If you have an online business, your website is one of 1.8 billion sites that exist (Netcraft -January 2018 Web Server Survey). For your site to deliver leads and sales you need to know how to drive awareness and engagement and here are some suggestions to consider.

Free traffic

There is a multitude of platforms available to generate awareness with potential customers and although they don’t charge to register, they require time and energy to maintain and update with new content. So my recommendation is to decide how many platforms you’re able to commit to updating based on your current capacity and start with just that. You need to post or update the content at least once a week on each platform and if that’s not possible, don’t take it on.

It is worth considering which platform you’re going to get the most engagement on – Facebook has over 2 billion users, Pinterest over 250 million users, Instagram over 1 billion users and Twitter over 260 million users – as well as how your brand will be viewed on the platform. For example, Pinterest is more suited to a visually based business such as a personal trainer showing client before and afters, than a corporate law firm.

Some must do’s include adding your address to Google to help customers locate you, creating a company profile on LinkedIn, adding Schema (structure content) to your site to allow your site information to pull through to a search result and running a script to fix all broken links.

Market Research
A good way to understand your product or service is by doing market research. Regardless of how much I worked with or analysed a product or service, when the research results are reviewed there are always golden nuggets of wisdom that can be gleaned.

Market research will help you better understand
• Your customers
• Your competition
• What people are willing to pay for your product or service
• How to position your brand
• How to talk to your customer
• Where they go to get information

Research is the best way to figure out where to focus your market investments and it doesn’t cost you anything. There are a couple of very cost-effective research tools that you can use to create a survey yourself if you don’t have a budget for a research company. Survey Monkey, for instance, charges $24 per month to run unlimited surveys per month.

Understanding what your competition is doing is another key to success. Google Trends and Google Alerts are a great way to keep on top of what is happening in the market. It is a good idea to add your own company to Google Alerts so you get notified every time your business name is mentioned.

CRM

A customer relationship management platform is a critical success factor. Even the simplest of CRMs can take average customer experience and make it great, for example

• We haven’t seen you in store for a while. Please let us know if we’ve done something wrong, we would hate to lose you as a valued customer.

• We shipped the >product< to you a week ago and wanted to follow-up and make sure you are happy with your purchase

CRM software is generally sold on a cost per user basis and ranges from around $30 to $300 per month per user. Some providers also charge an annual license fee.

Search

Most online activity starts with search and unless you are trying to launch in China, Google is where you want to be. Google receives over 63,000 searches per second and 5.6 billion searches per day. If I had to choose just one marketing activity to invest all my time and money in, I would 90% of the time to choose Google. It has the biggest reach and optimized correctly you will get your great return on investment. To maximize your value from Google you need to spend time working on your search engine optimization.

Depending on your product or service and the audience you are trying to reach here is a rough guide of what your monthly spend may look like

• CRM – Assuming you have 5 people that have licenses on a good CRM platform at about $80 per user that works out to $400 per month.

• Search – If you run everything yourself spend $2,000 on keywords. If you aren’t familiar with Adwords you can get a company to set up your account and then you can optimise the campaign from there.

• Social – If you don’t have the time to create content every day you can get a company to create content for you for around $1000 per month. The more content you want to post the more expensive it gets. A key thing to remember is to ensure everything you post speaks to your brand values. It is also worth considering buying advertising space on the various social media platforms. Consider another $1,500 in paid-for media.

• Research – It is generally frowned on to offer an incentive to a research survey however if you want a big enough response it is worth throwing in a prize or a little incentive to each person like a $50 discount on their next purchase. These should be done every couple of months to keep your finger on the pulse of your business.