When starting an online or web-based business, it is integral to any plan to advertise in any way possible. The trick is, how do you do it? I have scoured the internet, learning the best ways to market your business on the web and with the knowledge gained I provide you with my Top 10 Strategies to Marketing Online:
1. Creating an Attractive Website
Regardless of how many people you can get to visit your website, it won’t matter if they cannot bear the thought of looking at it for more than two seconds. Make sure your website doesn’t turn people off right away. This includes eliminating the unnecessary elements of your site, creating an easy to navigate page, and inspiring return visits. If someone wouldn’t want to come back to your site, they most likely won’t buy anything or point anyone else in your direction. Without an attractive website, the rest of the strategies provided here won’t do you much good.
2. Word of Mouth
Obviously, this method comes first because it is not relegated to the Internet, but provides the means and suddenly customers who enjoy your product are working for you. Offer referral coupons and you are off to the races. Any person who receives information on a product from a trusted friend is infinitely more likely to follow up on it than something they were to be sent by you or another unknown source. Take that to the next level, and have YOUR friends market for you. Networking online is incredibly important. If you have a solid base of “friendly” websites linking to your site (This is generally easy to do if you offer the same service for them) you will create more traffic to your website than any other method.
3. E-mail Marketing
Email marketing usually done in one of three ways: 1) emailing current customers to encourage loyalty and repeat business by the way of repeat customer coupon, or member coupons. 2) Sending emails with the intent of gaining new customers with direct emails. This method requires gaining lists of email addresses which can be tricky to get. Generally the least effective of all email methods due to spam filters. 3) Adding advertisements to other businesses emails. This method would require spending some money to get businesses to let you do this, but if you create it correctly it can either appear to be sponsored by the business the customer is (Hopefully) familiar with, or you can use the space to create the best banner ad possible, which would gain the attention of the person emailed and link them back to you.
4. Search Engine Optimization
This method of advertisement is probably the sneakiest kind, because it doesn’t appear to your customer that you did anything to create the effect. Search engines use crawlers to find web pages for their algorithmic searches. These crawlers index specific pages on your website, but please note that if you have a blog, or a website attached to another site(Such as this blog, as it’s attached to BlogSpot), it’s unlikely you’re going to get ANY traffic without submitting your site directly to the search engines. For sites like yahoo, this can be a pricey endeavor without much gain, but it does allow you to select which keywords bring up your website.
5. Banner Ads
This type of marketing covers web banners, animated gifs or static images that wouldn’t be described as a “banner” such as the rectangular ads often seen on MySpace and online newspaper articles, and “Pop-Up” advertisements. These ads are mildly effective, and are usually rather costly. You’re looking at a cost to create the advertisement, and a cost to run the ad on someone else’s website unless you can get a “Banner swap” deal. A banner swap deal would allow you run an advertisement for someone else while they do the same for you, at no cost to one another (Other than the space on your website). The space on your website is a resource in this sense, because it cuts down the available area on the screen at any one time for text. Banner ads can either run at the top or bottom of a page, or along the sides. The ads along the side can either be static, in that they don’t move when you scroll down the page (Often revealing more ads), or they can be constant, scrolling down the page with the visitor. Usually, if you are going to run these ads they should announce to the world how great your product is. Often I see the mistake of people using a banner ad saying “Visit [http://momsinternetmarketingandlifetips.blogspot.com/!]” or whatever your site may be, rather than showing people what they will get if they DO visit. You want people coming to your site to buy your product (or read your blog) not just too idly travel to your website to quell their boredom. It is important your ads are proactive in this sense.
6. Social Networking
Websites such as Facebook, Myspace, and most recently Twitter have begun to allow everyone to get in touch with everyone they know and provide them with updates on their daily lives. Why can’t you use this to increase business? You can do it both on your personal Facebook or twitter, and more importantly on one set up specifically for your business. With a network of past and future customers, it can be instrumental in keeping your former customers informed and spreading that knowledge on to future customers.
7. Create a Newsletter
By creating a newsletter you are allowing customers who want to keep up with new developments on your website and new products you produce informed. This optional service is a strong base of customers for future products, because nearly all who sign up to be informed of products to be developed will likely at least check out anything new you create. You can also use these dedicated customers as a strong base to bounce ideas off of, which would allow for cheap feedback on ideas.
8. Online Press Releases
Using an inexpensive service to get the word out is never a bad idea. This ranks below a newsletter because it doesn’t have the personal touch that allows it to reach customers from a trusted source, and it costs more than just your time. These releases are often about 20 dollars and get the word out to thousands at a time. Release an article on your product (make sure it’s favorable) and watch the results. Be sure there is a link back to your website on the article.
9. Pay-per-click Advertising.
Pay per click advertising is very similar to search engine optimization, except that it costs you a set amount per click on the link you are providing. The price usually varies depending on the keywords you use (for example: hotel is a very expensive one) and could cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars a month for no guaranteed sales. I generally don’t recommend this method, but it could feasibly create sales for your website. Those possible sales push Pay-per-click ads just above pop ups on this list.
10. Pop Up Ads
Marketing via pop-ups is becoming a gamble. With pop-up blockers reigning supreme in the web browser wars, it is generally unwise to spend a lot of time, effort, or funds on pop ups. Most of the time they are either quickly closed by those proficient with the internet, or they are blocked by specialized pop up blockers. That being said, the better ads can produce some motivated traffic and that alone warrants the last spot on my countdown. In all, I don’t think they can produce enough for their cost in this new internet, and are a dinosaur of the infancy of the World Wide Web.