In the previous article What print materials do I need to start a business? we talked about what essential print items I recommend for start-ups. Today we are going to go over what online materials you will need to reach your target demographic. I’ve again broken it down to “essentials” and “advanced.”
This short list is what I recommend to start a business and appear professional. And remember if you appear professional you will more easily earn your customers trust and credibility and thereby increase sales.
Having a website is ultra important because it allows people you meet in person to find out more about your company, plus it enables you to be found by search engines, such as google. Many people do preliminary research on the web before they contact a company or make a purchase.
Tip: When considering the design of your website think about the following: Make sure it is easy for a potential customer to find what they are looking for. Is it products for sale? Information? Also think about what your end goal of your website is going to be. Is it making a shopping cart purchase or email newsletter sign-up? Also make sure you have links with all of the different ways people can contact or follow you, such as email newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, and blog RSS. For more in depth info about website design, read 7 tips for a stellar web layout.
Email newsletters can increase your sales and are one of the cheapest forms of communication to put into action. There are email clients such as Mailchimp.com and Constant Contact that offer low cost solutions. How low? If you have under 500 people on your list Mailchimp is free and Constant Contact starts at around $15 per month.
Tip: Make your branding consistant with a custom email template that matches your website and print collateral. Make sure you only email people who have opted-in to your email list. Do you want to know more about SPAM laws? Check out MailChimp.com and scroll to #11 for a great Email Spam overview.
The following tips are “advanced” because they either take more time and/or money to put into action. These suggestions allow you to go out and find your customers and not just wait for them to come to you.
Blogs are a great tool to get more traffic to your site, educate your customers, build trust and toot your own horn. Want to know more on how that is possible? Read Why your small business should have a blog. Are you not sure what to write? Visit Ten topics for your small business blog.
Tip: To keep a consistent brand make sure your blog matches the look of the rest of your online and print materials. Consistency is the key to having your customers recognize you.
Facebook fan page:
Facebook fan pages are a great way to reach your customers daily.Why do you need one? Your customers aren’t going to look at your website everyday, but they are going to be on Facebook. Check out these Facebook stats:
- Facebook has more than 350 million active users
- 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day
- Average user spends more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook
To find out more, read Why your small business should have a facebook fan page.
Tip: To further stand out from the competition you can add a custom “Welcome” tab or a special tab for a specific promotion. For a “Welcome” tab example, view the Uncommon Threads Jewelry Facebook fan page. You can set it up so new visitors are automatically directed to your custom page.
Are your potential clients on Twitter? It’s free to set up and the only thing it takes is time. Are at a lost as to what to talk about on Twitter and Facebook? Check out How to Simplify Social Media.
Tip: To keep branding consistent have a custom background with your branding. See the Uncommon Threads Jewelry Twitter page as an example.
Did you realize that people are 7-10 times more likely to view a video then to read an article or profile? Video can be used on your website, Facebook Fan page, YouTube and even in email newsletters.
A webinar is a great way to show you as an expert and will also give you the opportunity to reach new potential customers. Are you just starting out and don’t have a lot of information to share? Partner with an authority figure on the topic to give your company credibility.
Pay per Click Ads:
Pay per Click ads can be a great way to get new customers that you are not currently reaching. The most popular ads are through Google and Facebook. You can also advertise on other websites that are frequented by your customers. How research your customers to find where they shop or go for information and then email the site owner about advertising rates.
Tip: Set a daily budget on whichever you choose, so you don’t get any unwelcome surprise bills. And make sure you check your Google Analytics to see which ads are delivering the most potential customers and which ones are fulfilling your website’s goals (sign-up for email newsletter, e-book, or make a purchase).
Set up an Online Marketing Strategy for the entire year, so you can compare results from year to year. Decide ahead of time how much money and time you are going to invest in online media. Remember the marketing rule is it takes 7 times for a person to see something before they buy. Which method online makes the most sense to reach your ideal customer?