People and companies have websites for different reasons. Some want to make direct sales, some want to generate leads, some want to just have an online presence to give them legitimacy.
I for instance use http://www.sawebsitedesigner.co.za/ primarily as an education tool for clients like you and for prospective clients to educate them in the services that I offer and for their new website. Thus I do not apply any of the online marketing systems below on this particular site. For marketing purposes I use http://www.primewebdesign.co.za/.
If you want to make a living and generate business from your website then this page is for you.
If you just want a website as reference for your clients or as a way to at least “have an online presence” then you need not worry about the information below.
This page is by no means exhaustive but I refer you to more in-depth sources on each topic ito services and training that will help you achieve success with your website faster. If you have questions or need more help please let me know, I have been marketing online since 2002 if I remember correctly and have run the complete mill 🙂
Why merely “having a website” doesn’t work
Most people think that “if you build it, they will come” sounds true for a website.
A couple of years ago, you could build a decent site, do some Search Engine Optimization, and within literally a few weeks, your site could be ranking no.1 in Yahoo. (yahoo were the big boys then) Then came the big Yahoo update in 2007, which turned the tables.
Suddenly there was a lot more work involved in getting a site ranked, us SEO guys started moving towards Google and helped to make them the giant they are today. Soon I cracked the Google code, and my sites started ranking in in no time. This obviously was an advantage to me, as Google is now THE place to be, with more than 60% of all searches done via it.
Once again – that is how it used to be – up to now…
There’s A New Sheriff In Town
It’s becoming more and more important to be involved with your website on an almost daily basis in order for you to get the best out of your site. Gone are the days that you could build it, SEO it, link it and forget about it. The times they are a-changing, faster than a speeding bullet.
Until quite recently, it was really fine to have a website that had good SEO done on it. Only that. Now I see different results. Those sites still rank well, they still get good hits and visits and will continue to do so, BUT – people are not buying like they used to. The buying patterns have changed!
So what are they doing differently?
The Social Era Is Upon Us
It has come down to being totally involved in your audience at all times. You don’t anymore seem to just have an online shop where shoppers will walk in, pick up some products and then walk out again.
No, your shoppers now want to involved in your business. They want to be talked to, want to be told the latest happenings, and want to be told features and benefits and how what you are offering is going to work for them.
So, the big question here remains HOW TO DO THIS?
On this page I want to just outline a couple of how-to’s for your benefit. I will list a couple of ways on how to get involved in your audience and get them more involved in you and your business.
Not all methods will relate to your specific industry, it is hard to get a social buzz going on about your “plumbing business in poffadder” , you may be better of looking at SEO or Pay Per Click in that instance.
Also, you can try all of them and just keep the ones that works best for you in the end.
Before You Start
Have A Website Ready To Sell
Before you start generating traffic to your site you should make sure that it is ready to sell! Make sure that your text / information / offers / products and services on your website are convincing and engaging so that people will want to do business with you. Don’t just list a couple of bullet points and expect to convince a visitor to do business with you. Make your words sell!
If you need to rewrite your content or have it rewritten then do so. You must make your words sell.
Break down your offerings into bite size chunks, with clear call to actions at the end of each page to entice people to take action.
Make sure to include the Why, Where, What, When, Who and How in your offerings so there is no misunderstanding as to what you are offering and why people should use you vs the next guy.
Here are two resources that will show you the power of your words and how you can make your words do the work for you make it.
I highly recommend these two ebooks, they are the foundation of my content marketing and they are free!
Track Your Stats
It is crucial that you monitor your marketing expenses. There is no point in throwing money at for example a banner add on a certain website very month and not knowing if that banner add is actually paying for itself in terms of getting traffic + converting that traffic into leads and sales.
You need to track your ad spend so you do not throw money in the water. Hence you should have a stats tracker installed on your website. (comes standard with my websites inside the wordpress admin under the Wassup tab).
However, over the years I have not found a “single” solution that offers me everything that I want to know, therefore I use a number of different tracking systems to measure different things.
Generaly I use the Wassup stats inside your blog, awstats (comes installed with most hosting accounts including if you are hosted with me) , Google Analytics, and extreme tracking as tracking systems.
For advanced visitor behavior tracking and to improve conversions and manipulate the user behavior, I use Grazy Egg.
