15 ways to promote your business online: a beginner’s guide

With over 4.2 billion internet users worldwide, promoting your business online isn’t just important—it’s a necessary step to present key information to your target audience, increase demand for your products or services, and generate leads and sales for your business

Here’s the thing though: successful online promotion isn’t as easy as sharing a few social media posts, writing a quick blog post, or simply hitting send on an email. If you truly want your online promotion to be successful, you need to cast your net further and understand the core components of your marketing strategy, such as the who, what, where, why, and how.

If you’ve ever promoted your business online with the hope of generating more traffic and leads but had little to no success, you’re not alone. Up to 66% of businesses struggle to meet these goals, leaving them asking: what am I doing wrong?

Thankfully, there’s help on the horizon, within this guide you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to market your business online and reap the incredible benefits that come with it.

Develop a strategy for success (SWOT analysis)

Before you begin actively marketing your business online, you’ll need to develop a successful online strategy. The best way to do this is by performing a SWOT analysis, which is a widely-used marketing technique for assessing four key aspects of your businessStrengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Strengths and Weaknesses” refer to the internal factors of your business, including its assets, processes, people, and anything else relating to the organization.

“Opportunities and Threats”, on the other hand, relate to external factors, such as those arising from your competition, market, and wider economy. 

To perform your SWOT analysis, brainstorm and answer the following questions:

Strengths

  • What do you do well?
  • What unique resources can you draw on?
  • What do others see as your strengths?

Weaknesses

  • What could you improve?
  • Where do you have fewer resources than others?
  • What are others likely to see as a weakness?

Opportunities

  • What opportunities are open to you?
  • What trends could you take advantage of?
  • How can you turn your strengths into opportunities?

Threats

  • What threats could harm you?
  • What is your competition doing?
  • What threats do your weaknesses expose to you?

Define your marketing goals

Have you heard the saying, “begin with an end in mind?” When it comes to promoting your business online, this quote could not be more true. The first step to any successful online marketing campaign is to know your goal; in other words, specifically what you want to achieve through your online marketing endeavors. This also helps you establish which KPIs (key performance indicators) you must track to determine if the outcome was successful or not.

A good trick is to remember your goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

To help you define your ‘SMART goal,’ answer the following questions: 

Specific

  • What is it I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important for my business?
  • Who does this involve?
  • Where will this take place?
  • Which resources are involved?

Measurable

  • How much do we want to make (i.e. amount generated from sales, profit, etc.)?
  • How many do we want to achieve (i.e. number of subscriptions, sales, visitors to the website, etc.)?
  • How will I know when these figures have been achieved?

Achievable

  • How can this goal be accomplished?
  • How realistic is this goal when considering possible constraints, such as finances, resources, etc.?

Relevant

  • Does this match our other business efforts and needs?
  • Is it a worthwhile project?
  • Is the timing right, considering the current socio-economic environment?
  • Am I (or specific people within the business/outside assistance) the right person to achieve this goal?

Time-bound 

  • When will we start and finish the promotion?
  • How long will it take to achieve our desired results?
  • What can I do today to work towards this goal? In 6 weeks? In 6 months?

Here are three common online marketing objectives that might fit your company’s goals:

#1. To present information. The first step of an online campaign it’s to inform potential customers about a product or service, including what it is, where it’s available, how it will benefit them, how much it costs, and why it’s better than other competing products. Buyers like to feel informed when they make purchasing decisions, so digital marketing is a great strategy for achieving this.

#2. To increase demand. Demand refers to a customer’s desire to purchase a product or service, particularly when they have the power to do so at an accessible price point. Promotional strategies for increasing demand include discount coupons, contests/giveaways, product samples, celebrity endorsements, and rewards programs, all of which can be advertised online. The aim is to generate buzz and excitement around a product or service, driving up customer demand.

#3. To generates leads and sales. 85% of B2B marketers say lead generation is their most important goal when promoting a product or service. A lead is any person who indicates interest in a company’s products or services, such as through submitting their personal information in exchange for an email subscription, free trial, survey, or download. Generating leads is one excellent reason for online marketing, particularly as the more leads you have, the more potential sales you could achieve for your business.

Focus on the core problem your business solves and put out lots of content and enthusiasm and ideas about how to solve that problem.

Check how your top competitors are doing

Studying your competitors prior to launching your marketing campaign can give your company a vital edge. It helps you determine any potential shortcuts to success (i.e. what’s worked well for them) while minimizing the risk of failure. Secondly, doing so can help you assess your company’s strengths and weaknesses in comparison to the competition.

