6 important ways to promote your business online

Author
Daniel Trim
Digital Marketing & Advertising Freelancer
27th November 2018

Are you doing enough digital marketing and advertising?

Some of you may think the answer is yes, some of you will know you could be doing more. It’s important to know all of the techniques to promote your business online properly, so that you’re aware of all of your options.

1) Is Your Website Good Enough?

Hopefully all of you will understand just how important your website is. However, there are still far too many people who assume that theirs is good enough without really knowing.

Design

The design of your website should be updated every few years. If this sounds too often to you, then you should know that the web advances at an alarming rate, and if you’re not refreshing the style then you will begin to look like you don’t know what you’re doing as a business owner.

If you have a shopfront, would you really wait year after year before touching up the flaking paint, cleaning the signage and windows, and fixing the squeaky door?

I very much doubt it.

This is why it is so important to keep on top of your website. It is your virtual shopfront. Just as many people will see it, if not more, so why let it become stale and dated?

In the web industry it is advised to update a website every two years. This is great if you can afford it, but if not, leaving it another year will usually be fine.

As you can see from the image above, if Ebay had kept their original design then people wouldn’t find it as easy to navigate the website and this in turn would cost them millions in revenue.

User Experience (UX)

UX is something that everyone needs to wrap their head around - at least the basics - as it is more important than most people think.

Imagine two websites, one that is easy to use, lightning fast, and finding the information you need is fairly quick. The other website takes a while to load, there’s a popup and GDPR notification covering most of the content, and it’s not obvious where you need to go to find what you’re looking for.

Which website are you most likely to return to?

Just the other day my wife tried to find a house on an estate agent’s website that she’d seen for sale. She was excited as she pulled out her phone, only to spend 20 seconds scrolling around the homepage before putting her phone down and declaring the website was useless because she couldn’t find where she needed to go. 

She now has no interest to revisit the site and has forgotten she even tried to find that house.

Never underestimate the power of User Experience.

Conversion Optimisation

Conversion Optimisation is something else that the average business owner should understand the basics of.

A conversion is when a visitor takes action in a positive way such as filling in the contact form, downloading something, or purchasing an item.

So it makes sense that you’ll want people to do these things as much as possible.

This is where Conversion Optimisation comes in.

There will be a huge number of changes that you can make to your website to exponentially increase the amount of conversions on your site.

According to Wordstream, just adding a video to landing pages will increase conversions by 86%. A landing page is where people ‘land’ - the page they see first when they visit. So it could be any number of important pages such as the home page, contact page, blog post, or more importantly a product page.

Also, according to Econsultancy, converting a visitor costs only 1% of the amount spent actually acquiring them.

Security

Blue Corona says that 84% of people will not make a purchase if they are dealing with an unsecured website.

This is whether the padlock is next to a web address or not.

Look at your website, does it have a padlock? If not, then you’ll need to speak to whoever created your website to sort this out immediately.

It’s not just to do with taking payments online either - you’ll need it to comply with GDPR regulations as well.

So talk to your freelancer or agency today about increasing the appearance, security, UX, and conversion rate on your website and see your business grow much quicker.

2) Optimising for Search Engines is Still Imperative 

SEO: Search Engine Optimisation. I’m sure most of you will be aware of what this means, but for those who don’t, imagine your website is on the 99th page of Google when someone is searching for items or services that you sell. 

Now image your website is the first result they see at the top of the first page.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out which will result in more visitors. And not by a few, but by a very large amount.

Now imagine you have the knowledge that most searchers don’t even venture past the second page of results before finding what they were looking for or giving up.

If you own a physical shop, you may think that SEO isn’t necessary, but just take in these facts for a second:

72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles.

Local searches lead 50% of mobile users to visit stores within one day.

So you can see that people are looking for places nearby, and you need to be showing up or you’ll be missing out.

It’s the same for businesses without a shopfront, you’ll need to also invest in optimising for search engines.

Now at this stage I should point out that it can be very pricey to invest in SEO. It’s worth it, it’ll always be worth it, but it can be expensive, and to top it off you’re not likely to see results until 6-12 months later.

Dan, why the hell am I going to do that then?

Well, my entrepreneurial friend, not everything worth doing is going to pay off straight away.

Advertising will, as I’ll explain later, but appearing on the first two pages of Google is still extremely important.

The way to deal with this if your budget is smaller than a nat’s special place, is to set aside an amount each month and accept that it’s for the long game. 

Are you going to quit your business in the next 12 months? No, I’m sure you’re not planning to. So see this as a worthwhile long-term investment. 

If you hire the right person or agency, they’ll supply you with a report to track progress.

If you talk to 10 professionals about SEO, they will tell you that although it may take a while, it’s always worth it in the long run.