So before you start any website marketing campaign or traffic generation method, make sure that you can track your results.
www.awstats.org (already installed on my servers, just ask if you need access)
Ways To Get Traffic To Your Website
Search Engine Optimisation
This is my speciality. SEO is still a very big and necessary part of the first phase of your website. If the site has little or no SEO done on it, it will be outranked by your competitors; there are no two ways about it.
SEO is a continuous process and not just a once off event. If you do not do SEO on a continuous basis in the form of building links every month then the new guys and your existing competitors will outrank you and leave you behind.
There are only 10 spots for the organic results in the search engines and 1000’s upon 1000’s of websites all want to be #1. How do you get to be in the top 10? Read the following for more info on SEO
A site cannot just be built and that is the end of that. NO!
You need to work with your website to make it work.
You need to understand how the site fits into your overall marketing strategy. You need to take responsibility and ownership for that site. IT IS YOUR INVESTMENT.
Just a warning on SEO. I have clients who have been ranking at the top of the search engines for MANY years and it can be great and wonderful to have top 10 rankings for your website, but always remember that your website is 100% at the mercy of Google’s algorithms. If 6 months from now your website does not rank anymore there is no recourse, Google gave you the rankings for “free” and they can take them away. If your business model is to depend 100% on Google for free search engine traffic and that is your only marketing pillar then you may end up having to close business sooner than may be necessary.
Pay Per Click Search Engines
Google, Yahoo and MSN (Bing) offers pay per click advertising options that can bring instant traffic to your site.
They work like an auction house and you bid for “keywords”. The higher your bid the higher your listing in the search engine. You only pay your bid amount when someone clicks on your website link.
With the competition out there it is becoming more and more difficult to get good listings in the free regular search engines like Google and others. Most of them are starting to charge for their listings now in any case and you are not guaranteed a good listing.
Pay Per Click is instant, (yes it costs you money, but if you sell products where you make R500+ per sale it’s WORTH it!) and you can TARGET your market like nowhere else on earth. As long as your ad copy, website copy and ordering process is streamlined and ready to make sales, you can make sales with Pay Per Click Advertising.
Google, Yahoo and MSN (Bing) runs PPC adverts alongside the regular listings. Google’s Adwords are fantastic. It’s the largest Search Engine in the world and you can have your website up and running within 15 minutes. You tell Google what keywords you want to bid for, how much you are willing to pay, set your budget, how high you want to rank, which countries you want to show for and there you go!
Best thing is, it is measurable and you are paying for performance. So if your add is not showing or you are not getting traffic, then you can do something about it as you are paying Google for your listings.
You need to know what you are doing however as you can blow your budget in a single hour if you are not careful and there are MANY considerations. If you know what you are doing you may end up paying less per click than your competitors, even though you are listed higher than them. The basics are fairly simple, but the details are quite complex.
I often ask my clients to decide how much their time is worth. If you are in a very competitive market example “travel”, and you want to rank in the free search results, you can expect a massive input in terms of time and money to get those rankings. Depending on your niche, you could be competing with some VERY strong players out there.
So if you measure your time that you will have to spend on marketing your website, and convert that into money, you will get an idea of what “free search listings” are going to cost you.
Let me simplify with an example, you may find that to get to the top of the search results is going to cost you R4000 per month in time and services. It may be worth your while to take the R4000 and budget it for pay per click expenses in stead, where your results are guaranteed and you are paying for performance. Best of all, it is almost instant and you can be # 1 TODAY….
The best solution in my experience is to have a mix of both. Spend say R3000 on pay per click and R1000 on free rankings and in time, your site will rank and you can decrease your Pay Per Click Expenses accordingly.
http://www.google.co.uk/adwords/onlineclassroom/ (Adwords training)
https://bingads.microsoft.com, many South Africans still use Bing and you may get some good traffic for cheap from here. Test it out!
I do not run Adword campaigns myself, it is a speciality field now, you can however speak to Lourens @ firstname.lastname@example.org . They do Adwords campaigns and are very effective and reasonable with their prices. I work closely with them and they will surely help you. You can mention that I sent you and they will look after you.
Blogging And Adding Content To Your Website
Writing quality articles on your blog or website in your niche market is another important factor to consider. By publishing news, opinions and updates on your blog you become an authority in your market. Your website content grows and it starts becoming an authority in the search engines. Google loves big authoritive websites. The more pages the better.
