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[HOW TO] Build Effective Online Presence, From Scratch

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Warning: This post contains things of multimedia character: videos, infographics, images and a lot of easy acquirable knowledge!

In this article we’re going to cover:

  1. What is an “online presence”?
  2. How to make solid platform (Website) for your audience?
  3. SEO (Search Enginge Optimization) Basics
  4. Social Media Marketing
  5. Website & Social Media Content Management
  6. Basics of Paid Advertising
  7. Tracking and Measuring

What is an “online presence”?

Online presence is collective online existence of a company or individual. One example of online presence is website, but for complete presence you need to fill all corners of internet with your brand, everything from social media and forums to website and blog.

If your business isn’t online – you are losing! You’re losing huge potential of that parallel world called internet. It’s really important to be present on social media because 50%+ time spent on the internet is spent on few most popular social media websites (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn).

Many times people on social media will talk about you, even if you don’t exist online. So don’t let them build your online reputation, grab it in your hands.

Online presence benefits:

  • Audience reach is unlimited
  • It’s cost effective, you’re gonna spend 10 times less money
  • Control, tracking, easy tweaking and improving
  • 24/7/365 up and advertising
  • Customers data collection and personalization
  • Instant transaction execution with digital payment services

It doesn’t matter if you are starting your business or if you are long time in the game, it is A MUST to have online presence.

Digital marketing is MUCH MORE COST EFFECTIVE than traditional.

  • 43% businesses claimed getting considerable savings by using online marketing methods.
  • 50%+ business owners said that they will shift their traditional marketing budget to online marketing.
  • Everyone has a smartphone and they are looking at it, not the billboard, not the flyer. People spend a lot of time with their devices, so it’s time to market there.
  • Smartphone is new television. Digital is new traditional.

NOTE: There is no need to quit traditional marketing if it works for you, but do not ignore importance of digital.

How to make solid platform (Website) for your audience?

First and foremost, you need a website. It should be the place where you’re going to acquire your potential clients or customers.
No worries! I’m going to explain you how to make one in few simple steps.

First of all: How do you benefit from the website?

  • It will be easy for you to monitor and track what your visitors are doing.
  • You will be able to collect useful data about your audience. Things like what they like about you, how they navigate website, how they referred to you etc.
  • Website is your 24/7 sales man.
  • It is easy way for audience to reach out to you.

How your website needs to look?

It depends on what your product or service is. If you have some product that main feature is visual appearance, then you need to expose high resolution images. If you have some sort of service then you place some other people’s opinions about you, some testimonials, what others say about your service. It doesn’t matter what is your business about, you need to place a good portfolio. One of the most important things is to know what is the goal of your website.

Some of the common website goals:

  • Generate more qualified leads
  • Purchases, generate more sales
  • Brand Awareness

When you have defined your goal, you have to persuade your visitors to complete your goal. It’s time for placing some strong Call to Action.

How to do that?

  1. Your website needs to be fast, needs to load fast. Especially when someone lands first time.
  2. The first thing visitor sees needs to be your simple, understandable message about your service and how you can help him.
  3. Under that short explanation, place a Call to Action button that says something like this: “Take free consultation”, “Get a ‘product’”, “Subscribe”, “Start now” etc.
  4. Keep it simple, do not place too much content on your home page. It needs to be easy to swallow.
  5. Describe your strongest skills. Be honest.
  6. Portfolio. Place a good looking portfolio (or product images). Make visitors emotionally connect with your product or service.
  7. Put some social proof like testimonials, comments, shares. Present how other customers use your product or service.

Simple steps to create a good looking website:

  1. Domain and hosting
    Domain is url address of your website. Something like this: www.google.com, www.facebook.com, www.elite4web.com. It could include business name or something like that.
    You can buy your unique domain name on www.godaddy.com.
    If it’s your personal brand then .Me is perfect for you.
    Hosting is a place on the web where your website ‘lives’. You can find good hosting on Hostgator.com, GoDaddy.com, iPage.com (Cheap one), BlueHost.com. You can buy domain and hosting from the same provider, everything will be prepared for you out of box. When hosting is bought you will get your cPanel or/and FTP login info.
  2. WordPress installation and theme setup
    Then you need to setup fresh WordPress installation. You can download WordPress here. When zip is downloaded, just extract files from WordPress folder to your hosting’s public_html folder if any.
    Here are detailed tutorials:


