3 Step Guide to Online Marketing for Start-up Businesses

3 Step Guide to Online Marketing for Start-up Businesses

If you’ve just started out in business, you’ve probably heard all about how online marketing and, in particular, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the like) can help your business to quickly grow by connecting with people either locally, nationally or even Internationally.

If this is true then the right marketing strategy would be to dive headfirst into every online and social media platform going; tweeting, posting, liking, sharing, +1’ing (if there is such a term) but this (IMHO) will quickly result in an online presence that becomes too time consuming to sustain and in fact rather repetitive for your customers.

Step 1 – Plan Ahead for Success

I’m a big believer in the old adage “fail to plan, plan to fail” and like most things in life, the same is true for all this online marketing stuff. You see the two main problems with much of the work you’re about to undertake is that a) it takes a lot of time and b) it’s difficult to measure its return on investment (ROI).

So, to prevent wasting time (and money), you must first develop a clear strategy for your online marketing and the only way to do that is to consider what you actually want to get out of it… more website visitors, more sales, more enquiries, more Likes etc… After all, if your efforts have no clear purpose how will you ever know if they’ve succeeded?

Step 1 then is not to write a post or tweet a photo but to set goals for your online marketing so that you can determine whether or not its proving successful. You’re going to invest a lot of time and effort in online marketing, especially in the beginning, so it’s important that you keep track of your goals on a regular basis.

You should quickly see which channels are helping you to meet your goals and which ones are under-achieving. Don’t waste time and money on a campaign that isn’t fruitful and don’t be afraid to try new or different things.

Step 2 – Develop a Social Media Strategy

There’s no doubt these days that social media is part and parcel of a successful online marketing strategy. Indeed, social media is now also widely accepted to influence the performance of your website on the search engines too so it’s even more important to get right.

That said, this doesn’t mean that you have to engage with people through every social media channel going every day. Trying to do this will quickly become tedious, not to mention predictable.

  1. By now you should have carefully considered your business’s target market. Be sure to focus your efforts on the social networks that best engage with that market. E.g. If your target demographic is young people of teenagers, then promoting your company on LinkedIn probably won’t work. BE sure to do your research though. Whilst Twitter may seem like a ‘network for the young’ its fastest growing demographic is reported to be the over 50’s.

Step 3 – Create and Share Innovative Content

Well chosen keywords and the ‘best’ online profile won’t help your marketing strategy if you’re not providing your visitors/follows/friends with interesting and innovative content. The internet is flooded with marketing messages; if you don’t produce stand-out content, you’ll get lost in the mix.

  • Video: Create a YouTube account and channel to promote your business through video. This is a great opportunity to create instructional content or promotional material for your business. Decide whether you want to target existing customers with guides on how to use your products, or target potential customers with a more sales-oriented approach.
  • Ebooks: Identify potential customers by producing an ebook to distribute online – free of cost – perhaps in exchange for an email address or other contact information. Not only will your ebook help spread your message (and your brand) you’ll also build up a database of people to market to in the future; a technique referred to as “funnel marketing” (hmm…an idea for another post perhaps!)

Whenever you promote your business online, be sure your posts are relevant and engaging – and not necessarily sales-centric. Monitor your marketing efforts to identify which ones are the most successful. Branch out into more innovative types of content – like video and ebooks – to capture your customers’ attention and engage them with your business.

avatar Name: James Briggs
About: James is a Digital Marketing Consultant with over 12 years of design, development, search engine optimisation and project managment experience previously fullfilling a number of senior roles for two of the South's most well established and successful digital marketing agencies before setting up WebSafe Solutions Ltd in 2009. In his own words..."I've planned, designed and developed countless websites and am proud to have helped hundreds of clients to get the very best from their digital marketing campaigns. Some would say I have an unusual blend of knowledge, skill and experience and for my sins I'm an absolute perfectionist!"
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