An Expert Guide to Online Marketing for Your Start-up
There’s no doubt about it, the explosion in recent years of online marketing has opened up an exciting array of new communication channels for business owners. As a start-up, you’ll likely not have the budget to use traditional marketing right away, making digital a great alternative. And while the various platforms and channels might feel intimidating to a beginner, they don’t have to be. Here, we’ve picked out four key areas to consider when devising an online marketing strategy for your business.
Social media has undoubtedly revolutionised the way businesses communicate with their customers; providing a two-way channel which allows them to quickly incorporate feedback into how they present their product or service. It makes sense then to have social media channels in place and operational prior to launching your business. That way, when a customer encounters any other marketing activity you do, they’ll have an online destination to find out more about your product. When choosing the social media channels you’re going to concentrate on, remember to take both your customers and the characteristics of your product into account. Since each of the main social platforms have different features and audience profiles, you need to find out where your customers are, discover what they like to see and consume online – and build out your social media strategy from there.
Often neglected in favour of more visible forms of digital marketing, email is actually one of the most effective ways of maximising conversion and sales. In fact, research has found that email marketing delivers an average ROI of 122%, far outstripping other digital channels. It’s cost-effective too. Tools like Mailchimp allow you to easily create a variety of subscriber lists, and quickly put together attractive and professional email templates using a drag and drop interface. Of course, having a large subscription list is no use if nobody wants to read your email, so pay close attention to its content. Catchy and intriguing subject lines, a clear, readable layout, and useful and informative content will all ensure your newsletter gets read instead of ending up in someone’s spam folder.
Ok, so you’ve designed a beautiful website that shows your product in the best possible light, but are your customers able to find it? If they aren’t, all your hard work will be for nothing. Search Engine Optimisation – or SEO – refers to a number of different methods which companies use to ensure their website appears in as many user searches as possible.
SEO is a complex discipline, but in its simplest form it’s about keywords. Google and other search engines use bots to trawl websites and assign them a position on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP), based on their relevance to what the specific user searched for. The more relevant the website, and the more ‘trust’ the site has built up (this is measured by links to it from other sites, among other factors), the higher up in the results it will appear. If you’re building your site on Wordpress, the Yoast plugin is an easy way into SEO for beginners. It grades the SEO quality of each individual page on your site using a traffic light system, which allows you to tweak the content until it reaches the required level.
Pay-per-click or PPC marketing is a powerful tool used by many companies to reach interested customers. You know when you search for something in Google and then see two or more sponsored ads at the top of the search results? That’s PPC in action. The benefit of this type of marketing is that it allows businesses to reach conversion-ready customers at the point of purchase. And since it’s pay per click, they only pay money if the interested party actually clicks on the ad.
However, as a start-up you’re probably not going to have the budget to compete with larger companies for popular keywords, which is why you need to be more creative in terms of the ones you choose for your campaigns. In this case, ‘long tail’ keywords are your friend. This means using longer search terms (typically three or more words), in which customers are searching for something specific rather than generic – for example, ‘Italian restaurant in Dublin city centre’ instead of something like ‘restaurant Dublin’. Although these kinds of keywords will be searched for less than broader ones, a customer using them is much more likely to convert if they see your ad.
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