    HostGator Tutorial
    Under  “Appearance->themes” option you can find some free WordPress themes that you can use. Or you can go to ThemeForest and find one that you like the most. Theme setup is simple, just choose one from suggested themes and click ‘activate’, or buy/download one from theme forest, upload zip file and install. If you buy theme you will get detailed guide how to setup it and make it look better.
    Note: Choose theme that is mobile friendly/responsive (website that is visually attractive, clear, readable on every device). I recommend using some themes with landing pages.
    Take a look at some of the good landing pages:
    Unbounce
    MuckRack
    Stripe
    Digital Ocean
    WordPress landing page themes here.
  3. Import your content.
    There is a bunch of tutorials explaining how to manage a WordPress site, it’s really easy.
    Here is a tutorial:

SEO (Search Enginge Optimization) Basics

You don’t need to be SEO expert to follow some simple rules.

First and the most effective ‘tool’ is to write a blog.

Blog is the best way to make your website appear higher on search engine results. If using blog you’re gonna cover a lot of search phrases that your potential customers are typing in google. The content marketing is essential for any business, especially because of its trend in 2017. Don’t expect this to be easy, you will need to write and optimize for months, but it’s worth and it’s long term game. You’re gonna have huge benefits. A lot of people will come to your website and some of them will have desire to work with you, because of your knowledge and expertise you shared with them.

Optimize for people, not for Google. Don’t cram bunch of keywords in your descriptions and content, make it relevant and easy to understand. You have to have in mind that nowadays search engines are very clever and they’re gonna ban you if you try to do some overwhelming fake optimizations. So the best way is to write for people, include some of your keywords through out text and titles, but not too much. Your goal is to keep visitors on page, that’s what google likes.

Break content to lists, subtitles, use a lot of images, videos etc. Make it interesting, make some infographics.

Make free infographics with:
Canva infographics creator
Vizulize.me
Easel.ly
Infogram

Try to build relationships with others in your business field, so you can do some guest posting, some exchange. That will help you to build backlinks (external links). A lot of quality backlinks will rank your website high on google. Make sure that your website is optimized for mobiles, it is crucial.

Build internal links. It’s a good practise to wire up your website with internal links. Link blog post between each other and with home or about page.

Use long tail keywords.

There is a lot of competition out there, so every short search phrase like “apple”, “making money online”, “domain registration” are already grabbed by some of the big players. Still there is much space for starting businesses, but to take advantage of it you need to use some long tail keywords.

Please read this article on Long Tail Keywords.

Also this article will give you strong fundamental knowledge about keywords and content ideas.

Here are few tools you should use to improve your website in terms of SEO.

  • Yoast SEO – Easy to use plugin which can help you write better content. It’s going to insert some crucial meta tags in your sites code.
  • Google XML Sitemaps – It will generate XML map optimized for google webmaster tools (Tool that will help you properly index your website to Google). When you upload XML map, google is going to index your website. “This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines to better index your blog” it says in plugin description.
  • All In One SEO Pack – This plugin includes bunch of useful features

Social Media Marketing

The social media is one of the most powerful weapons of today. You can’t deny its strong influence on people’s everyday life. We’re addicted, we need it, we spend a lot of time staring at screens. You have to be aware and take advantage of it.

There are a lot of businesses out there that have built strong foundations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.

The most important thing within social media is to follow trends! Social network websites change their algorithm very often, so if they put in something new, they will suppress the old one feature, at that point you need to learn how to use new, not to stay on old.

Example:

When instagram started, you could share a post and it used to be shown to every follower you have, but the things have been changed, now your post won’t have that reach. Then instagram story is invented. If you use story, a lot of people is going to see your post, if it’s your first time posting a story, almost every active user will see your post, that’s about 2/3 of all your followers, which is great. Then you have Live Video feature which exploded, and there you can reach even more people because it has priority above story image. From the other side you have Facebook that won’t let you reach out even your base audience until you pay. They will exposure your post only to 15% of your followers if you shared simple image, but on facebook also, you have some new things, like videos, live videos, gifs etc. that  grabs greater exposure.

So conclusion is – you have to follow up with trends!

