I’ve been involved in internet marketing since I was selling fat burners on eBay twelve years ago. Over time I learned a lot about all the different parts of the online marketing puzzle, even becoming an internet marketing consultant for the last 9 years. I wanted to write this article to give you an introduction to the various pieces of the online marketing puzzle because there are many and they are all important and you’ll need to incorporate them into your business plan from day one.
Pieces of the Online Marketing Puzzle:
Business Website – your business website is a huge piece of the puzzle and one that you need to get right 100% right. Fill your business website with articles about you, your staff, your business, it’s growth, your products and services. Cover all of this with various media, not just text… use images, audio, video, Flash, polls, forms, and branded graphics to give your business website a professional look that shows instantly – you’re a master of whatever game it is you’re playing.
Your website is your online business card, but, so much more. Use your business site to answer every question you ever heard from customers or people talking about the niche you represent.
Your website is like an extensive business card. Create your website to answer as many questions about your business as you can think of. Think of your business website as a spreader of information – a tool to help you reach people across the globe. It is always there and it is always on. Make the best use of it you can. Never skimp on web design and keep every link working, every graphic loading – and all the hundreds of things that need to work – working.
Search Engine Marketing – SEM. Google is, and has been the major search engine for the last few years. That is all changing rapidly as Twitter and Facebook provide a new way to look at search, in the real-time dimension that hasn’t been explored much by Google. Optimizing your presence in these three resources alone is enough to skyrocket your site traffic and turn your business into a winner. Yes, it’s difficult, but so is breathing underwater and many of us do it regularly.
Is it worth it to spend hundreds of hours optimizing your business website for Google? You decide. Do you want massive amounts of traffic or is a trickle OK? The three companies mentioned can send more traffic that your site’s servers can handle if you max them out. Part of everyday you’re open for business should be spent trying to max out your presence in these amazing tools.
If you don’t want to spend the time to target free (organic) search result listings then you can just pay for a presence by joining Google’s AdWords service for advertisers, pay for tweets on Twitter, or create an advertiser account with Facebook. Either way – you pay with time and money.
Pay for Inclusion (PFI) – you can pay for inclusion in major internet directories like Best of the Web and Yahoo’s directory. Google’s Dmoz.org directory is as good as defunct, nobody is able to get new listings there -though it used to be the ultimate directory.
Email Marketing – permission-based email (see Aweber) is becoming a very good way to market to potential customers and customers that have already bought something from you. Internet marketers are beginning to realize that not only is a list of 60 million important, but, so is a list of 1,000 people that love your business and products. Email marketers focus on creating trust so readers will purchase items from them they sell now and then. The focus is on giving away vast amounts of excellent information and earning trust. Then pitching a sale offering more of the same.
Banner – Button Ads – these are the rectangular, square, and other shaped graphics that are ads for a business. They still work to some degree, and usually advertisers can count on a 1% click through rate. If the price is right for the banner placement then that can work well enough on a site with a lot of traffic.
Facebook allows you to target your ads according to tightly defined demographics, which is an advantage over Google’s targeting. However, Google’s search targeting in the search engine results is still unbeatable on the search side.
Online Press Release – There are general and industry-specific news organizations that will create and distribute your business news releases, but you’ll need to do some research to find them. Use those that specialize in your niche, or don’t use them, they’ll probably have no effect otherwise.
Article Marketing – sites like EzineArticles, GoArticles, and others let you write expert articles about your niche and have them published. Create enough articles and you can be seen as an authority on the topic. Publishing articles in this manner helps you reach a more extensive audience than if you just posted at your own business website.
Guest Posts – offer a major site owner in your niche a free article or two if the owner will allow you to write guest posts to be published there. You’ll gain notoriety and a following if you are any good. Numerous bloggers have had their starts like this – especially in the internet marketing and blogging niches.
Blogs – adding a blog to your business site is a very good idea. You can share bits and pieces about yourself, your workplace, your employees, and other impersonal data that will help you build a relationship with your regular readers. Encourage readers to sign up for email or RSS reader subscriptions so they don’t miss any of your new articles.
Post Frequently – once or twice daily for best results. Google has recently changed their ranking algorithm to include a priority focus on those sites creating new content very often. Some sites are adding 6 posts per day and doing well in Google’s search results.
Leave comments at other blogs in your niche, and add to the conversation – don’t destroy it, add to it. In this way too – you can be seen as an authority by some, and create interest in what you’re doing at your own site.
Contests and Giveaways – giving away freebies can make you popular, as can holding a contest with something of quality to be given away to the winner(s). This is a stellar way to increase your RSS or email subscriber list – send clues to the contest through one or both of these channels for best results. A contest filled with 20-50 clues over 2 months can lead to great page views and visitors that keep coming back even after the contest ends.
Twitter – Twitter is a chat application that people across the world use. Oprah has over a million followers and so do most big names. Increase your follower count initially by following many people and some will follow you back. Eventually if you get a few thousand followers that enjoy what you’re talking about you might get some sales from affiliate links or offering something for sale on your business website.
There are a number of other internet marketing techniques to use that I haven’t covered here. This was just meant to be an introduction to the topic. Use this list as a starting point and learn as much as you can about them – they can add customers to your business quickly once you understand them.