You can use online marketing tools and techniques like social networking, emailing and blogging that do not involve a lot of direct costs. You will want to dedicate your time or your employees' time to them, but they don't need to use up a lot of money. You can choose all of these forms of e-marketing, or choose the ones most useful to and accessible for your customers.
Create a corporate blog (an online journal) and share it with the world. Through your own blog, you can reach your clients to tell them of changes in products or services, you can get their feedback and gain ideas for better ways of doing business. Again, your client should be your main focus; tell them how they are getting value for their money, but also provide something useful like your expert advice. Provide a service through your blog that naturally gets shared and attracts traffic. Note that you can create your own blog without having a website.
Midway between the size of a text message and a blog, there is the micro-blog. Micro-blogging is an increasingly popular communication and promotion channel. You can send frequent and short messages (usually less than 140 characters) on any variety of topics. You can post messages about daily sales, promotions and useful tips. You can also post a link or an opinion about your industry. The key is to remember that it is not about you. As with all forms of marketing, it is about your followers, your clients, and what's in it for them.
You can post your messages on other blogs that focus on specific topics. If you sell organic produce, use the Internet to find consumers who are interested in organic produce. You can answer people's questions, while allowing them to contact you or your business for more information.
Sending emails to clients and others who agree to receive information from you is a useful way to keep them abreast of new developments in your business, all the while reminding them of your existence. They'll appreciate that you take the time to reach out to them. Remember, people are busy and it's up to you to be proactive. Always check your inbox; most clients expect some form of response within 24 hours. Also, be sure to give your clients an option to unsubscribe from your emails if they don't want to receive them.
This involves sharing audio and video files on the Internet. You can use podcasts to promote new products, provide tutorials, share interviews, and more. Listeners can tune in when they want and how they want. As long as they have Internet access, listeners can tune in with a computer, an iPod, an MP3 Player, a BlackBerry or cell phone.
Search engine optimization
If you have an online presence, make sure people can find you. Learn how to use the right keywords, in the right places, so that interested consumers can find you on the Web. Use incoming links (get other Web sites to link to yours) in order to rank higher in search results.
General topic sites like Facebook and Twitter form the second generation of chat rooms. Other sites focus on specific topics or segments, like LinkedIn which focuses on business.
This is an electronic, online form of word-of-mouth advertising. If your message is interesting enough, it will be transmitted from one person to another, or shared through email, social networks, blogs, and so forth. Your message can be in the form of a video, an advertisement, a website, an image or information. Think of how shocking or humorous TV ads get shared online. A coffee shop once had its online ad spread like wildfire by offering one free new beverage on a given day.
Social bookmarking enables you to store, search and manage websites and pages that you visit frequently. However, unlike traditional desktop bookmarking, social bookmarking allows you to access your bookmarks from any computer, tag them, view them by popularity and share them with others.
Social bookmarking can also be used as a free marketing tool. You can submit your business website link to social bookmarking sites, where it can potentially be seen by thousands of visitors.
With online advertising, you can purchase space for your promotional messaging or banner ads. Examples of places where your ad can appear include search engine results pages, online classifieds, social networking websites and advertising networks.
Online advertising offers the advantage of speed: you can quickly publish a promotional message and receive instant feedback on the number of times your ad has been viewed and clicked depending on the purchase model you've agreed to. Common cost models for this type of advertising are Cost Per Mille (also called Cost Per Thousand), Cost Per Visitor, Cost Per View and Cost Per Click. Access to such data gives you the ability to alter your strategy, if need be, in order to effectively drive traffic in your direction.
Media-sharing sites allow users to share photo, video or audio files online at no cost. You can take advantage of media sharing sites to directly advertise your business or to drive traffic to your website. By posting a video about your services, you can potentially generate new customers as you engage with existing ones.
Podcasts should be treated like newsletters in the sense that you will need to create them consistently, whether yearly, monthly or weekly.
Wikis allow you to collaborate with others online to create and edit content using free or paid software. Wikis can be very useful in business by allowing you to develop team-based content and to maintain documents with multiple authors. Common uses of wikis include community websites, corporate intranets and knowledge management systems.
Find out more about online marketing
- Pros and cons of social media
Wondering if social networking can help your business, but unsure about how to protect your information? Learn more about the pros and cons of emerging media platforms.
- The essentials of online marketing
Online marketing should complement traditional marketing, rather than replace it. Here are some pointers to help you make the most of your online marketing efforts.
- Email marketing
Discover the advantages of marketing your business with email.
- Top 15 Most Popular Social Networking Websites
Thinking about using social networking? Find out which websites are most popular.
- Local marketing online: Reaching customers in your area
Get tips on reaching customers that are close to home.
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