This is the first instalment in our “Marketing your business online” guide where we hope to help you to get to know which channel you should use to promote your business online.
What are the options?
First we will (very) briefly discuss some of the more popular options for marketing your business online.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is the process of improving your website’s visibility in the search engines so that you get more relevant, highly targeted, traffic to your site via organic search. Organic search is essentially where the search engines crawl through your site and figure out what it is all about. This is the “free” way of getting up the rankings – as opposed to pay per click advertising.
What do we mean by relevant? Well that’s the important part – if you are in the business of selling children’s books, you may need to attract traffic from parents of children between the ages of four and six to your site. Needless to say, if your site ranks well for “Children’s Books”, you are on the pigs back. However if your site comes up at the top of search results for “Blue Tractors”, it may not do so well for your business! SEO is the process of optimising your website so that the search engines know what it is all about, so that they can direct the correct traffic to your website.
Pay Per Click
Pay Per Click advertising is where you pay to have your website advertised on another website or search engine. Generally you agree what search phrases you want your ads to appear for at a predefined rate per click. You normally pre-pay a set amount of money per month (in line with your budget) and your ad will appear at the top of the search engine listings for that phrase as long as your pre-paid budget has not been exhausted.
In Social media marketing, the goal is to create content that attracts positive attention to your products/services and to encourage visitors to share this content within their own social networks. i.e. to spread news of your products/services by word of mouth. Does this really work? Yes, it has been proven that people trust the opinions of others within their social network over the relentless advertising of a brand or company. But we all know that “Likes” don’t put dinner on the table. So you always need to have a goal for your social media marketing – that could be to try and direct people back to your website or to prompt them to pick up the phone and call you.
E-Mail marketing is where you target new or existing customers with direct e-mail marketing with a goal of encouraging those customers to take an action (i.e. contact you, visit your site or buy something from your site.). But isn’t this Spam? No, there is one key difference between the e-mails you send as part of your marketing campaign and Spam – at some stage, your subscribers will opt-in to receive emails from your business. How effective is E-Mail marketing? In a MarketingSherpa study in 2009, they found that E-Mail marketing is second to SEO in terms of effectiveness. In our own experience, we find that direct E-Mail marketing is particularly useful for making generating referrals, generating repeat sales to existing customers and for converting new customers into making their first purchase with you.
Advertising with online directories such as Trip Advisor can be extremely useful when marketing your business online. We are based in a very beautiful part of the world here in the West of Ireland and we have worked with several businesses in the Tourism Industry – primarily hotels and rental properties. In our experience, the “traditional” online marketing methods don’t always measure up here. So rather than optimise your website so that you can compete with thousands of other businesses who are competing for the same keywords in the search engines, it can be worth while joining a an online directory for your industry. For example, in the case of Travel/Tourism, Trip Advisor is a well established directory where you can advertise your accommodation, collect feedback from customers and promote your business for fixed monthly fees. This sure beats spending hundreds or thousands of Euros every month competing for high competition (and cost) keywords on the search engines. It is worth keeping an eye out for directories for your industry – i.e. professional bodies, classifieds sites, etc.
How do I know which channel is most suitable for marketing my business?
I’m afraid you will have to wait until the next instalment to find out! That is it for part one of our guide to “Marketing your business online”. In our next instalment, we will discuss the basics of SEO.
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