Many new online entrepreneurs erroneously believe that simply having a website online means people will show up to buy. While it's true that a website can sell for you 24/7, the reality is, just because a website is online, doesn’t mean people will find it. Making money online, whether you’ve got a store, a blog, or a service, requires people to visit your website, and that won’t happen all by itself. Instead, you have to make it happen through marketing. Alongside providing your products or services, you need to create a marketing plan for your online business.
Focus on the Value You Provide
Potential clients and customers don't care how great you are, they care about whether or not you can help them. All marketing you do should focus on the problems you solve and how you'll make your prospects' lives better. For example, if you sell a weight loss product, you want to focus on providing better health, more energy, or feeling sexy, instead of your product itself. People buy to fulfill something in themselves whether it's to look or feel better or to save money or time.
All your marketing efforts, from your social media engagement to email messages, and other marketing tactics should all focus on providing something your market wants or needs, and how what you do will benefit them. Value not only leads to sales, but consumers will share things of value with people they know, helping you promote your business.
Use Multiple Formats
Not everyone who follows you on Twitter will also be on your email list, so don’t worry too much about duplicating messages and annoying your audience. Wherever your market hangs out, that’s where you want to be, whether that’s on Pinterest, LinkedIn, or YouTube.
Repurposing your content into different formats allows you to expand your reach and avoids sharing the same stuff everywhere. For example, a how-to article on your website can be turned into a video for YouTube.
Just because your business is online, doesn't mean you should ignore offline marketing opportunities. Print advertising or publishing articles, public speaking, business cards, and more can be used to attract people to your business in the real world.
The goal here is to reach people who would be interested in your business where they're at. But not everyone is in the same place, so you'll want to show up in a variety of places to increase your chances to be seen.
There is one caveat, and that is, work to put yourself in front of the market in a format related to your business. Newspapers reach a lot of people, but those people want to read the news more than learn about your business. Instead, focus on finding places your market gathers related to your product or service. Again, if you sell a weight loss product, advertising or having an article in a health or fitness magazine is a better option than a newspaper because those people are actively looking for healthy solutions.
Connect With Industry or Market Influencers
You don’t want to use people and they won’t help you if you approach them inappropriately, but you can build mutually beneficial relationships with people who have a following. Approach others who have the ear of your market authentically with something of value. For example, ask to interview them for your website or podcast. Offer to provide content for their website or blog. Share their words of wisdom through social media (i.e. retweet their posts). Doing nice for others will endear them to you, and increase the chances of their sharing your business with their followers.
Curate Content From Others
Finding great content from others that you can share and comment on is a great way to show off your expertise and increase your influence. Curating isn’t copying someone else’s content, but instead, writing about what you found and including a link to it. In the case of a blog, a pingback will let the owner of the content know that you’ve shared the link, which can draw them to visit your site and hopefully engage with you. Or you can tag them on social media when you share their content.
Sharing social media posts is another great way to build a relationship with others who might turn around and share your content as well.
Use Free Publicity
Being mentioned in media is a great way to get the word out about your business. Plus, it gives you some clout. While you can pitch media about your new business, remember that you want to be newsworthy and focus on the value you provide. You can send press releases to your local and online media outlets. A great option that will increase your chances of being highlighted in media is to use Help A Reporter Out, which provides you with outlets actively looking for experts.
Hold a Contest or Giveaway
People like to win or receive free stuff, so by offering a contest or something for free, you can attract more people to your business. While you don't want to give away the bulk of your service or product, you do want to give something that has value enough to entice your market and provides them something that makes them want to buy from you.
When running a contest, be sure to check the laws in your country and state to make sure you include all needed disclosures and run your contest legally.
Another option is to use a free gift, or lead magnet, to build your email list. Not only does this option give something for free, but through the email list, you can continue to build rapport and trust with your market.
Become the Go-To Resource for Information
Become invaluable by sharing news, trends, and top resources your market needs, even if means referencing or linking to other sites. You can use Google Alerts or use a feedreader to track news and trends from your favorite resources, and then share that information with your market. This not only shows you're an industry expert but can be a way to attract influencers as well.
Be Authentic and Approachable
The Internet and social media have changed marketing. No longer can you hide and simply send out one-way messages about your product or service. Today, people want to engage with the people they do business with. They want to know you and your values. They want you to listen to them and respond. The more you engage with your market, the more attached they become, which leads to loyalty. Further, they’re more likely to tell others about you.
This means you need to respond to emails and questions asked to you through social media. You should reply to comments on your blog or social media, and thank others who share your information.
While these steps take time to do and to show results, they are invaluable in building a quality brand and loyal customers.