There’s no cookie-cutter approach everyone can follow to meet all the demands of using social media, online directories, paid advertising, and other tools. But there is a common series of considerations all businesses should address.
In this guest post, Matthew Harris outlines eight practical strategies that will help increase your online presence and authority.
Matthew’s tips mirror my own marketing strategy, and are as relevant today as they were in 2014, when we first published this article.
1. Identify Your Brand
It’s important to figure out what your company’s brand is, since this will influence almost all its actions. To do that, three questions need to be answered:
- What’s your mission?
- What are your business’s core values?
- What differentiates you from similar companies?
Answering these questions will summarize who you are, what you’re trying to do, and what sets you apart. Be sure to decide on a logo, a tagline, and a page (on your website) that describes your business in greater detail.
2. Give Your Website a Strong Foundation
Your website is a piece of real estate. It should have a unique URL (ex: www.companyname.com), so it stands tall on its own.
Don’t use subdomains or Tumblr-esque websites, where your URL is part of another site (ie, www.blogsite.com/yourcompanyname).Your website should exist as the center of your online activities, with all other channels leading back to it to bring you more leads.
3. Publish and Evolve Your Content
Include specific content that speaks to your audiences and their areas of interest. If you offer specialized services or products, make sure they’re clearly showcased.
It’s best to use well-named landing pages for specific services, products and topic areas, as this will make it easier for people to find your site via searches on Google or other search engines.
Good content begets good search results. If you’re regularly uploading new content, be sure to have a reliable Content Management System (CMS) that makes it easy to publish new work and edit existing posts and pages. The CMS we recommend is WordPress.org, due to its ease of use and flexibility.
4. Include a Strong Call-to-Action
This is an important, yet often overlooked piece of a website. Define the most appropriate action(s) you’d like your online visitors to take, and make it easy for them to do so.
Some proven calls to action are:
- Download your free [insert name of freebie] now
- Subscribe to our e-newsletter
- Contact us by phone or visit our shop
- Post a comment or review
- Complete a ‘request a quote’ form
- Share our articles with your network
5. Stake Your Claim in Directories
Once your website is up and running, claim your space on online directory sites. These listings are pages that people will find while looking for services like yours, and often include reviews posted by other customers.
6. Get Social
Strategic involvement in social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram, can be an effective way to grow your online presence.
Find out which one or two channels your target audience uses the most and focus on those so you don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s key to connect and interact with your audience, not just broadcast to them. Some considerations when implementing a social media plan are:
What’s your goal?
How will your social media actions relate back to your company’s mission?
- Do you want better-informed customers?
- Campaigns or contests?
- To show a unique side of your business?
- Answer questions?
Design your strategy around whichever goal serves your business best.
How will you budget for it?
Good social media management needs care, commitment, and time to grow. Make sure social media savvy people are actively working on your accounts so your presence grows and continually attracts more visitors.
Find and follow…
…important industry leaders, publishers, and innovators (and even competitors!) in social media and other online platforms. Keep track of the conversation so you’re not left behind, join in through blog comments and social media, and slowly establish yourself as a fellow industry leader.
7. Interact and Communicate
Find ways to make your audience part of the conversation, such as:
- Ask for feedback on a topic, and use it for writing one or several blog posts
- Hold a Google+ hangout (or Periscope or Blab or Facebook Live) to bring people into an actual conversation and start building relationships
- Ask questions and listen to their answers
- Hold a contest or giveaway
8. Track Progress and Modify Strategies
A major advantage of online marketing is the ease of tracking effectiveness of different strategies. You can then adapt and focus on the strategies that bring in the most visitors and leads.
Google Analytics is the most commonly used analytics tool as it’s free, easy to set up, use and gives data on many measures including who’s visiting your website, which pages they go to, how long they’re spending, etc.
By following these steps for your online marketing strategy, you’ll be on the path to creating a well-integrated, effective, ongoing process that works for your business.
Plan your social strategy
Put what you’re learning into practice! Download Blogging Bistro’s free 9-page action plan.
Matthew Harris is founder and president of Medium Well Inc. He has been designing and building websites since 1995, and has grown Medium Well into a full-service online marketing provider.
Matt is on the Board of Directors of Search Engine Marketing New England (SEMNE), and is a partner at SMS, Social Media Sync in New Haven, CT.
He has traveled extensively throughout North and South America and settled in Connecticut because of the NYC and New England business culture.