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ByteStart’s Start-Up Guide – Part 17 – How to use the internet to grow your business

October 11, 2011

In the information age we live in, it’s business suicide to ignore the endless possibilities of the internet. In other words: Get yourself a website. It should be the first marketing task you carry out with your new business.

The extent to which you’ll use it will be up to you. Some people use them as not much more than an e-business card. But there’s arguably no better way than telling potential customers that you’ve arrived.

When you plan your website, decide in advance what you need from it. Do you want people to have the ability to buy directly, or is it to give them enough confidence to pick up the phone and speak to you?

You can get a good website put together for just a few hundred pounds, although typically the more you spend the better a website you get. On top of the actual site design itself, you will also have to pay for hosting (this is the cost of providing and maintaining the computer that your website sits on).

Look for a website company that will allow you to make changes and add new pages yourself, without paying extra fees. It’s a golden rule that your website must always be 100% up-to-date, and you will need to take responsibility for this.

Once you have a website up and running get used to changing and adding new content regularly. Getting lots of traffic from search engines such as Google is essentially about providing good relevant content and keeping it up-to-date.

Read our guide – why do you need a small business website?

Here are some other simple and cost-effective ways of driving web traffic.

Blogs

If adding new content regularly is good for search engines, then a blog is the perfect way to do that. It’s a kind of online diary where you can write about anything you like, such as changes in your industry.

You can use a blog to show off your expertise. It’s also a great way to keep in touch with your audience, including customers and potential customers.

Email marketing

One of the greatest benefits of sending out an email newsletter to potential and existing customers, is that with basic email marketing software, you can monitor how many are opened. This helps you understand what your audience wants to read (and therefore purchase).

You need to get the frequency of emails right, perhaps once a month or quarter. Too many or too little and you could be doing more damage than good.

Build a database by asking website visitors for their email address. Add people that you meet at networking events. Never add someone to your database without permission, or you will just be spamming them.

Getting the content right is vital. Look at the content of competitors’ email newsletters. Are you giving away enough free information or advice? Are your offers good enough?

Finally always give subscribers an easy way to stop receiving your emails.

Pay per click advertising

PPC are the small adverts which appear down the right-hand side of your internet browser when you use a search engine. Businesses have paid for these to appear, rather than the search engine picking out what it feels is relevant to your question.

You only pay when someone clicks on the advert. And the more you are willing to pay, the higher your ad will appear (although there are other conditions that affect the position of an advert, such as how popular the advert is).

When it comes to crafting your ad, every character counts. There is no room for fluff. If you stock a particular brand, mention it as early as possible in your ad, thus confirming you as a serious player in your market and also directing the right kind of traffic to your site.

Get used to reviewing PPC adverts daily. The analytical tools offered by the search engines are powerful and can help you get a better result for less expenditure.

On to ByteStart’s Start-Up Guide – Part 18 – An Overview of employing staff

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