If You Build It, Will They Come?

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

If You Build It, Will They Come?It's important for small business owners to understand that while website design does play it's part in the eCommerce process, there is more to this puzzle. Building a successful online presence will require utilizing a combination of online marketing channels. I recommend search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, email marketing, and social media marketing.

If You Build It, Will They Come?

Against popular belief and one 1989 film staring Kevin Costner, simply building "It" will not be enough. The "It" that I refer to is a website, and the "They" is website traffic. Getting website visitors to first arrive on one's website and then take action is not an easy feat, and surely not one that can be solved simply by creating a website. It's important for small business owners to understand that while website design does play it's part in the eCommerce process, there is more to this puzzle.

Building a successful online presence will require utilizing a combination of online marketing channels. Personally, I recommend search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, email marketing, and social media marketing as methods for driving traffic to a website. These channels, when used properly, can generate mass amounts of website traffic and thereby help small businesses to be successful.

How do these marketing channels work exactly? Allow me to explain.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO as it is commonly referred to as, is the process of getting one’s website to rank organically in the search engines for relevant keyword phrases.

Why is ranking important?: When a business’ potential customers search on Google or Yahoo! for products and services it provides, showing at or near the top of a search engine will likely lead to an increase in website exposure, traffic, and more importantly sales.

How does SEO work?: Using a combination of on and off-page tactics, SEO marketers focus on 3 key factors: 1) getting search engine crawlers to first locate their website, 2) getting search engines to index their website, and 3) getting search engines to rank their website for a very specific set of keywords.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Pay Per Click, also known as PPC, is the process of creating textual listings (ads) and getting them to appear in the search engines for relevant keyword phrases.

Why is ranking important?: For exactly the same reasons as SEO, online businesses can drive targeted exposure, traffic, and revenue to their websites by simply appearing in major search engines for keywords most likely to be used by their customers.

How does PPC work?: Pay Per Click is setup very similar to traditional advertising models in that website owners must pay for the privilege of having their ad listings appear in the search engines. Costs and positioning are determined by a series of auction-style bidding parameters, as well as several uncontrollable factors. An advertiser’s primary focus is to create targeted messaging, manage multiple keyword buys, and maintain bids and costs according to one’s own budget.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing is the process of sending targeted email messaging to a group of pre-qualified individuals.

Why is Email Marketing effective?: Email Marketing works because businesses are given permission from their customers and other industry followers to engage them with relevant and timely information via email, such as product updates and sales promotions. Sending targeted emails to targeted groups of buyers and followers will likely lead to an increase in additional website revenue.

How does Email Marketing work?: While using a combination of strategies and tools, email marketers have 2 primary tasks at hand: 1) creating and maintaining a subscription list of qualified subscribers, and 2) creating and sending highly relevant and visually pleasing email campaigns to subscribers.

Social Media Marketing (SMM)

Social Media Marketing, a slightly new and different animal altogether, is the process of using social media platforms to engage both new and current customers.

Why is SMM effective?: Social Marketing is based on the same key principle that makes Email Marketing so effective by having permission to engage customers directly. Being able to connect directly with targeted groups of buyers and industry followers for free has the potential to drive traffic and sales to your website.

How does SMM work?: Social marketers traditionally begin their efforts by first deciding which social media platform to use - Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc. Once this has been established, social marketers will proceed with building and maintaining a community of friends and followers and then creating and publishing targeted messaging unique to each platform.

Moving forward, and to recap my original thought, simply having a website isn’t enough to exceed online. Small business owners need to be aware of this fact, and be willing to invest both time and money into some form of online marketing.

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