Marketing online can seem like throwing a dart into the ocean. What are your chances of catching a fish? Well, with a little insider knowledge, you can turn the dart into a big old net. The key is to understand your audience, and put your business right in front of them. So how do you begin?
Put the Customer First
Almost every marketing venture starts with putting yourself into the customer’s shoes. So start to think about your Typical Customer. It helps to picture someone in detail, so that all of your efforts are focused and branded. So ask yourself about your typical customer(s):
- Events organiser looking for casual catering with a twist
- Busy mum buying Cupcakes for a Birthday Party
- A bride who will order a pile of bespoke cupcakes
- Someone who will buy cupcakes for friends by mail-order
- Buys the occasional cupcake, or makes bulk orders
Think about your current customers – and the customer you’d really like to have (this is the person you’ll want to focus on). Now, every time you prepare any marketing material, keep your target customer in mind. Imagine that you are having a conversation with them. What do they need to know? What would make them buy your cupcakes, instead of going to the supermarket? Do they want to know about your organic credentials, or do they want to save money?
If you already have a website, read over it again to ensure that your customer is being well served. Your Website Should be Clear and Friendly. It should be targeted towards your customer, very precisely. If your website is NOT clear or friendly, then your customers might arrive and then click out. The aim is to increase your website’s ‘stickiness’ – by providing exactly what your customer wants.
Now that you have a focused, clear and friendly website, it’s time to start attracting traffic. There are many ways to do this. You can try to do it ‘naturally’. This means that you will show the search engines that your website is relevant and popular. It’s complicated, but in essence, this is a two-step process:
1. Optimise your Website
Optimising a website is a very complex subject, so this is a quick overview.
Optimising means using keywords to make your website search-friendly.
It improves your ranking on search results, so you’ll appear higher up the page when someone searches for something like “cupcake delivery”.
Make a list of key words that your customers might use if they were searching for a cupcake website. If you are targeting local shoppers, your key words (or phrases) might be: “Cupcakes Swansea”, “Bakery Mumbles”, and “Wedding cupcakes Swansea”. (Omit words like ‘and’, ‘in’ and ‘at’, which are ignored by search engines.) You will need to include these words on your web pages – pick one for each page, and include it at a rate of about 3-5% (three times per hundred words). Also put it into the URL, if possible, and the page header (the Title across the top of the browser). If you have a web designer, ask them to incorporate your key words: they will know how to make the most of them.
2. Attracting Links
When you start a new business, networking in person AND online is very useful. You can network online by visiting forums for local business-people, but you ask others to link to your site just by asking them. The more times your website is linked from another website, the more popular the search engines will think it.. Note that merely posting your link on social networking sites as an advert is viewed as unprofessional by most businesses. If you provide useful information and include your name then people will find you by looking for you.
Start by asking everyone you know (friends, colleagues and associates – not people you don’t know) to link to your website. To improve your popularity even more, you can write short press releases (with your website address at the bottom) and issue them online (search for “press distribution”). Write articles about cupcakes and submit them to article websites such as eHow. Soon your website will be widely mentioned, and your search engine results will zoom… good luck!