If you are reading this, chances are you’re planning to take your business online. It’s great for you to finally catch up with the rest of us. What took you so long? I kid. The fact is it’s never too late to take that giant leap of taking your business online. Today, the number one unspoken rule for businesses has become ‘have an online presence and grow or stay offline and watch it all burn down.
Indeed there are so many reasons to want your business online. Now you’ll be able to expand your business with minimal cost, compete with bigger brands, reduce operation costs, and most importantly be in the faces of as many as possible. Right now, it’s far too easy to get started with marketing your business online. But as a newbie it’s understandable if you’re confused — Where do you get started? How do you know if it’s working? And blah…blah…blah. You’re in luck today.
Consider the next few paragraphs as your initiation into the online world and digitizing your business. Call it Digital Marketing 101 or Digital marketing starter kit. The principles are inexhaustible so we’ll just touch on the key ones in broad strokes just to point you in the right direction for further research.
The starting point is usually getting a website but if like most new businesses you are working on a shoestring budget, all hope is not lost.
Here are the free tools you can leverage when taking your business online.
- Use local listings like Google my business and Bing places for business to enable customers find you online.
- Facebook page and other social media handles (Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, Vkontakte, etc.). You can manage it yourself. But you’ll get better results hiring a professional. And if you’re wondering if Social media management is a real job, yes it is and has been for a while now. Wake up people!!!
- Use review sites related to your specific type of business. Rave reviews will go a long way to spread the word about your budding business.
I’ll be honest, you can only go so far with the free tools
Sooner or later you will have to unleash the big guns if your business will have any kind of chance at all. So here are the top tools you need.
- A website: Today building a website from start to finish is only one or two YouTube videos away. It’s almost too easy. But when you factor in the nature of your business, a ‘complex’ process is birthed. First, you will need to define your goals for the website and get visitors to take actions that will achieve these goals. Do you want visitors to subscribe to your newsletter? Do you want them to order your products? Do you want them to drop their emails?
Whatever the goal, you need the right content presented the right way to get them to take action. No wonder everyone says content is king. (Read what I wrote here about learning from Game of Thrones’ Arya Stark on knowing your audience. In marketing your business, you also need to know and target your audience with the right content). And don’t forget that an increasing number of people now access the internet through mobile devices, so your business website has to be user-friendly.
I know you’re thinking, ‘Can’t I just write the content myself? I get A’s and B’s in High school and college Essays. This surely can’t be that difficult’.
You sure can with lots of practice and determination. Remember too that you are not the only one making this money moves out in these cold online marketing streets. Every day hundreds of thousands take these steps joining the over one billion businesses already on the internet. Do this experiment right now. Whatever your business caters for, Google it and see how many hits you get. Dizzying right? So how do you stand out in a sea of similar content?
First, you need to have relevant content which drives visitors to take the specific action you want them to take on your site. There’s a bit of psychology involved — more than a bit if I’m being honest. You need content that sells and it sometimes takes years of experience to get there. If you are pressed for time, just hire content writers, marketers, and copywriters and you’re set, ready to go. Partnering with digital consulting services is a good idea because you can have access to all these professionals in one spot. But if you have time, I totally recommend you do it yourself. Lots of easy step-by-step videos on the internet.
- Improve your sales with Widgets: If you already have a website, there are other tweaks and add-on you need to make more sales for your business. It’s great there are Widgets you can use to do this with zero coding knowledge. It’s simply plug and play. Easy to add to your website and will help build your marketing performance. Check out a few here.
To have your content, business, products, or whatever you do on the internet seen by people it needs to rank high on search engines. When was the last time you went past page 2 while searching for anything on Google? How do you then compete to be on that hallowed first page? Here’s what you can do.
- Get SEO experts: SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. Experts at doing this can help you craft content that ranks high for certain keywords related to your business. These hired experts will also help drive traffic to your website by creating backlinks and using other creative methods to ensure your business ranks. You can definitely learn to do this yourself if you have the time. It’s usually a very rewarding experience.
- Ads: Using Ads is a way of ‘cheating’ the system and getting your business at the forefront. You can advertise anywhere and everywhere- from search engines to social media and even to other high-ranking websites, your options are limitless. You need money, but that’s good for just half the way. You’ll also need to learn how to properly target your prospective clients with properly crafted, relevant ads. This is called SEM (Search Engine Marketing).
- Email marketing: Don’t believe the hogwash that email marketing is dead. The stats reveal the exact opposite and you already know numbers and falsehood don’t go together. The fact is Email is still the number one way of connecting and staying in touch with your customers uninterrupted. Email as a nurturing tool is alive and well. But these are not regular emails; there is a science to crafting top-notch emails that will impact your audience enough to do what you need them to do. As with other tools, you have two options: learn the ropes of email marketing or hire an experienced email marketer.
- Measuring your results: The last step of getting your business online is arguably the most important. You have a website, social media presence, running ads, etc. How do you measure your results? How do you know your digital marketing strategy is working for your business? How do you know which of your content are striking gold and the ones not getting any clicks? Comprehensive Web analytics tools are your best bet. The data generated will give you necessary insights about what actions to take to improve the quality of your content and overall marketing strategy.
Now you’re thinking, ‘if I need all these to start a profitable business, it’ll take years to master these tools. Not exactly. Of course, it will take practice but you can get started right now. Determination is key.
But if you are worried about getting quick results or pressed for time, several digital consulting services on the internet can take on the tasks for you and ensure your business is online and thriving in a short time.
Whatever you decide, if your business is not online right now, you’re doing business wrong.