The Internet has radically transformed how we build and promote businesses; we have access to far more resources and far more potential than we’ve ever had before. So why is it that so many entrepreneurs end up neglecting these fruitful opportunities by forgoing marketing, or delaying it as an unnecessary expenditure?
The way I see it, there are a handful of online marketing strategies you need — as in, your startup won’t be able to thrive without them.
Criteria for “Need”
What do I mean, you “need” these strategies? After all, isn’t marketing optional? Isn’t it possible to build a business even without an online presence? Technically yes, but you’ll be missing out on enormous potential by doing so.
All the strategies I qualify as “necessary” exhibit the following traits:
· Expected. People expect you to have these things in place, and if they see you don’t see them, they may think less of your company.
· Accessible. None of these strategies is particularly hard or complicated — there may be a bit of a learning curve, but on some level, these are accessible strategies.
· Affordable. You won’t have to spend much money on any of these strategies, making them easy to pick up even for tight-budgeted startups.
· Valuable. These strategies all offer high potential returns, meaning you’ll cost yourself significant potential if you neglect them.
· Time-sensitive. The more time you invest in these strategies, the more powerful they become. The sooner you get involved, the bigger payoff you can potentially get.
It’s the combination of these factors that make your work in these areas necessary.
These are strategies I would deem “necessary:”
1. Personal branding. Successful businesses can generate a ton of momentum from successful entrepreneurs who lead them. Branding yourself, before your company, gives you the opportunity to leverage a more trustworthy, personal image to promote your brand. It gives you more power to meet and network with others, form more partnerships, and lend a face to your otherwise faceless organization. It’s also free to do, from a monetary perspective, though you will need to invest a significant amount of time.
2. Content marketing. Content marketing takes a variety of forms, and depending on how you form your strategy, could accomplish a number of different goals. For example, you could use whitepapers, eBooks, and other long-form content to attract downloads, signups, and conversions, or you could use an on-site blog to attract more inbound traffic to your site. You could even use content as a form of help and troubleshooting, or some combination of these applications. It’s incredibly versatile and useful, and your customers will expect you to have at least some valuable content in place for them.
3. Search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of making your site more visible in search engines, so you get more traffic from people searching for the products or services you offer. Much of your organic search position ranking comes from the technical structure of your site and your ongoing content development strategy, so it’s not much more of an investment if you’re already creating new content regularly — and it’s well worth that extra investment if for no other reason than to make sure your site is indexed properly.
4. Conversion optimization. Most of these strategies aim to get more people on your site, but what do those people do once they’re on your site? Conversion optimization helps you ensure you get more value out of each and every visitor by maximizing your rate of conversion. Sometimes, this means including more conversion opportunities, and other times, it means improving the ones you already have.
5. Social media marketing. Social media marketing isn’t the get-rich-quick scheme you may have been promised, but there is significant potential in building and nurturing a social media audience. Again, content will come into play heavily here, as it will likely be the factor that attracts your audience to begin with. Here, you stand to gain greater brand visibility, a greater reputation, and far more inbound traffic with your syndicated links.
6. Email marketing. Email marketing has astounding potential for ROI because it costs almost nothing to execute. Start collecting subscribers from your existing customer base, your social media followers, and other new opportunities; from there, even a simple content newsletter can help you encourage repeat traffic to your site, facilitate more engagement with your brand, and keep your brand top-of-mind with your audience.
As you may have noticed by my descriptions, there’s one other key advantage these strategies offer; they all work together. While they can be pursued individually, each of these strategies connects and feeds into the others in some way. If you pursue all of them, complementing your efforts across these multiple areas, you’ll see an even higher potential return.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!