I hear this a lot:

I have a website, but I don’t think anybody ever sees it. What am I doing wrong?

black African American ethnicity tired and frustrated woman working as secretary in stress at work office desk with computer laptop desperate in business frustration concept

Mastering online marketing isn’t as hard as it seems – as soon as you realize there is no single answer. 

Having a website (or a Facebook page, or a Twitter account) is one of those things everybody tells you that you have to do when you start a business. And in a very simplistic way, it’s true. Having a website gives your business another level of credibility, and it acts as a marketing vehicle.

Except when it doesn’t.

It’s not enough just to have a website – even a well-designed, insanely expensive custom-built website won’t actually do your business any good on its own. Think of it this way: Would you open a retail store with nothing more than a window display? Of course not. Your customers (if you have any, because you haven’t done any marketing) would expect more from you than that, right?

Your website is your online storefront – or your online office, if you’re not in retail. At a minimum, it should include all the same things you’d have in place before you open a brick-and-mortar location:

  • Customer support in the form of up-to-date and accurate contact information
  • Product or service showcasing
  • Atmosphere that attracts your ideal customers and affects their mood. Online, you create atmosphere with the colors and imagery you use as well as the content you create.

But once you’ve got a great website, how do you get people to see it?

Driving traffic to your website isn’t all that different from driving traffic to a storefront. You have to be present consistently, reach out and talk to your customers where they are, and occasionally do some paid advertising. Let’s discuss those three things:

First, be present. Online, nobody knows whether you’re sitting at your computer or not. Being present on your website means posting regularly. This tells your customers (and the search engines!) that you’re active and open for business. You’ve probably seen business online that look interesting, only to discover that the last time they updated their website was two years ago – it makes you wonder if they’re still in business, doesn’t it? You don’t want your customers wondering about you!

Second, talk to your customers – and potential customers – where they are. If your customers are new moms, approach popular parenting bloggers about guest posting or reviews. They’re often happy to work with new and innovative entrepreneurs.

Finally, let’s quickly talk about paid advertising, because it’s really easy (and expensive!) to get it wrong. I won’t get into all the details here (that’s another post!) but in almost every case I’ve been involved in, paid advertising has been best applied to specific promotions, after you have a fairly robust following.

So. What do you need to do to get this whole online marketing thing right? It’s pretty simple, really:

  • Have a website with clear messaging and ideally a way for your customers to buy your product or service.
  • Post regularly – I recommend at least once per week.
  • Choose the right social media network(s) for your business, and participate actively there.
  • Use paid advertising judiciously to achieve very specific goals.

What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to your online marketing? Leave me a message in the comments below: