Whatever your business, the only way for it to be successful is: a) if it's providing a solution, and b) if the people looking for that solution know about it. Bearing this in mind, the first step to market online businesses is to make sure you're providing a solution people are looking for. There is money to be made in every niche – no matter how obscure – as long as you are providing the answer to an issue for enough people.
Before you start to market online businesses, do your research. If your business is not new, you may feel you don't need to do this step, but here's something to consider: If your business is not making sales, you're not providing a solution people are actually searching for. The two most important research tasks are keyword research, and forum research.
- Start with a keyword research tool and type in the most obvious key phrase for your topic. So, for example, if your site sells antique spoons, you would type that phrase. The keyword research tool will bring up a list of variations on that key phrase that people are actually searching for.
- Sort the results by competition – lowest competition at the top. You don't want keywords that already have too much competition.
- Now look down the list for keywords that have at least 1 000 monthly searches, and not much competition, and make a list of these.
- Type into Google, your topic plus the word forum. So, using the example above, you'd type in "antique spoons + forum" (without the quotation marks).
- Once you've found forums for your topic, type each of the keywords on your list, into the forum search box to find posts with those phrases in them. This is how you're going to find out what people are really looking for.
- Make a list of the most common problems or questions. Again, using our example above, we may have found in the keyword research tool, the key phrase "Italian antique spoon" and on the forum, we may have found a few posts like "Where can I find an 18th century Italian silver spoon?" (Note: I know absolutely nothing about antique spoons, so I am making this up!). Now, even though your site doesn't sell 18th century Italian silver spoons, you need to make a note that this is one of the most common questions people are asking. This is because you're going to use it in your website content, social networking and article marketing. Remember, the most effective way to market online businesses is to answer existing questions.
- Once you have your list of the most common problems, you'll be able to start researching those you don't already have an answer for. Add information to your website addressing these problems – add articles about 18th century Italian silver spoons for example. And you may even find an affiliate product that would be appropriate. Make sure you include, in your website content, the key phrases you found in the keyword research tool.
One of the most effective methods to market online businesses is contributing to forums. You can start with the forums you found during your research. Now that you have researched the problems posted, you're able to provide solutions. However, be very careful not to go in to sell stuff! Go in with an attitude of helping, contributing and supporting. The best way to market online businesses in forums is by putting a link in your signature file with a good text line – for example: "Here's the widest range of antique spoons on the net" – and then focus your posts on just helping people without trying to sell. Once people learn they can trust you, those who are interested will click on your link.
Now you've answered questions in forums, you know what people are asking, so you can write a few articles on those subjects. Article marketing is one of the best ways to market online businesses – and it's free. When using article marketing make sure you provide information that is of value, include your keyword, and most importantly proof read it before you submit!
PPC and PPV
Pay per click and pay per view are very effective ways to market online businesses, but they can be extremely expensive. I advise sticking to the free methods to market online businesses until you're absolutely certain that: a) your site is converting effectively – that is, a good percentage of visitors are becoming customers, and b) you have done enough research into PPC and PPV that you really know what you're doing. There are some excellent training courses and tools to help with this, but be careful as there are also a lot of scams. Do your research well before you spend any money to market online businesses, and stick to free methods in the meantime. Once you've started making some money from your free marketing, you could invest it into a good PPC training program (one that you've researched and have plenty of feedback on).
As you've probably gathered from this information, the first thing that makes the difference between those who market online businesses with success, and those who blunder about in the dark, is research. Using effective keywords and providing solutions that people are actually searching for is what makes for a successful business, and this cannot be achieved without the research. A tip to make research less of a chore: allow more than enough time for it. If you think it'll take an hour, allow two hours, and treat it as a treasure hunt – it makes it more fun. Once you find your first perfect keyword, the feeling of achievement will help you to keep going.
- What tools can assist with keyword research for search optimisation? (marketing.yell.com)
- Wisdek Corp. Allows Small Businesses to Jump-Start Their PPC Online Marketing Campaigns With $0 Overhead (prweb.com)
- Why Niche Marketing Can Be Profitable Topic 6881.88 (leccoworkshop.com)