Website Or Web Strategy: Why You Need Both
Every business owner knows they need a website, but many aren't clear on the benefits of online marketing. So here's why you need an online marketing strategy.
Online Marketing 101: The Obvious Benefits
Let's just list these, as they are quite well-known:
- Most businesses have a website and most people research products and services online. A website is as vital to business as a phone line; without one, you'll look less professional;
- The same is now true of social media. Many firms find Facebook and Twitter essential. Others use LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest or Instagram — but ignoring social media leaves money on the table;
- The same is becoming true of mobile apps;
- Email marketing remains the most cost-effective form of marketing, with an average ROI of around 4,000%;
- Investing in online marketing provides 24/7, 365-day, world-wide advertising and sales. Bricks-and-mortar premises, or equivalent exposure in traditional print and broadcast media, cost far more.
The biggest benefit may be less familiar: cost-efficient "inbound marketing"... but what is that, exactly?
"Inbound" vs. "Outbound" Marketing
Traditional marketing is mostly "outbound marketing" — which many customers now distrust. By contrast, most welcome "inbound marketing". So, what's the difference?
- Outbound Marketing interrupts people to push products and services on them, often becoming loud and obnoxious. It "dumbs down" with BIG print, BIG discounts, bright colours and images of exploited women and animals. Many find it insulting and annoying;
- Inbound Marketing earns attention with interesting, quality content that customers are pleased to find. It builds trust first, so that they are listening when you offer relevant products or services.
"Outbound" tries to batter down customers' resistance — and must then overcome the distrust that creates. Many people are now "ad-blind" — our brains edit out anything that looks like an ad. So, outbound ads need to be everywhere — and that gets expensive.
"Inbound" targets those who already have an interest in your products and services. It maximises your market research, as the better you know your target audience, the more you can appeal to them. Treating people as smart individuals shows respect. Showing that you understand their interests helps them to like you. People tend to buy from those they trust and like. Because it gets the right kind of attention from the right people, inbound marketing is very cost-effective.
Inbound marketing can also demonstrate your expertise, e.g. by providing useful advice and offering more in a newsletter. Freebies make occasional offers of paid products or services seem less intrusive. People tend to return the favour by being more likely to buy (the Principle of Reciprocity). This can develop loyal customers into brand advocates, lowering your cost-per-sale and increasing your ROI.
An online marketing strategy lets you focus on inbound, "win-win" tactics across multiple channels. These include social media, search engine marketing and email marketing as well as your website. Done well, this also generates valuable feedback on your content. Regular updates and reviews reduce guesswork, helping you to focus on exactly what produces the best results.
How Do I Get Started With Inbound Marketing?
Set up social media channels and treat your website as a marketing hub for them to refer back to. "Content is King," has never been more true. Invest in creating quality content for your website. Text content is essential for SEO, but people like to see good-quality images and videos, too.
If you can produce these things to professional standards yourself, that's great. Otherwise, hire an expert. A decent article can easily take a day to complete; you want to impress your customers, so be wary of cheap services. Either way, you'll need:
- An editable website;
- A Content-Creation Calendar to plan and schedule updates;
- Market Research tools, including website stats;
- Social Media Marketing (SMM) tools;
- Email Marketing tools;
- "White Hat" SEO services;
- A Mobile App (optional at present, but becoming less so).
...and that's the stuff I can help you with.
Get in touch today to learn more about how a coherent web strategy can improve your bottom line.