The number of start-up businesses who find it necessary to market their products and services online is increasing. Customers are using the web more and more to look for companies, compare product features and prices, and shop online.
If a company does not take advantage of such an opportunity, they can lose valuable customers. Marketing on the web is more cost-efficient now more than ever. There a number of web sites, software packages, consultants, and other tools to help you execute a successful online presence.
AllBusiness.com lists down 10 important steps to market your business online:
Obtain a good domain name
Before you can establish a website for your business, you must first obtain a domain name – the internet address that allows computer users to find your website. Good domain names are difficult to acquire. Millions of domain names have been purchased, sold and resold over the years. The most common and most desirable domain names end in .com or .net.
But first, you have to make sure that the domain name has not yet been trademarked by another person. You can check a domain name’s availability on www.uspto.gov. You can also use Yahoo.com’s domain name service check. It takes less than a minute to check, and costs less than $ 10 to purchase a domain name on Yahoo.
You also have to make sure that your domain name is easy to spell, and easy to remember.
Build a professional looking website
Your web site reflects your business. Potential customers identify your business by your web site. They will either be impressed or turned off by your site. Thus it is necessary to establish a professional looking site. There are a number of ways to build a website.You can go to sites like Yahoo that offer web site templates for free of for a small fee. Or you can have a professional site building consultant to custom-build a site for you. Lastly, you can avail of software packages to help you build your own website.
Make your site easy to navigate
Instead of wasting time making your website as colorful and as animated as possible, focus on making your website easy to navigate. Your viewers should be able to find what they want easily. Some experts say your customers should be able to make a purchase in three steps or mouse clicks. To achieve this, you have to make sure that your product is prominently displayed, and that a clear navigation bar and good search box can easily be seen. As with any business, see what your competitors’ sites look like to give you some ideas as to how you should design your web site.
Build your E-mail list
E-mail marketing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to sell online. It’s a great way to correspond with customers and prospective customers. Collecting email messages from site visitors is indispensable. Offer something worthwhile in return, such as a discount of a free newsletter.
Send periodic E-mail newsletters
Email newsletters can be an effective communication tool for customers, prospective customers, and other key audiences. AllBusiness.com lists the 5 characteristics of an effective email newsletter program:
Keep it reasonably short.
Make it well-designed, and visually interesting. Include graphics and pictures. Put multiple links back to your site.
Be professional. Avoid typographical errors, broken links, and an overall sloppy look.
Include a way for your viewers to contact your unsubscribe from your e-mail list.
Constantly test and monitor the progress of your newsletters.
Buy banner ads
Banner ads can enhance your site’s visibility. It can also increase traffic to your site. According to AllBusiness.com, an effective banner ad campaign should have the following key characteristics:
The ad should be visually interesting. It should have links to a specific offer or landing page on your site.
It should be placed on sites relevant to your product or service.
Constantly test and monitor the efficiency of your ads. One way to do this is to measure click-throughs from the banner ad to your site and resulting and return on investment (ROI).
Optimize your site for search engines
Every day, hundreds of millions of searches are being done through sites like Yahoo and Google. Search engines spider billions of web pages. This is why a fast-growing tool called search engine optimization or SEO was developed. Search engine optimization refers to efforts being done to raise your site’s ranking in search results. This is also why SEO positions are currently in demand.
Buy keyword ads on Search Engines
Buying keyword ads on search engines works like this: if your business is selling computer books [from your site], you can buy a small ad or listing on let’s say Google. Every time someone types a term that you designate in the search box like for instance computer books, that add or listing will pop up. If the searcher sees your ad and clicks on it, he or she will be transported to your site. For Google, payment for keyword ads is on a cost per click [CPC] basis. The idea is to draw qualified, prospective customers to your site. Allbusiness.com suggests doing the following steps to achiever the most success from keyword ad buying plans:
Buy the most relevant keywords
Compose ads that will compel qualified buyers to click on the ad.
Your ad should lead to a page on your site that shows the specific product or service described by, or related to the keyword.
Continuously assess the amount you pay per click and their conversion to buyers or sales.
Test different ad cope and different landing pages to find out what works best for your site.
Make it easy to buy
If your offer products on your site, you will need to have a shopping cart system in place, as well as a credit card authorization process. These two make shopping on your site faster and more efficient. If your checkout process is slow, you could lose potential buyers who got frustrated with your bungling website.
Provide great customer service
As with any business, providing great customer service is crucial. Great customer service guarantees customer satisfaction. And we all know that a satisfied customer is bound to return to your site. To customers who are unhappy with their shopping experience on your site, change their minds with a discount, a free product, or other benefit.