With the plethora of websites online and hundreds added each day, how are you going to separate your website from the others? When I began my first online venture I was so excited to have my website up and running and I remember thinking “wow, the toughest part is behind me”, referring to finally getting the aesthetics and functionality of the website just how I wanted them. I thought that marketing the website would be the easy part. Boy was I wrong.
My site was up and running and was designed very professionally. I had no doubt that visitors would be confident in my ability to deliver top notch services. The only problem was that I had very few visitors. I made a couple of ignorant marketing mistakes early on that cost me.
One mistake was simply not planning. I had no plan in place on how I would go about marketing the website and reaching my target market. I really had not even truly defined my target market. Sure, I thought about it a lot, but I had not written down who my target market consisted of. I find that actually writing down your goals in business and life is key to your reaching them. By writing down what you wish to accomplish you can have your plan there in front of you and it makes it easy to analyze and ask yourself if you are taking the correct steps to achieve your goals. How on earth could I have expected to successfully market the website if I had not defined my niche market and written out my course of action on how to position my business within this group? So what sort of things should you think about when planning your marketing strategy? Here’s a basic list to get you on the right track.
Basic Steps to Planning Your Marketing Strategy
1. Decide whether you are going to sell products, services or both.
2. Test the waters to ensure that there is a legitimate demand for your product and/or service. Do this by simply talking to friends and family and ask them if they would find your offerings useful. Also, make up a short questionnaire and have people fill them out. On the questionnaire include questions pertaining to the problem that you are solving with your products/services. This will give you insight into the number of people that are experiencing this problem as well. Also on this questionnaire include questions such as “What magazines/newspapers do you read?” “What type of websites do you most often view?” What we are now doing is ensuring that there is indeed a market for our products/services and at the same time gathering valuable information on how to place our products in front of them and others like them, once we bring our products/services to the market. Use your imagination and ask other insightful questions that will give you additional information into their lifestyle, shopping habits, and tastes/preferences. Now we have proof that there is a demand for our products/services and the information on how to target this market.
3. Get your website up and running and optimize it for the search engines before submitting it. Please see my article for more on this topic.
4. Take the information you gathered in step two and decide how you will place your products/services in front of your niche market.
An additional mistake was submitting my site to the search engines before it was fully optimized. It is much easier to achieve a great ranking if you optimize your site first and then submit it rather than submitting your site and then trying to pull it up to a higher ranking. So how can you optimize your website for a better ranking in the search engines? This is a topic in and of itself and entire books have been written on this subject. Below are four basic steps to get you on the right track. These four steps were taken from Obtaining a #1 Ranking in the Search Engines by Ryan Allis. I highly recommend this book and it can be found at http://www.search-engines-guide.com/.
Four Basic Steps of Page Optimization
1. Select the keywords you want to focus on.
2. Create an optimized page for each of your targeted keywords by having ample page copy, focusing on keyword prominence, and using related page names, proper meta-tags, proper title tags, proper alt-tags, heading tags, and text links.
4. Make sure there are lots of web sites linking to yours.
So before you embark on your e-business journey be sure to develop a marketing plan. This plan must be flexible as it will change as your business grows, but it is critical to the success of your business to identify how you will position your products/services to your target market; and remember – optimize your website BEFORE submitting it to the search engines.
Brandon Milford is the President of Pimil.com, a web solutions company based in Georgia, and the Marketing Director for Email Marketing Software Center, a website devoted to providing knowledge and product recommendations on permission based email marketing.