Your visitors will love you too! If you educate and inform them and espcialy if you can “edutain” them you can become a superstar in your industry. By becoming the authority, you get people to listen up when you talk, so when you start suggesting products and services, these people will buy from you because they trust you. This is one of the very first steps in building the relationship.
Repost them on social sites like Facebook and twitter, people will start looking for your articles after a time – why? Because they trust you and value your views. We all do it to a certain extent – We all read a certain column in a certain newspaper / website written by a certain person on a regular basis. And whether I like it or not, we keep on reading his/her column.
Post news, articles, videos, interviews, how to’s, questionnaires, polls and information regularly on your website. Postings can be from anything regarding the weather to Saturday’s rugby match, just relate it back to what you are doing. Keep it social, keep it alive and keep it real. Remember, you are trying to build relationships here, not burn bridges. You can speak to me about installing a blog onto your site (if you do not already have one).
Ensure that you make regular postings on your blog – and try to keep it relevant to your topic and industry. No harm in commenting on the rugby though, even if you are in the legal industry. It is necessary for your audience to realize and experience a flesh-and-blood person on the other side. The age old marketing saying “people buy from people” is becoming more applicable every day!
You need to build the relationship.
Facebook used to be an unimportant, irrelevant site on the internet where young people wasted their bosses’ time and money. I used to have a 21 year old work for me who spent hours chit chatting away on Facebook.
Today Facebook is the Go To place for marketing AND advertising. Just one problem, for social media to work you have to spend a lot of time engaging your audience there.
Give out important, useful information that will help your target market. Start your own Facebook group, but keep it active, keep it real and give quality content.
Then, I urge you to look at Facebook Ads. You will not necessarily generate direct sales from Facebook Ads, but if you send people from your Ads to a signup page and get them on your email newsletter then you have generated a lead that could turn into a sale later on.
And make your signup form a sales page, not just “hey, get my ebook free” or “subscribe to my news letter” , give then something of REAL value, something YOU would pay for, and tease them with a solid sales page as to WHY they should get this and WHY they should sign up.
This is the best way to generate leads from Facebook. If you have an ecommerce site, offer a discount coupon for your Facebook visitors.
Facebook marketing is a HUGE topic on it’s own and I cannot cover it all in this guide, but I urge you to start learning about it and especially to consider their Ads program.
They even have a comprehensive training program that I suggest you make use of https://www.facebook.com/business/learn
Off course Facebook is not the only social media platform, you should consider the following as well :
https://www.linkedin.com/ads/ Linkedin for biz 2 biz services.
https://ads.twitter.com/ Twitter is quite active in South Africa and you can test this platform for your specific offers.
Dont want to do it yourself? (social media marketing is very time intensive), then feel free to speak to Juan at www.juanq.co.za as they can manage a social media campaign for you.
Email Newsletters / Email Marketing
Newsletters are one of the most important aspects of your business. This is the best way to communicate with your audience.
Send out a regular newsletter without committing yourself to a time frame – eg a weekly newsletter. If you send out a weekly newsletter and miss one week, your audience loses faith in you. Thus a regular newsletter is more effective. Try to send at least one letter per month.
Format of the newsletter – much has been said on this subject and I would like to summarize it as follows :-
- It should not be cluttered
- It should not contain too much text to be read (people don’t like to read), rather send more letters more often (Yes, I still preach lots of text on your website homepage – for the search engines! Ever more important to make use of professional creative marketing copywriters to assist with specifically that homepage text to get your message across efficiently)
- It should contain valuable information
- It should not be more than one page
- Keep it personal – talk to the person and from you – ensure people can see your face on the newsletter, and also on your website!
Then – how to send this newsletter?
I have tried to use many programs over the years, with sometimes disastrous and sometimes hilarious results. After a lot of testing I have come to the following conclusion.
- Not one of the so-called FREE programs really work as they limit you in any number of ways.
- Not one of the programs you download to your desktop really work due to limitations.
- You need software that is set up to deal with bulk mail campaigns
Having said all that, there are 2 options that I recommend and that my clients use :
Why services such as these?
- Their servers are setup to deal with bulk mail – meaning you sending hundreds of mails will not be banned by your own ISP or server as these will not be seen as spam.
