Both online-only businesses and traditional businesses rely on the Internet for leads and sales. Unfortunately, there are not many guides for the online marketing strategies that work, and the ones that end up wasting money.
Following are five keys to a successful online strategy:
One: Set goals. A website can do many things: provide information, generate sales, generate leads, and collect information for follow up. The goal determines the look, feel, and navigation strategy of the website. For instance, if your goal is to generate leads, then the website should focus on collecting contact information from visitors in exchange for some sort of value-laden, free offer. If you goal is to generate sales, then your site needs to focus on a navigation scheme that compels the visitor to add products to your shopping cart. The business owner needs a clear objective in mind for the website.
Two: Improve conversion. Too many business people start by driving traffic to their website. This is a mistake, because it is no good to have millions of visitors to your site if nobody buys or becomes a lead. It is much smarter to hone your site so that it has a high conversion rate. Once you do that, you will know how much you can pay to attract someone to your website and can focus on attracting profitable traffic. To increase conversion, test and improve your pricing, offers, navigation structure, featured products, promotional offers, copy, and the options on your site for building community and “stickiness.”
Three: Drive traffic to your site. There are many ways to drive traffic to your site once you are confident that you have a website that converts, including: natural search engine optimization, key word placement and density, triangular link exchanges, article and press release submissions, pay-per-click advertising, affiliate programs, and participation in blogs and forums as an expert.
Four: Follow up. If you can collect information about your visitors, like an email address, you can follow up with people in ways that demonstrate your credibility and value. Free email newsletters, email courses, and ongoing tips all provide valuable information to prospects and drive them back to your website.
Five: Metrics. A successful website has its own set of metrics. Everyone with a website needs to set goals for and track key numbers, such as: cost per visitor, cost per order, conversion rate, traffic trends, page views per visit, most likely exit page, most likely entry page, largest referrers, and time spent on each page.
There are simply too many web pages out there and too few portals by which consumers and businesses come to learn about your website. To get noticed and enjoy the wonderful profit potential of the Internet, you absolutely need to understand and implement a systematic web marketing strategy.