you need to create your web presence. It is your customers’ first point of call online so it is important to get it right. A web presence will often be a website but there are an increasing number of companies that run solely on online selling websites or via social media such as Facebook. Personally, I would say that your own website is essential as it gives you extra credibility if done right.
There are many ways to create a website without having to hire an expensive web designer. There are websites that offer website building software, templates, or free content management systems such as WordPress or Drupal. Though you need to consider carefully whether your do-it-yourself website reaches the quality you expect for your brand. There are also ways to host your website for free such as through a .wordpress.com account. I believe buying a personal domain and paying for hosting as this looks a lot more professional.
Even companies that don’t sell products online can benefit from having a web presence. Once you are properly established on search engines and have a regular stream of visitors, your website can be used to create leads that will help grow your sales. A do-it-yourself website can be created and hosted for less than £50 a year which is a small price to pay for the potential benefits.
Social media as a free marketing tool
Social media has boomed in recent years with a massive proportion of internet users frequently using at least one social medium on a regular basis. To put this into perspective, if Facebook – the world’s number one social medium – was a country, it would have the third largest population in the world, just behind China and India. There are almost 16 active facebook users for every single person in the UK.
While there are a lot of different types of social media and many can be used to help promote your business there are three key players in the market that in my opinion all businesses should be a part of:
Though some people are uncomfortable with facebook because it is poor at drawing a line between your private and your business life, Facebook is an obvious choice with a large chunk of the world population actively using it. Facebook can be a great medium to actively share your company news and offers. You can also integrate Facebook Like buttons into your website so your visitors can share what they find interesting, a few likes can quickly turn into a massive viral campaign. Although the metrics aren’t fully known it has been suggested by many online marketing experts that social signals such as Facebook shares can help your websites search engine ranking.
Twitter can be used to broadcast quick snippets of company information and to link to full stories or offers on your website. It can be hard to gain and keep followers, so it is important to post high quality content that people will want to read. Similar to Facebook “likes” Twitter “retweets” can be used on your webpages to promote your website’s content and potentially improve search ranking.
Google+ was supposed to be a competitor to Facebook on its launch, however it wasn’t able to topple the giant and so currently has nowhere near the number of users of Facebook or Twitter. However what Google+ does have going for it is a high level of integration with Google the world’s largest search engine. Google’s business pages and maps have all been integrated into Google+ this means that it is advisable for any business to set one up as this will help improve online visibility. Being listed on Google maps also helps for location based services as it will actively know where your business is and so when people search in your local area they will be more likely to have your companies results rank highly.
Think ‘long tail’ if you’re small
One final tip, when trying to sell online however it can be very hard to compete with some of the big giants. Having your own specialism or niche is one way around this.