- Their services are fully automated. People that sign up to your newsletter gets added to the list automatically, the same as people unsubscribing. You don’t need to do anything.
- They have built-in html template designers, meaning you design your newsletter inside the program and save it there as well by simply following the guidelines. No need to design something in Word and hoping it works and fits.
- Same with email formatting – the mails you sent will be in the correct format, thus allowing the recipient to open it and view all images correctly.
- Setting up different campaigns – you can setup more than one campaign per email list and also have more than one email list, thus allowing you more versatility.
- Best of all – click tracking – you can actually track how many people and who opens the newsletter, as well as how many people and who, clicks on which links, thus ensuring you know what the next step is.
Now surely, paying a minimal fee for a service that takes care of this, is money well invested into your business, don’t you think?
I personally use and recommend www.getresponse.com as they have fantastic features and is well priced. I have been using them for years and they deliver your emails.
How do you build a list to market to? Visit http://goo.gl/fytEBY and get 25 great ideas.
You should hang out online where your potential clients are hanging out. Get what you are offering in front of the people that will be interested in what you have to offer.
One of the most effective ways to do this is via joining a discussion group or forum in your industry. Find a discussion forum in your industry or where your target market hangs out and make contributions there on a regular basis. For example, if you are selling “baby diapers” start searching for “baby forums” online, join the community and start participating.
Do not spam the forum and arrive with your blatant adverts, just join the discussion, contribute and let people get to know you. Then if and when the topic arises you can refer them to your website.
Most forums allow for a signature in all of your posts, where you can link to your website.
You may also find advertising opportunities on this forum as the forum owners often monetize their websites by offering advertising.
I have made thousands using this technique and it works.
There is a neat bit of software that helps you in managing this. It is called Buzbundle and what it does is it scans the forums, discussion groups, social media sites and Q&A sites for your keywords and then display it all in one place for you. You can then join these discussions in one place and keep track of your conversations. It is the ultimate “relationship” building tool as you can join a vast aray of places where your prospective customers hang out and talk to all of them from one interface.
www.buzzbundle.com, I highly recommend it!
A quick guide to marketing online via forums http://onlinebusiness.about.com/od/gettingtrafficmarketing/tp/forum-marketing.htm
A great place to buy banner ads are with the very same forums that you are going to join. It is where your audience is hanging out and it is where you should advertise.
Then do a search for your keywords on the search engines and related keywords and find the top three ranked websites. If they are directories or forums or similar, find out if you can advertise on there. Set up a banner and you are already getting traffic from the top sites in your target market!
What About Video Marketing?
Youtube is all the buz and you may have heard that “Video Marketing Is In” but from my experiments and experience videos do not really rank in South Africa for local searches. It seems to apply only to certain categories of searches and only in certain regions but not in South Africa. Sometimes you will see Youtube videos rank in Google but this is most certainly for large searched keywords that have global results.
“Guest House In Cape Town” will not show any videos in Google’s search results, yet there are over 18000 youtube videos on the Youtube search results.
By all means, I do suggest that you do create a video (ask me if you need help) but do not expect your Youtube video to rank in Google nor to get lots of traffic from Youtube itself.
What Google DOES like is that you have a video or more than one video on your website pages. It makes your website content media rich and interesting. So if you do have a video or videos, upload them to Youtube and import them on your website.
Selling Physical Products
Consider selling on places like Craigslist, Gumtree and Bid Or Buy. I have clients who make sales on Bid Or Buy all the time. You get your own “shop” there so you do not realy need a website per se, but you can augment your physical product sale on these 3rd part sites as they already have 1000’s of shoppers on there with cash in hand.
I higly recommend you augment your website with a shop on Bid Or Buy, there are lots of money to be made there.
There are many other “traffic getting methods” but these are the staple of online marketing and proven to work for South Africans.
The goal of this whole report is to get you to see the bigger picture of online marketing. I hope to get the brain juices flowing and provide you with resources to help you market your website. Having a website is not the same as having a brochure = something to give to someone and you forget about.
Having a website is taking ownership and responsibility of YOUR own product, YOUR own marketing tool. By taking ownership and responsibility thereof, you can build it into one of the most powerful marketing tools you will ever have.
So it really is up to you – what do you want to do with your website?
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need more advice 🙂