When analyzing your online competitors, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are your competitors’ unique selling points (USPs)?
  • What types of products or services are selling best, and at what price points?
  • What traffic sources (i.e. direct traffic, referral URLs, search engines, campaigns) are they using to acquire customers?
  • Are they using paid advertising? If so, what websites or social media platforms do they advertise on?
  • What search queries do they currently rank for (or are trying to rank for)?
  • How are their marketing funnels structured? How are they trying to capture leads and generate sales?

Identify your target audience

If you don’t know exactly who you wish to promote your business to, then your marketing efforts won’t be as targeted as they should be, leading to disappointment and unsuccessful promotional campaigns.

Your target audience is a specific group of people most likely to buy your products or services, often sharing several characteristics (such as age, interests, etc.). The clearer you are about your target audience, the more successful you will be at understanding how and where to reach your best prospects.

Don’t just create content to get credit for being clever — create content that will be helpful, insightful, or interesting for your target audience.

To define your target audience, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my perfect customer male or female?
  • What age group do they belong to?
  • Where do they live? (i.e. in a particular city, country, or hemisphere? In rural/urban areas?)
  • What industry do they work in? What position might they hold?
  • How much do they earn? Are they low, middle, or high-income earners?
  • What level of education do they have?
  • What are their interests or hobbies?
  • What is most important to them in life? What specific goals might they have?
  • What challenges do they face?
  • What influences them to buy a product or service? What objections must they overcome first?
  • Where does my target audience spend the most time online?
  • How would my target customer use my product/service? Would they buy it for themselves or as a gift for a loved one?

Consult with a marketing strategist 

Once you’ve clearly defined your goals for marketing your business online, it will be a lot easier to consult with a digital marketing specialist to find out when, where, and how these goals can be achieved.

The role of the marketing strategist is to define the best inbound marketing strategy for your business, as well as to put together a final and detailed digital marketing plan covering aspects of the promotion, such as:

  • online channels
  • sales funnel
  • strategies
  • KPIs that will need to be measured to determine a successful outcome

A marketing strategist is the best professional to reach out to when wanting to promote your business online, as they are extremely knowledgeable about all types of paid and non-paid inbound marketing strategies. Not only do they create the most effective online marketing strategy in relation to your business’s specific goals, but they also do so while considering important factors such as budget and how to achieve the highest ROI in the shortest amount of time. Furthermore, they are able to point you in the direction of what specific experts you will need assistance from to reach these goals.

Define your marketing budget

Just as every business is different, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ figure when it comes to determining your marketing budget. Because of this, defining a budget is often considered the most difficult aspect of putting together an online marketing strategy plan however, with the appropriate assistance and expertise, it doesn’t need to be.

Remember how we discussed the importance of a marketing strategist in the previous step? When discussing your business’ goals for your online promotion, your marketing strategist will give you a clearer idea of how much you can expect to spend on these promotional methods, as well as how you should allocate your budget across different channels.

Research suggests total marketing budgets are commonly between 8 and 16% of a business’s total revenue, with the average business allocating 45% of their total marketing budget to online promotional methods.

A marketing strategist will take a number of factors into consideration to help them determine your required budget for online promotion, such as:

  • the cost to produce required content, such as blog articles, landing pages, or banners for SEM
  • the cost-per-acquisition of target keywords
  • hidden expenses such as outsourcing work to freelance experts or purchasing required software or tools

Along with enlisting the help of a marketing strategist, the other key to keeping your budget on track is to keep your campaign simple. Online promotion methods such as SEM, retargeting, and social media ads are becoming increasingly complicated, with campaigns costing thousands (or in some cases, millions) of dollars. A much more affordable form of online promotion, for example, is SEO, which largely only requires the cost of hiring an SEO expert.

Again, a marketing strategist will advise you on which promotional methods are not only the most affordable but also meet your goals and provide the best ROI in the least amount of time. 

Define the KPIs for your various channels

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) areused to measure the success of your campaigns. Here below we have listed the most common KPIs you should track across the various inbound channels.

#1. Social media advertising

  1. Number of clicks
  2. Number of likes
  3. Number of shares
  4. Number of comments
  5. Number of active (and new) followers

#2. Mobile advertising

  1. CPA (cost per acquisition)
  2. RR (Retention rate)
  3. Sales revenue
  4. Return on ad spend (ROAS)

#3. PPC/SEM

  1. CPA (cost-per-acquisition)
  2. CTR (click-through-rate)
  3. Conversion rate
  4. CPC (cost per click)

#4. SEO

  1. Number of Pageviews
  2. Keywords rankings (both, increases or decreases)
  3. Average session duration
  4. Number of natural backlinks
  5. Click-through-rate (CTR)

#5. Email marketing (retargeting/remarketing)

  1. Total clicks
  2. Click to conversion (CTC) rate
  3. Return on ad spend (ROAS)
  4. Total conversions
  5. Click-through rate (CTR)

#6. Affiliate marketing

  1. Number of new affiliates
  2. Number of new customers
  3. Average order value
  4. Average earnings per click
  5. Click traffic

Start a blog

Ensure you have a well-designed, professional website to direct potential customers to, as well as a blog filled with helpful posts to keep them sticking around.

