Startups, SMEs and not-for-profits alike, when you are starting out or trying to gradually move online, you must be smart about your marketing. This is even more true if the business is going through hard time, growth or has limited financial and human resources.
If you have decided to have a try and do it yourself, a few tools will make your life easier. Of course things take time and there are no secret recipe, however online marketing is also not “rocket science”.
You must always keep in mind your ultimate aim which is to bring customers in, reinforce your brand and make your business run better. This is regardless of your tools of choice.
Online marketing needs online strategy
Remember that each businesses will have their very own strategy which will utilise various tools or channels differently. For the purpose of this article we have picked the following common tools to support your online strategy. It’s up to you to decide what you use them for.
- Search engine optimisation (SEO) to promote a degree of organic growth for your site
- Social marketing to reinforce your brand and marketing message
- Feedback gathering to validate your efforts or better communicate with your users
In order for your to get started however, you must think of your very own strategy. A number of online initiatives for you to look into. Who are you trying to talk to, when and also how.
Your goal might be to drive people to your site to generate online sales. Or perhaps to build a large follower base on a given social network. You might also be thinking about building traffic which may later be turned into revenue from product or subscription sales or even advertising.
From a social networks point of view, you must leverage a few sites since you would be wasting your time trying to tackle them all. There are too many. Your choice should be educated since each attracts a different demographic. In 2012 a pingdom.com survey reported that 79% of LinkedIn users were on average 44.2 years old and 79% of Pinterest users were females.
Tools to do your web marketing (via SEO!)
Find your keywords
This Google tool helps finding new and validating existing keywords for your site.
Essential websites tools
Before starting with SEO, make sure you have setup or have access to your site analitics. Google’s webmaster tools is also a treasure chest when it comes to understanding what google knows of your site.
Surely you’ve heard about the importance of SEO which is using methods and techniques to help you be found on search engines. Here keywords are important and need to be considered carefully.
For this, Google’s keyword tool will help choosing or validating your existing keywords. Always keep in mind what your potential visitors would search for and when possible try and find niche areas to focus on. If time allows also, you might want to consider different keywords or variations of for different pages you have.
Finally, once your content is built around and leveraging your keywords and you get more serious on the SEO topic, note that Google’s Webmaster tools will tell you how each of your keywords is significant (or not) based on content. This is available at webmaster tools -> Optimization -> Content Keywords.
Fine tuning your website
Marketing your website via SEO for organic search is not something to “set and forget”. Keywords and content can constantly updated and optimised. A few tools like Grader and woorank will give you a sense of how well you are doing. Don’t consider them as the ultimate guidelines, but if they flag issues, these are worth addressing.
Tools to do your social marketing
Marketing your business on social networks can help drive traffic to your site (particularly if promoting your own content, like blog). But once you have chosen which network to leverage, managing updates and posts can be a time consuming process. Don’t be tempted to just open an account on all social networks and leave them idle.
Once you’re all set up, start posting more or less regularly. Many tools will help managing your time and schedule updates ahead of time. Buffer and HooteSuite will connect your social accounts and post on your behalf when you set them too. Buffer (free) is limited to posting to Fb, Twitter and LinkedIn, but have a paid version also. They also help to analyse your success rate, allowing you to celebrate your successes, but also learn from your mistakes!
To complete the social marketing loop, make sure you allow your website visitors to easily share articles from your website with their network as well. Many 3rd party sites will help with this. A quick search will return a few for you, sharethis.com likely to be one of them. Many are free and it’s worth noting that some are advertising driven, however all work the same way where a wizard will spit out a piece of (html) code for you to put on your site, and of you go.
Tools to do your email marketing
Email marketing is useful to reach your audience more directly. With the ability to personalise and target each individuals better, they are great for increasing engagement as well as building relationships with your audience. Two challenges rapidly emerge however. First you must acquire or build a list of recipients. Then you must produce a regular, value-add email messages to be sent.
First things first, in order to collect email addresses and send your newsletter, EDMs, press releases or anything else via email, you need an email marketing delivery platform, such as cloud-based MailChimp or Campaign Monitor, or self-hosted Sendy. Each is a great tool to get you started.
Basic concepts of bulk email distribution
You must understand the core concepts of email distribution. A list manages who is receiving your communications. Each list has attributes or fields which allow capturing additional information with each email address, think of first name, last name, company, source, gender, etc. A campaign is a one-off effort or a mailout to a specific list. A segment allows sending a campaign to a subset of your list based on a condition, for instance every male.
Importing a list of recipients in MailChimp
Then once you have created a new list, you can import existing recipients and also add a signup form to your website, or even on Facebook. Mailchimp has a useful self-service support section to get you started.
Importing a list into Mailchimp will require that you have a spreadsheet ready. You can Save as the document into a .csv format, or comma separated values.
- locate your list and click import
- select your .csv document and click next
- match each column of your spreadsheet to a field in your list, or discard the column
- click import and watch! You should then be able to see your newly imported contacts
The import process can also be repeated with new or updated data. In other words, if you have an existing list which you want add to, you can follow this process to and new records will be created.
Sending your first campaign, and the others to come
With your list is ready to go, you can prepare and send campaigns every day, week, month or else. The process is relatively simple and requires creating a new campaign for a chosen list, writing the content of the mailout, test and send. Once you get more comfortable with this process, you will be able to send campaign to a segment of your list, allowing you to tailor the content to each group.
With regards to marketing, make sure what you are sending is reinforcing your strategy. Each email should have link to your social networks, website and products, and leverage the personality or approach you have elected to follow.
Daunting at first, technologies have really only become a new channel for your marketing. An always more powerful channel that is. Each tool introduced here and others tend to be more and more designed for those who are not so “tech savvy”. So with a bit of reading and some trial and error you should be able to access most features of these online products.
Until your ascension to the guru level, don’t hesitate to comment below or contact us if you have any question.