In my years of consulting I have worked with a wide array of web companies, from the startup to the established, and the common trait amongst them all is that they fear marketing on the web. They are afraid of spending too much money with no return, afraid they will project the wrong image, and afraid that despite all their efforts no one will find them.
It may sound silly, but when you look at the success rate of startup businesses you will realize that these fears are mostly justified. All company owners know they want to market and want to take their product or service to the masses, they just aren’t sure how best to do it. Luckily for them, the basic principles of marketing a new venture are easy and can be effectively done by anyone.
Build the Foundation First
Before looking to drive massive amounts of traffic to your website it is necessary that you build the website itself correctly; throwing up a pre-made Wordpress template will get you nowhere fast. The website’s goals must be defined, followed by proper organization of the content and user experience.
If your primary goal is to have your users sign-up or register you must concisely convey information that shows the visitor why your product or service is useful to them with clear calls to action that direct the user to a simple signup form. If your focus is on ecommerce, making it easier for the user to see, add, and purchase your items becomes the utmost priority while a blog or otherwise content-driven website would best benefit from optimized typography and readability. Your venture is unique and your website experience should reflect such.
Do Your Basic Keyword Research and Implement It
By implementing the most effective on-page SEO, search engines are able to properly list your website in their results pages and drive visitors interested in your market to you. Your first step is to read Google’s on-page SEO guide – this teaches the basics of SEO and allows you to comfortably implement a SEO strategy.
Using Google’s Keyword Research Tool, you can look up relevant keywords to your venture’s product, service, and industry. By analyzing interchangeable terms (e.g. “USB drives”, “flash drives”, and “thumb drives”), geographic keyword phrases (e.g. “USB Drives in Denver”) and the number of search queries the terms have had, you can define a series of appropriate keywords and phrases you wish to target. Then, by employing this research you can create keyword themed pages using the Title, Meta Description, Header Tags and Body Text to make those pages relevant for a term in the search engines; however, always remember that users come first and SEO second.
Learn Google Analytics
When running any online marketing campaigns it is essential to track what kind of traffic and conversions you are getting as a result. Take the time (or if you don’t have time, find someone) to properly setup Google Analytics for both your website and your marketing campaigns, then make use of UTM tags to track the ROI. Being able to say, “X campaign is working for us, but Y isn’t” is the single most valuable tool you can have when marketing; this keeps your costs down and your conversion rates up.
With your website and analytics properly setup, you’re officially ready to start driving traffic. Many ventures’ first thought is, “Let’s do social media! We can brand ourselves and go viral! We’ll be huge!” but this is the wrong approach. In most cases, you do want to implement social media into your marketing campaign, but make sure you understand the following before starting:
- You do not control your brand, your customers do.
- Social media is about engagement, not the number of followers you have.
- “Branding” is not a quantitative measurement – measure actual ROI.
Furthermore, carefully select which social media avenues are most appropriate for your venture and focus on those. Some ventures will benefit from using anything and everything in the social sphere while maintaining a quality presence in them all, but most cant. The last thing you want is an empty presence where people are asking you questions but you are not there to respond.
Find Consumers with Twitter
Due to its versatility, Twitter is a wonderful medium for nearly anyone to begin their social media endeavors. After creating an account, you can utilize Twitter Search to search for the terms related to your venture and look for people using your competitors’ products. Send these people personalized messages informing them of your product or responding to their complaints about another product and how yours may be a better alternative. It sounds a bit cut-throat, but the click-through rates will prove that it is a viable technique (remember, measure with Google Analytics!).
Approach the Blogosphere
Find authors that have done write-ups on your competitors or round-ups of some of the best tools/services in your market and then approach them with your venture. Let them know that they may want to include you in their next round-up article or do a feature; you can even sweeten the deal by offering a promotion for their website’s visitors – make it valuable for them to mention you.
Let the Press Know
Services such as PR Web and PR NewsWire are wonderful, inexpensive ways to broadcast your press releases to thousands of quality news sites. If you aren’t comfortable with writing an effective press release, it may be best to hire someone since this is your big potential step into the limelight. Even if your release doesn’t get picked up by many journalists, a few quality articles that mention your product or service could be all it takes to start a fast-growing word-of-mouth campaign.
As you can see in the aforementioned methods, you can effectively market your new venture without spending a great deal of time or money and it requires little to no expertise in marketing. The tools are widely available on the web for getting your marketing campaign off the ground; it’s simply a matter of using them properly. I hope this article has helped you and most of all, good luck!