Many years ago, I was talking to a man about a business opportunity and he told me he was building a website that would work for him 24/7. He was a truck driver, so I’m sure the flexibility of an online business was appealing to him. But he seemed to believe that all he needed was a website. While a website is an important aspect to online success, having a website in and of itself doesn’t mean he’ll make money. I think this is where many would-be online entrepreneurs struggle. If you don’t let people know about your website, they can’t find it and therefore can’t buy from it.
Marketing is a scary term for some. But actually marketing doesn’t have to be obnoxious or hard. But it does need to be done every day. Here are some tips to marketing your online business.
1) Know your market. This is so important for effective and affordable marketing. Knowing your market helps you find the market and create marketing strategies that appeal to them.
2) Promote the solution. There’s a well-known marketing analogy about buying a drill. A guy needs to drill a hole to hang a picture in his home. He goes to hardware store #1, where the owner tells him about how many years he’s been in business and how his drills are souped up. Wanting to think it over, the guy goes to hardware store #2 where the business owner starts talking about a drill that creates a hole quickly and safely. They guy immediately buys from hardware store owner #2. Why? Because the guy didn’t need a drill, he needed a hole. That’s what hardware store owner sold – the solution to getting a hole. That’s what you want to do. Sell the solution. What does your product or service provide that BENEFITS the customer. Your market doesn’t care that much about how great you or your product/service is, they care about whether or not you can help them. Sure your greatness can provide credibility that you can solve a problem, but the solution is what you want to focus on.
3) Go where your market is. Splatter marketing where you run your promos in generic sources doesn’t work. Why? Because generic offers don’t appeal to consumers. I provide work-at-home information, but moms want to work at home for different reasons than baby-boomers. If I go to generic ad sources, I have to give generic offers. But if I go to moms and sell the ability to be home with children and if I go to baby boomers and sell the solution to surviving retirement, I’m going to have better results. It’s more effective and cheaper to place your marketing in niche sources.
Now that you understand what you need to know to create and distribute effective marketing, you need to develop strategies. There are tons of ways to market your site. Some work fantastic with some online entrepreneurs and not with others. You’ll need to test your materials, markets and strategies to find what works best for you. I’ve listed the most effective and affordable options.
1) Email list – You absolutely have to have an email list. Everyone I know who makes a living online has an email list. Most people who visit your site won’t buy and usually won’t be back again, unless you stay connected with them. An email list allows you to keep in touch, build rapport and credibility and bring them back to your website. The best way to build a list is to offer a freebie, such as a report in exchange for their name and email. Promote your list on all pages of your website and through your other marketing efforts. For example, you can mention your free report in your email signature line or through Twitter.
2) Article marketing – Sharing content with other websites gets your business in front of others in your market who may not have found you otherwise. Plus, the links back to your site in the bio section of the article increase your link popularity, which helps in search engine ranking. You can write articles and distribute through article directories and/or write unique articles to share with specific websites or blogs.
3) Search Engine Optimization – SEO is ever-changing and you can waste your life away trying to get high ranking on search engines. I know many online marketers that don’t pay much attention to SEO anymore. I don’t lose sleep over SEO, but since about 30% of my traffic comes from search engines, I don’t want to ignore it either. My tips are to have good page titles, keywords and descriptions for each page of your website. Use search engine friendly titles in your meta tags, and reader friendly titles in your articles.
4) PR – Getting press is one of the best ways I’ve found to generate traffic. I use a service called Help a Reporter Out where media sources look for people to interview. Through this service I’ve been interviewed for Redbook, Women’s World and more. Even if the media source is a smaller outlet like a blog or podcast, getting exposure puts me in front of people who may not have found me otherwise. The key to getting PR through HARO is to write a great pitch geared toward what the outlet wants. I occasionally post a request for experts for the podcast with specific instructions and I’m shocked at some of the responses I get that don’t give me what I need. When I pitch, I provide an opening paragraph about me and my accomplishments and in the second paragraph I respond to the pitch. You can send cold pitches out to local media, but I find I get the best results with HARO.
5) Social media – I’ll be honest, I don’t much like social media. I don’t mind it for connecting with friends and family, but it’s time consuming and often I feel ignored or overwhelmed. At the same time, social media is a great way to connect with your market. The key is to participate in the social networks your market is located. If your market doesn’t Tweet, you don’t need to be on Twitter. The other key is to not market all the time. Social media is social…that means two-way communication. So you need to comment and share in response to others.