Online Business Survival Guide to Online Marketing
With over millions of websites vying for page views and no uniform law that regulates the entire virtual space, it’s a jungle out there on the Internet.
If you want your online business to survive this cutthroat environment, you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll learn everything you’ll need to know about how to avoid getting lost in the shuffle, and maybe even pick up a thing or two about getting ahead of the competition.
Commonly referred to SEO, this process is all about making your business’ website rank higher in search engine results page for certain keywords.
Why do you want this to happen?
When people want to find out about something, they go online and type whatever it is they’re searching for on Google, or maybe Yahoo, Bing, and a host of other search engines. Most of the time, they usually just click on the first link. Rarely do they ever even go past the third page of results.
SEO helps you get to the top with a couple of methods called on-page, off-page, and site-wide optimization.
On-page optimization deals with the code on each page of your website. You should be cleaning up your title, description, keywords, and heading tags to be concise so they look better to search engines. You also want to be mindful of your content’s word count and the number of keywords it has so that it isn’t a chore to read while still maintaining quality.
Off-page optimization deals with everything you need to do outside your website for it to rank higher. Get your website registered in every big search engine’s local listings and in relevant directories. Start reaching out to other websites in the same industry as yours to get them to link back to you. Quality inbound links are one of the major factors in getting you to rank high.
Site-wide optimization deals with the overall code for your website as well as the research you’ll need to be constantly doing to keep your website ranking high. Create HTML and XML sitemaps to submit to search engines so they can crawl and index each page of your website easier. Come up with a keyword and linking strategy so you know which keywords work and which websites bring you good traffic, etc. Use analytics tools to track your website’s performance so you know which methods work and which don’t.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you probably know about Facebook, Twitter, and their ilk. With millions of people making social media important parts of their lives, it can be a very powerful marketing tool to quickly reach a whole lot of potential customers instantly.
However, you can’t just create social media accounts for your company and expect to rake in the cash right after.
First of all, you’ll need to set clear and definite goals that line up with your company’s objectives. A few that connects well with just about any business are achieving trust in customers through helpful and fun engagement, and looking for leads based on those built relationships. You just have to make sure you send a consistent message from Facebook to Twitter to everything else.
Being able to listen and understand the concerns of your audience as well as what your competitors are doing results in offering a better product or service. You want to watch out for every mention of your brand, as well as the relevant niches in your industry, across as many social media channels as possible so you can swoop right in and provide answers to problems.
Knowing just how well the platforms you’re utilizing is critical, so you’ll need metrics in the form of different tools to leverage. You’ve got a variety of software both downloadable and web-based to choose from, so pick the ones that will tell you if you’re reaching the goals you’ve set earlier. Raw data might be misleading, so get an analyst to make sure you’re reading it right.
This form of marketing relies on delivering the best kind of content in a consistent and captivating way. It might sound extremely broad, but here’s how you narrow it down to do it successfully.
Naturally, it starts with creating awesome content that speaks to the audience you’re targeting. It’s important that it’s the audience that truly matters, so don’t go around simply peddling your products. You have to show that you know exactly what they’re lacking and that you’re there to fulfill their needs.
Presentation also matters, so the site should be attention-grabbing. This includes the domain name showing your company name to avoid any confusion.
Getting your visitors to actually make a purchase means having a call-to-action or CTA that points them to a well-designed product page.
It’s an old strategy dating back to the early days of online businesses, but the fact that companies still do it means it works. It’s one way of directly communicating with your audience which has been used as a basis for social media marketing.
From establishing goals to defining your target audience and listening to what they want, the fundamental ideas remain the same. You also have to keep in mind how you’re going to be approaching your overall email marketing strategy.
Are you using a more personal way of communicating with people or do you need to be more professional with your tone? Do you have a proper balance of persuasive and informative content leading to links with good landing pages? These are just some of the issues you need to address.
You can also make use of various tools to make email creation and sending through different lists of prospects and leads much less of a hassle.
Getting people interested enough to visit your website is one thing, but persuading those people to actually entertain and then commit to a sale is on a different level.
As mentioned earlier, it’s all about the CTA. It’s your way of directing your visitors to do exactly what you want them to do.
You’re going to have to include CTAs throughout your website, from above the fold in your homepage to the bottom of every blog post. As for what they say, they must be able to urge the readers through easy-to-follow commands explaining why they need to do what you’re saying.
