23 Ways To Market Your Business Online and Increase Sales

23 Ways To Market Your Business Online and Increase Sales

Whether you’re a SaaS business, florist, consulting group, or bookstore, promoting your business on the internet can help you take advantage of the growing number of consumers online. In fact, about a third of U.S. consumers reported searching for a local business every day in 2020, and 73% searched at least once per week. Therefore, businesses wanting to capture customers’ attention should promote themselves online and have a strong digital presence in 2021.

To help you promote your business online, this article will cover the mediums you should pay attention to and steps to follow, including:

Website

A website is your business’s home online. A well-built website can help customers who come across your page understand:

  • What you can do for them
  • What makes you a stronger option than your competitors
  • How they can get in touch with you
  • How they can make a purchase

Your website also serves as the focal point of your online presence. Other marketing campaigns and efforts to build your digital presence will point customers toward your website so they can browse your product or service offerings, make a purchase, or get in contact with a customer service representative.

That’s why it’s good to take the time to build a quality website that represents your brand well and abides by best practices to attract customers. Use Upwork's Free Website Cost Calculator tool to estimate costs of setting up a website.

1. Start a website

Fortunately, putting together a website doesn’t require you to know how to code different site elements. Instead, you can use a website builder, such as Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly. A website builder provides different tools that allow you to select which elements, including design, you want on the pages of your site. You can then focus on developing content for each page.

As you get started on website creation, focus on creating pages that accurately reflect your brand and the message you want to communicate to customers. Help visitors to your page understand what sets you apart and how your products or services can help them solve their pain points.

Here are a few tips when creating your website:

  • Make sure it’s easy for customers to find what they’re looking for. For example, if they want to call you or place an order, make sure they know exactly where to go, so they don’t have to click through many pages while searching.
  • Don’t clutter pages with text. Each page should be easily scannable so that customers can absorb the information with little effort.
  • Use high-quality images that reflect your products and services. The more original pictures you can take, and the fewer stock pictures you have to rely on, the more appealing it will be to your customers.
  • Try optimizing for words and phrases customers use when searching for businesses like yours. We’ll discuss this in more depth in the SEO section.

For example, let’s say you’re a local artist. A high-quality website should enable customers to view your artwork, make purchases online, or provide contact information if they have questions regarding the artwork or want to visit your physical store (if you have one). A website is a critical component if you want to promote a business online like this.

PR

Public relations (PR) is a way to advertise your business’s accomplishments, such as new product releases or developments in your organization. In particular, digital press releases can help promote your name on third-party websites, potentially introducing you to a wider audience. They can also include direct links back to your business website. This can help boost your business online and bring more customers to your website to learn more about your brand.

2. Start a PR campaign

To start a PR campaign, focus on highlighting something specific about your business. For example, if you’re opening a new office, launching a new product, or undertaking a new initiative within your organization, you might create a PR campaign surrounding this development.

Your campaign should highlight who within your target audience will care about this development most and who you want to attract with your campaign. For example, consider a cybersecurity firm that will be opening a new office in another state. They might design a PR campaign that includes a press release announcing the opening, promotions on social media that target people living near the new location, and announcements on the website. Every part of the campaign works together to get the news out and encourage people in the new location to reach out to the business, visit the company site, or see if the business offers the cybersecurity protection they need.

Email

Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy involving sending emails. It allows you to remain in contact with customers and prospects regularly, nurturing them and keeping them engaged with your business.

Even if a prospect has become a customer, it doesn’t mean your relationship is over. The idea is to have customers continue to buy from you whenever they need to make a purchase in your industry. So, don’t neglect the importance of keeping them satisfied and engaged in addition to nurturing prospects.

You can use email to send out a variety of content. For example, you can let people know when you’ve published content on your website that they might find helpful or interesting based on their customer profile. You can also let them know about promotions or even inquire about their satisfaction with their purchase.

3. Build an email list

The first step of an email campaign involves building an email list. A successful email list captures the addresses of people interested in your brand and who want to learn more about what you have to say. You can use a variety of strategies to capture email addresses, including:

  • Creating gated pieces of content, such as whitepapers or ebooks that people have to register to receive
  • Hosting webinars or other industry events that encourage registrations
  • Inviting people to sign up for a newsletter or email lists from you
  • Collecting email addresses from customers when they make a purchase

Consider a consulting group that wants to build an email list. They might offer a newsletter with tips and management ideas for midsized companies. Those interested in receiving the information register, and then the company has a growing number of prospects they can reach out to see if they might benefit from a full consultation.

4. Engage with lead nurturing

You can also begin to track the different groups of people who register through different platforms. Those who sign up for a specific newsletter versus those who voluntarily give you an email address when they make a purchase probably have a different focus. Tracking this information allows you to segment your email lists and send content that only applies to them.

For example, say you have a lead who downloaded a whitepaper on a specific service you offer. You might segment this lead with other prospects who have expressed their interest in the service. When you have content to email about this service, you have the perfect audience to send it to. Since the topic is relevant to your audience, they’re also more likely to open it and engage, increasing your open and click-through rates.

