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In this article, we’re going to cover a number of internet marketing basics that may have been forgotten by online veterans, and need to be read by the newbies. Without further ado, here it is…
Internet Marketing Basics
Internet marketing is much different from offline marketing in many ways. Even if you’ve known this truth for a while, it’s easy to forget the differences. Just in case you’ve forgotten the basics – or need to learn them – here they are (if we forget any, let us know!):
- The World Wide Web isn’t “just another advertising place”. In fact, it’s a whole other animal compared to brick and mortar. When you put your business online, you have to act as if you have no “brick and mortar”. Pretend your site is the only way people can find out about you. Your site IS the front door. What will it say about you?
- Pay attention to your competitors. This one isn’t so different from brick and mortar business; the biggest difference is the number of competitors. Online, you’re competing with the world. Visit competitor sites and see how they’re reaching out to potential visitors. What can you copy capitalize on and make better?
- Don’t make your URLs too complicated. If you’re just coming online and trying to choose a domain name, try to find one that’s easy to remember. If you already have a domain name, then make sure your page URLs are easy. People may not search for the URL, but they will search for the words in the URL – if they can remember what the words are.
- Make it easy to contact you. Do you have a telephone number on your site? How about an email address? How about anything besides a contact form? Contact forms are beautiful, easy tools, but most people really hate filling them out. Make sure you give them another option.
- Websites don’t promote themselves. “If I build it, they will come” is not a thought to have. If you don’t get out there and promote the site, very few will know it’s there. How do you promote? A few ideas are:
- Blog – it’s not promotion, per se, but blogging does help bring interest to an otherwise static (unchanging) site.
- Social media – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, Digg … tons of places, tons of opportunities to share your site, your business and your conversation
- Business cards, etc. – If you have a business card, make sure your site URL is on it. If you use print or other traditional marketing media, add your site URL. If you have a brick and mortar business, let your customers know you have an online version.
- Always test. We say it a lot, and we’ll say it again. Always test your website for usability and quality. Look at it this way. Your site is a type of product; call it an “information” product. Like any product, it needs quality control. Perform tests for usability, navigation, layout, content… keep testing. No matter how good your site is, it can always be better.
- Create an online resource. The best performing sites always seem to be those that manage to become an authoritative resource for their niche market. We can learn from that. If your business is household goods, then create the best resource on household goods that you possible can. If you only sell lipstick, cover every topic you can think of. Home repair? Same, same.
- Don’t forget email marketing. An online version of direct marketing, email marketing is often overlooked during strategy-building sessions. However, if it’s done correctly, an email newsletter campaign can help build loyalty, as well as awareness of your brand. If you don’t have an email campaign going, make sure you revisit the idea every now and then.
- What isn’t a viable option today may be your company’s saving grace tomorrow. Just because an eNewsletter, for example, wasn’t a good idea six months ago doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea now. Remember the offer of a guest blog you turned down last month? Maybe you’re a blog short this month and could really use that blog now. The point is, don’t throw ideas in the trash; put them in a “to be revisited pile” instead – and then, revisit!
- Remember your call to actions. Look – if you have a business website, visitors aren’t going to be surprised by sales activity. For instance, they aren’t going to be shocked when they see a link to one of your product pages on the blog. They aren’t going to be angry because you have “Buy Today!” in big, bold letters in a product or service description page. Don’t be shy; don’t hide your call to actions, and definitely don’t forget them!
- Add the bells and whistles. The bells and whistles talked about here are those your visitors may never see. Bells and whistles might include: analytics tracking, social media tracking, Google/Bing webmaster tools, link tracking. The more information you can gain about your site and visitors, the better off you are. When it comes time to see how things are going, these bells and whistles will make it easier to find the pages that need help.
“Internet marketing” can be a misleading term for people when they first take their business online. Business owners look at the term and take “Internet” out – as if it doesn’t count as part of the equation. The problem is “Internet” is the key part of the term here. Take the above list of internet marketing basics and see how your online efforts match up!
Can you think of any Internet marketing basics we’ve missed? Share your top “basics” list – add yours in the comments!