Scenario: A company launches a website and quickly determines no one is visiting. Wasn’t building that pretty website enough to create throngs of customers beating down the doors? Enter the small business owner’s foray into the world of promoting their website. This is alien ground, to be sure. Most folks have a hard time spelling SEO, let alone know what it stands for. (For the uninitiated, SEO stands for “search engine optimization”, a cornerstone of any search engine marketing campaign.) These days, most organizations believe they need a presence online, however, a majority of today’s business owners and nonprofit directors think this means putting up a website (and a few hardcore do-it-yourselfers will even try to do this themselves) and then letting it ride.
Enter the game; the online marketing game. Promoting one’s company or cause online is not a destination—not unless one sees their destination as holding the top spot in Google amid their local, state or national competitors. While this can certainly be done, given enough time, patience and money, top placement in Google is not the only Holy Grail when marketing online. After all, Google has only to change their algorithm for indexing websites and that coveted top position can fade away overnight, taking all those eager prospects with it.
No, the online marketing game is a journey and it’s a journey that requires a fair understanding of the rules, as well as enough patience to play the game. If a small business owner wants to take things into their own hands, they will want to foster a fair grasp of the following arts:
- Building a successful website by paying mind to layout, navigation, colors, calls to action, keywords and key phrases
- Leveraging the websites of others by using banners, backlinks, affiliate and referral programs
- Positioning a website with natural SEO versus Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
- Writing for a blog, using audio, video, webinars, ebooks, article and news release marketing, and RSS syndication
- Using social media including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks
- Strengthening a brand’s impression through the return trip by using memberships and subscriptions, email signatures, opt-in e-newsletters, autoresponders, and by leveraging TV, radio, print, and events to direct traffic to a website and keep visitors returning
- Engaging visitors through videos, music, and games
- Using forums and discussion groups to create community
- Empowering visitors with shopping carts
- Collecting (and understanding) key website traffic statistics and performing traffic analysis on things like impressions, page count, time on site, and bounces
As one might guess, it may take a while to get a handle on all the staples of a powerful online marketing campaign, so again, patience is a must here. The recommendation is to find one vehicle for generating traffic and work it for a while. Then expand into another channel as confidence and results grow. Do a little marketing every day and soon that website will be the 24/7/365 storefront to the world it was intended to be.