Marketing on the web involves so much more than a good website.
So, you’ve successfully launched your website. Nice job! Now, it’s time to put it to work. A powerful website can be thought of as a business property just like a brick and mortar retail location or a professional office. Say you have a bike shop. You wouldn’t dream of filling the store with products, displays, point of purchase materials, marketing collateral, then calling it done forever.
A retail store is in a constant state of change. New bicycles come out all the time, as technology and customer demands evolve. Competitors open and close affecting the competitive landscape. You advertise. In other words, you respond to the ever changing marketplace by staying ahead of the curve and keeping your business relevant and an exciting place for your customers to shop.
The Internet is not a single marketing channel.
Marketing on the Internet starts with the website. That’s a given, but the site itself is only a tiny piece of the Internet marketing mix. As business owners, we often divide marketing into channels and assign what we think is the appropriate budget to each. The Internet tends to be viewed singly (the website), but in reality the Internet provides a nearly limitless range of options and opportunities to initiate contact with your customers, and continue building and strengthening your relationship over a time period potentially spanning decades.
Website Content Management
The first step in making sure your website remains a relevant, even entertaining resource is to keep it fresh. Nobody knows your business like you do, so the ability to manage your own site, including pages, photos, copy, forms, and everything else is best handled by you. To accomplish that, we often build content management systems (CMS). Properly designed, a content management system has several advantages for website owners. The CMS not only simplifies the update process so that non-technical individuals can easily manage updates, it also ensures that the site structure remains intact throughout the site, better supporting a cohesive, branded image.
In the long run, the site will be far less costly to maintain, since anyone within an organization may be assigned that task. Of course we still build lots of static websites, but generally, this means that we’ll be managing updates that you provide. For sites that truly don’t need to updated, these types of sites can be very quick to build, as well as being quite inexpensive. Such a site might list regulations or government statutes, or be simply a single online form that doesn’t serve a marketing function.
Your website is your first point of contact with your customers.
Whether you realize it or not, very few people still rely on the local phone directory as their primary means of learning about businesses within a given category or region. For that, search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing rule the day, with Google being the far and away favorite. Here are the facts. Your customers do use search engines to learn about products and services like yours. When they do, they’ll either find your business, or your competitors.
It is critical, not only to make sure your website is easily found (i.e. high search rankings), but also that it provides users with value. Value can mean information about products and services, special offers, expertise, entertainment, anything that connects with your target use group. Real value, presented with a polished, branded website and intuitive navigational interface will keep your visitors longer and lead to more sales.
Everything Connects: Social Media Marketing
Here’s the scoop. Unless you live under a rock, you know that social media has made its way into the mainstream. Once the domain of a handful of zit-faced basement dwellers, chances are today even you grandmother has a FaceBook page. But, updating your website, then a blog, then Twitter and on and on, takes a lot of time that, frankly might be better spent working on other aspects of you business. That’s not to say that those channels aren’t valuable. In fact, for most businesses, they should be considered essential. But, posting the same info on five different sites is silly when you don’t have to.
We’ve developed programs that do the reposting for you. That means you make one entry to your website or blog, and it is automatically pushed out across all social networks. That is HUGE. You get to look like the king or queen of the online social scene, yet you’re really just making routine site updates. What’s not to love about that?!
Blog your way to the top.
Here’s all you need to know about blogs: Get one and update it frequently. Okay, there’s a little more. A blog is really just a website. Blog is short for “web log” whitch is in essence an online journal. At least that’s how it started. Today, a blog is more of a specialized content management system, and Google and other search engines love them. The most effective blogs are those that are hosted directly, as oopsed to Blogger or WordPress.com. That’s because local hosting gives us the ability to program the server itself, which is a key to customizing the blog to best align with the goals of your organization.
With a blog, you’ll be able to post all of your company’s most relevant and up to date information without the need to create an entire page. In a sense, a company blog functions as an interactive replacement to the traditional newsletter. Add to that the ability for visitors to post comments (completely moderated by you), and the potential for virtually real-time search engine results and there is very little justification for not maintaining a company blog.
Your business blog can act as the hub to all of your social media efforts as well, meaning that as you post information to the blog, you can decide right then whether or not you want it posted to your social media sites like FaceBook and Twitter. As discuseed above, we can also set your primary website for that purpose, or integrate all of your Internet marketing channels.
Internet Marketing: PPC (Pay Per Click)
The subject of marketing on the Internet a huge, but certainly incomplete without mentioning ppc or pay-per-click advertising. Pay-per-click, paid-inclusion, sponsored ads, AdWords, etc. are all essentially the same thing. Sponsored ads are those search engine results that appear down the right margin of the search engine results page, or occasionally at the top. Most search engines shade the background behind their ppc results and identify them as sponsored ads.
Businesses bid for positions within the sponsored ad results, and there is an SEO component as well. Bid prices can range for .20 to quite a few dollars per click, with the website owner paying the agreed upon bid price every time a visitor clicks the ad. To be effective, it is essential that a landing page be created in support of every single ad. You don’t want to just send visitors to your homepage. Since, based on the ad, you already know what that visitor is interested in, you want to present primarily what will be necessary to close the loop on that conversion. That could be a sale, a download, form-fill, even a phone call.
Now, let’s get started…
Ultimately, the thing to keep in mind is that marketing a website is not simply a patter of having one. Most websites tend not to be very effective because very little consideration was given to the process of planning, setting goals, branding and it’s intended purpose and targeted user groups. Call us now at (775) 324-1644, or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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