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If your business is lacking an online presence, it’s a perfect time now to get started. Making a mark in the online market is not easy. If you want to make business sales on the web, consider these steps for making a robust online business promotion.

When it comes to business, it is never enough to just have a great product and wait for it to be discovered by the public. Businesses succeed not just because they are a perfect fit for the needs of many, but largely because they have been marketed skillfully that consumers cannot help but notice it. Much of that is done on the Internet because it is the fastest way to spread the word about your products across a wide spectrum of target markets. If you think it is high time you do the same, read ahead to know how you ought to do it.

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1. Understand Social Media

A lot of bad marketers will sell you social media as the panacea for all ills, but that’s not true. ‘Make a Facebook page’ isn’t a social media strategy—it’s a nice start, but you need to regularly update it with compelling and useful content if you want to actually get anywhere. You should also probably understand which social media to use: Instagram has a relatively high conversion rate (around 4%), Facebook is lower (somewhere between 0.5-1%), Twitter is abysmal, and Reddit, Pinterest and Tumblr are absolutely no-go zones—the ROI is so small that you’re usually wasting money and time trying.

Rather than thinking of social media channels as a way to get sales, think of them as a way to expand and promote your brand. There’s a few companies that have managed to thrive on social media platforms where they wouldn’t otherwise, and they do it by acting like users. Wendy’s have perfected this—they’ve managed to generate huge followings on the normally advertiser-barren Twitter and Tumblr not by pushing CTAs but by interacting with other users in a human way; they crack jokes, they talk about their day, they respond to other users in funny and interesting ways. Since they implemented this marketing strategy in 2013, their stock price has been growing—the company was on the verge of collapse, and is now recovering strongly. Many observers credit this to their incredibly effective social media strategy.

Social media is not a place to dump ads then otherwise ignore: it’s social. If you only bring media, you’re not going to grow your brand.

2. People Like Free Stuff

I can hear your gasp of surprise all the way through my monitor. People want … things that don’t cost money? They certainly do, and you’re going to give them to them, because it’ll make you money.

Users don’t want to buy something from you unless they trust you, and it’s easier for them to trust you if they know what sort of products you produce. One of the most common free giveaways is some sort of dataset, essay or analysis—something easy to access, with low distribution costs, that’s useful to the reader. Ask for their email address before downloading and then boom, you’ve got somebody else on your mailing list; somebody who likes you (because you gave them free stuff), likes your content (because your free stuff was high-quality) and might just be willing to pay for more. Make sure you’re GDPR-compliant here: you need to let users know why you’re taking their data and allow them to opt-out.

3. Your Blog is the Gateway to Your Content

Remember when I talked about free stuff? Well your blog is the central pillar of that strategy. Nothing draws eyes quite like a well-written blog. If you’re a florist, an article on What Different Flowers Mean will pull Google searchers to your site, and searchers who were probably already thinking about buying some flowers. If you’re a mechanic, Why Your Engine Is Making Noises will pull a lot of users who might just be in need of your services. The ideal business blog features high-quality content related to your business—you’re trying to get inside the head of your target customers, then write content that they’re going to be searching for. Blogging is also a great way to display your chops: if you talk the talk, users are more inclined to believe you can walk the walk.

This point and the last both come down to the same basic idea: provide users value. Give them information they need, and they’re much more likely to come back and convert.

4. Use Video Correctly

Youtube (and online video in general) have been another extremely tough nut for businesses to crack. Some companies have succeeded by just making really good ads but it generally hasn’t been an effective place for traditional advertising. The ROI on banners ads is very low, and corporate channels have often had difficulty getting any traction.

If you can’t afford a top-tier advertising agency, what sort of video should you make? Well, a useful one. Like your blog content, your video content should provide something for the user. Tutorials are great: they show users that you know your stuff while putting a human face on your content. Faces are really important, by the way—a Georgia Tech study showed an almost 40% increase in conversions for advertising content containing at least one human face.

If you’re starting to notice another theme, then well done: people like people. We’re social creatures. Use that.

5. Create a Comprehensive Backlink Strategy

One of the most powerful tools in your SEO arsenal is the backlink. They drive up organic traffic as well as significantly improve your search rankings. The obvious key way to generate them is to write content that people want to share on their own, but that’s only part of what you should be doing:

  • Doing guest blog exchanges with your industry peers
  • Answering questions on sites like Quora
  • Consider using HARO to get yourself in the news or mentioned in blogs. Use HARO responsibly! It’s a tool for journalists writing articles, and you want to ensure you’re genuinely helping them before you talk to them.

These strands all link together, by the way: if you’ve written enough blog content, then it’s much easier to create natural backlinks—you’re much more likely to have something relevant to link in. If that blog content naturalistically links into your free content, then you’ve added them to your mailing list. If they’re on your mailing list and like what they see, they’re more likely to engage with you on social media.

While you’re here, check out our 7 Tips on Email Marketing or our blog on Mobile App Marketing—if you hadn’t noticed, here at CodeClouds we’re kinda ecommerce experts. If you need somebody to design your site, set up your backend, or just generally advise you on the best ways to help your online business be more successful, then don’t be afraid to get in touch.