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The fact is there is nothing in the world that can't be sold over the internet. NOTHING! From mortgages to Grandma's baked goods, there are plenty of people out there looking for your product or service. The only thing you have to concern yourself with is how to get in front of the people who are looking for what you sell.
The best thing you can do in the pursuit of higher sales through your website is to have a solid marketing plan. I know, it sounds simple. But it really isn't. Web marketing isn't like marketing the latest flavor from Coke or Pepsi. Marketing via the web is a whole different ball game and you'd be well advised to have a few things in order if you're going to be successful.
There are a number of things you could be doing to make sure your website is more visible to customers who are looking for the product or service you offer. Below are 10 steps you can take to ensure that your company shows up ahead of your competitors on internet searches.
1. Keyword Assessment
A keyword assessment is the process of gathering all of the appropriate keywords that people might use to search for your product or service. This is the MOST important thing in your web marketing program. If you miss the boat on your keyword selection, then you're behind before you even begin. You need to determine what search terms prospective customers would use to find you. Find out what search terms your competitors are marketing to for their sites. Being armed with this type of information is critical to the success of your campaign. Having a solid grasp of what keywords are being used to locate your product or service is the foundation of every web marketing program. Without them, you're just shooting in the dark.
Most importantly, make sure that the keywords you choose are relevant to what you sell. If you start marketing to keywords that don't, or only marginally, have something to do with your business, you instantly lose credibility and a valuable business opportunity. When a person enters a certain keyword, they have a specific set of expectations as to what they will find in the search results. We can deliver all the traffic and prospects you want; but if they're the wrong prospects, you lose a lot more than a sale. When we work with a client, we use only keywords that are related to your business. It yields more targeted traffic and higher quality prospects.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Once the keyword assessment has been done, the next step is to optimize your website. SEO is basically the process of making your site "search engine friendly." In general, an optimized site is more attractive to the search engines and will typically get higher search engine rankings.
Optimization requires a specific process whereby the pages are uniquely prepared to get the search engines' attention. A number of things go into a successful optimization strategy including content, keyword placement and specialized HTML coding on each page. As with anything, there are "levels" of optimization that you can do to improve your search engine rankings. Our theory has always been, "Do it right or don't do it at all." Once your site is optimized, you can expect to see higher rankings on search engines coming your way, but it doesn't happen overnight. These things take time. After all, the folks that have the search rankings that you want have been at it a while.
3. Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
This is a very effective way to drive traffic to your site immediately! You can bid on top search terms to maximize your exposure on the internet. In our opinion, a PPC campaign is close to the best money you could spend on advertising. There are many advantages to including PPC in your web marketing program. You get your name in front of people searching for the keywords that relate directly to your business. You receive high quality, targeted traffic to your web site. You set your own monthly advertising budget so you never get blindsided with an outrageous bill.
Plan to dedicate some time to your PPC campaigns. Tracking bids, ad effectiveness, average position, etc. It's not a lot of work but it is something that requires a little attention several times a week. We often handle this responsibility for our clients. It usually works out better for the client to have us manage their PPC campaigns for them. It allows the client to focus all their energy on running their business and allows us to do what we do best; driving traffic to your website. And don't be afraid to spend some money on your campaign. This type of program is one of the best methods we know of to jumpstart your journey to the top of the search rankings!
4. Compelling Web Design
Once a prospective customer comes to your site, you have about two seconds to convince them that they've come to the right place. Make sure that you have a site design that is engaging and makes them makes them want to stick around a while.
Every site we design includes clear Calls to Action. Many customers don't have time and don't want to read through an entire page of content before they find out what to do next. They want immediate, clear indicators that explain how to get what they need and a prominently placed Call to Action fulfills that need extremely well. Make sure your website gives the customer what they need to easily do business with you.
5. Mini Sites
Mini-Sites are quickly becoming one of the most efficient and effective ways for your company to get in front of the people who are buying your product or service. Mini-Sites are, essentially, very focused landing pages that lead the customer directly to your website. The difference is that, when they go to your website from a mini-site, they go there with a very specific reason because they have already seen an amazing landing page that spoke directly to their particular need. Back it up with a solid PPC campaign and you're off and running. We've achieved phenomenal results with budgets as low as $25 per month to upwards of $100,000 per year.
