#1 Know Why Your Customers Do Business With You
One reason stands above all others in regards to why people do business with you. They do business with you because you know provide more value than the competition. This can mean lower pricing, better service or a host of other things. People will do business with few even if your pricing is higher if you provide better value than your competition. So how can you prove you can provide that value to the Internet audience?
The Internet is information driven. It is a search engine of some kind that will determine whether or not you get in front of your target audience. Search engines are in love with information. In this environment if you provide more information than the competition, you will most likely be ranked higher and will thus get in front of more of your target market.
Content (information) outshines advertising in the Internet environment. Your potential target customers know the difference between advertising and information. While nearly all of them will shun advertising, most will be drawn to information. An advertisement provides no value. A well-written 'how-to' piece or article provides tremendous value. Get used to the idea that, in this environment, you must provide really great information, and a lot of it, if you hope to attract new customers.
#2 Draw Visitors To Your Online 'Store'
The Internet contains millions upon millions of pages of free information. Not only do you need to produce quality information that will draw customers to you, that you'll also need to make people aware that you have the information they seek. This can be done in many ways but the most effective tool is the search engine. You must demonstrate to the search engines that you have the information or content people want. Therefore optimization of your information must take high priority.
One of the most effective ways to draw traffic to your online store is optimized blogging. Blogging, especially how-to articles, generally receive good search engine placement. Optimization of your blog post is key to getting that post in front of your audience.
Remember - you're not trying to optimize to draw the world to your online store - you are attempting to optimize to draw your target audience to your online store. Therefore you must understand how your target audience seeks out information. Once you understand this you can then optimize your blog entries to allow the search engines put you in front of that target market slice.
In the real world, we attempt to identify a particular target market and to design an ad that will cause them to take notice and react to our message. On the Internet blogging works in much the same way. Blog entries should provide value, information and cause the audience to take notice and react.
#3 Social Media - Don't Sell - Tell
While a very large percentage of your target market profiles are probably using social media, they are not there are to be sold. They are there to network.
A major mistake many businesses use in regards to a social media campaign is that they attempt to sell their customers through social media outlets. If you attempt to do this you will probably create the opposite effect. People will most likely shun your message.
Instead, structure your social media communications in such a way as to provide value through informing your potential customers that the information they seek is available from you. If they understand you are providing that sought after information they will react - and they will most likely tell their friends and acquaintances that the information is available from you. While they will seldom pass on your latest cool ad to their friends, they certainly will pass on a link to information that both they and their friends seek.
#4 The List - The Basis of Engagement
Just like in the real world, we must engage with our target audience more than once if we hope to experience success. A visitor to a website produces nothing if that person never comes back. How is this done online? It is accomplished through developing an opt-in list - the Internet equivalent of a potential customer mailing list. But in this environment we do not buy a mailing list - we instead create it.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that people react to e-mail like no other form of engagement. This is because the Internet is based on permission based marketing. In other words, when a visitor fills out a form on your site and provides an e-mail address, they expect to be contacted again. If future emails to the visitor are based on giving prior permission to send such messages, more people will open them, more people will read them and people will react much more favorably.
The opt-in list is created through a non-threatening call to action. The call to action is usually (but not always) a form that a potential customer fills out to receive some type of valuable information, such as a white paper or free report. Once they have opted in to your list you then engage with that potential customer on a regular basis and attempt to convert them to a client or customer. In much the same way as we attempt to impress a potential customer in the real world with our knowledge and expertise, we use our newsletter or e-mail campaign to do the same on the Internet.
To sum up, content is currency on the Internet. It gets you in front of your target audience and causes them to respond at rates that are higher than any other strategy. Give your potential customers what they want, do it better than the competition and watch your engagement and conversion rates soar.