Generating new business isn't as easy as throwing up a website anymore. With more websites and books dedicated to inbound marketing, the craft for creating an online persona that generates sales is becoming an increasingly involved and complicated process. In the rush to produce a quality website, many marketers forget that customers don't just rely on a single site; they expect an entire online persona. To increase leads, generate visits and ultimately drive sales, marketers need a complete online profile.
While ranking high in search engines and producing a quality website is still important, complete reliance on it as a tool for generating leads is a recipe for disaster. The fact is your audience spends more time browsing social media pages and going to specific sites than they do typing search queries into Google. While searches get users specifically looking for your services, they ignore the broad range of users that may be interested in but not actively searching your business.
This is where having a full online profile becomes important. Unless you love spending your days individually singling out prospects, a strong online presence finds your audience for you. Expand your audience through friends, followers and guest posting on popular sites.
In today’s 24/7 society, providing one site for online service is like suggesting people send comments via telegraph. It seems outdated, hokey and inefficient. Instead, your audience expects that when they want to contact you, they can do just that on just about any medium available. Whether it’s tweeting or liking, giving customers a simple way to engage with your business and brand is essential in building a loyal following.
The trend toward social media for businesses doesn’t just benefit the consumer. Businesses gain the advantage of having instant feedback and support for new products or services. Social media sites also offer access to customers' social circles. This ability to widen your social circle without spending excess time or money is unmatched.
Many marketers get bogged down in the basic logistics of expanding their online presence. From the sheer number of social media sites to recognizing competition in an online world, it can seem overwhelming to master each facet. This is where marketers need to assess and choose which sites would create the most positive press and coverage on their own website.
A presence on every social media site is not only unsustainable, it’s also unnecessary. Most marketers would do best to focus on a few key sites that provide audience access. Sites like Pinterest or Facebook are useful in some markets, but they aren’t beneficial to every business. Investigate which would best serve your goals and focus on those few.
While even a few social media profiles can get overwhelming, sites have popped up across the Internet that consolidate multiple social media sites into a single platform. A recent post about Triberr addresses the specifics of using a social media platform for profile consolidation.
Networking is just as important online as it is off. While sites like LinkedIn make it seemingly easy, it takes more than adding connections to see the benefits in your day-to-day business. Online networking goes beyond a simple link to a profile.
Engagement is a key tenant of a successful online networking campaign. Reaching out to potential customers isn’t enough. Creating a reason for them to follow through to your site is essential. Increasing engagement through gamification and sweepstakes are simple ways business can accomplish this task on social media sites. Creating a campaign that encourages a dialogue with potential leads is also a great method of building a relationship.
Online communities are an enigma for most business owners. While they provide an audience and a platform, the resistance met when trying to pitch to these users can be overwhelming. Sites such as Reddit have a huge audience but very little marketing because of resistant users.
Becoming an expert in your field helps overcome this resistance and allows the use of community sites for attracting a wider audience. Becoming an expert isn’t as tough as it sounds. Creating a profile that consistently helps users without overt advertising is a simple but effective way to gain credibility on community sites.
One of the best ways to engage a potential customer is guest blogging. Finding blogs that specifically speak to your audience and sending a message through an engaging and targeted post not only helps shepherd new audience members to your online website, it also increases your search engine rankings by providing inbound and outbound links. Even if guest posting doesn’t create a huge bump in traffic like it used to, it can increase brand recognition in potential future customers.
Creating a full persona for your business online is a key element that drives inbound marketing. A simple website is great for starting a business, but it’s the steps outlined above, such as creating a social media profile and guest blogging, that fill out your online presence in a way that increases current customer loyalty and drives new customers toward your site.
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Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.