There are a number of benefits to using Mini-Sites:
70% of the people who shop on the internet never go back to the same place twice. Why, because they didn't like you? Possible, but not likely. They probably ordered what they needed from you, got it, and promptly forgot where it came from. They probably won't think about you again until they need to reorder. Make sure they remember you. Follow up with targeted email messages.
Email marketing is, by far, one of the most powerful and economical ways available to keep in touch with your customers. You can customize your message to specifically address your target audience. You can also expand the reach of your email through viral marketing. You can easily track the results of the campaign and gauge its effectiveness. You can tell immediately what action, if any, a prospect has taken with your email.
7. Content Writing
Gripping content is very important to the overall effectiveness of your website. As I mentioned earlier, there are people who don't want to read content. On the flipside you have the people who are driven to read every word. For those people, your content has to say something about your company that immediately engages the customer and makes them want to take action and find out more. Make sure it is the right message. And that it makes them stick around long enough to learn about your company and what you can do for them.
Not only is your content one of the primary ways that search engines determine your site's rankings, it is also the first voice that a prospective customer hears from your company. Don't forget about Calls to Action in the content either. As important as it is to include them in the design, it is equally important to include them here as well.
8. Affiliate Programs
Networking with your peers is essential. Even more importantly, it needs to be done correctly. There is a lot that goes into running a successful affiliate program. The most important thing, though, is finding the right affiliates, or publishers, to link to your site. As with other parts of your web marketing initiative, it is important to know where your target audience goes on the web. It is with these sites that we want to establish partnerships in order to get your product or service in front of the right consumer.
In addition, there will be many sites that come to you wanting to be one of your affiliates. We work with our clients to screen them all and only create alliances with those that make sense for them and their unique business goals. Obviously, the ultimate goal of any affiliate program is MORE RESULTS! When we work with affiliates, the push is always for maximum exposure and return on investment. We know our affiliates well, we work with them regularly and all they do is affiliate networking. We get our clients connected with affiliate networkers who will help them get more opportunities.
9. Web Analytics
Web analytics are stats that you can gather to shed light on the effectiveness of your web marketing campaign. Once you have implemented your web marketing campaign, it is imperative that you have a way to track the actions that customers are taking to know where your campaign is working and where you need to make adjustments. You need to know for sure that you are making contact with the customers you are looking for and that they are taking the actions you want them to take.
There are measurement resources available that will provide you with detailed information and statistics about every customer that comes to your site. Whether they came to you from an email, a search engine, an online promotion or any other source; you can track them so that you know what marketing methods are working and where you need to tweak in order to optimize the impact of your campaign. Easy to understand reports are available that show where your campaigns are doing well and where you can improve.
If you want people to be able to order products off your website, make sure that you implement a full-service shopping cart that is optimized for maximum visibility to the search engines. We see the internet as a major equalizer in the business world. On the internet, if you have a well designed, fully functional website, no one will ever know or even think to question whether you are Fortune 500 or an in-home start up.
We recommend a shopping cart that is highly visible to the search engines. It is possible to optimize every product in your cart in order to maximize your opportunity to be noticed by prospective customers. Also, design your cart with the same look and feel as the rest of your web site. It gives your company, regardless of size, the look of a major player. Template-based, right out of the box shopping carts look cheap and make you look like a small shop.
In today's world, once a person decides what they want, they want it now. More and more, people are turning to the internet to find what they want and buy it. The speed and convenience of the internet has made it so easy for people to shop right from their computers that the business person who doesn't offer the option of buying online is truly missing out on a major, major sales opportunity.
In closing, let me just reiterate that there is NOTHING that can't be sold on the internet. You just have to be sure that your name shows up when a prospect goes looking for your product or service. Having a sound, well thought out web marketing plan will go a long way toward making your website the money-making machine you want it to be.
Jon-Karl Kleitsch is a respected Internet marketing expert. He is the President of BullseyeMetrix, Inc. ( www.bullseyemetrix.com ), an industry leading web marketing firm in Arden Hills, MN. Contact Jon-Karl at 651.717.4099 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the BullseyeMetrix website for more information.
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