Marketing your business on the web is not a matter of choice anymore.
More than 60 percent of consumers search for businesses online before making a purchase.
So whether you own a brick-and-mortar business or manage an Internet-based company, you need to have a strategy in place to attract, qualify and acquire customers online.
Failure to do so means you’re potentially missing out on thousands of customers.
But before you invest time and money in building an online presence for your business, you need to understand some of the fundamental steps involved in this process.
Here’s a birds-eye view of the steps involved in building a strong online marketing foundation.
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1. Determine Your Ideal Customer Profile
Can you develop a marketing strategy without knowing your target customer? Of course not.
Identifying your ideal customer and building accurate buyer personas is the absolute key building an effective and targeted marketing strategy.
Most business owners have a fair idea of who their ideal customers are. But in order to create accurate and laser focused content that drives action and makes people buy from you, you need more than just a fair idea about your ideal customer.
Creating an online marketing strategy for a group of people, instead of one very specific profile, is the shortest route to failure. You need as much and as specific information as possible.
Research forums, ask questions, run surveys and test launch beta products to understand the needs of your target customer.
Hubspot has a really useful range of free templates that can help you build accurate personas.
Tragically, most business owners never bother with this step at all and jump directly to differently marketing channels.
2. Make a Strong First Impression With Your Website
Your website is your corporate headquarter on the web. It’s often the first thing people look for when they hear about your business. So you need to make a strong impression, because online customers can be easily lost because of poor design or slow loading speeds.
Here’s a quick checklist to keep in mind while building your website:
- Security and Speed: An average Internet user leaves a website within three seconds if it loads slowly. That’s how much time you have to convince a visitor to stay on your site. And if your site isn’t secure and carries viruses or malware, Google would be quick to blacklist you from its search results. Both these things have a close relationship with the quality of your web hosting service, which why is you need to invest in it.
- Mobile-friendly design: More than 50 percent of all Google search queries originate from mobile devices, which is why your website design needs to be mobile friendly.
You can do that by using a responsive WordPress theme or by using a responsive website builder app to create your site.
- Professional Layout: The design layout and navigation of your site speaks a lot about your brand. It also has a direct impact on your site’s SEO (which I explained in my post last week).
Most of your online marketing activities will be designed to drive traffic to your website. So you need to create an optimized design that is able to convert that traffic into leads.
3. Identify the Most Profitable Social Media Platforms for Your Business
Trying to create a following on every social network is not only expensive, but also a waste of time. When you have a well-defined buyer persona, you know exactly what social media platforms your target audience is using and where you need to engage them.
In most cases, you should have different objectives for different social networks. For example, you might find that your audience regularly engages with you on Facebook but doesn’t respond much on Twitter. For this reason you can completely automate your Tweets and focus more on Facebook.
Similarly, most marketers use Google+ only for SEO reasons. They create really detailed profiles on Google+ (with links to other social profiles as well) to help them rank better for relevant search results.
For example, see how Rosemary Plorin, a prominent PR professional and columnist, has linked her social profiles and her contributor profiles from her Google+ page.
But that’s about it. You won’t see brands or professionals investing as much time or resources on Google+ as they’d do on Facebook.
So instead of stretching yourself too wide, invest your resources on your most active and profitable social network, while maintaining a minimum presence on some of the other important platforms.
4. Use Blogging as a Traffic and Lead Generation Engine
Unique, high-quality and actionable content is the fuel that every online marketing strategy runs on. And there’s no better way to consistently create quality content than blogging.
Studies show that websites with blogs generate 97 percent more inbound links and 434 percent more indexed pages.
Naturally, this results in higher search engine ranking and more organic traffic. There are several things that combine to make a piece of content high-quality.
Here’s a quick look at them:
- Well-Researched Topic: Use tools like BuzzSumo and Ahrefs to identify the topics that have already performed well in your niche. Identify the loopholes in the best performing post and create an even better piece of content on the same topic.
- Catchy Headlines: The quality of your headline has an 80 percent impact on the open rate of your blog post.
Viral news sites like Wellness Nova and BuzzFeed have become multi-million dollar businesses because of their headlines. You can use tools like Co-Schedule Headline Analyzer to gauge the quality of your headlines.
- Images and Visual Content: Human mind processes visuals almost 60,000 times faster than text content. So the more relevant images you include in your content the better it is for you readers.
- Data References: It’s always good to back your arguments with solid data evidence. It makes you look credible and adds weight to your content.
The more content you create, the better chances you have of attracting organic traffic and generating qualified leads for your business.
5. Repurpose Content to Expand Your Reach
Content creation is a time and labor-intensive task. It requires hours of sweat and elbow grease. So when you do create an epic piece of content, make sure you take full advantage of it.
One way to do that is by repurposing your blog posts into different other content types. This immediately increases the life of your content and helps you generate much more traffic from it.
Here are a few ways businesses repurpose content.
- Infographics: If one of your blog posts has performed really well, why not change it into an easy to understand infographic? Infographics are one of the most popular content types and generate a lot of social shares. For example, take a look at this infographic about interview tips by Tenge Law Firm. They created a really eye-catching infographic that makes it really for the readers to consume their content.
You can create infographics by hiring a freelancer or by using free infographic tools.
- Text to Audio: You can convert your text content into an audio file and submit it to different audio directories and playlists. You can get this conversion done by hiring freelancers or using text to speech tools like Panopreter.
- Text To Video: You can create PowerPoint slides of your content convert it into a video and upload it to YoutTube with a backlink to the original post.
- Text to Slideshare: Convert your blog post into text slides and upload to Slideshare with a backlink to the original post.
There are dozens of other ways to repurpose your content, but even following the ones I’ve mentioned should give a new life to your content.
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6. Use Incentives to Build Your Email List From the First Day
Generating traffic to your site is just one part of the equation. In order to convert that traffic into leads, you need to start building your email list from the very first day.
A list allows you to regularly engage your target audience and build a long lasting relationship with them that’ll help you close more sales.
To accelerate the process of list building, offer sign-up incentives like a free eBook or an email course. Here’s a really detailed post with more than a dozen ideas for building an email list freebie.
Developing and executing an online marketing strategy requires a careful approach that is tailored for your business needs. In this post, I just gave you a quick overview of some of the fundamental activities involved in building an online marketing strategy.
Each one of these points can be elaborated in much greater detail. But this should give you a good starting point.