The World Wide Web has revolutionised business – especially for entrepreneurs. It's never been easier to launch a startup thanks to the online business phenomenon. But the internet has also had a profound effect on marketing and public relations, with all kinds of tools available to communicate with current customers and business prospects alike.
Whether your venture is an online business or a more traditional company, you can’t afford to ignore the power of the internet for marketing. In fact, you shouldn’t think of it as just marketing; it’s about engaging an audience and creating a following for your brand. Here are just some of the ways you can reach out to consumers online:
### Social media
Twitter is an ideal platform for growing a following. You can start an account – or even several accounts covering different aspects of your business – and keep in touch with customers while also introducing your brand to new prospects. Follow people who fit the profile of your target customers. Look out for mentions of your company or offerings on Twitter and retweet the positive tweets and reply to the negative tweets to try and make amends with dissatisfied customers.
Remember Twitter is a social platform – that means you shouldn’t be too formal or focused solely on your own business. Encourage discussion and respond to others. If your tweets are only used for straight marketing, it will irritate your followers and they will start to tune out or unfollow you. So add a personal touch to your tweets and make sure any marketing efforts offer something to your followers other than bland information. Highlight special offers and discounts and tailor your tweets to appeal to your own set of followers, reflecting the topics they’re interesting in talking about.
Facebook is another popular marketing tool for brands and businesses. Again, it’s not just about delivering your marketing message. The idea is to build a popular profile that will encourage followers to ‘like’ your posts and spread the word about your company. Post content that users are likely to repost or share with others – making it funny or useful can help with this. Don’t be afraid to publicise your offerings because news of good deals or attractive products might be shared, too.
The likes of Instagram and YouTube are useful tools for showcasing your offerings. You can co-ordinate your posts on these with your Facebook and Twitter accounts, linking to your videos and pictures and potentially growing your audience on all your social media networks.
### Email marketing
It shows how far we’ve come that email almost seems quaint and old-fashioned these days. Nonetheless, it’s a valuable marketing tool for your company and can encourage a significant amount of sales.
Use an incentive to get people to sign up to your email list. For example, you could offer them the best offers and discounts via email, or sign them up for a regular email newsletter containing information that’s useful to them. You can use your website and social media accounts to encourage sign-ups.
### Encouraging customer reviews
Internet shoppers are a savvy crowd these days – they like to do their research before committing to a purchase. So encouraging your customers to review your products or services will result in more business. Good reviews are the perfect endorsement for your business, but don’t be afraid of bad reviews – they represent an ideal opportunity to engage with dissatisfied customers and turn them into satisfied ones. Potential customers will be encouraged to see you responding to negative opinions (providing you do so in a reasonable and respectful way) and it will increase trust in your company. Encouraging customer feedback will also help you to tweak your offerings to suit your customer base.