The motto “build it, and they will come” isn’t a good outlook for a business owner. An endless line of customers won’t magically show up, even if you have a first-rate product. It takes proactive marketing to get (and keep) people interested in your business.
A better motto is “build trust, and they will come.” Trust is the biggest barrier to every customer relationship. Some people have never heard of your business. Others know who you are, but have no idea if they can count on you to deliver a quality service.
Connecting with the public online is one of the most effective ways to break through the trust barrier. Online marketing gives you the chance to show the human side of your business before asking anything of customers. Build credibility and influence in a neutral environment, and you can turn audience engagement into sales.
To attract more customers and referrals, learn how to promote your business online with these smart tactics.
Start an Online Referral Program
If you aren’t using current customers to get more business, you’re doubling your work. People trust their friends and family to refer them to reputable businesses.
Instead of just hoping loyal customers say good things about your business, ask them to do so. The positive experience you provide for a customer should act as currency that helps you land your next client.
Use a structured referral program to build a pipeline of new customers. For example, give customers a special link for a referral landing page. You can offer a discount incentive or create a points system that gives customers access to exclusive deals. Make sure the referral process is transparent, and provide an easy way for people to submit information online. Provide a short description of what makes a good lead, so customers know who to refer.
Host a Webinar
Talk to your customers about topics they want to learn, so you can brainstorm ideas for a webinar. Tools such as Google Hangouts and WebinarJam make it easy to stream a live event at low cost.
Is it daunting at first? Of course. It takes adequate practice and preparation to host glitch-free webinars and hold your audience’s attention.
However, webinars are worthwhile because they allow genuine human interaction. People around the web can actually hear you and use chat to ask questions.
Taking time to teach something useful and listen to people shows you care about customers. Webinars also strengthen your credibility, and you can keep the recording available on your site to bring in fresh leads.
Publish White Papers
White papers are in-depth reports that analyze a topic or problem that’s important to your audience. White papers shouldn’t be pushy or salesy.
The point is to provide valuable information that encourages people to trust you and see you as a thought leader. Writing white papers is intimidating to a lot of business owners. You may think you lack the knowledge to create an insightful industry report, but you’re probably wrong.
What obstacles did you have to overcome to start a successful business in your industry? How do you choose which products and services to offer customers?
What are the most common customer complaints or problems? How do different products or features influence the customer experience? Everything you do to run a successful business gives you the knowledge that isn’t obvious to the average person.
You can compose white papers yourself or hire a professional writer. Whatever you choose, the content has to be highly detailed and offer advice readers can act on.
Make sure you use well-researched headlines to attract traffic from search queries. White papers are one of the best tools to get quality backlinks to your site and win high-converting leads.
Blog With Consistency
Don’t expect readers to keep visiting your blog for a few scant posts throughout the year. Business blogging is a great source of inbound traffic, but only if you routinely post useful information.
Here are three ways you can effectively manage your blog.
- Commit to a blogging schedule. If you let posts wane, readers will simply forget about your blog and move on to other content. Posting regularly and notifying your subscribers by email ensures steady viewership that can improve your page ranking.
- Consistently target specific keywords groups. Use long-tail keywords to come up with popular content series. That way, you can target one keyword group with a set of related articles that provide in-depth information about a topic.
- Diversify your content. Blogging comes in many forms, and you’re more likely to maintain a larger audience by changing up your content. Write long-form content to tackle heftier topics, and use shorter articles to provide quick tips or case studies. Mix it up with occasional polls, contests, client features, graphics, and Q&A formats.
Test Out Social Media Ads
Buying ads on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram can introduce your business to new audiences. Social media sites let you target people with interests, occupations, or demographic traits that relate to your business.
The more people view and click your ads, the easier it is to refine your settings to increase conversions. Most importantly, you can set modest ad budgets to keep costs under control while you test campaigns.
Create Infographics and Checklists
When you create highly shareable content, you reap the benefits in brand recognition and backlinks to your site. Design visuals you can post on your website and social media sites to spark interest in your business.
Infographics and checklists are two types of content that boost your visibility in image searches. If you’re creating an infographic, don’t just compile statistics from around the internet.
Do some original research to find insightful answers to top concerns for your audience. That way, people are compelled to quote and share your content, rather than getting the data from another source.
Get in the habit of publishing a checklist whenever you conduct research or write a report. Checklists provide actionable tips for readers, inspiring them to bookmark your list and go back to it again and again.
Checklists are also simple to make yourself since they don’t require graphics. You can post checklists on image portals, email them to subscribers, or offer them as downloads on your site.
Post on Q&A Sites
People asking questions is a core activity of the internet. Q&A websites are a smart place to promote your business for three reasons:
- Answer pages target multiple variations of common long-tail keywords.
- High-quality answers can potentially rank high in search results.
- Consistently posting on a topic positions you as a thought leader.
Q&A sites usually let you include a job title, company name, or site link that calls attention to your brand. That way, people can follow up and learn more about you if your answers are helpful.
Use keyword research to identify questions your target customers are likely to ask. Since it’s your goal to build credibility, stick to a professional, but conversational tone. You want any reader to easily understand what you’re saying.
Offer a Risk-Free Consultation
If you sell expensive products or business and lifestyle services, promoting a risk-free consultation can drum up great leads. Many customers are reluctant to take the first steps without knowing if your product is useful to them. Take away those fears by offering short, free appointments to discuss their product needs.
First, ask your current customers to refer people who might be interested. Then, post announcements on your blog and social media pages to reach people outside your immediate network. If you like, you can even set up an appointment-booking form through your Facebook business page.
Listen to Your Customers
The internet is a “whatever works” environment. You can read a million articles about how to get more business, but the best strategy might be something no one has tried yet.
The best way to promote your business online is to build relationships with customers. Keep the lines of communication open, so you know what customers want now and in the future.
If you can think of a creative new way to deliver information and market your services, try it. Measure the success of each strategy, and devote the most effort to tactics that repeatedly produce strong leads.
As long as you’re providing value, customers will stay invested and tell others about your business.
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