Internet Marketing, Websites, SEO, Email, Social Media, Mobile
The explosive growth of the Internet has made this medium mandatory for all but a handful of businesses, and the opportunities are increasingly complex. Will your online experience be a gold mine or a minefield?
A Web presence is essential for most companies and nonprofits today, and their website is the home base, or hub, of their online presence. Yet with large companies spending tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars on development and promotion of their sites annually, how can a small to mid-sized company stand out in the crowd?
If your company has a "brick and mortar" location, i.e. you're an established business or professional services firm that needs a website, the most important piece of advice we have is make your website look and talk like you. Then it will reinforce everything else that you do.
Convey solid information first , develop an interactive component with your
customers second, and only then tackle e-commerce. Keep your website current with
fresh content (assign someone to be responsible for this or outsource the function),
and make sure your Web address is on every piece of communications that has
your street address on it.
If your company is an Internet start-up, your website is the heart of your business – getting noticed with both on and off-line communications is critical. Even if your website is not an online store, you'll want to make sure the right traffic (prospective customers) can find you easily. There are a number of tools that we will suggest you consider, including search engine optimization techniques and both traditional and online advertising and promotion.
And in the rapidly-changing, crowd-sourced, viral world of Web 2.0, you'll want to develop a robust, customer-centric social media presence and digital marketing plan.
As with any other marketing communications opportunity, the Internet needs to be approached strategically. Who are your prospective customers? How do they use the Internet already, and what can you add that will satisfy their needs? How will they find out about what you can offer them online? Will they find you if they "Google" or "Bing" you?
- Today's best websites are designed, not only with an eye towards search engine optimization, but to carve out a thought leadership niche. Content is still king, and to rise to the top of search engine lists, it needs to be fresh – your site should be content-rich and updated frequently.
- There's no question that Search Engine Optimization is critical to success. Creating keyword-rich, optimized pages with useful content, combined with a strategic program to build high quality inbound links, is the only proven way to improve your organic page search rank. Make sure your landing pages offer value to your customers once you get them there! Show them how to take the next step!
Social Media participation is the new mandatory marketing tool for businesses. While the barrier to entry is low, there are many companies who don't do social media relations well. Begin by incorporating social media into your overall marketing plan. What do you expect to achieve, over what period of time, and how will you measure success? What resources are you prepared to invest in this channel? How can you leverage your investment in social media to nudge happy customers to positively influence your prospects?
- Blogging is a great way to enter the social media sphere. Great content and regular posting are vital.
- We'll teach you how to use popular tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (each has a unique culture), and investigate other applications where your target market hangs out. Different platforms work well with different types of target markets; we'll help you choose the ones that are best for you.
- Use these social media tools to send traffic to your website, and make sure you have great landing pages to welcome visitors with specific interests and a strategic plan to convert them into customers.
- Listen, listen, listen to what is being said about you, your competitors and your industry. Above all, remember that social media is about conversations and building relationships, not another way to do "push" marketing.
- Prospects are influenced by recommendations. Claim your company's name and location on recommendation sites, and encourage happy customers to write recommendations.
- Invite your website visitors to help spread the good word about your company by incorporating social media share buttons into your key web pages, as well as your blog and email marketing program.
- Depending on your target market, you may want to incorporate technologies such as RSS news feeds, podcasts, webinars, presentation-sharing and video.
Do you want traditional and online media to cover your Web
activities? We can show you how to make your website
Do you need a mobile website or a mobile app for your business? People are using smartphones and tablets to access the Internet in increasing numbers today, but they use these mobile devices for some activities more than others.
- Start by taking a look at your website on a smartphone, (or check it out on howtogomo.com).
Some companies need a fully-functional mobile website, but many will only need selected pages optimized for viewing on these smaller devices. We'll help you figure out what you really need. A high priority feature we're recommending to many of our clients is to have a mobile-friendly contact information page that features your telephone number (these are, after all, phones!) street address (for geo-location functionality) and e-mail address.
- If you are using QR codes in your advertising, linking to a mobile-friendly webpage is best-practice.
There is a ton of information on the Internet that can be useful as you explore all of your options. We can help our clients locate the ones they need, but here are a few to get you started:
- If you don't yet have a domain name (your Web address), you can find out if your favorites are still available on the Network Solutions site.
- There are plenty of templates available online, but you probably won't get a look that closely reflects your brand. If you think you'd like to try your hand at developing your own website, there are several software packages available, including DreamWeaver. WebMonkey has lots of tips to help you out, but be patient – designing appealing graphics, writing for the Web and making your navigation intuitive are skills that only come with experience. We can design a compelling site for you, of course, or we can serve as your content developer, working closely with your web development firm.
- How much should you budget each month to host your site? To put you in the ballpark, check out the current packages that GoDaddy offers to host small business sites.
- If you're inclined to start blogging, take a look at Blogger, WordPress or TypePad. (Note that a blog may provide free visibility on the internet if you're starting a small business.)
- For convenient email distribution list management, take a look at ConstantContact.
- Be sure to incorporate vehicles for monitoring what is being said about your company - Google Alerts is one of several free services that can help.
Wendy Van Parys Marketing Communications can help you develop an online strategy that integrates smoothly with your offline marketing communications plan.
We've helped several of our "brick and mortar" clients successfully migrate their business models to the Web, have built complex websites and handled launch campaigns. We've put pre-IPO Internet firms on the map and set the stage for the next round of venture capital. In this business, success or failure is just a click away. We're 24x7 when you need us to be.
e-mail us for more information.