Marketing yourself online is a must these days if you hope to compete against other companies in your sector. But this is not something you should just throw yourself into blindly, as if it’s done wrong you can do yourself more harm than good. Take time to learn about the most effective methods and which are most likely to suit the kind of company you are. If you want to be really thorough you can even get advice from an online marketing consultant.
To give you an idea of what generally works and the potential pitfalls to avoid, here are some basic dos and don’ts of online marketing:
Keep your website simple and easy to navigate. Don’t be tempted to try and incorporate flashy graphics or unnecessary content as this will distract from your central message. Visitors to a website generally want to be able to find the information they’re looking for quickly and easily without having to wait for graphics etc to load.
Communicate with customers. These days it’s important to encourage a dialogue with clients. Make sure your website has clear contact details – and it’s a good idea to have an area for visitors to leave comments and suggestion as well. And of course, Facebook and Twitter et al are perfect ways to encourage informal interaction so make sure you develop a strong social media presence.
Work on your SEO. This will allow you to rank higher in search engine results and gain you greater online visibility. If you don’t optimise your web content then it doesn’t matter how good your website is, no-one will see it. This can be a tricky area to navigate to it’s worth hiring a consultant, at least initially.
Be pushy. There’s a fine line between marketing your business successfully and ramming it down people’s throats. For example, if you’re using email marketing then be selective about which customers you send each message to. Don’t send every message to everyone on your mailing list: think about whether it will be helpful to them. When it comes to Facebook or Twitter, the idea is to share information and ideas, and communicate with clients in a laid-back way rather than aggressive advertising. If you fall foul of this rule you will quickly see your online reputation plummet.
Be long-winded. Whether you’re writing website copy, compiling marketing emails or creating a Facebook campaign, less is always more. Internet users tend to scan and don’t have time to read paragraph after paragraph of text. Learn how to get your message across quickly, simply and effectively.
Be tempted by ‘black hat’ techniques. This is an absolute no-no. Cloaking, keyword stuffing, duplicating content etc are simply not worth it, even if they seem like the quick route to establishing an online presence. They can result in severe penalties and even being banished from search engines altogether.