Over 20 years of working on the internet have taught me a few basic truths about website marketing that remain constant and haven’t changed over all this time.
What are they?
Well first I’d like to say what they are not. Achieving success online is not about hype or the latest trick, gadget or gizmo. It’s not about the most amazing technical website. It’s also not about beating your competitors or being first with latest information. What is most important is your customers and what you do for them. That’s vital to any business offline and it’s also essential to your business online. Ensuring you always keep your customers in mind is the key. Now with that idea lets look at what is underlying foundation of successfully presenting your business online.
There are 5 fundamental elements to growing any business using the internet
1. What’s your online shop window like? – Your Website
You may have a good product or service but you need a “shop window”, whether actual, virtual or, best of all, both. Your customers need a place to find you and what you are offering. If you shop window, or website, is unattractive or unwelcoming, then your customers will leave and go elsewhere. A great example of this is Starbucks Coffee shops. Their success is due to the fact they make their customers feel welcome and their environment is just like being at home. You enjoy being there. This is the same for a website. If you scream out to your customers or make your site difficult to use, then your customers will leave and not return.
2. What will your customers discover on your website? – Great Content
Just having a great website will not make customers flow like a torrent to your business either. It must be easy to read and understand for both human customers and the search engines. Providing great content for the search engines is crucial but it’s more important to give your customers what they want in terms of information, resources, tips, advice and tools. This helps them to discover how you can help them and they in turn become a loyal customer.
3. Can your customers find your website? – SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
People search for information and they search for products and services to buy. Unless your website is found online then your business will struggle. Unless your website comes up first when your customers search for what you offer, how will your business grow. You need quality, tailored search engine optimisation that’s designed for your business, so that your customers can easily find you.
4. Are you where your customers are? – Social Media and Local Search
Good rankings will bring a steady stream of customers to your business but unless customers have reason for clicking on your site rather than your direct competitors, the steady stream won’t develop into the cascade that I know you really want. Your customers are out there, talking, chatting about what they are looking for. Are you using the 21st century version of word of mouth, social media, to grow your business? If you want more customers then be in the places where your customers are. Social media can seem overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. Only certain networks will be right for your business, so know where to spend your time all important.
Your customers are looking for local businesses too, so ensure you are found locally when they do a local search. Provide with great products and services and they’ll leave you raving reviews, which brings in more customers. What could be easier?
5. Are you engaging with your customers? Social Media Marketing
Just having a Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin account is not enough – you have to OCCUPY them! Get comfortable being yourself while chatting with your potential customers – Engage and commit. Then you’ll see your customer base grow and grow. People love talking with people, that’s never changed in the history of humanity. The only difference today is that most people do it online. Communication is key and treating your customers like people and you won’t be able to keep them away.
These fundamentals haven’t really changed over all the years that we have used the internet. Sure social media is new but it’s based on a very old concept, word-of-mouth. Ensuring your business is covering these 5 essential areas, will ensure you are successful online.
It’s what I call Integrated Website Marketing.