3) Are You Social Enough?

Social media, not just for those pesky millenials with their heads constantly in their phones, communicating with grunts, and not keeping a job for longer than five minutes. 

It’s a legitimate tool that businesses can utilise to promote their business and create a fan base for free.

Choosing the right platform(s) is important as you don’t want to spread yourself too thin when posting new - sometimes different - content and keeping up with all of the comments.

As with all of the sites below, the key is to post something regularly and make use of hashtags.

Hashtags are words that you would use to describe what you’re writing about so that people can find you more easily.

As you can see, River Island have added #womensfashion and #streetstyle to describe their products, but also #imwearingri to entice people to post photos of their own clothes from River Island and see how other people are wearing them.

This is great for ‘social proof’ where people are influenced by seeing other people purchasing from the same company.

To create content for social media, try a site like canva.com where they make it easy to generate images and include templates for most social networks.

LinkedIn

If you’re B2B, selling mainly to businesses and professionals, then it would be wise to make use of LinkedIn’s dominant site for networking with those kind of people.

It is absolutely perfect for building your network of potential clients or customers, while having meaningful conversations, and even getting advice from other fellow business owners.

It’s wise to act very professionally on this social network though and not to treat it in quite the same way as you would Facebook.

Facebook

Everyone knows about Facebook, and most are already on there. But are you aware of how to use it for your business?

79% of people online use Facebook and 76% of adults use Facebook daily, so it’s worth being somewhere people always go.

Don’t use your personal profile for this though, Facebook allows you to create a ‘Page’ for your business to keep your personal life, personal.

To create your own, visit www.facebook.com/pages/creation where you will be asked to set up a Page for your business or brand, or a community or public figure. 

This is where you’ll choose the business option, and you’ll be asked to fill in a few things like the name of your business along with uploading a logo.

Chatbots - short for chat robot - are hot on Facebook right now, and allow you to talk to potential customers without actually being there to type anything.

You could be mistaken for thinking we’ve stepped into the future, being part of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, but they are fairly easy to set up and really are useful for answering any common questions people usually have about your business before allowing you to jump in for more information.

Instagram

Most users here are 18-34 and it has really exploded in popularity over the years to become a serious rival for Facebook. Not that Mark Zuckerberg would care so much because Facebook also own this, paying $1bil(!).

Seven out of ten hashtags on Instagram are branded, which shows how much effort businesses are putting in to creating content for this network.

Using the right hashtags and interacting with other people’s content, you can quickly and easily build up some great exposure, which is why it’s perfect for startups. But it’ll also work well for established companies.

Try to use your phone and download the app when creating and managing your profile though, as it’s not easy to post content on a computer. They really do want it to be a mobile experience.

Pinterest

Do you sell the most marvellous makeup or the hottest high heels, maybe you just want somewhere to store your collection of cat photos. Pinterest is the perfect place for selling to women as they make up far more of the users than men.

Food and fashion also seem to do really well here.

Make sure to select ‘Create a business account’ at the bottom for better analytics to see how your content is performing.

As with Instagram, they’re very visual platforms to promote your business, so take lots of photos and design lots of images. Again, canva.com can help here.

Twitter

There are 369 million monthly active Twitter users as of 2018 and 81% of millennials check Twitter at least once per day. So it’s not a platform to dismiss without trying.

Tweeting is the process of sending a message on Twitter, but you have to be sure about what you’re writing as you can’t edit the message like you can on other social networks, only delete and re-write.

Twitter is perfect for informing people of short pieces of information, such as a sale, or an event. Generally, information that would be useful to people who like your business, and great for sharing links to important pages of your website.

It can be used for longer messages as well, especially now that they have increased the limit, but it’s still not a place for essays.

Tweets with videos get over six times as many retweets (sharing with others) as tweets with photos. In fact, video seems to be very popular on every social platform, which brings us on to one of the more important sites...

YouTube

Video is huge.

If you’re not embracing video in your company then you’re really missing out. It’s the most desired form of digesting content because it’s far more enjoyable than reading endless amount of text or scrolling through large numbers of images.

To illustrate this, in 2016 YouTube said it had over a billion users, which is almost one-third of all people on the Internet. And according to Omnicore in 2018 around 5 billion YouTube videos are viewed on average every day.

So make sure you’re uploading videos about your business and its products or services, then ‘embedding’ them on your website to also help with SEO and UX.

Pressing the ‘Share’ button on a video will present you with these options where you can copy the web address if using WordPress, or access the embed code for other types of websites by pressing the ‘Embed’ button above.

4) Email Marketing

Email isn’t going away just yet, with a huge number of people still using it despite a dramatic increase in the popularity of Facebook Messenger for lead generation and building a list of contacts.