Some social media tips:

  • There are no rules. Every business is different, so you have to discover what works for you the best. There is no magic formula, number of shared posts daily or some kind of ultimate time span when you share. Discover your magic formula, be creative.
  • Find out when your audience is online. On every social network site you can find analytics where you can see when you get most of the likes. That’s the time you publish your the most important posts.
  • Make people comment, like, share etc. That’s called engagement, you have to engage your audience. It’s the best way to spread your brand and boost post visibility.
  • Find out what type of posts best work for you. Maybe it could be images, text, video, gifs etc. When you get the largest engagement on some of these you them for future posts, so adapt your content of some of those that have worked for you.
  • Be consistent. Don’t share once a week or next week 5 times. If you share 5 times a week then don’t reduce that number. The best tactic is to share at least once a day.
  • Reply on every comment and message from your audience. You’re gonna build relationships for the future.

Website & Social Media Content Management

Good content on website can improve your sales and relationship with visitors. Here are some rules to follow while writing copy for your website:

  1. Do a research – If you’re long time in business you probably know what your customer like and want, but if you’re not, do some research. You need know their problems and show them how you’re gonna solve it. Write about solving theirs problems, don’t write about you. Stop writing about your product features, speak about its benefits. So instead of telling “Bagless”, tell “Save money. No more bags to buy.”.
  2. Start with attention grabber or the main benefit – First sentence (headline), needs to be powerful, to grab attention, introduce your product and make customer go further.
  3. Answer questions – Your potential customers have some doubts for sure. So reveal what it could be and answer those questions. Maybe they doubt how would you treat them after they buy product, do they get support or something like that.
  4. Make it skimmable – Internet users have a really short attention span, because of the information overwhelming. Your goal is to introduce them to your service/product as fast as possible. Your sentences need to keep attention and be easily read. Use short paragraphs, bold everything that is important, use bullet points. Also use a lot relevant images. As you know our brain process images a lot faster than text.
  5. Don’t force them to buy – Inform and provide value, don’t sell. If you directly try to sell they’re gonna take defense stand. You don’t want that.
  6. Use social proof – Backup what you are saying with testimonials, with other customers stories, comments, shares etc. Write objective and show your product in use for other customers. People won’t trust you, but others that tried product.
  7. Edit, Improve, Iterate! Read your articles out loud

“DON’T MAKE ME THINK” – customers words.

Content Marketing

Content marketing in right hands could be the most effective and the biggest ROI (Return On Investment) in long term game. You can achieve it throughout a blog.

It lets you share your expertise, yours company culture and atmosphere, with your potential customers. You have to provide some free value in order to help people and build trust.
Educate your audience.

If visitors like your posts they will ask you to solve their problems or they’re gonna buy your product, that’s the time when money comes in.

Basics of Paid Advertising

I’m gonna introduce you to few types of paid marketing:

  • PPC (Pay Per Click) – As the word says itself, PPC is when you pay in exchange for an ad click.
  • CPC (Cost Per Conversion) – You get charged when visitor takes your desired action on your website.
  • CPI/CPM (Cost Per Impression) – You can pay some sum of money for ex: 1000 impressions. Think of impressions like views.

Great thing about paid advertising is that you can laser target your audience. You can place your ad in front of your ideal customers. If you have some starting capital it’s great tool to boost your business.
More about paid advertising you can find here and here.

Tracking and measuring

Digital marketing is really ahead of traditional in terms of tracking and measuring. It’s a lot easier to track online customer behavior than in real world.
Everything you put effort in, you need to track. For example if you go to gym you track your improvement. In digital marketing you track your monthly spendings and returns. You have to measure and track in order to tweak, fix, improve. If you don’t track there is a big possibility that you will be doing wrong things all the time. So track, measure, improve, iterate.

You’ll be able to see how many visitors you got on daily bases, how many of them clicked on your CTA, what are they been reading, how they navigate website, subscribers etc.
Digital marketing gives businesses direct response for their efforts. Within few days, even hours some time, you should know did you fail or you’re winning and keep doing right things.

It’s easy for testing. Try A/B testing, find out what works for your audience.

You can track number of visits, visitors flow, devices, countries etc. with Google Analytics, the most popular tool for tracking number of visitors, visitors flow, devices, countries etc.

Always be optimizing and improving.

Conclusion

Whether you’re pet keeper, artist or local business it’s important to pay attention on digital marketing in order to grow you business. Keep in mind that there is a lot of possibilities. It’s cost effective and everything is relatively easy to do – google it.

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