Marketing your business using digital (or online) tools has become important as people are increasingly using their mobile phones or tablets to browse products and services on the internet.
You can market and grow your business online via:
Most businesses have, or should have, a website to promote their products or services. A website is a digital shopfront allowing you to always be open for business.
Most customers will undertake online research before making a decision to purchase products and services. If you don’t have a website or other online presence you may be missing out on customers.
Your website should:
- outline your products and services
- include content and images that are engaging and relevant to your target audience
- enable people to contact you
It is important to plan before creating a website, ask yourself:
- What is the purpose of the website?
- Do I intend to sell products or services online?
- What do I want people to do after they have visited my website?
- How much can I afford to spend on the website?
- How will I keep the information on the website up to date?
Creating a website generally involves the following steps:
Register your website address or domain name
Build your website using a template or custom built design
Create content for your website
Determine how you would like the website to look and feel (branding)
Set up hosting services to connect your website to the internet.
More detailed information regarding creating your website can be accessed at the Digital Business website.
Read our publication on selecting a website professional if you decide that you need help to create your website.
Email marketing has become an increasingly effective way to interact with customers. The most common form of email marketing is electronic newsletters (e-newsletters), this can also include sending targeted messages or promotions to your customers to keep them engaged with your business. For example, you may have a ‘rewards club’ and email clients with special offers based on their buying habits.
Email marketing generally requires you to have a database of your clients’ email addresses. It is important when collecting addresses from existing and potential customers that they agree to you contacting them at a later date.
TIP: Under the Spam Act 2003 it is illegal to send, or cause to be sent, unsolicited commercial electronic messages, including emails, instant messaging, SMS and MMS. You should always obtain permission from your customers to contact them via email marketing. There are many online products available to help small businesses create, manage and automate their email marketing campaigns. These products are available for free or via paid subscription.
For more information on email marketing visit the Digital Business website.
Many people create, share, and exchange information online using social media platforms. These platforms allow people to network with other likeminded people. Social media has changed the way people communicate and how they do business.
Social media allow businesses to communicate directly with potential and existing customers. However these platforms have also removed some of the control businesses have over their branding and messaging. Customers can now post comments, positive and negative, about your business to their social networks.
Examples of social media platforms for business to business (B2B) and business to customer (B2C) target markets include:
- Google +
These platforms allow you to send text, photo, images, videos, and audio files.
If you are thinking of using social media research the various platforms first, then choose a couple that your customers are most likely to use and which will work best for you.
You can connect, communicate and build relationships with people via social media. Make sure that you engage in conversations and post information which is useful to your customers. Social media is about listening and engaging with your target customers, not constantly selling to them.
For more information on social media visit the Digital Business website.
TIP: Encourage your customers to share their experience of your business on their social media channels.
People rarely look beyond the first page of results of an online search, so ideally you want your website to rank in highly sought after space.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of getting your website listed on the first page of the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
A search engine aims to provide users with the most relevant information by ranking the most trusted, usable, functional and informative sites first. SEO is critical to your online success and needs to be planned in conjunction with your website.
SEO involves ‘on-page’ and ‘off-page’ optimisation techniques.
On-page optimisation is about creating web pages that can be easily read, understood and indexed by search engines. Factors to take into consideration with on-page optimisation include ensuring:
- quality content that is unique
- choosing appropriate keywords
- easy to follow navigation
- relevant page, heading and image titles
- relevant page descriptions
- a fully responsive website
- a fast-loading website
Off-page optimisation is about building your website’s credibility and authority. One technique for off-page optimisation is to build links from other websites and social media platforms back to your website.
Link building can be difficult and time-consuming. It is also important to build links from authoritative websites rather than newly created or low quality sites. These will give you better SEO rankings.
A good quality link should:
- come from a trusted and reputable site which is in some way related to your type of business
- take some effort to earn
- not be spam
- be on a page that has content related to the topic it links to
- provide added value for the reader
- be likely to be clicked by the reader
You can secure good quality links by:
- creating compelling content
- identifying suppliers that list and link to their stockists on their website and asking to be included
- obtaining links within your industry through industry associations or relevant sites
- submitting news stories to media outlets and encouraging them to publish
- putting your products and services in front of influential bloggers by commenting on posts and through direct marketing
- signing up to quality directory sites.
Search engine marketing (SEM)
Advertising on search engine results pages can also improve traffic to your website by making it easier to find.
SEM generally refers to pay per click or cost per click advertising. SEM advertising appears at the very top of the first page of results. You will be charged a fee when someone clicks through to your site.
SEM is good to use on content that does not rank on the first page of search results.
Learn more about SEM at Google AdWords.