Here’s our no-nonsense guide to getting started with your online marketing.
It would be tempting to assume that everyone knows everything there is to know about online marketing. Such is the wide range of published information, and so numerous are the agencies claiming to be ‘online marketing gurus’, that online marketing advice may seem passé here in 2016.
Dig a little deeper, however, and it soon becomes evident that those know-it-all experts are often late arrivals on the digital marketing bandwagon. Badly assembled lists of online marketing techniques have become clickbait fodder around the world, and even genuine experts often disagree on key steps for new or small businesses to take.
Here is our list of ten online marketing tips that attract general agreement from industry observers, don’t require a marketing degree to implement, and can have a markedly positive impact upon a company’s fortunes:
- Regularly update your website’s design and aesthetics. Tempting though it may be to persevere with that trusty HTML site whose ‘news’ stories date from years ago, modern search engines prioritize fast-loading sites optimized for mobile devices. Clean designs and universal accessibility are crucial aspects of contemporary sites.
- Remember that images can be very effective. While industries like accounting are very much oriented around technical skills, many companies promote products or services where visuals are crucial to attracting and retaining custom. Use copyright-free images wherever possible to break up text and capture people’s imagination.
- Use professionally written content. Many people think they can write effective copy, only to miss out key points or churn out unprofessional text and incorrect spelling and grammar. A freelance copywriter can transform dull or rambling text into a compelling argument for a particular product or service. Always avoid abbreviations (and alliteration).
- Maximize the benefits of SEO. This extends far beyond the web 1.0 use of keywords crammed into every sentence. It means effective use of meta tags and titles, market research to identify the terms potential clients are currently searching for, and long tail keywords for exact-match search engine results – the Holy Grail of online marketing.
- Use blogs and podcasts to positive effect. A written blog or podcast offers an effective platform for promoting new products/events/services without the burden of expectation attached to ‘news’ pages. Blogs should be updated whenever possible, avoiding the hard sell in favor of useful advice and offers of assistance.
- Exploit social media. People often search for companies on Facebook rather than Google, while Twitter is supplanting phone calls and emails. Promote social media accounts widely, respond to messages the same day and encourage interaction with followers. Never post personal comments on your corporate account, though.
- Promote positive reviews and testimonials. In the same way that social media can provide free advertising, so can happy customers. Some industries harness this more than others, but remember that Google reviews often appear alongside a company’s listing. LinkedIn also offers plenty of scope for corporate recommendations.
- Use calls to action in advertising. In an established marketplace, people will know your product or service exists. Offering an incentive provides a reason for them to choose your brand over a competitor. Without alienating existing customers, consider introductory offers or loyalty discounts that can be promoted in pay-per-click ads.
- Emphasize local origins. Many companies serve their local communities, so name-checking key towns or regions can differentiate a firm from rival enterprises elsewhere. If you run a dog-walking service in Salt Lake City, people in Miami and New Jersey won’t use you, so direct all web copy and advertising to local audiences.
- Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Word soon spreads if a company can’t live up to its own hyperbole, with social media audiences particularly brutal. Don’t claim to be the best unless you can demonstrate industry-leading credentials, and always offer proactive customer service – turning negative experiences back into positive ones.