How to market your business online. The definitive guide.

by | May 2, 2020 | Online Marketing, Websites | 0 comments

It is 2020 and according to Statista, 80% of South Africa’s population will be online in 2023 trying to satisfy their never-ending need for information. Back in the early 2000s it was easy to rank in search engines. 

Now, it is a complete different story with Google and how it’s complex algorithms decide who gets on top of the search rankings and who doesn’t. This is where I see many people in South Africa have a misconception about the internet and how it works.

You see, the “build it, and they will come” mentality won’t work with your website or any website for that matter. I have built quite a few websites for businesses around South Africa and most businesses think once the website is online, they are going to get flooded with sales and emails. 

I hate to be a bearer of bad news but your website will not get a single visitor. Google wants you to work for that number one spot in the search rankings, they want to make sure your business website is the correct website to show to the online searchers. 

Unfortunately we are a society who wants quick results, and we want it now! So, let me help you market your business online. Not only will all the information below help you to get more visitors but it will help your website rank better eventually. 

Let’s dive in!

how to market your business online

1. Create a website if you don’t have one. 

 

This might seems obvious to mention but there are 1000s of business around and in South Africa without a website. I am not going in to the benefits of a website here, you can read this article. 

A website is at the fore front when it comes how to market your business online, it is your piece of digital property, a sales representative on duty 24/7. Online stores in South Africa are report ably saying their growth has sky-rocketed between 25% – 50% from 2018 to 2020. 

 You can use your website to focus on the things that makes your business stand out from a sea of competitors. Tell your visitor why you are unique and try to build trust with the about us page

Your website is the doorway to your business. Have you ever heard of a business and then jumped online to search for it and nothing!  You immediately feel like the business is not legitimate and this makes the power of a website real. 

2. Create a blog for your website. 

 

This ties in well with your website. If you have a website and found it to be a bit static I would seriously consider starting a blog. You can write about your services and products and how it can benefit or create a solution to a potential client’s problem. 

It is a great strategy to start thinking about content marketing. Have you ever searched for something? For example, how to clean your washing machine’s filter. You will notice, most of the search results will be blog articles related to your search and not a homepage of a website. 

This is the power of blogging, the same way you searched for “how to market your business online” this post popped up and not my homepage. 

In all seriousness, I would start to build a blog today. If you don’t know how and where, I have a free online course around blogging.

There are many factors you have to take in to account to get your blog ranking high on page one of Google, and we will discuss it a bit a later in the post.

Wix add

3. Email marketing

The chances are that you or your employees are already sending hoards of emails every day to your clients or prospects. Why not use a call to action in your signature? This is a great way to draw attention to a new product of service. 

You can use an online service like Canva to create awesome looking email signatures with call-to-actions. This is a great way to market your business online and best of all, it is free. 

Why not make use of email sign-ups on your website? You are already driving visitors to your website why not let them sign up for a newsletter? You can harness this power to let your subscribers know if you have something new and unique to sell. Perfect and powerful way. 

According to Oberlo, welcoming emails have a high opening rate of 82% That is crazy, imagine having a welcoming email sent to every email sign up you get on your website? Imagine the power you have with this opportunity? Endless possibilities. 

You can use a service like Mailerlite to create beautiful email sign ups and automated welcoming messages. 

 Your email marketing strategy should not only consist of sending sales pitches and offers, you should use this opportunity to connect with the recipients, build trust and best of all find out what you can help them with. Yip, send out surveys and let them tell you what they want. This is an extremely powerful way you can create a product around your customers needs. 

4. Investing in search engine optimization. (SEO)

 

If you set out to build a site and rank number one in Google then you should invest in some or other kind of SEO. 

What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization is the art or practise of a set of rules to optimize your website to be able to get better rankings in the search engines like Google. 

 Now, SEO can be divided in two categories –

 On page SEO – This category controls all the optimization on your website like: 

  • Headlines
  • Title tags
  • Meta tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Internal linking
  • Image optimization
  • Keyword density
  • Site speed
  • Mobile optimization

 

Although we can write a whole book on this topic, there are various websites to learn from like the famous Moz.com

Off page SEO – As the name suggest, it focuses on your efforts away from your website. While SEO can be extremely technical and difficult to master yourself. The biggest off-page SEO strategy you can start doing today is link building. 

Link building is still one of Google’s major ranking factors for your website. How it is works is much easier to explain than to actually get it right. 

It works like this: When another website with a lot of authority links to your website, this passes on link “juice” and is seen in Google’s eyes as a link of trustworthiness. The more high authority and relevant links you can build to your website will ultimately lead to higher rankings in the search results. 

 There are multiple companies throughout South Africa which can help you with your SEO strategy but if I can make a recommendation, I will use The Hoth. They are a brilliant agency and the fastest growing SEO agency in the world. 

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5. Ask for reviews.

 

Don’t be shy to ask your customers for reviews for your services and products. New visitors use reviews as a final decision in the buyers journey. If you have a website, ask some of your closets client to leave a review. You will be surprised how many of your clients will say yes and leave you a  great review. 

If you register your business with Google my business and clients leave you a bunch  of positive reviews the chances are very likely that Google would rather display your website above your competitors. 

This will result in a powerful way to market your website online. 

6. Directories 

 

Online directories are the modern yellow pages. We use directories more than you might think or even notice. When you do an online quick search for a specific business number like Plumblink’s number you get Google my business on the right 

 

screenshot Google my Business

 

And you get SAYELLOW.com’s listing with the phone number to Plumblink. 

 So, there are  benefits to adding your business to directories. It might take some of your time but who knows. It might just get you a new customer. 

