Lot’s of people have great ideas and want to get started with their website yesterday. That’s the easy part; getting customers to your website is the hard part.
I conduct ‘Forensic Marketing Audits’ at least four or five times a week, which is when an entrepreneur comes to me and asks the same question: “How do I get more clients?”.
Not everyone has a huge marketing budget to blow on awareness-building that doesn’t generate a measurable return in sales. If you’re a small business owner, you probably have to make sure every marketing cent gets turned over 10 times before it’s allocated, and every cent has to be able to stand up under the scrutiny of ROI: has it brought it more customers than it cost to acquire them?
Online is the best channel for business owners who want to make their marketing money last longer than Kim Kardashian’s first wedding. The beauty of online marketing is that it is completely free and will only take a bit of time, creativity and a little bit of know-how to use optimally.
1 – Create a Good Website
Websites are sales staff that don’t sleep or go to the movies when they should be out there selling. It’s 2014 and there should be no reason why you don’t have a nice-looking website to represent your business, no matter how small you may be, given the number of free site-builders out there like Yola and WordPress. For that matter you could even use a Pinterest or Facebook page to represent your business, until such time as you’ve got around R4,000 to invest in a professional custom-built ‘online brochure’ website. Once you have a website you have a place to send visitors to, something you’ll need for the other online channels below.
A Few Tips: Your website should be clean, well laid out and answer the following questions within the first few seconds of someone landing on your home page:
- Where am I?
- What are you selling?
- What’s in it for me?
- What do you want me to do?
Websites need to be user-friendly, benefits-led and not features-led, and they should not overwhelm with lots of flashing images.
Remember every page needs a clear call to action and I recommend putting your sign-up form and contact details on every page: don’t make people click to find it.
2 – Cater for Google
Google has become a verb and is an online channel you can’t afford to ignore. You want your website to turn up when people search for your product right? By turning up on page one you’ve just opened up your business to thousands of visitors who are potential customers.
It doesn’t cost anything to rank in Google, you just need to make sure you’re creating a good user experience, and Google should notice and reward you for it.
A Few Tips: Make sure the website you build has an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) plugin or was coded with Google in mind. Add at least one to four pages of new, unique and relevant content per month.
Have a paragraph on the home page that summarises what your business is about, with links that take visitors to deeper pages with more relevant content on your site.
If the pages are interesting to people, Google will make sure they get found by more people. If they are dry and boring, Google will know and your pages won’t rank. So you can’t only think about Google, and forget your users. And never try to trick google by writing in white on a white page, or hiding things or buying links.
Google knows everything, and Google will be mad and you do not want Google to be mad at you. Ever.
3 – Write Articles and Press Releases
Press releases and articles are a good way of getting your name out there. If you are a subject matter expert then you should be writing an opinion piece at least each month, and send it to the blogs, online magazines and print magazines, radio and TV shows that target the relevant audience.
Press releases about newsworthy events or products will most likely be picked up in anything from one to ten publications, giving you much needed publicity and sales.
A Few Tips: Research examples of press releases, then try your hand at writing one for your business. Don’t forget to include a photo. For articles, study the publication you are targeting, understand what makes an article newsworthy and well written.
Perhaps spend some money and send yourself or a staff member on a course on writing, it will be worth it once you get your first sale from something you wrote.
5 – Email
Email is not dead, it is just overtraded. In order to cut through the spam that floods everyone’s inboxes daily you have to make sure that your email is relevant, and that your customers want to read what you have to say otherwise your mail is just going to be trashed or marked as spam.
A Few Tips: Make sure you’re building a database of your existing or potential customers.
Design an email (MailChimp is free and comes with nice templates that are easy to use), write benefits-led wording, include a few small, relevant images, and remember your calls to action (links).
Your subject heading needs to be compelling, so split your database up and test a few different ones to see what works best. And promise me you will not ever be a spammer, it will damage the relationship you have with your customers.
6 – Social Media
Social Media can be used effectively to create a following of customers, and be able to reach them with interesting messages that enhance their relationship with your brand. It can also be used creatively to get sales.
Don’t be intimidated by using social media, once you start using it you will see how easy it is and you will understand your customers better.
Just remind yourself that you can’t really make a mistake as long as you don’t post anything derogatory, defamatory or while you are intoxicated!
A Few Tips:
Twitter: Send messages to people who are thought or opinion leaders in your field, and hopefully, if it’s creative or interesting enough, they will retweet (RT) it to their followers.
Tweet at least twice a day. Follow hashtags (#) of subjects that interest you or are topical, and get in on the conversation.
Facebook: Find or create a group for people who are potential customers, and create a conversation (not too hard sell).
YouTube: Create a channel and put other people’s video content in there until you have time to create and load your own.
LinkedIn: Follow and send well-researched, relevant messages to people who you want to reach.
Pinterest can be very effective for people selling visual, creative or beautiful products, just remember to include your url in the caption.
It’s not enough to build it, hoping they will come. You need to drive traffic to your shop or website using the channels above. Keep at it, eventually you will notice more and more business coming from your online garden.
At Shift ONE we have the expertise and experience to conduct your entire online marketing campaign for you.
Contact us to see what we can do for you.