7 online marketing ideas to promote your business [updated for 2021]
UPDATE: This online marketing post was first published on 15 June 2018 and updated on 4 October 2021.
You have just set up a beautiful business website and are proudly informing all your business peers about it. You’ve printed the URL (website address) on your business cards and in all your marketing materials. But that’s not enough. You need to promote your business website … and today, this means online marketing.
If they are keenly interested, they’d just Google your business name, and hopefully, your website name might appear on the first or second page of the Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).
But if you haven’t done the things we describe in this article, your website name and link will appear further down in the SERP listings — where users do not bother to look. In this blog post, I’ll give you some essential tips on how to make your business website discoverable or easy-to-find online.
7 online marketing ideas to bring more customers
You might have a beautiful website, but you’ll still need to make an effort to bring prospective customers to it. Choose one or two of these strategies to start.
Before we dive in, I’d like to describe the two broad routes to promoting your business website online.
1. A business blog
Our first online marketing tip is to add a blog section to your business website. Your business is selling products or services. That means you have extensive knowledge on those products and might have invested in research and development. You could have a team of experts with deep product and market knowledge. They keep up with related trends in the industry and they keep a close eye on competitors. They also watch how customers are consuming your products and services. And they know exactly what these customers want.
You and your team are authorities. Blogging shares your expertise with the world.
Let’s say you sell an FMCG product like soap bars. Your research team will have extensive knowledge about the constituents of soap and how they affect human skin or hair. And your marketing team knows what consumers are looking for in soap bars.
So, your team of experts can write articles and blog posts that address consumer concerns about skin disorders (dry skin, skin rashes, etc.) and then come down to the topic about how your soap product includes a certain ingredient (like Aloe Vera), and how it does wonders for dry skin, for example.
Through your blogs and writing, you are showing that you are an authority on skin treatments — and have a special soap product that addresses skin disorders. But you are also making the reader knowledgeable.
If you do something called search engine optimisation (SEO) for your blog content, then people will find your blog (and from there, your website) when they search for ‘Aloe Vera’ or ‘Skin treatment’ on Google. We’ll touch upon SEO further in this blog.
This is one very effective way to make your business website discoverable.
There is so much information out there on the internet that readers would prefer to get the gist about a topic in a few sentences or paragraphs. As more users access online content on their phones, visual communications — especially video — have become more popular. This is why our second online marketing tip is to share videos.
People prefer to watch a short video about your product or listen to a customer testimonial on their phones.
You can create these videos without investing in expensive cameras and studio equipment. Shoot videos on your phone or DSLR camera. Then use one of the free video editing apps on your desktop or phone to add background music, titles and effects. Finally, upload the video to your YouTube channel and put the shared/embed link to that video on your website.
There is a learning curve here for all this, so get a knowledgeable friend to help.
Videos are great for customer testimonials. Get some of your customers to talk about their experience of using your products. You can also publish short product demos in video format.
Related: How to make a video without spending a bomb
Email newsletters are a great way to keep your customers continually updated about new developments. You can periodically inform them about the latest trends in the industry.
But newsletters are also a way to get customers to visit your website. Include summaries about new articles and blog posts on your website — with links to the specific pages that show the full article on your site.
The first step is to create a list of email addresses and names. The email marketing tool included with GoDaddy’s Digital Marketing Suite makes it easy to add a sign up form to your website, then send beautiful emails that get customers interested.
4. Social media
Social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are important ways to update your customers about the latest developments. You can also use social media to drive visitors to your business website.
Post the latest news and short summaries of blog articles (with links) to your company social pages.
Be sure to first create all the social media accounts for your business and add header images and logos. Spend some time defining your business in the Profiles section. Your social media handles should reflect your brand identity.
There is also the inorganic or paid route here. For a fee, social media channels will display your ads or posts to targeted audiences. These are called promoted posts. You will need to define all the details of your target market when creating ads or promoted posts.
5. Display ads
If you have a budget for this, then create banner ads and pay related websites to display them. One way to do this is to join ad display networks like Google Adwords and Times Internet. These networks will display your ad on multiple websites that are likely to cater to your intended audience. Viewers can click on your ad and come to your website to learn more.
Although they can be costly, display ads are an effective way to find targeted audiences and new customers.
