“Online marketing is a nuisance,” my friend exclaimed after failing to find success with his e-commerce store. His statement made me consider how a large number of entrepreneurs are still unaware of how to use online marketing–even in a basic sense.
As the owner of a digital marketing agency, I have worked with hundreds of business owners to improve their online presence. Yet, the prevalence of businesses with little or no online marketing strategy is still surprising.
If you find it difficult to leave a mark online, try these six tips.
1. Identify your target audience
No business can be successful until it knows its target audience. The name of your business, tagline, website URL, online visual branding, etc. largely depend on your target audience. When you develop a customer profile and research demographics, you can formulate a relevant target audience. Use this information to personalize your online collateral. Only then you can actually start marketing to them.
2.. Think strategically
Online marketing is not only about having a website. You should know how to use it. Leverage high-quality and targeted content in a way that attracts visitors and keeps them on your site; and actively convert them into buyers and leads.
Use strategic content based on research and data, your target audience (i.e., readers), design elements and SEO (e.g., keyword strategy). This approach can demonstrate that your site is the best fit for their needs.
Visual content is a great way to also establish authority. Infographics, videos, and other visual assets can play a key role in conversions, time-on-site and bounce rate, which correlate to better search engine rankings.
3. Keep mobile in mind
First, test your business model online with a website to create proof of concept. An app should include the streamlined version of your product or service. Oversimplify and highlight key features users enjoy and use most.
Don’t worry about PR or media exposure for your app right away. Simply list it in the app store with relevant keywords, reviews and contact information to gradually build a loyal user base. A mobile app can help you reach and engage your audience in an easy and branded way.
4. Promote your online presence
There’s no point in being online if you are not promoting your business. To start, create high-quality content on your site, both in the form of blog posts as well as your overall website copy. The higher quality and informative content you place on your web pages, the more online users will find them in search engines.
Content planned using keyword research is generally far more effective at gaining a wider footprint in search engines. If content is the vehicle, keywords are the map. You can always research competitors that rank well and study how they implement keywords on their site.
5. Focus your social media efforts
Over 78 percent of the U.S. population uses at least one social media platform. But how do you choose which platform to focus on? The best social media platforms largely depends on the nature of your business and where your audience hangs out.
For example, if you are a photographer or create fashion and beauty products, Instagram or Pinterest might be the best options for you. Similarly, LinkedIn is the best social media platform to reach professional individuals if you run a B2B services company.
Connect with similar businesses who are active on social media to observe how they utilize their social channels before you invest time or money in a platform. With a little research, you can put all your time and effort into the optimal channels for your vertical. Ultimately, you can develop a unique strategy based on what you have learned.
6. Keep an eye on metrics
Effective online marketing is largely a numbers game. There are seemingly endless metrics to know and track in order to optimize your online presence. Learning what they are and how to manage them takes time.
You can use free analytics tools like Google Analytics to get valuable data; this will streamline much of the process. Data will help you make better business decisions and website optimizations that will maximize the user experience (UX), conversions and ROI.
Results take time. You may not make sales or conversions right away. Success online is usually a process that involves hard work and time. Once you reach your goal, you will have to sustain it, but you will also be far more effective and able to outperform the competition.
This article has been edited.
Aaron Haynes now oversees the marketing strategy and development of several businesses through his agency Fenix Pro. Connect with @myfenixpro on Twitter.
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