Successful brick and mortar businesses lease physical stores in locations that aren’t isolated but also not overly competitive within their industry. They also ensure that any foot traffic knows clearly what they offer inside their store before they get in and, therefore, only those interested would enter.
A website is no different in its objectives. However, people often get confused when trying to set up a similar experience on the World Wide Web. The following steps will ensure that you are not only seen, but also seen by the people who are most likely to buy from you.
1. Get Found
In the tangible world, people hang out in restaurants, parks, offices, or walk on the streets. But because of COVID and also because of little leisure time, a large percentage of consumers have turned to the World Wide Web for a big portion of their needs (and wants). In the virtual world, they hang out in Facebook groups, chat rooms, forums, or browsing the web. As such, many businesses have had to pivot and some are fully cloud-based.
In today’s world, your website is the equivalent of your office. Posts and shout-outs are the equivalents of flyers and posters. So, for people to come to your “office,” they need to hear about you or find you when they search.
The search engine is a popular system that people will use to find you in the virtual space. . However, that’s not always enough, especially if your industry is highly competitive. To get found more, you need to show up where your potential customers are hanging out.
What does a virtual city look like? Well, we have 8 popular, English-based, social media channels: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, Pinterest, and YouTube (plus many more in other languages). We then have Facebook and LinkedIn groups, Pinterest group boards, and various subsections of these channels. In a different corner of the virtual map, you will find blogs, podcasts, and forums. Go a little deeper and you’ll start seeing emails, ads, forums, special interest/industry/niche websites (e.g. PicFair, Italki, Goodreads, respectively), freelancing platforms (e.g. Fiverr, Upwork, etc), eCommerce stores (e.g. AliExpress, Amazon), messaging/chat applications (e.g. WhatsApp, Signal, etc.), video chatting applications (e.g. Google Duo, FaceApp, etc.), and the list goes on.
These options shouldn’t scare you. On the contrary, they showcase how many opportunities to get found are out there. At the same time, your ideal customer might not be frequenting all these virtual places, just as they wouldn’t frequent every restaurant, café, and museum in town. You need to do a bit of research, learn more about your prospects and leads, and make frequent appearances on the online sites that they are likely to go to. This leads us to the next point.
2. Don’t Advertise to Everyone
Say you have a spa. Would you put a poster about your next promotion in a bar? Yes, you may not refuse service to anyone…but when you have a limited time and budget for marketing, you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, right?
Now let’s apply that to the online world. You don’t need to be on every single channel mentioned above. You just need to be on the ones with the most potential and talk to the people who are most likely to buy from you. In other words, define your niche and target market. Most people hate this part but hear me out.
When you say, “I have this product/service and help these people” no one will hear it as “I ONLY help THESE people.” If anyone outside that niche likes and wants to buy your product, nothing will stop them. Marketing to a certain niche is different than discriminating. You are simply directing your efforts and resources to the virtual locations that are most likely to bring you a profit. Simply put, you’re not barking up the wrong tree.
3. Define and Find Your Ideal Client
So far we’ve addressed creating more exposure for yourself and targeting your messages. Now, let’s look at how you can understand your client better in order to put out the best type of content in the best virtual hangout spot.
The first step is to put yourself in your ideal prospects’ shoes. What would have triggered their need for your offer? What doubts, fears, questions may they have about it? What preconceived notions could be floating around in their minds? All of these need to be addressed proactively.
A few other points to consider include the type of language or tone of voice that would speak to them best, the kind of benefits that would make them choose your product/service over other similar ones, and the expectations they may have from both your offer and the purchasing process.
Once you have mapped out the who, why, and how, it’s time to explore the where. Here are some strategies you can use:
- Create quick polls on your personal social media pages (e.g. If you were looking for ___, where would you look online?)
- Study your competitors and their marketing/PR strategies to see what virtual platforms they use
- Think about the needs your product/service meets, and what kind of searches your customers would do if they were looking for someone like you; do the same searches and see what you find
- Use other people’s networks (e.g. influencers), usually for a reasonable price
- Pay a professional salesperson or digital marketing specialist to help you get in front of the right audience
- Use traditional, offline strategies like posters and flyers to highlight your online presence
- Try your hand at guerilla marketing
Nailing the best online strategy may take some time. The effectiveness of your efforts depends on multiple factors, such as your industry, niche, consistency, variety, timing, etc. However, by increasing exposure, narrowing your niche, and understanding your ideal client, you are a few steps closer to higher revenues and/or a bigger impact.