6. Pay-per-click ads
Next, there is an internet marketing concept called pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. I mentioned SERPs at the very beginning of this post. You will notice that related ads with links appear at the top of, and alongside, search results when you search for something on Google or Bing.
Google and Bing let advertisers bid for the placement positions of these ads (first, second, third, etc.). Bid higher and your ad gets better visibility. As an advertiser, you pay Google or Bing a pre-agreed fee (bid amount) each time someone clicks on your ad (that’s why it is called pay-per-click). This is a great way to get people to your website, but it costs money.
7. Linkbacks and link exchanges
Our final online marketing tip is what is called back linking.
Search engines rank your website based on how many other websites have links that point to it. These are called inbound links or linkbacks. The more websites link to your website, the higher your website’s authority according to search engines.
To begin with, set up a Wikipedia page for your business, with links to your website’s home page and to the articles on your site.
You can also pay popular news websites to host your articles (including a linkback to the article on your website). This is termed paid content or native content. Find out which websites are popular with your target audience and post your articles there. This activity is called ‘Content seeding’ and is part of content marketing.
I strongly recommend these content seeding services:
As with pay-per-click, you need to have a budget for this promotional activity.
A note about search engine optimisation (SEO)
Finally, a word about search engine optimisation or SEO. As I mentioned, people usually use a search engine like Google or Bing to find a business website. They could type in “Baahubali 2” or “Indian Premier League,” for example, and the search engine will scan all of the websites it’s indexed to serve up just the most relevant options.
Search engines maintain a database of all website names and addresses. But they also attach a list of keywords to each website.
This is done automatically through ‘crawlers’ — software that ‘crawls’ all the websites on the internet and examines content on web pages.
You need to tell the person who developed your website about all the keywords that identify your business and its products (find tips on identifying your keywords here). These keywords need to be included in the text and articles on your website pages. But they also need to be included in the code of those pages. (GoDaddy’s Website Builder comes with a keyword tool that makes this easy.)
If needed, it’s worth paying a developer or SEO expert to optimise the code on your web pages so that they include all the relevant keywords.
Organic vs. inorganic
Not all marketing ideas entail a monetary cost — some are what’s called organic, others are inorganic.
Organic is the natural way where you do not have to invest any money. Your investment here is time. It takes sustained effort and months of time to get the desired outcomes.
Inorganic is the paid route — you’ll be paying for online advertisements, promoted search listings, content seeding and promoted social media posts. And since you are paying, you can expect outcomes sooner. But you’ll need to allocate a budget for all this.
I’ll touch upon both types in this post, and at the end, I will suggest a strategy on what you should be doing and what promotion techniques you should pursue. So be sure to read this post to the end.
The power of content marketing
Several of the marketing strategies described above fall under a new marketing category called content marketing. For years, brands have been reaching out to consumers through advertisements on:
- Outdoor hoardings
But studies show that more people are ignoring these direct advertisements. For example, they install pop-up blockers to disable ads on websites.
It simply means you are reaching out through editorial content — and subtly putting in the message about your product. We gave the example of skin treatment to sell your soap product.
Content marketing aims to make users knowledgeable and intelligent by providing facts, advice and knowledge. And if readers like this content, they will share it with others through social media channels.
You can use a variety of formats for content marketing:
- Blog posts and articles
- Social media posts
- Email newsletters
- White papers
- Research reports
You can get this content developed by in-house experts or freelancers. But you must have an in-house editor, preferably someone from your marketing or external communications team, to supervise the creation of this content — just to ensure that it is in line with your brand messaging.
7 online marketing strategies for you
As I promised, these are seven ways to promote your website — ideally, you should use all of the methods simultaneously to achieve best results. No one method serves the purpose entirely.
A few closing tips:
- Be consistent in your social media posts, blog posts and newsletter deliveries. You could create a schedule or calendar for these.
- Invest in SEO and paid advertising to increase your brand visibility. Put your ads on websites that are popular with your target audiences.
- If you can, also invest in promoted posts on social media channels, as well as link exchanges and article promotion.
Finally, have a call-to-action on your website to turn casual visitors into customers. Once prospective customers get to your website and read about your products, direct them to call you for enquiries and to request product demos.
I wish you luck with all the promotional activities!
Image by: Aravind Kumar on Unsplash