Having a website is absolutely essential for any business in today’s world, but more and more people are discovering the incredible power that comes with an online storefront. Launching a product or service in today’s crowded digital marketplace is tough, but having an online presence puts you ahead of the competition –and lets you get to more potential customers–with less effort and at lower cost. Since the dawn of computing, entrepreneurs, business owners, and marketers have dreamt of a world where everything can be done online –especially buying products and services which you can’t physically see and trying on in a store.–and now, that world is possible.
An online store also gives you the opportunity to delve deeper into specific areas of customer interest –like nutrition, health, or fitness–and to connect with customers there more effectively than ever before. An engaging, responsive website can help guide your marketing and sales efforts into shape, providing you with actionable insights into how customers are discovering and engaging with your product or service and how you can grow your business.
Why Should You Market Online?
If you’re reading this, I assume you’re already in some way familiar with the concept of digital marketing and sales. However, for those of you who are new to the concept or are looking to enter the field, here are a few reasons why online marketing makes so much sense.
Faster And More Effective
The world is changing the way we do business. More and more people want to purchase online–especially when it comes to big-ticket items like furniture or big-ticket items for home décor.–and entrepreneurs who want to grow their business or launch a product have no choice but to follow suit. Why? Well, because it’s the way customers want to do business now. If you want to reach customers, you have to have a website.
Not only does having a website offer better reach than many other traditional marketing methods, but it also allows you to target the right audience. When a customer comes to your site, whether you’re selling health products, furniture, or something else entirely, you can ensure the right content is served up and that the visitor has a good experience by personalizing the site the customer might find most engaging or useful.
Let’s say you’re selling furniture online and you’ve launched a sleek, modern website with high-quality photos and an engaging copy. Customers can reach out to you via phone or email –but you’ve also got a wonderful, vibrant social media presence, right?–and when they do, you can often follow up with a personal email or text to spark some kind of conversation.
With so much competition in today’s world, businesses of all sizes are looking for ways to stand out from the crowd. Personalizing email communication and creating a good experience for clients and subscribers is essential to ensuring your marketing efforts pay off. Not only do customers expect and appreciate a personal touch, they also expect and appreciate businesses that are socially responsible and actively try to do good in the world.
Interactive, well-designed websites can engage customers in new ways –and not just at the point of purchase either. You might host an event or launch a newsletter to celebrate a particular product or service –and you can get the word out via email marketing, social media, and your website. Your site visitors can engage with you via blog posts, videos, or e-books –all of which are much more effective than a simple product description at grabbing and retaining a customer’s attention.
These are just a few examples of how digital marketing and e-commerce can work together–and businesses that leverage both tend to see significant growth.
If you’re looking to develop a digital marketing strategy, whether you’re an entrepreneur looking to grow your business or a business already established, here are a few tips to get you started.
Find The Perfect Niche
With so much competition, it’s essential to find a way to stand out from the crowd. While it would be lovely to serve all of your customers with your best, most up-to-date product every time they visit your website –that’s not going to happen. Not unless you’re a mega-brand with a massive budget. Instead, you need to find a way to stand out from the competition with specialized, niche products for specific niches. This might mean creating a blog around health, fitness, or nutrition, or it could mean creating special offers for students or teachers–whether you’re a teacher yourself or know one, or perhaps you’re a millennial entrepreneur who wants to create a lifestyle brand around healthy, organic living.
Make It Small Business Friendly
As an entrepreneur who wants to grow his business, you’ll most likely appreciate the power of small businesses like yours–even though you might not always like their prices or the fact that they’re not a low-cost option. That’s why when you’re developing your online marketing strategy, you need to make sure that your web developers, content creators, and designers understand your needs and what you’re trying to accomplish. Here are just a few of the things you can do to make sure your website is small business friendly:
- A small business license if you’re a registered agent or a domestic corporation (Sole Proprietor)
- E-commerce plug-ins like shopify, woothemes, or magento
- A small business account on PayPal to accept payments
- Small Business Saturday, a special day set aside to promote online purchases from small businesses –November 23rd this year
- Payments processors such as Stripe or Dwolla
- A dedicated phone number with a memorable message for customer service (you can find some great ideas for this on Twitter @kevinrose)
- A website that is optimized for search engine visibility and that utilizes the most up-to-date web standards
- SSL encryption to secure your customers’ personal information (secure socket layer, or SSL)
- An identifiable, easily found contact email–you can use a tool like Hootsuite to find the best email for your business
- Social media accounts for your business
- A bio about you and your staff on your website (this is a perfect spot to write a bit about your business’s history)
- Contact info on your website including a physical address, email address, and phone number
- A disclaimer that the information on your site is not meant to substitute for professional medical advice and you don’t offer medical advice
Grow Your Audience Over Time
If you’re looking to grow your business or have a product that you want to promote, the last thing you want to do is bombard people with sales pitches right out of the gate. Instead, you want to build up a steady stream of interested consumers who have gone through a few emails or blog posts and are now interested in what you have to offer. Here’s a handy trick: At the end of each email or blog post, you can ask the reader to “click here to read more”, “click here to learn more”, or “click here to purchase”.
By consistently creating these tiny, gentle nudges to make the reader take a certain action (in this case, click through to a different website), you can ensure you’re growing your audience over time instead of simply attracting people who are already interested in your product or service.
Developing an online marketing strategy is a lot easier than you think. With just a little effort, you can have an engaging site that converts more customers into paying subscribers and eventually, into buying your product or service. The trick is in figuring out the perfect niche and then using online tools to help you find the right audience.