As an entrepreneur, business owner, or marketer, it’s up to you to create the opportunities that build your business online. That’s not an easy task, especially when you have only yourself and your determination to drive you toward your goal.
If you want to build your business online in the digital age, you need to embrace ingenuity, hard work, and consistency.
The hardest part? Where to start.
If you’re responsible for the success of your business online, but are not an online marketer, you may be overwhelmed by sheer vastness of digital marketing. How do you determine the best marketing tactic?
It’s easy to spend time and resources on ineffective strategies if you’re inexperienced, particularly with all the new technologies available to you.
Our guide, Build Your Business Online in 5 Weeks, is designed to give you the means to jumpstart your business brand with the knowledge and tools required to compete in your sphere.
The guide is a total of 7 articles, written for you, the entrepreneur, business owner, or marketer who needs guidance when it comes to online success.
Each article in our series is focused on the key pieces of any successful business strategy and how you can get started on your own.
Below is a summary of each article in the series. One article will be published each week, in order as they appear below. Check out the quick summaries to get an overview of the series.
Ready to start generating leads and sales for your business in a little over a month? Let’s go!
Part 1 | Business Basics
You can’t be an expert until you’ve mastered the fundamentals, the first of which is to understand your business. Understanding your business brand is pivotal to building it. After all, you can’t persuade potential customers to agree you’re the best unless you know what separates you from everyone else online.
To get started, focus on the basics of your business. Brainstorm answers to the following questions about the basics of your business: Have you defined the services that you offer? Their costs, how long they take to complete and what guarantees you include? Every customer wants to know what they’re signing up for – the better you explain your business, the happier your customers will be.
But there’s more to your business than what you do, you can’t forget the essentials of what it means to be an entrepreneur:
- Your brand, both offline and online
- Your audience
- Your tools
These are the building blocks that act as the foundation for your business in everything you do.
Part 2 | Fast, Free Ways to Get Your Business Online
Once your business brand is defined, let’s start to build your business online. Modern customers always start their hunt with a smartphone or computer. Fortunately, it’s easy to start building your brand online, even if you’re not tech savvy.
Start with Free Social Media Platforms
Establishing your brand on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the dozens of other possible platforms is both simple and quick. It hardly takes more than a few clicks! These platforms give you a direct line of communication with customers, both new and old.
Each social media platform offers its own unique style of content. While Twitter lets you share quick messages and communicate directly with your followers, Instagram is all about photos and videos. Both platforms are fantastic ways to display the quality of your work to potential customers scouting your business. Facebook, being the most popular social media platform online today, is a mix of everything with immense potential to build an interested audience.
Online Business Directories Help You Get Found
Phonebooks have gone the way of the dinosaurs – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t directories being used to find businesses like yours. Online directories are all over the Internet – and they’re almost exactly like you remember them from the Yellow Pages.
Find these directories and fill out your information to get found:
- Your business name
- Your phone number
- Your e-mail address
- Your location
In addition to the contact details that will help customers find you, online directories help you share your website, social media pages and more. The interconnectivity of your online presence is crucial to attracting new business.
Build Your Link Network
The Internet is a lot like a series of islands. Without bridges to connect them, they would be impossible to visit or even find. Business directories, social media sites, and other web pages in your professional niche all help you do one important thing: link building. Links help build bridges to your website so that people can find you.
More importantly, links let search engines like Google know that you’re authoritative. Search engines want to return the best results. Among the many criteria they use to judge which webpage is an authority on a subject is by identifying how many links go to it. If hundreds of other websites and people refer to your site, it must have something good to say.
Building links is something you can’t ignore if you want to build your business online. Start with free online directories, claim your business and link back to your website. From there, find other opportunities to earn links to your site. If your business is mentioned by your local Chamber of Commerce, other businesses in your city or other websites in your niche, ask for a link!
Part 3 | Social Media Basics
Are you already active on social media? If not, you’re missing out on a massive amount of exposure to your community! More importantly, it can be used with little or no investment. Almost 80 percent of adults with Internet access use Facebook, and 86 percent of Americans have internet access. That is a huge audience – one to which you should connect.
You don’t need to use every social platform, but use any that make sense for you. There are plenty to choose from; look at what your business offers, and which platform can do the most good for you:
Facebook – The most popular platform, with support for all types of content such as video, pictures, text and more. Every business should be on Facebook.
YouTube – If you’ve recorded professional videos, you should be on YouTube. The home for online video, YouTube has upwards of four billion videos viewed every day.
LinkedIn – Designed as a social media platform for business professionals, LinkedIn is an incredible way to promote your business and contact old clients or even find new ones.
What you post is up to you, but the key is to stay engaging. Social media is for being social – entertain your audience and you’ll quickly build new followers. Talk with them – respond to both positive and negative feedback. Use the platform to build conversations and you’ll establish a trust that turns into sales.
No matter what you do, the key to social media is consistency. There’s no magic number for how frequently to post, but it’s important to avoid the extremes: content droughts and spam. If you have something worth saying, post it!
Identifying success on social media can be difficult. Don’t get caught up in how many followers you have. Focus on making genuine connections to your customers and you’ll see your audience grow naturally.