 First, if your business is not registered for “Google My Business” do it now! This is probably the biggest and best listing you can add your business to. 

 Then you can add your business to the following free directories in South Africa:

I listed only 5 of the top ones. You can find 5 more here.

7. YouTube videos

 

This is a tough one. We here in South Africa is extremely camera shy and don’t like the spotlight at all. I understand this very well because it took me forever to just relax and make a simple 2-minute video.

But, people consume video content like never and as YouTube climbed through the ranks and found itself as the second largest search engine in the world, you might just miss out on a golden opportunity to send hoards of visitors to your business. 

Try to make videos which will help people with their problems, be friendly and add a bit of humour in the videos. If there is one thing that sells in South Africa and that is humour! 

Use this opportunity to upload tutorials about your products or services. YouTube is a go-to source for people to find helpful videos. They just might stumble upon your videos and if your video can solve their problems, then you might have a potential client to sell your services and products to.

YouTube

8. Social Media  

 

Social media could be a mighty tool if you use it right. I am a prime example of not using it right. You think when you start a business you will utilize all the cool features of a social media platform to market your business online. You start a Facebook page, you invite all the friends and family to join, you spend money running ads hoping your sales will jump through the roof!

Then reality hits! No one buys anything. 

Yip, you are not alone in this world but don’t give up hope yet. According to Flickerleap  there are 23 million active social media users in South Africa alone. You just need to figure out which platform works best for your business. 

Each social media platform has its own unique features that could help your business. For example, interior design is the most search topic on Pinterest so naturally it will work well for businesses in that nature.

When it comes to South Africa, I think a mutual and loved platform is Facebook. Everyone has a Facebook account and use it actively. 

The key here is to use it consistently. If you are on Facebook, you should not post less than 3 times a week. I think  you should at least try for once a day and be consistent with your post.

 

best times to post on social media

Neil Patel mentioned in one of his post: 

If you post too infrequently, your audience will forget that you exist and you will quickly fade into the deep dark recesses of their minds. However, if you are posting too often, you will become a complete nuisance, and they will dread seeing your posts overcrowding their feed.

So, a fine line indeed.

Add value to your business page and don’t bombard your followers with all kinds of sales pitches. 80/20 rule applies here. You give 80 and you take 20. 

Instagram Influencers. 

We are lagging a bit behind the rest of the world when it comes to influencers. If you don’t know how it works, it works like this: 

Your business sells nutritional products, you find some guy or gal on Instagram with 1000s of followers in the same health and fitness niche. You can then ship them some of your products and let them promote it on their channel for a fee. 

Their followers see the products they are recommending and voilà! You get sales. 

Easy enough but like I mentioned above. We are light years behind but that should not stop you from reaching out to someone on Instagram. Just make sure they and their content are the right fit for your business.

Connect with groups on LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn’s groups are like virtual meeting rooms where like-minded people share similar interest. You can join in on the groups and show off your skills and expertise a little and build some relationships. 

If you are B2B business, you might provide a solution to a possible client. 

9. Paid Ads.

 

If your business has a healthy marketing budget you should invest a portion in online ads. It is a lot cheaper than print media to start with and you can reach a wider audience for a couple of cents. 

I guess living in South Africa has its perks when it comes to advertising. As seen as a third world country through Facebook’s eyes it can actually help you spend less on advertising campaigns. That is awesome. 

So, if you have a great offer or product to sell, think about using paid ads to drive visitors. 

You can use paid advertising from the following companies. Just remember, each company will have a different approach to advertising. 

  • Google Ads.
  • Facebook Ads
  • YouTube Ads
  • Twitter Ads

Not all advertiser platforms will have the same outcome. There is a big difference in Facebook ads and Google Ads

Before starting any marketing campaign, ask yourself a couple of questions first like:

  • Think about your audience? 
  • Where do they hang out? 
  • What are they searching for? 
  • What age groups are you catering too? 
  • The financial status of your audience?

All these questions will help define your target audience. This will help with setting up your ads, now you can laser focus your ad reach  to  a specific group of people. 

Let me give you some examples – 

If you use Facebook ads, you need to focus on a “younger crowd” plus you are displaying ads to cold traffic. This means people jump on Facebook to look what’s going on with their friends and family and not necessarily to buy something. 

You create an add that caters for a specific group and link it to your website’s homepage right? Wrong! 

It does not matter if you have the best product in the world, if you link to your website’s homepage with the hopes the visitor will go out of his/hers way to go and look for something to buy from your website you are going to burn through loads of money. 

You need to warm up cold traffic with special landing pages with high conversion rates. This is how Facebook ads work in a nutshell. 

Google Ads works a bit different. People are already looking for a specific product or solution  and if you can provide them with the solution you have might just win a new sale!

Please guys, before you start ad campaigns on any platform do some research first. It is critical you understand the platform as well as possible. It will save you tons of money. 

If you feel like appointing a company to handle your online ads, there are many to choose from in South Africa and abroad. 

You can even use a freelancer on Fiverr to do it for a couple op Rands.

 

10. Be bigger, be better.

 

I am sure you started a business around something you know a lot or passionate about. There was also a time you thought your product and services are better than your competitors?

Am I right? Well, you have to think the same way when it comes to advertising. Go bigger and better. Think outside the box here and be creative. If you want to market your business online you have to walk the extra mile. 

In the end, all the hard work and money will pay off. 

If you have anything to add to this post, please leave a comment and I will add it to the list. 

 

Go big guys. 

Affiliate Disclaimer: In this or most of my post I recommend products or services via links or and banners. If any of these links end up in a sale I get a small commision at no extra cost to you.

If you have any questions regarding this article please leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you.

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