It may seem odd that we are at the fifth stage of this blog series on Business Website Success for redesigning your website and we have yet to talk about website design or budgeting. You may already have some initial design ideas in your head or a rough budget projection, but until you determine all aspects of what it takes to have a profitable business online – design AND marketing – your design concepts or budget may be off base from your true needs.
In this stage of the planning, we are going to look at initial marketing ideas. I say initial marketing ideas as we are not locking anything down yet. Instead, we are getting a clearer assessment of what is needed to promote the website (or more importantly, your business) after launch and what options are available. Marketing can be a hidden or overlooked expense for many business owners, so getting this information up front helps to avoid surprises later.
Here are the most common marketing options available for your business online:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
This is usually the first option clients ask about, and for good reason. First off, SEO helps to determine how well your site will perform in the search engines – better SEO tends to result in better visibility in the search engines. Also, SEO has really been hammered into people’s brains now, resulting in a top of mind awareness. SEO is a deep subject and most people already have a base idea of what it is, so I won’t go into too much detail. However, there is a lot of misinformation out there on SEO, so what you think you know on SEO might not be accurate or current.
As part of the development process, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is following best practices in website design mixed with well-crafted content that properly defines the business and services offered. Any good website development company will make sure this baseline is set at site launch. However, after site launch, SEO can be used as an ongoing method of marketing. This involves ongoing changes to a website to best improve its performance in the search results as Google and your competitors change.
- Pros of SEO: Can help generate a lot of traffic to your website from search engines. Can have long term benefits if search engine visibility is maintained.
- Cons of SEO: A very slow process to get results compared to other forms of marketing. Can be more expensive than expected. Results are not guaranteed.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC) / Google Adwords:
This is typically a better option for marketing your business online than standard SEO. This is especially true if you are a new business that has not had any previous exposure in the search engines. Pay-Per-Click Advertising (Google’s version of it is called Adwords, but I’ll use “PPC” for short) allows you to place ads in the search engine for particular keyword phrases you want to get traffic from. Then for every click that ad gets, you pay a bid amount to the search engine for that click – hence the name “pay-per-click.” You set a daily budget for how much you want to spend, and the search engine serves up that ad until your daily budget is exhausted for the day.
PPC is very powerful because it is immediate – as long as you have a budget, you can get prominent visibility in the search engines. PPC also provides powerful ways to target your audience and then track them as they interact with your website. Google’s Adwords has powerful filters for narrowing down your ideal demographics so your budget is only being spent on clicks from individuals that best match your customer profile.
- Pros of PPC: Immediate results, fantastic tracking of ROI, powerful segmenting based on multiple demographics, scalable to budget, more predictable results.
- Cons of PPC: Can be expensive depending on how competitive your market is. Can involve a lot of time and research to manage successfully if you are doing it in-house.
Social Media Marketing:
This has to be on your short list of possible marketing options for your business. Even if you hate Facebook, mock Twitter, and have never even heard of Pinterest, these tools are crucial in today’s online market. The good news is you don’t necessarily have to use these services personally to use them for your business. Like all other marketing options, there are professionals that can handle it for you.
- Pros of Social Media Marketing: Best targeting with demographic data, good ROI tracking, lots of marketing options to use, where most of your potential customers already are, cheaper than traditional marketing. Steady social activity benefits your SEO positively.
- Cons of Social Media Marketing: Can be overwhelming for busy business owners to do in-house.
- Read more about choosing the right social media platform for your business.
Ever been to a website and then it seems to follow you around wherever you go? Ads for the business keep showing up even when you are on other websites? While this can be a little creepy, it is a very effective form of advertising called “remarketing.” By following a potential customer around and serving reminder ads wherever ad space is available to do so, you keep your business service or product top-of-mind, and these customers are more likely to return to your site to start or complete a transaction.
- Pros of Remarketing: Creates ongoing visibility of your brand or advertisement to potential customers. Helps to close customers who were not yet ready to buy when they first saw your ad or visited your website. Remarketing is very effective.
- Cons of Remarketing: Can be creepy and annoying to potential customers.
Search engines like Google take into consideration your location when serving search results. It wouldn’t make sense for Google to show you search results for companies that don’t serve your area when you search on a keyword phrase. Therefore, Google displays different search results for the same keyword phrase for users in different locations. This makes local search extremely important if you serve a local market. Google will reference local search directories to determine how much of a presence a business has in its local market, including Google and other local and social directory reviews. The more references it can find of you, the more weight it can give you as a credible business in your area. If you serve a local market only, Geo-Targeting is not a marketing option to bypass – consider it the replacement to the phone book ad.
- Pros of Geo-Targeting: Helps your site to be found by potential customers in your local market.
- Cons of Geo-Targeting: No known cons.
Email marketing is still a very effective and affordable method to market to existing customers or those that have opted in to receive communication from you. It does take a while to build an email list when starting from scratch, but once your list is big enough, it can yield good results with little effort. Many third-party email marketing programs exist that automate many of the processes, provide tracking of open rates, and help keep you in check with SPAM laws so your emails are more likely to be delivered.
- Pros of Email Marketing: Fairly easy to manage using email templates and segmented lists. Low cost. Most email marketing services offer web forms you can embed in your site to allow users to opt in automatically. Helps to generate repeat business. The ROI can usually be easily tracked.
- Cons of Email Marketing: Can take time to build an effective mailing list if starting from scratch.
Blogging allows you to share content that doesn’t easily fall into other areas of your website. It allows you to write and post helpful articles related to your business that can attract visitors from the search engines.
- Pros of Blogging: Studies have shown that Blogs help to generate more traffic and sales to websites that utilize them. Blog posts tend to do well in the search engines, thus increasing traffic from search engines. Blogs help to establish a leadership position in your field of business. They are an excellent outlet for a business owner or staff member who likes to share industry-related information. Finally, they help generate social and shareable content.
- Cons of Blogging: Involves a commitment of time to write or to provide enough insight for a copy writer to write.
Press releases have been around for a long time and are still a viable tool. However, sending out press releases as your only marketing strategy is not recommended. Press releases work well as an extra option and there are plenty of third party services that can syndicate press releases online for you.
- Pros of Press Releases: Easy to write and distribute.
- Cons of Press Releases: Hit or miss on the results.
As addressed here, traditional marketing is anything that doesn’t relate to the Internet. Print ads, radio/TV commercials, billboards, postcard mailers, and brochures are all primary examples of traditional advertising. This type of marketing can still be very useful depending on what market you serve, but it is not the go-to marketing it used to be for every business owner. Most traditional marketing tends to be very expensive when compared to online marketing, and doesn’t have the potential to reach as many people.
- Pros of Traditional Marketing: Can be a tried and true method to reach certain market segments or local markets.
- Cons of Traditional Marketing: Typically expensive. Can have a limited market reach. Hard to track ROI.
By taking time to consider marketing options in the beginning stages of development, you will have a better idea of how your site will fit into the bigger picture. It will give you a more realistic understanding of budget and spark ideas to implement in your site outline that will support marketing efforts.
This article is the fifth in an ongoing series! Be sure to visit us often to catch the rest of our Business Website Success articles.