Of course, these CTAs have to lead them to straightforward landing pages so they can act on your orders without getting confused as to what they have to do. Having a related picture and a bullet-point list of benefits would make it easier for people to digest the whole process easier.
Once you’ve accomplished getting a person to complete an action, such as making a purchase, you’ve made a conversion. Knowing how well you are at converting visitors is just a matter of simple math: Number of conversions divided by total number of visitors.
Conversion rate optimization is basically understanding why you’re conversion rate is how it is currently and taking the necessary steps to make it better.
Considering the amount of money you’ll be making by increasing the number of people doing as they’re told (whether it’s buying something, attending events, downloading a tool, or subscribing to a mailing list), you can start pouring in more resources to improving all your other marketing campaigns.
Tracking all your online marketing efforts requires software with a lot of flexibility through multiple features that covers every major factor. Google Analytics is one such software, and the good thing about is that it’s free.
Using analytics programs opens your eyes to whatever problems your website might have, as well as what you’re doing right so you know what to keep doing and what to change.
You’ll see everything from the number of people getting to your website from various social media platforms to your landing pages’ bounce rates. This would then lead you to focus your efforts on the channels where your strengths lie and to maybe reorganize your layouts for clearer landing pages.
Another good thing about such tools is that they also point out potential blind spots that your company is actually performing well on but you don’t realize right away. Consequently, you get more business opportunities through the various conversions, or for a more general term as coined by Avinash Kaushik, the “outcomes” your website is accomplishing.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with utilizing a paid search marketing campaign. You can turn prospects into actual leads hard and fast knowing each one is definitely looking to spend some money. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is one such way to go.
Whether you’re using Google AdWords or advertisements on Facebook, you just have to make sure they’re calibrated to the right settings and each campaign you’re running is organized in a structured manner.
Tracking results also applies to this area by analyzing changes in your keyword relevancy, knowing how well specific ads are doing based on time, and seeing your visitor’s click-through path that eventually leads to conversions.
Hopefully, this guide has illuminated to you the major marketing concepts by giving you an easy-to-digest primer to all the complexities involved in the wide wild world of online marketing.
Why Content Marketing and Link Building Are Deadly Online Marketing Weapons
To be perfectly straightforward, content marketing is giving people what they want when they’re searching the Internet so they end up buying your product. What is it that people want online exactly? Not a sales pitch or blatant product peddling. Not right away, at least. They want funny cat pictures, touching family-oriented videos, compelling stories, informative articles, easy-to-follow infographics, etc.
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Whatever the tone or the format, netizens will be attracted to good content. That has always been the case since the Internet gained mass appeal, and it has become even more important now that the Internet is the information hub of the 21st century. With so much stuff out there in the digital jungle for web users to consume, you can’t just expect any kind of content to attract attention, rank highly on search engines and gain traction on social media.
It has to be good. Great, even Awesome, if you want it to reach as many people as possible, and more importantly, to convince them to actually spend their hard-earned cash on what you’re shilling.
So how exactly does content marketing help your business in real-life practical terms?
First of all, you get closer to your customers. One major ingredient of creating good content is knowing what your target audience wants. Soulless, run-of-the-mill content that doesn’t cater to their sensibilities just won’t be as effective as content that makes them think “that’s EXACTLY how I feel” in persuading them to pull out their wallets.
In fact, 68% of consumers enjoy content that speak to their likes, and 55% would be more likely to purchase products from companies who provide such content, according to a study by the Custom Content Council.
It also makes it much easier for people to know about your business. Nowadays, people who want to know something about anything, they use search engines. The catch is that they usually only click on the first couple of links, and they rarely go past the third results page. Google, Yahoo, Bing and all the rest make sure that their users get the best content possible, and that’s what they put up on the first page.
Since content marketing is all about making the best content for your business, and applying it in your overall marketing strategy combined with good link building (which we’ll elaborate on later) will result in ranking highly in those search engines.
Good content will also lead to much more traffic to your website. This is partly because of the previous benefit of being in the top ranks in search engines, but it is also due to the fact that good content gets shared at a high rate. Whether it’s because it’s highly entertaining or informative, it can make the rounds in social media or get linked to as a resource by other websites thereby generating a constant stream of visitors.
Content marketing doesn’t just end with one piece of viral content, so the consistent creation of good content helps build your business’ influence and authority. When your business is offering quality content regularly and it’s getting a lot of shares, people will start seeing you as one of the industry’s leaders. Your brand is established, and everyone will take notice of your content as well as your products.
