Developing A Successful Web Marketing Strategy
The Internet has brought about a whole new world for millions of people to live, work, and play in. There are literally over one billion Internet users worldwide. That is an astonishing amount of people using one interactive medium. Communication has never been simpler. The problem with easier communication, however, is the fact that everyone is competing for attention. Whether it's a software-based company or a band on MySpace, it's a battlefield overflowing with fighters attempting to get a piece of everyone's attention. Companies and individuals trying to market their services or products find it much harder to reach their target audience than what was originally believed.
This doesn't mean using the web to market is useless, it just means that you need a focused plan to make sure your marketing is working effectively.
Know Your Options & Create a PlanIf you know what you're doing, the Internet can be a goldmine of opportunities. On the other hand, if you have no idea what's going on, you'll find your funds diminishing and your business suffering. Before diving into a huge marketing campaign, evaluate all of your options. There are many ways to market using the Internet. Some of the most popular are e-mail marketing, search engine optimization, and advertising. These are the basics, but marketing stretches beyond the basics. "Thinking outside of the box" also applies to the Internet. In the early days of the web, people fell for really basic boring ads that had no relevance to the Website it was being advertised on. Nowadays, this kind of ad isn't nearly as effective. Internet users are a lot more knowledgeable and can spot ads just like on television. And with the Internet, we can avoid ads pretty easily. It's important to really research all of your options before dropping big bucks on something that might not be worth your investment.
Have a Website Worth MarketingStarting at square one, your Website needs to be professional. If you have one of those Websites with a lot of grammatical errors, no content, no descriptions, and boring design, there is no need to market. It's easy to get caught up in the rush of making money and overlook the basics. To give you an example; Recently there was a radio advertisement telling listeners to check out a cool new bar in town and check out the events calendar on the bar's Website for upcoming events. When you visit the site, there are events from over a year ago. Nothing is updated, the design is awful, and there are misspellings right on the front page. Immediately you think "this bar stinks" without even going to the place. The owner obviously turned to a popular advertising outlet to help his business, which in turn, probably hurt it more.
Nothing is worse than advertising without having a professional web presence. Get your Website professionally designed if you truly want to gain your customer's business. If you aren't familiar with web design or good at writing content, have someone that is do it for you. The investment is worth it. You may even be able to find a local 16 year old designer that will do the web design for cheap, but don't skimp if the quality is going to suffer.
Take Care of the DetailsOnce your Website looks good and you have the backend needs taken care of, start looking for outlets to network with and get your company and products visible. No matter what your market is, you will probably find similar companies out there to share links with to increase your chances of showing up in search engine results. Make sure to have well-written META tags on your Website and use search engine optimization (SEO) to increase the probability of visitors finding your site in searches.
There are companies out there that specialize in this, making sure your content and coding contain certain key words that potential visitors will type into the search engine. These companies can integrate these keywords so it isn't obvious to your readers but can make a big difference with the spiders crawling your Website to find the appropriate content for search engines. Once again, if you aren't familiar with these things, hire someone who is. Your business will grow and your investment will pay off.
Know Your Target MarketBesides these basic Website tweaks, marketing can be done through thought-out advertising. Knowing your target audience is crucial with advertising. Know your demographics before spending dollars on ads that might not reach your potential customers. Find similar Websites that reach out to your client base. Get statistics from these Websites and find out if it's even worth your time. If their Website is worth advertising on, they will be glad to let you know. The more visibility your company has, the better. Always try to keep your product out there and in front of as many probable clients and customers as possible. People forget about companies and products quickly simply because there is so much competition. Really focus on your niche audience - once you get them, do your best to keep them.
Brand loyalty is rare these days, but people will always be more inclined to deal with companies with good customer support that also try to build a long-lasting relationship. Each individual customer is important, and the more individuals you get supporting your company, the more word-of-mouth marketing you will get. If you can get one satisfied customer, you can probably get thousands if you treat them all equally as important. One unsatisfied customer, however, can really put a dent in your brand and can lead to years of recovery. Remember this when you ignore a customer's needs or don't feel like replying to an e-mail, every little thing adds up.
Think Outside The BoxTry to think of new ways to market using the web. All of the things mentioned above are great and often pay off, but find other outlets too. At least make sure you have an e-mail newsletter to send updates to your clients. Take it a step further though and get involved with social networking. The social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube have really taken off. If your company isn't on any of these Websites, you are getting left behind.
Most of your customers are using these Websites every day. You can directly communicate to your customers and really get to know them on a personal level. You can send out mass messages and people can directly inquire about your services or even see them in action. It's customer service in a friendly atmosphere. Post your commercials on YouTube. Even if they only air on YouTube and MySpace, it's worth having a video that captivates your audience and puts a live spin on your company. Humor proves very successful with advertising in commercials. Always try to tap into one of the emotional levels with your marketing.
There are start-up video production companies always looking for new clients, a lot of which are started in advanced level college courses. Contact your local college and see about getting a video produced by students in the telecommunications department or other video production courses. Colleges have access to some of the best equipment, better than most start-up companies that will charge you hundreds to produce a short 30-second commercial. Always try to find sources that will save you money but still present your product or service in a professional representation.
Web marketing is more difficult than it seems, but it is a great way to spread the word about your company. Really try to tap into your niche audience, provide great customer service, and keep trying to find new outlets to reach new clients. There are new developments on the web every day, so stay up-to-date with technology and take advantage of all the opportunities you can. The web has limitless resources to help you keep your company visible and ahead of the competition, now it's time to use them!
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