These days a website is essential. And depending upon your niche and your objectives, it can be a major part of your marketing initiatives. Creating a website can be made fairly simple by working with a company that specializes in helping small businesses create their web presence.
But how about getting the word out about your site, and getting visitors to come back again and again? It's important to fill your website with content that's effective. It’s what you say and how you say it that makes all the difference online. The content (words) on your site must be crisp and intelligent. What you say should grab a visitor’s attention, establish credibility, pique their interest and motivate them to action.
There are a number of ways to promote your business online, here’s just a sample of the most popular methods:
- Online display advertising – the “granddaddy” of online advertising, involving the purchase of display space on a popular website. Everyone has seen ‘banner’ ads at the top of websites – despite reports of their demise, display ads are still popular for their reach and for the branding effectiveness of graphical ads.
- Search engine marketing – this catch-all has two primary marketing tools under its umbrella; search engine advertising and search engine optimization. Both involve driving traffic from the hundreds of millions of eyeballs that scan search results on Google, Yahoo, MSN and other search engines, but the approach is drastically different – be sure you understand the distinctions.
- Email marketing – along with online display ads, email marketing got a bad rap, mostly thanks to spammers clogging your inbox with offers to refinance your mortgage. But with new rules and regulations, and much stricter controls on spam, getting your message out through email is enjoying a revival. Email can be an outstanding customer retention tool, so you’ll want it to be part of your online marketing mix.
Traditional paid advertising includes the things so many of us are already familiar with (and encounter so often in everyday life). Think of things like billboards, magazine and newspaper ads, broadcast spots such as those on TV and radio, and even direct mail pieces that seem to clog your mailbox each day.
In the previous section we discussed online display advertising, which is often paid for on a “cost-per-thousand” impressions (“CPM”) basis. In other words, the people selling you the advertising space price their opportunity based on the specific reach of that advertising. The same pricing model applies to traditional advertising methods, where the reach of the advertising medium – whether it’s the size of a subscription list, listenership, or viewership – will determine the rate you’ll pay to reach that audience.
Advertising can do the following:
- Attract new customers, prospects and leads
- Encourage existing customers to spend more on your product or service
- Build credibility, establish and maintain your “brand” or unique business identity, and enhance your reputation
- Inform or remind customers and prospects of the benefits your business has to offer
- Promote your business to customers, investors or others and slowly build sales
Should your business warrant advertising (and your pocketbook allow for it), it’s important to create an advertising plan and budget in advance.
Points to consider:
- Who is in your target market and what mediums are grabbing their attention?
- When obtaining rate card information, be sure to understand how many of your ad impressions are reaching your target audience vs. those who are not in your target audience. And ALWAYS negotiate published rates.
- “Frequency! Frequency! Frequency!” Is the name of the game. That’s why it’s important to create a comprehensive six-month or year-long plan before you even take out your first ad, so you know you can afford to advertise on a frequent basis. Signing up for a frequency rate will allow you to spend less per ad, if you do this from the beginning.
- If you are advertising in print publications, always ask your sales rep for the best positioning. A right-hand page, for example, may get many more viewings than a left-hand page.
- Create advertisements that generate a response you can measure. Examples include coupons which are redeemed in stores or include a specific web address that customers visit for redemption.
- Make sure your advertisements stay true to your brand and are consistent with all other marketing mediums.