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15 Essential tips for your online marketing strategy

by Chris Sutton | July 8, 2010

It wasn’t so long ago that the hardest part about selling websites was convincing the business owner or manager why they needed a website at all. In 2010, a web site is no longer a luxury or something that sits on the periphery of a marketing strategy, it’s a “must have” for any small business in the digital age. The conversation we have with business owners these days is not about whether to have a website or not, it’s about how to make a website effective, so this blog provides 15 Essential tips for your online marketing strategy.

With all our years in the industry we have built up a substantial knowledge base and expertise on how to make a website an effective business tool. It’s interesting that some of the things that work well are old methods that predate the era of online sales but are still effective when updated for an online strategy; as an example press releases and customer testimonials are still powerful tools, although press releases for instance have morphed from the days when you sent copies of a release to every journalist you could, then hoped for the best. These days there are specialist press release sites that provide a wide range of services and are used extensively as resources by journalists and writers.

As well as the old methods, there are new channels that need to be incorporated into any sensible  online marketing strategy such as social media, and there are new techniques that are growing in importance such as onsite video, or video marketing (see our Newsletter for an introduction on Video Marketing).

But whether you have an existing site or you're thinking about developing a new website, it’s worth thinking first about some of the basics that are important to developing your online marketing strategy.

The following are a few basic tips:

1. Have a professional looking website

This probably sounds obvious but we often find that website owners want a website with all the bells and whistles, when in fact their customers actually want an easily navigated site that provides all the information they require quickly and easily. Something too flashy or complex will often drive customers away while an attractive but straightforward layout will show your professionalism. Make sure you keep your website updated and change content regularly, Google’s indexing algorithm, Caffeine, gives added weight to new content.

2. Seek and Show Press Coverage

Press coverage can provide credibility; product or service reviews can be a powerful tool.

3. Blog

Keeping a regular, well-maintained blog is common now, and while it certainly gives you the opportunity to engage customers or prospective customers, it can also contribute positively to your search engine rankings.

4. User Testimonials

An oldie but a goody, testimonials will help to reassure visitors that you do actually do what you say you do. Place your testimonials and provide details of the person who writes the testimonial, and even add photos if you can. Never write gushing testimonials yourself, your customers will spot the fake a mile away.

5. Video Content

With web content, your visitors will tend to gravitate toward pictures and videos so by adding videos you improve the likelihood of retaining your visitors for longer and generating good quality leads. Google also fast-tracks ranking for websites with video content.

6. Social Media

Sites like Twitter and Facebook are now integral to a developing an effective online strategy. Twitter helps your site search engine indexing and can help to build a broader audience for your site. Facebook is being increasingly used for business marketing and can help to engage the community and generate referral sales.

7. Think about the tone of your website content

We frequently see website content that sounds like something out of Victorian times. Your content style should reflect the style of your business, if you are relaxed and professional, try to write your content in that vein, it helps your website visitors to understand your business better.

8. Check your site whenever you make changes

If your site has spelling mistakes or broken links, that will often create the impression that your business or product standards are poor. Attention to detail is the mark of a professional business.

9. Contact your customers regularly via email newsletters

Customers always prefer an active company, using e-mail newsletters can help create an ongoing dialogue with your customers. If they’ve bought your products or services, there’s a good chance they’ll want news of anything new, or changes, etc.

10. Update Content Often

Changing the content of your site not only shows that there’s a vital and active company behind the website, it also helps with your search engine indexing. Allow your web page content to become dated, and your website will slowly drop away into the search engine netherworld.

11. Make Contact Easy

I’m often surprised at how many websites don’t provide full contact details. You should make it easy by not only having a Contact page where all your details are shown, but have “call to action” phone numbers in appropriate positions on the site and contact details in the site footer. Websites that don’t have full contact details provoke a high level of suspicion.

12. SEO Optimise

Your customers need to find you, and ranking highly in Google can be difficult. Once you’ve got your site in order and updating it regularly with new content and blogs, etc. then you should think about some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) activity. Most businesses combine SEO with paid online advertising (such as Google adwords), and although older online activity such as banner ads are becoming less important in an online strategy, they can be effective if used carefully. And yes, SEO can be a DIY activity so long as you have the right information and tools at your disposal.

13. Show affiliations with credible businesses and website

If you have established links with well known or credible businesses, then talk about those links and physically link to their websites. Do not link with, or associate with, less than credible websites.

Building a credible and effective website can take a lot of work, and it’s an ongoing process. But that is precisely why you should do it, it’s often the case that your competition won’t show the same application and you can gain a significant advantage.

14. Become an active member on industry-related online forums

Posting on forums relevant to your organization can help your website’s inbound links. To do this, add your website’s URL to your username signature/profile and start posting! Because of the high activity associated with online forums, search engines rank forums well and will pick up on outbound URLs.

15. Tell your customers about your website

You should be proud of your online presence and therefore have your website’s URL printed on your letterheads, business cards, all staff member email signatures, etc.

So these 15 Essential tips for your online marketing strategy are a good place to start, but the online marketing environment changes quickly and it's good practice to keep abreast of new developments. We'll blog on this topic more in future.

 
SiteSuite Website Design - Online Marketing Blog Author Chris Sutton

Co-founder and Managing Director of SiteSuite Australasia, Australian pioneers in web design and ecommerce since 1997. For more from Chris you can follow him on Google+ or Twitter, and for further professional musings and thoughts on his other passions in life, www.chrissutton.com

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