The following is a guest post by Eileen O’Shanassy. Eileen is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter @eileenoshanassy.
The first thing to know about online marketing is that it doesn’t happen on its own.
Brick-and-mortar businesses think they have it tough trying to penetrate a local real-world market with thousands of people. An online entrepreneur is up against a lot more, trying to make a mark in a market measured in billions of people.
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Bear in mind that no single trick will catapult you from obscurity to the limelight. What you need is a bag of online marketing tricks, and below are some great places to start for any online marketing campaign.
1. Post Boost
Here’s a dirty little Facebook secret: Unless you pay to boost your post, Zuckerberg’s minions have been told to only show about 6 percent of your content to your fan base. If you’ve been on Facebook for any length of time you’ve probably noticed that it seems you don’t see all the posts from people/companies that you’ve liked. This is by design. Facebook wants businesses to spend money by boosting a post. The good news is, it’s a really cheap investment as far as Internet marketing goes. If you have more than 100 fans, check out the “boost” button at the bottom of a post. For as little as $5 you can get that post in front of hundreds of new people.
2. Power Editing
While we’re on the subject of Facebook, dig deeper into its marketing tools and you’ll find a little place called the Power Editor. There is some serious marketing genius going on here. Use the duplicate tool to create dozens (or more) versions of an ad with only a single element changed. Make them all live on a small budget and then wait. It will soon become obvious which ones bring in the clicks. At that point, kill the non-performers and roll out the successful ones to an even broader audience.
If you haven’t figured this out yet, pay attention. A single-minded obsession with promoting your product or service is a bad idea in the Internet Age. Take Twitter for example. At the most you should only have a sales message in one out of every five tweets, maybe fewer. The vast majority of your energy should go towards reaching out to companies and people you like. Engage in conversation, retweet interesting posts. Don’t just be a user. Be a contributor. The funny thing is that the more you give to the community, the more people will be interested in exploring what you do, and then sales start to come in.
4. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
Banish from your mind the idea that PPC advertising begins and ends with Google. Sure, it’s the most massively used network on the web and about 75 percent of all search traffic runs through this monster, but other networks (like Bing, for instance) offer a good demographic and likely better rates on prime keywords. Get online and search for PPC networks. Depending on the audience you’re trying to reach, you may find that others return a sweeter bang for your buck.
5. Add Value
You don’t have to go far to run into an example of a doomed, self-promoting campaign that spends all its time bragging about how much better it is than a competitor. That kind of tactic is just silly in the online world – probably the offline world as well. Bragging is not a strategy. A strategy is providing succinct, valuable, or entertaining information. Your first thought should be focused on how to provide information that really, truly helps solve a problem or address a need. We’re back to the idea of giving before you get. It’s amazing how many times it shows up online. People are naturally distrusting of something that appears to be an advertisement. Cajole them into a conversation though, and then you’ve got something. Apply this to your website, mailing list, social media outlets, and more.
6. Back to Basics
Can you explain your business concept in a single sentence? If not, you might be in trouble. Go back to the drawing board and tweak it until you can. The problem might be in your business model or it could be that you just haven’t refined the explanation properly yet. If you feel like you’ve run into a wall, there’s a chance you’re too close to it. Find a mentor or someone you trust to look at the problem with a fresh perspective. The bottom line is if you can’t explain what you do within the confines of one sentence, don’t do anything else until you can.
7. Alert Yourself
Here’s a sneaky way to use Google Alerts for the benefit of your business. Set up an alert that lets you know any time a competitor is mentioned. If you can track down a writer or editor of the story, get in touch with them about featuring your competing product or service, in the interest of equality of course. Journalists have different internal compasses on the issue but it doesn’t hurt to ask. And it makes good business sense to keep a finger on the pulse of your industry.
8. The Vexatious Subject Line
Various studies indicate that you’re better off using either a long or short subject line but nothing in between. Even more effective than short is to use a single word. Can you boil the essence of an email down into a single word? Try it. An email subject line is not where you explain everything. Use it to intrigue a potential customer into clicking. That is its sole purpose. Do your selling inside. Make sure you title properly of course. People want to know what they are opening before taking the plunge.
9. Mobile Friendly
According to a report released in 2015, 56 percent of all Internet traffic took place on a mobile device (cell phones and tablets). If you haven’t designed your website to look good on these smaller screens you’re likely throwing away a big chunk of money. The buzz word in the industry is “responsive”. A responsive website automatically adjusts itself to look good no matter the size of screen it’s viewed on. The good news is responsiveness is not hard or expensive to achieve, in fact, if you use the WordPress CMS there are plenty of themes you can deploy that are pre-built to look good on a cell phone screen. Laptops and desktops will never die completely but they have become tools for particular tasks. Design your website for the masses!
10. King Content Has NOT Left the Building
Google wasn’t joking a few years ago when it announced (not using these exact words) that content is king. What the search engine giant did admit to is that it is concerned with the user experience. While this experience is comprised of many different factors, you need to post quality, targeted content on a regular basis. What do we mean by regular? Best practices say post daily if you can, but at least 3-4 times weekly. This goes back to the idea of providing useful content. Your goal is to make it so useful that readers decide to share it to their social networks. Google likes social shares because it indicates users have engaged with the content. Review sites are great for this too. Places like Trustpilot are giving customers a place to put what they think about a company or product. It has been a great boon to businesses like Underfit and more because it shows real experience and engagement with a company or product.
Have you noticed all those local results that show up when you search Google? They aren’t there by accident. Go to Google+ and claim your local business, even if you specialize in global information. It doesn’t cost anything and it’s often the case that keyword competition on a local level is sparse. You should find it easier to rank than through a broad PPC campaign. And if your product or service is local in nature, so much the better!
Obviously, this is not the end of the line when it comes to online marketing tips and tricks you can use to grow your business. The above-mentioned methods go a long way towards achieving that end, but don’t stop researching just because you reached the end of the article. If you have a tip to add to this collection that you’ve found especially useful, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Don’t be shy.