A successful promotional strategy on the web is critical to the ubiquity of your product. When done in a way that relates to the target audience, not only can you get your product out in the minds of people, but you will also have contributed to the betterment of the web as a whole by contributing knowledge and information.
Unfortunately, many marketeers approach things with profits and gains at the forefront, and thus, the industry as a whole gets a negative reputation for sullied and deceitful tactics.
In this article, I’ll share a 4-step process to approaching web marketing in a positive and effective manner.
- Make something of value
- Tell people about it
- Ask people to do something
There is also an honoree step 5: tracking eyeballs and conversions.
Step 1: Make something of value
Our goal is to get views, eyeballs (i.e. people looking at your stuff), and people talking about your stuff. In the process, you have to make something of value. It’s the easiest way to get eyeballs.
Make something that’s new and worthy of attention: a blog post, pretty pictures, a tweet. Make something, and then do it again, and again, and again. You can’t make too many things. The more you make, the better you will get at making. Better maker equals more eyeballs.
Maybe you are a handcrafted T-shirt maker and you might be selling your stuff on Etsy. A great way to promote your stuff is to blog about your process. How do you make your shirts? Where do you source your products from? What you do is probably of interest to other T-shirt makers and people who enjoy handcrafted t-shirts.
You could also use other media to promote your products. Create a video of how you make shirts. You could go into crafting forums and help answer craft questions. At all of these touch points, link back to your main website, or even to your Etsy store.
In this way, not only do you create more ways to show off your product, but you will have contributed knowledge and information that people will find useful.
Other things to do
- Find forums about your topics
- See if there are any “StackOverflow” clonesinyour area
- Find Twitter lists about your stuff on Listorious.
Make stuff about your stuff, and keep doing it.
A note about time: time is an integral part of any venture and it might take years for a project to get to a level that you want. It might gain traction in a couple months, but to get to your goal might take years. You must realize this process takes time and determination. Both are almost more important than whatever else you are trying to do.
Step 2: Tell people about it
You’ve made something – now what? Now it’s time to tell people you’ve made something, it’s the easiest way to get people to look. There are millions of communities and niches online, find yours and engage them in a conversation. Help answer their questions, make things they want to see.
Ask these people to look at your stuff. They will be the most helpful. They can make your stuff better.
The point to keep in mind here is this: if you make something good, people want to see it, and they’d love it if you notified them about what you’ve made. And here’s where you differentiate positive and effective web marketing and simple spamming and other deceitful tactics to get page views: if what you provide is of value, people will want to read, see, and/or hear about it.
If we continue our Etsy store idea: you might be making new blog posts, and new t-shirts every other day. You might want to establish a couple of touch points in the area of social media. A Facebook Fan Page, a Twitter account for your blog, a Myspace page. Wherever you want.
Every time you do something, send out a pointer to what you did. You are making something of value, right? People will want to know when you publish something new. You should also invest some time in networking with people in your area of interest.
What social networking is really good at is letting other people know about things you are doing. Here are some places you should keep in mind:
One meta-tool in this space is monitoring your brand. There are a couple of new ways to do this, but the simplest way to do this is using a feed reader. A prerequisite is getting a feed reader. Google Reader and Netvibes are good places to start.
- Create a Google news search page and grab the feed
- Search Twitter for your brand and grab the atom feed
Periodically search Google for your brand and see where it’s popping up. On a semi-regular basis, look at your feed reader for new mentions. Then you should respond to all mentions of your brand. People really enjoy being contacted by the people they are writing about and it’s a great way to give people a good experience with your brand.
Its not “Build it, and they will come.” its, “Build it, tell people about it, and they will come”.
Step 3: Ask people to do something
This is also referred to as a “Call to Action”. You need to ask your audience to do something. Sign up for your website, subscribe to a newsletter, buy your new CD. If you don’t ask people to do something, they won’t do anything.
Some people might feel that this is untoward, even dirty, but it’s not as long you’re truthful about your calls for action.
Let’s say that you are in a band. You want to sell more music. At shows, you might get people to sign up for a weekly newsletter. You use your newsletter to let people know about your upcoming gigs and new music releases. In each newsletter, you might want to put something at the bottom that says, “If you have enjoyed our shows, you should buy our music. Buy it now from XYZ”, where XYZ is a link to a page where you sell music such as TuneCore or Amie Street, or even your own custom store.
Any helpful tool should be easy to use and it should work within your existing process. If you are trying to create a better newsletter, check out some of the email campaign sites.
If you are looking for a quick and easy way to have people buy your stuff, check out payment processors from Google and PayPal. Both offer easy to use one-button shopping carts. Google even has an example of using a Google Doc spreadsheet to manage an entire store, with inventory and everything.
- Google Checkout
The Bottom Line
People won’t do something unless you ask them to. “Ask, and ye shall receive”.
Step 4: Repeat
Keep doing the process, over and over until you are sick of it. You might even come to feel that the process is the product, for others who are looking for a map to a goal, you might become sick of it. You can’t give up because as the movie Remember the Titans exclaims, “It’s like novocaine. Just give it time, always works. ”
Anything good and fulfilling usually takes time to build – online marketing is no different. Put the work in, and I promise you will benefit from the work.
Bonus Step: Keep track of your stats
It’s hard to work without feedback. In the beginning, the conversation may be non-existent, or as you get better, you might want to test ideas. The only scientific way to determine which is better than the other is statistics. There are only two things you need to track: how many people are looking at you and how many conversions you’re able to create.
You want to know how many people have seen it, and how many followed the call to action. This will give you all you need to test your ideas.
If you have a blog, track your visitors and track what percentage of your visitors click on a link to buy something. That is a conversion. If you are using Twitter, track how many people click a link on Twitter, and then signup for your newsletter that is a conversion.
Right now, there are two good tools for tracking visitors and conversion, there are others but these two I think are the easiest to get started with.
- Google Analytics
It might seem too simple, a little too… dreamy, but it’s true. This is a process to get better at something, besides just marketing something.
And that is the real story here: you need time to get better at anything before you can become successful. So, in some ways, this guide is a little bit like telling you that if you want to clean your dishes, use soap. Even I didn’t know I had the answers to my questions until I started this journey.