You can still expect a good ROI as well, constantly being one of the top performers year after year.

Three-quarters of companies agree that email offers "excellent" to "good" ROI and active email accounts are expected to hit 5.6 billion by 2019.

So again, you’re really missing out if you’re not taking advantage, and it’s easier than ever to send email campaigns even for a beginner.

MailChimp

MailChimp allow you to create and send professional looking emails.

Ease of use is one of their fortes and it’s free to use as well with a generous limit that you won’t reach for a while.

MailChimp allows you to use one of many pre-made designs, or you can build your own with a simple drag and drop option if you’re feeling more confident.

Deciding on content for your emails is likely to take longer than constructing it.

Active Campaign

If you’re more advanced in the use of the internet, or you have more time to construct a more comprehensive plan to really make the most of email, then Active Campaign is for you.

Building complex flows to channel people towards a sale is where they really excel here.

Along with the usual email newsletter blasts to inform of general company news, you can automate your sales by allowing people to sign up and navigate their way to a purchase.

Not everyone will buy from you but it gives you a great chance at convincing most people.

If you sell products online for example, you can automatically email those who abandon the checkout before paying to remind them that they didn’t finish the process, or even offer a discount to really secure the sale.

Alternatively, email them about other products for an up-sell or cross-sell once they have purchased, to increase revenue even further.

With a well thought out plan, you can almost sit back and count the sales while you concentrate on gaining more visitors through advertising.

5) Online Advertising

Digital ads are extremely effective at generating new business, in the right hands.

The trouble is, everyone thinks they can create a couple of ads and achieve great success very quickly. This is a common misconception.

You may see some results, but without more knowledge about how it works, you’ll only be scratching the surface of its true potential.

Facebook and Google both offer a way to achieve huge success, but they make it seem far easier than it actually is.

Facebook makes it seem like you can just ‘Boost’ something that you’ve posted and you’ll be quids in, while Google offers generous amounts of free money to get started.

You’ll be disappointed with both if you don’t put the effort in to learn more about them or hire a professional.

Other networks offer great advertising opportunities such as LinkedIn who charge more for a B2B audience, Instagram which can be accessed from Facebook’s Ads Manager, and YouTube which can be accessed from Google’s ad platform.

Facebook Ads

Here you can make the most of interruption marketing where you present your offerings in front of people who are more concerned about how many people Like their holiday photos than they do about buying your product or service.

Despite this, the potential is incredible - especially if you sell worldwide - as the number of people still using it is very high and Facebook places a lot of emphasis on their ads.

The real power with Facebook lies within it’s Ads Manager.

Taking advantage of the more complicated route to ad creation over boosting a post, and it will pay dividends. Especially if you take the time to learn it.

Pro tip: It becomes even more useful when placing the code of its Pixel on your website. You will then be able to target people who have visited your site with separate ads - such as discounts or special offers - to entice them in to buying.

Google Ads

Facebook may be the king of the social ads, but you will also need to show just as many to those searching on Google. Because let’s face it, it’s still a pretty popular website.

The most visited websites globally

Ads on Google are also being shown to people with a completely different type of intent. These are people actively searching for something they need, rather than merely browsing content from friends and family.

These ads are also shown before any ‘organic’ listings of websites.

So, even if you aren’t working on your SEO, you can still appear on the first page.

Pro tip: Target your competitors when creating ads on Google to show up before their website when people are searching for them.

6) Video

As previously stated, video is incredibly important to your business.

In 2016, Facebook said that 100 million hours of video content were watched on on their platform daily, and according to Search Engine People, in 2017 if you included a video in a post, it increased organic traffic from search engines by 157%.

For ecommerce, product videos can even increase purchases by 144%.

Professional

Hiring a professional is the obvious choice if your budget will stretch, as they will be able to amaze you with the results.

There are enough to choose from here in Bristol, showcasing some exceptional skills.

However, this route can be very pricey, so it’s not for everyone.

DIY

Recording a video yourself is still an option - it doesn’t have to be Oscar-worthy to perform well for you. Good lighting and a steady hand can do wonders.

Just be careful when editing the video to really go easy on the effects if you’re using an editor such as iMovie. There’s nothing worse than someone adding 15 special effects thinking they’re the next George Lucas, when in reality it just makes the video look like it came straight out of the 90s.

Practise your lines and keep trying, before you know it you’ll have something you’re proud of which will make people stay longer on your website. 

And that, is hugely important.

Daniel is a Bristol freelancer helping businesses earn more with their digital marketing and advertising. 

To learn more about these subjects in depth, along with how to create content that makes people want to give you their details, utilising influencers to access their millions of followers, and automating your lead generation process, visit www.creative-express.co.uk.

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