Lastly, content marketing reveals opportunities for new relationships because of the communication lines opened by good content. You can leverage the influence you have over the industry by reaching out to other influencers who will be willing to give you the time of day simply because they know that you have something of value to offer. Get them to promote your content in exchange for their own websites to get a piece of your audience’s attention.
What’s even better is when you’ve strengthened your brand enough to get fans who will do your marketing for you, thus becoming your brand advocates. Social media makes this possible as people can just share or retweet your content so their friends, families, colleagues, etc. get to know more about your business. Reward these fans with exclusive content as well as promos and discounts, and they will vouch for your business till their dying breaths.
If these benefits still haven’t convinced you to try out content marketing, the following real-life examples should do the trick:
Sears – This major department store chain found out that a good number of its customers bought a lot of fitness equipment. The company maximized this subsection of their entire target audience by starting an online community called FitStudio where they had fitness experts create the best content. One of their major promotion channels is social media, and their customers responded well to the idea.
Johnson & Johnson – As a popular multinational company, you’d think J&J wouldn’t have any need for content marketing. Surprisingly, they employ that very strategy through their microsites concerning baby needs. They sponsored the creation of informative and relevant content with the help of actual experts in the field.
KISSmetrics – The incredibly useful website performance tracking service focused on creating the best “how to” content on their blog, tackling specific issues of their core audience of entrepreneurs. Doing so netted their website a million unique visitors in the course of 10 months. All those people and they didn’t use paid search!
So if content marketing is this good, does that mean you should just forget about that old and tiring process of link building?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: You still need to do the dirty work of reaching out to other bloggers and website owners and convincing them to link back to your website. This is especially so when you’re starting up and have no influence to leverage. You need to get your good content out to the people who can help give it exposure.
Besides, there are still enough benefits to it that will make your efforts worth it.
By getting good inbound links, you also get the attention of search engines. They believe that content that a lot of quality websites link to must be quality, too. As a result, such content gets high rankings and this in turn raises your brand’s visibility.
This method also lets you rank better for target keywords because you can make the content you’re outreaching with to other bloggers and website owners have the exact keywords you want to rank for be the anchor text for the inbound links.
Another great benefit is it helps increase your online presence when you’ve successfully outreached to plenty of other websites. People start seeing all these blogs linking to you, and they make the logical conclusion that you must be worth checking out.
Naturally, you’re also going to get a nice boost to your website’s traffic simply because of the fact that you’ve built a lot of relationships with other website owners. Their audiences will take an interest in your own website to see why exactly the publishers they love are linking to you.
Content Marketing vs. Link Building
Content marketing still holds an advantage over link building for a number of reasons. Biggest of all is that the links you get from content marketing are all natural. There’s no need to constantly email bloggers with the possibility of getting rejected, and you don’t even have to worry about slipping in the search engine results page when Google unleashes another algorithm update.
It’s also easier to handle in terms of scaling and simple expenses. Hiring good link builders and training merely competent ones are more costly than hiring good copywriters as well as utilizing other content creation skills your team already possesses.
One big problem some link builders have is building mediocre links. Having a lot of merely OK links can bring in good traffic, but it’s never as effective as getting high quality links even if they’re only a handful. Mediocre links are also vulnerable to algorithm updates, so it’s not exactly the best foundation for your website’s online presence.
The thing is, these two strategies don’t have to be completely separate. In fact, they can work together to bring in even better results.
Content Marketing with Link Building
As I said earlier, you need to do some link building first if you want your good content to get seen and realize its full potential when you’ve got no clout online to wield. With content marketing, you’re just focusing on getting high quality links from the influencers in the industry, and you can do this with confidence because you know you have good content to offer.
One link building strategy is to dig into communities that are part of your target audience and offering your expert insight in the industry. You offer links to your content once you’ve proven yourself. In the context of content marketing, you can interact with people in social media platforms where you’re directly communicating with your target audience in an even broader spectrum.
Let your fans and followers discuss your awesome content freely, and do your best to answer their every concern. You want to make them feel that you care about what they think. In the end, you’ll find them linking back to your content on their own whether it’s through their own social media accounts or on their blogs/websites.
Integrate the two strategies to get the best of both worlds – a foundation of good quality links from your outreach to get your business’ name out there, and the limitless potential of quality content getting shared all over the Web.