Building an Online Presence With More Than a Website
As you prepared your 2012 marketing plans, chances are you kept in mind the top reasons marketing plans fail each year: poorly defined goals, tenuous commitment from the sales team and shrinking budgets. But did you consider a critical strategy for building your company's online presence?
Sure, your company might have a robust website where visitors can find detailed product and purchasing information. A website by itself, however, isn't enough to rise above competitors and connect with prospects.
Consumers use a variety of online resources (e.g., search engines and testimonials) to seek out services, products and information they're interested in. While your website is one of those resources, it might not be the first place prospects go to find you.
Become a part of the early buy cycle
Customers are using a variety of online resources during the early stages of the buy cycle, when they define their requirements, conduct research and identify vendors who may be able to meet their needs. Sources include search engines, online catalogs, e-newsletters, social media networks and peer-to-peer reviews. If your company isn't using these resources as leverage, it's probably losing many sales opportunities.
Start creating an online presence
Having a broad yet focused online presence in the early stages of the buy cycle will help ensure your company makes a shopper's list in the later stages of the cycle. How is that done? It's important to keep in mind that a broad online presence means you can be found in a variety of information sources. A focused presence means these information sources are being used by the target audience you're trying to reach. Try executing these ideas to build your online presence:
- Sponsor online events such as virtual conferences to help your company establish its reputation as a leader and showcase your entire portfolio of products and services.
- Advertise in industry e-newsletters. With a single click, send prospects to your website to take advantage of an offer of useful info such as a whitepaper or webinar.
- Increase your social media initiatives on sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook as well as blogs to help your company become a trusted and valuable resource for buyers.
- Build a presence on specialized search engines and directories during the early stages of the buy cycle, when buyers seek out suppliers, products and services that meet their needs.
- Team up with a leading online media company that's focused on your industry to produce and promote an educational webinar directed at the audience you want to attract.
- Promote your brand and products using online banner ads on a network of industry-related websites, again sending interested prospects back to your website with a single click.
- Produce short video segments such as executive interviews, how-to articles and customer testimonials and post them on YouTube, where you can take advantage of features such as adding keywords that are relevant to the content and your offerings.
By implementing some of these tips, you can help prospects find your company during the early stages of the buy cycle and drive qualified traffic to your website. As you move forward with your marketing plans, remember the easiest way to get customers to your website is to lead them there with a broad, focused online presence.
Chris Chariton is senior vice president of product management and supplier marketing for GlobalSpec, a provider of online marketing programs for companies interested in reaching the engineering, industrial and manufacturing communities. Chris can be reached at email@example.com.
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