Part 4 | Little to No-Cost Websites that Anyone Can Set Up
You can build a website, even if you don’t think you can. New website builders make creating your business website as simple as dragging-and-dropping. If you can click a mouse and type on your keyboard, you can have a professional-looking website today.
These website builders offer you dozens or hundreds of templates, designed by professionals, that you can edit with your business information. Add your logo, map location and even products you sell without any coding experience required.
Like social media platforms, there are several options in website builders. The one that you choose depends on your level of proficiency and what features are important to you. Here are some of the most common services used by entrepreneurs like yourself:
Wix – As the most popular website builder available today, Wix caters to even beginners, allowing you to create a professional and functional website easily.
Weebly – If you’re planning to sell online, Weebly is a great platform that has eCommerce features built-in.
Squarespace – Another popular website builder, Squarespace is known for its high-quality templates and in-depth style options. If you’re a little more tech-savvy, you may enjoy the extra range of customizability that comes with a Squarespace site.
These are just a few of the dozens of builders that thousands use every day to establish their business online. The best part is that most of them are free to use – the only costs are for hosting and premium features!
The biggest mistake you can make with a website is simply not having one. It’s risk-free to get started with these no-cost website builders, so jump in and see how easy it is to create your own site!
Part 5 | Online Advertising on Google, Facebook, & Other Sites
You’ve built your website. You’ve created your social media accounts. You’ve listed yourself on local business directories and other websites. Now that you’ve firmly marked your digital territory, you can start using digital advertising tools to find more business leads.
Paid digital advertising is one of the most beneficial tools available to small business owners today. Unlike radio spots and local newspaper ads, you can target your ads exclusively to those that matter most to you. Instead of spending hundreds to shout into the crowds, you can spend a fraction of that cost on only the audience most likely to want your services.
Don’t get overwhelmed with the countless options available for digital advertising. The most powerful tools are also some of the easiest. Here are some of the best ways to get started:
Search Engine Ads – Also referred to as PPC or pay-per-click ads. These ads let you deliver messaging to users that search for specific terms relevant to your business. The best part for you is that you only pay when your ad is clicked. With proper targeting and clear messaging, you can generate a lot of business for minimal costs.
Social Advertising – While Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn are free to use, you can spend money to boost your content’s reach and capture new audiences. This lets you show up in user’s feeds on their favorite social media platform. Like PPC ads, these ads have a low entry-cost and only charge you when they’re clicked.
Paid Business Directories – Business directories like Yelp and Angie’s List let you spend money to highlight your business in their listings. These can help you get noticed when customers are trying to find the best of the best.
The types of ads you use are dependent on what you can create and the platform you use. For instance, if you have professional videos, you can use them to create video ads on YouTube. If you don’t fancy yourself a designer, you can use PPC ads on Google or Bing to create text-only advertisements that direct users to your website.
There are options for users with all types of proficiency. The biggest mistake you can make is not taking advantage of them. With just a few hours and a small budget, you can reach hundreds in your city alone.
Advanced Class | Digital Marketing for Serious Entrepreneurs
The above tips are just a starting point for a business owner like yourself. While you can make great strides for your business with just those tips, you can also go deeper to separate yourself from your competitors.
Creating a Custom Website
Free website builders are incredible for establishing an online presence. But your brand is unique, and a template-based website won’t highlight the qualities that make your business great. Web-design agencies can design a website unlike any template available. These custom websites can be made to your exact specifications and needs. Not only will it make your brand memorable, it helps you better serve your customers by creating an experience perfectly suited for them to interact with your business.
Use Photography That Reflects Your Business
Stock photos are like website templates. They can help you in a pinch. They look professional. But they’re also terrible for representing the unique quality of your business and brand. Investing in professional photography can go a long way to helping your customers feel more connected to you and your brand. Photos that show you in your community doing what you do best will always resonate more than generic stock photos.
Advanced Digital Marketing Efforts
PPC and social marketing are the best starting place to promote your business. But they’re far from the only way you can build leads and generate traffic to your website. When your campaigns are in full swing, you can start adding these advanced efforts to your marketing plan:
Content & Inbound Marketing – Generating interest in your business can be done without offers and promotions. Create content like blogs, podcasts or videos that offer valuable information to your customers. Not only does this highlight your expertise in your industry, it also creates content that will increase the volume of traffic coming to your website or social media profile.
Search Engine Optimization – If someone in your area searches for providers for a service that you offer, you want to show up in the search results. The best way to do this is through search engine optimization, or SEO. Quality SEO work is done by improving the content on your website and focusing on keywords that match what users are looking for. SEO is a very deep process, which constantly changes over time and impacts your business in the long-term, not the short-term.
Marketing Automation – Splitting your time between managing your business and managing your marketing can devour your time. Marketing automation helps you streamline your processes by connecting your marketing plan into one overarching system. It accelerates and simplifies your marketing plan while helping you convert leads into sales.
Where to Start
Here’s a quick video from Artonic’s marketing manager on where to start with digital marketing. Enjoy!
Give Artonic a call or email us if you’re interested in website design, development, or marketing.