From http://www.dsbn.com.au/articles/e_business/art_eb_GeneratingSalesOnline.asp

Many businesses overlook the importance of marketing themselves online. Content with simply having a website, they sit back and assume new business will just roll in. Not so. You are now competing with millions of other businesses – all vying for the same customer. But with the right marketing strategies you can dramatically boost sales. 

Take the case of AA Minerals Specimens. After revamping its website the business recorded more than a doubling in sales. How did they do it? By adopting a few of the following basic strategies.

Keyword search

More than 70% of web activities start with a search engine. Where your business ranks on a search engine is important.

How often do you look at the second page of a search?

To be ‘search-engine friendly’ you must first identify words and phrases commonly used in a search for your product. Workshop this in your business and ask customers and peers. Then test the popularity of your choices using online tools.

Next, consider the placement of content. The way the keywords and phrases are used on a page is important to maximise your objective for the each page. High ranking businesses understand this is an ongoing process and continuously monitor the keywords for their market. Consider employing a specialist web writer for your site as this will assist your site to receive maximum exposure.

Customer lists

Build a customer list for use in marketing campaigns. A common method is Opt-in marketing, where customers are offered an incentive to register at your site. Again, it must be written to take advantage of search engines. Maintain high standards of quality as your objective is to keep customers on the list.

Content is king

Relevant and valuable information will attract customers to your site. The information could be via blogs, forums and/or articles. Allow customers to log in and add to your site.

Leveraging relationships

Leverage your business relationships and encourage others to link to your site, as this broadens your visibility and helps with search engines.

Motivate businesses to push your website

Affiliate marketing programs motivate other businesses to provide links to your website. They are then paid a commission if a sale occurs. For many internet businesses this is their sole source of income, so it is in their interest to drive business to you.

Really Simple Syndication (RSS)

Is a method of sharing and broadcasting content. Other methods rely on the customers coming to your site. If customers register for a RSS feed the information is fed automatically to them. It is likely they will read this first before searching for other information.

Paid advertising

What can you do to accelerate your site’s visibility? Web advertising through search engines is based on keyword clicks and the price is determined by competition for a keyword. Large businesses can pay a higher price for a keyword, which can make the cost prohibitive for SMEs.

Website design

Customers must be able to quickly find what they are after. Pages must be simple and relevant. If you are offering multiple products and services, consider separate landing pages for different topics and ensure your site is responsive. People will not wait 20-30 seconds for it to load. They’ll just go elsewhere.

Alternatives

Don’t underestimate the power and reach of traditional media. Coverage of your business in the media is invaluable.

Making money

Once your site has a high customer access and/or a large targeted customer database, you can seek other sources of revenue. These include advertisements on your site or newsletter or – for ecommerce sites – adding vendors who will manage the products while you take a commission. There are other options available to business but this is a good start for SMEs.

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