With new sites on the World Wide Web popping up daily, it's hard to stand out in the crowd. That's why setting up a website is only the first step to effective online marketing, says Jay Conrad Levinson, Entrepreneur columnist and author of Guerrilla Marketing. "You can have the best website in the world," he says, "but if people don't know about it, it's going to be a loser." His tips to help market your business online:
Choose a name for your website carefully.
Internet domain addresses signify your inherent importance in a world teeming with unknown subdomains. If, for instance, your company is called Small Business Notes, you want your website address to be www.smallbusinessnotes.com. You do not want your visitors to have to type in www.xyz.com/users/sbn.html. Not only is it a lengthy name, but it sends a message that you are not professional in how you handle business.
First, make sure your name of choice is not already taken. For this you need to use one of the many "whois" servers out there. This system basically goes and checks for you if the name exists, and if it does, who it is registered to. Most web hosting services, such as GoDaddy offer this service.
Chat it up.
Enter online discussion groups and participate in discussions where you can offer advice in your field of expertise. To build strong relationships that can pay off down the line, strive for one-on-one interactions with Web users. However, do be careful to follow online etiquette rules about using the discussion groups for talking about your product, unless it in response to another person's inquiry.
Content is king.
Keep in mind that better content makes for a better website. Never compromise on the quality of your content - that's what draws people in.
Take it easy.
One of the most common mistakes people make when marketing online is to use techniques that come across as pushy.
Keep adding new material.
Your website should constantly be adding new information and content so users will return again and again. Keep adding to and improving your site from the day you launch it.
Offer to provide content to others.
Electronic newsletters and magazines are always in need of new articles. One of the best ways to create an online presence is to email sites and volunteer content on a regular basis.
If people visiting your site have questions, reply within a day or two, or you are liable to lose them as customers. Fast response is a critical factor in retaining Web users.
Keep it simple.
When interacting online, brevity is the rule. Learn to express yourself concisely so you don't waste people's time.
Be patient. It's unlikely you will achieve the results you want online right away. Try not to be discouraged when people don't respond immediately; follow-up several times with potential prospects.
Don't expect results if you market your business online only occasionally or haphazardly. Follow a plan so you will build a solid reputation in the online community.
Market your website in other media.
If you advertise in print media, write columns for industry publications or engage in public speaking events, be certain to always mention your website.