Companies that blog receive 55% more web traffic and 67% more leads than those who don’t. Blogs provide your audience with helpful, share-worthy content and establish your business as an authority within your industry. Blogs also help increase your site’s opportunities to appear in Google search results, providing another avenue for prospective customers to find your business

Tip: Do not disable comments on your blog. By allowing blog comments you encourage people to interact with your business, which will help you build trusting and long-term relationships

Leverage the power of social media

An incredible 55% of buyers do research via social media before making a purchase, so you’ll also want to ensure your business is being promoted on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and more. Find out which platforms your target audience is most active on, then cater your promotion strategies (with the help of a social media marketing expert) to each of those.

Launch Email marketing campaigns

Email marketing still remains one of the most effective forms of online promotion, with 91% of shoppers wanting to hear from companies they do business with via this format. Emails are also the most commonly used forms of CRM (Customer Relationship Management), allowing brands to reach their audience through targeted email campaigns, regular newsletters, and other promotional methods that increase demand, such as sales and giveaways. 

Promote your business through videos

Video marketing, when done right, is considered a very effective online strategy. Videos tend to cover niche topics and contain an engaged, passionate audience. Therefore, making a good impression can go a long way in establishing your business as an authority in these fields, helping you to attract leads and convert them into customers.

Answer questions, give solutions

Sites such as Quora and Reddit allow users to answer questions from other members of the community. The aim here is that users notice your high-quality, authoritative answers and follow outbound links to your webpage, where they discover more useful content, along with your related products or services.

Another helpful Q&A platform is Help a Reporter (HARO), which matches journalists with credible expert sources across a variety of fields, including small business owners. You simply respond to a HARO request related to your niche, and if you’re quoted as a source, you’ll establish yourself as a leader within your industry and potentially get the word out about your unique products or services.

Optimize your website for SEO

In today’s increasingly digital world, your website acts as your online storefront. Almost half of the buyers will visit a company’s website before making a purchasing decision, so make sure it has a professional, eye-catching, and engaging design and is free of spelling and grammatical errors.

If you want your website to be found, get traffic, and generate leads, then all your website’s pages must be optimized for SEO. If not there are no chances for search crawlers to find, index and rank your website. Nowadays SEO is a highly technical online strategy that requires specific knowledge and skills, therefore a good idea to help you save money and time, it’s to hire a professional SEO expert whose responsibility will be to find the key keywords for which your website should rank for, and strategically implement them within your pages Meta Tags for search engines’ relevancy.

Grow your traffic with forum marketing

Promoting your business through forums, when done right, is considereda very effective online strategy. Forums tend to cover niche topics and contain an engaged, passionate audience. Therefore, making a good impression can go a long way in establishing your business as an authority in these fields, helping you to attract leads and convert them into customers.

Specifically, look for forums that have at least 1,000 members and 10,000 posts, acquire several new posts daily, and aren’t filled with spam.

Monitor and analyze your KPIs

The final step is to monitor and analyze your marketing campaign’s results, including tracking KPIs, to determine if it is successful or not. Your KPIs will depend on the type of campaign you launched, as well as the specific goals of your business. Ask yourself:

  • Did we meet our KPIs?
  • Did we achieve the specific goal(s) we wanted to?
  • What was the ROI? Is this higher, lower, or the same as we expected?
  • What did we do well?
  • What could we have done better?
  • Overall, would we deem this campaign successful or unsuccessful? Why?

Conclusion

While there are plenty of options for marketing your business online, they all have one thing in common: digital marketing is a highly-effective way to present information to your target audience, increase demand for your products or services, and generate leads and sales for your business.

When it comes to promoting your business through online campaigns, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The online promotion methods you choose should be specifically catered towards your business, including your goals, target audience persona, and budget, in order to meet your KPIs and provide an excellent ROI.

It may seem like there’s a lot involved in online marketing, but thankfully, you’re not alone. With numerous marketing experts available to help you out, as well as our in-depth and step-by-step guide to promoting your business online in 2020, you’re already well on your way to achieving success. 

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