11 Must-Use Channels For Your Online Business

Online marketing is an institution by itself. To succeed with it, you’ll need an umbrella approach, discipline, a bias for action, open-mindedness, hard work, and tons of timely information.

Marketingprofs.com in association with Content Marketing Institute published a study on content marketing, which reveals that B2B content marketers use a heavy part of their marketing budget into content marketing.

Large companies use an average of 18 different methods (small businesses use about 11) of driving traffic and improving customer engagement, and social media is gaining more traction as an efficient medium for generating leads and driving traffic.

The need to get more traffic to websites continues to beleaguer small business owners, bloggers, and anyone with a marketable web property. The need for finding cost effective ways to do that is even greater.

Here are 11 methods to drive traffic to your website without spending too much:

Social Media

Social media now ranks as a favorite for a whopping 87% of content marketers according to the Content Marketing study mentioned above. For small, medium, and large businesses, social media just works. Starting from distributing your content on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter being the main channels) all the way to engaging with customers and managing conversations.

Start with finding other users who relate to your business: thought leaders in your business, and potential customers. Seek them out through niche directories dedicated to social media users. Often, B2B marketing specialists use web directories to find potential clients and then look for social media accounts to network with them.

Blogging for Business

An Infographic from Vertical Response has much to tell us about social media habits of business owners and bloggers. About 55% of small businesses have a blog. Over 45% of these businesses spend about 1-3 hours to create a blog post.

Clearly, blogging has multiple benefits for businesses such getting direct traffic to your website; developing readership over a long term; facilitating social media sharing; building a community around a brand, products, or services; and much more.

Email Marketing

In spite of social media onslaught, email is still the warhorse. Jackson Wightman of prdaily.com refers to an infographic where he mentions that there are over 3.3 billion email accounts in the world today. At least 100 trillion messages are sent each year and a business makes an average of $40 on every dollar spent on email marketing (2011). Opt-in subscribers are a target audience who’ve expressed interest to hear from your business.

A waiting list of email users who are motivated to hear from you and actually look forward to your emails is a priceless target audience for marketing.

Videos

Video is the fastest growing ad format with a whopping 55% growth, so says eMarketer. If there were just one marketing method you could depend on for your business, it’d be video. Invodo.com, via Internet Retailer reports that 52% of consumers report getting more confident about buying after watching product-based videos and they are 85% more likely to purchase when they watch videos.

Video is the single biggest traffic driver and conversion catalyst there is. Period.

Guest Posting and web 2.0 properties

Article marketing is down and out. Today, guest posting  — when done right — that works well for businesses. While all it takes to do guest postingis a bit of a hustle and the hard work that goes towards developing the guest post, the returns far outweigh the benefits of guest posting.

The key to do guest posting right is to write spectacular posts relevant to the audience of the host blog. It’s not about writing a guest post for the sake of writing one; it’s always about providing value to the host blog and to the audience or readers of that particular host blog that you are writing for.

In-person events

In a world that’s increasingly bending towards the convenience of Google Hangouts, Webinars, and online meetings, offline workshops or other in-person events are highly effective in helping you get the word out about your business. In a classic word-of-mouth flow, your in-person event attendees spread the word to their friends and family who’ll in turn share it with others. For all you know, an offline in-person event could trigger talk on social media (bringing the whole marketing flow back online).

Webinars/webcasts

When your readers/subscribers/visitors or customers invest time or take a conscious decision to pay attention (as a part of a learning experience), you then bring in a high-level of engagement. Webinars are a classic example of how to keep your audience engaged for a much longer time period than it takes for them to read a post or respond on social media.

As members of your audience sit down to take notes off your webinar, their personal vested interest is much higher leading to a higher degree of engagement. Further, good webinars are shared socially leading to a great deal of traffic back to your website.

Sponsor events

Someone once said,

When you are too small, you should ride on the back of an elephant”.

Event sponsorships are one of the best ways for a small business to leverage the pull of a much larger event that has the ability to draw a lot of attendees.

Sponsoring events doesn’t cost much but when you do so, you reach out to an entirely new audience thereby expanding your reach. You could ride the back of as many events as you like or go with just a handful of mega events, depending on your budget and geographic constraints.

Parallel Publishing

Parallel publishing is all about developing third-party publications (relevant to your business) that help you tap into additional streams of traffic. For instance, you can start with creating a newspaper using paper.li. Additionally, you could use rockzi.com to curate another online publication – both of which tap into an entirely new stream of traffic. Other ways of working to get additional traffic to your website is to create separate publications that you can share on SlideShare. If you can, you may even create publications using tools like Issue.

With parallel publishing, all brands become publishers with every publication working hard to get you more traffic.

Mobile marketing

Mobile is already the preferred mode for consumers to access content. According to Google’s The Zero Moment of Truth, more than 73% of American shoppers conduct online searches off their mobile phones before making the purchase decision. ComScore 2012 reveals that 4 out of 5 consumers use mobile phones to shop. According to Microsoft Tag 2012, mobile Internet will take over desktop Internet usage by 2014.

Mobile marketing is one of those other things small businesses can’t miss.

Leaving Digital footprints on other blogs, Communities, and Q & A sites

One of the easier ways to get the word out, channel some traffic back to your website is to leave your digital footprint all over the web. Of course, you can only hope to get good amount of traffic when you respond to questions, help others, solve problems, share your opinions articulately, and engage in meaningful discussions on communities and Q & A sites (such as Quora or LinkedIn Answers). Leaving meaningful comments on other blog posts is still an effective way to get traffic to your website.

Leaving your digital footprint is one-time work that pays off over a long period of time.

Each of these methods is accessible for small businesses to tap into. Marketing is hard work – it requires commitment over drawn out stretches of time. Yet, the Internet has leveled the arena. The rewards are bountiful for every business that puts in the “due diligence”

Which of these marketing methods are you going to start with? What are your chosen methods of marketing?

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