Maintenance & Marketing
This is the one error many small businesses make: putting a lot of effort and money into getting a site up and running and then ignoring it. Search engines look for new content on a site and updated keywords. These are essential to keeping you at or near the top of the search engine rankings.
This may mean adding a blog or building a subscriber or loyalty program list. If you have e-commerce, it means adding new products, discounting or closing out others, and adding new capabilities as your customer base expands and they request specific features or content. Just as you rearrange products in a brick-and-mortar store, you want your website to be dynamic and ever-changing. If it helps, put together a marketing calendar to promote holidays or seasonal offerings, showcase new products or services, promote specials, and, in the process, keep customers engaged in what you have to offer them, not only in terms of products but information and even entertainment. Give your customers a reason to return to your site, even if they aren’t ready to buy yet.
Your site will need to be updated from time to time on the server side. New updates are released regularly for the content management system, themes and plug-ins. Additionally, there are some more technical things that need to be updated as well on the server itself, such as the PHP version your site runs on. These are things you don’t need to tackle yourself. You should never do any updates on the server side unless you are an advanced user. Many of these updates need to be done in a specific order. If they are not, your site may stop working or may not work correctly. Maintenance of these items should be included in your scope of work and set of deliverables.
Pro Tip: Always back up your site. Plugins like UpdraftPlus will automatically back up your website daily, weekly or monthly. If something gets corrupted (which over time is almost a certainty), you can always retrieve the most recent backup and restore the site, its plugins, themes or the underlying database. And, if you ever decide to change server companies, UpdraftPlus will do it for you using its Clone feature.
Marketing your site
By now, you understand the importance of having a website and keeping it fresh and up-to-date.
You also know that some 230.5 million potential customers use the Internet to research businesses, products and services, compare prices and make purchasing decisions. That’s just in the U.S. Three-quarters of all purchasing powers lie overseas.
The only challenge left is promoting your site so people can easily find it. Keywords will get you part way there, as will sharing your website address on your printed materials, business cards and signage.
To continue to build an audience and create a sustainable lead-generation funnel for your business, there are strategies you can build into your traditional marketing and advertising initiatives.
Use email and text messaging strategically
Ask visitors to your website to opt-in to receive special offers. You can do this with a simple checkbox in your shopping cart during the checkout process or have a window pop up on the home page asking for the visitor’s contact information and permission to contact them with special promotions or offers. Be careful not to overdo it, though. You never want to become a pest.
Start a blog
If you have some expertise or insights to share, a blog is a great way to offer value to your customers and stay top of mind. The trick is offering something for free, whether it’s your knowledge, helpful tips and hints, how-tos – whatever your customers and prospects want to learn about. No one’s going to fault you if you tie your blog to a special offer for recipients as a thank you for subscribing and reading your blog.
Remember that this can’t be a last-minute strategy. You want to create a schedule of blogs ahead of time so that they continue to arrive at regular intervals and contain value. If your blog is supposed to come out on the first of each month, make sure it does, or on the Monday following if the first lands on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Add some photos to your blog and use subheaders to break up the paragraph blocks. Keep things short, punchy and to the point. Don’t bore them with overly long sentences, paragraphs or tomes.
The blog should be posted on your website (using the Post tool on the dashboard). While you want to put the link on other sites such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, you want them to click on the Read More link so that they go to your website. Link back to your site as much as you can to build traffic, trust and leads.
Be in someone else’s blog
There’s nothing better than letting someone else do the work for you. Find someone with a popular blog, podcast or video series and see if they will interview you or have you on their show. It’s easy to do some research to find out who the movers and shakers are in your particular market space. Start a dialog with them. They may ask to see your product or try your service. One caveat. Like a movie reviewer, the “talent” can love you as much as hate you. Just because you found rapport in your interactions doesn’t mean they will be your biggest cheerleader. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the influencer kitchen.
Become a video star
YouTube, Instagram and TikTok were made for promoting products and services. Do a behind-the-scenes video or a tutorial on how to use your product. For example, if you sell hair accessories, show viewers how many ways they can be worn. If you sell dog treats, show the process you use to make them. Share the videos on other social media and your site. Make them easy to share. Also, be sure that they are lively and not just a dull reading of steps or ingredients. And stay away from Death by PowerPoint. No one wants to hear some disembodied voice offscreen drone their way through 213 slides.
Find the right channels
Social media is a great way to market your products and services. Before you dive in, though, do some research, so you know where you should spend your time. Where does your ideal customer spend their time? For instance, if they are a Millennial, they’re probably not hanging around Facebook, which is increasingly skewed to an older demographic now that Instagram and TikTok have arrived. If your model is business-to-business or business-to-government, don’t forget about LinkedIn. If your offerings are in the fashion, home, food or collectible world, don’t overlook Pinterest, especially if you’re targeting female shoppers. Pinterest is 84% female in the U.S., ages 25 to 54. In short, go where your customers go and follow the crowd when they find a new app they love. Remember when MySpace was a thing? Now, it’s a joke on Facebook, and Facebook is a joke to the Instagram crowd.