5. Send promotional emails

Now that you have your email lists built and you understand how to use them to nurture leads, the next step is in sending promotional emails. Your emails should focus on topics and deals that will appeal most to a particular segment. For example:

  • Suppose you have a segmented list of existing customers. In that case, your promotion might offer renewal discounts, advice about extending the life of a product, or getting the best value out of a product.
  • If you have a customer interested in a particular service, you can offer information or discounts on the service.
  • If you segment your lists based on geography, you can send promotional emails based on weather, events, or trends in the area. If customers in a particular region are expecting snow, for example, you might draft an email about using your product curled up next to a fire.

When your emails are highly relevant to customers and prospects, they’ll feel more inclined to open them. Your business’s promotions can then help encourage people to visit your site, make a purchase, or move past any initial hesitation.

Content

The content of your website plays a central role in customer engagement by communicating your brand and values. The majority of your content will appear somewhere on your website. However, it may also be hosted within other web properties for business promotion, such as guest posts you write and the material you post for social media.

Content marketing helps introduce customers to your brand. It becomes your voice online. Those unfamiliar with your brand will read your material to get to know what you offer and how you can help them. Content can also take a variety of forms. Many people associate content with text, but that only comprises one part. You can also have video and image content, such as pictures or infographics.

The goal with the content you produce lies in educating and interesting customers. Creating successful content also calls for your brand to be sensitive to the needs of your customers and what leads want to see.

6. Develop blog content

Blogs can house the majority of your content. In your blog, you can write posts on many different topics, such as news related to your industry, tips for your products, and even announcements about your company. Blog content gives you many opportunities to educate and inform readers so they see you as an authority who can answer their questions.

For example, consider a SaaS business. They might create blog content related to best practices for nurturing leads as they come in through the website. When new businesses interested in finding a marketing professional who can help them better manage leads come across the post, they’ll be more likely to see the SaaS business as an expert in the field. This encourages them to learn more about the brand and its potential for helping them improve their lead nurturing practices.

7. Create YouTube content

YouTube has become an immensely popular content channel, with 1.86 billion viewers in 2021. Creating a channel of helpful and informative videos can help you further your brand reach and potentially reach numerous customers you might not have otherwise found.

For example, you might create help videos and tutorials to guide people as they use your product or service so they can get the most out of the experience. You might also create informative videos where you explore challenging topics in your industry or provide news updates with commentary for your prospects.

To be successful with YouTube marketing, make sure you:

  • Understand what customers want to learn about.
  • Use quality equipment when filming the videos, so they look clear and professional.
  • Have a CTA that drives people back to your website and encourages them to join email lists or make a purchase.

For example, consider a business that sells popular software. That business might create help videos about how to use the different areas of the software, any expert tricks, and different techniques and uses customers can tap into. Altogether, this demonstrates the value of the software and helps ensure customers have a positive impression of the business and their desire to help customers.

8. Consider ebooks

Ebooks also play an important role in promoting your business online. Companies often use them as gated items, putting significantly more time and effort into developing them than blog posts. Ebooks help cement you as a leader and expert in your field.

By requiring people to register for your ebook, you can also collect valuable information about them. You can see what they download, showing what topics interest them the most. This can then help your sales team when they approach the lead later to try and nurture them.

Consider a party planning business. They might produce an ebook that walks readers through the art of planning the perfect party. When someone requests to download the book, the brand knows this lead might be interested in planning a party, so they can send them emails or put them in touch with a customer service representative who can explain how the business can be of assistance.

9. Create image assets

Image assets are another type of content. You can use image assets to make your entire site look more appealing, including blog posts, social media posts, and product descriptions.

You can also create image assets as another form of gated content, such as in-depth infographics. For example, a business that provides IT staffing might create an infographic exploring staffing trends and what employers might want to know before hiring someone. Gating the item encourages people to register to download the file.

SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of aligning the online content you produce with the terms and phrases that potential customers use to search for businesses similar to yours. This can boost your rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher you rank on the SERPs, the more clicks your business should receive.

SEO requires businesses to understand the interests that drive potential customers. The better you understand your customers, the easier it is to produce content that aligns with those needs and demonstrates how your company can help people with their pain points. Therefore, quality SEO calls for attention to the search and reading habits of customers.

10. Optimize your website for product/service keywords

To begin your optimization efforts, focus on optimizing your website for product and service keywords. It’s good to know what keywords people use when searching for similar products or services to accomplish the goal of optimization. Keyword research can help you identify the most prominent terms.

For example, a company that sells gardening supplies will want to make sure their website content reflects terms like:

  • Gardening
  • Gardening tools
  • Growing a garden

This makes it more likely that potential customers will find the company when searching for those terms on the SERPs.

11. Optimize your content pages

It’s also a good idea to optimize the content pages you produce on your website, such as blog posts. For example, if the gardening company mentioned above wants to write a post about starting your first vegetable garden, they might perform keyword research to see what people search for to learn about the first steps in gardening. They may then mirror similar language so search engines can easily see that the content answers customers’ questions about the process.

The more closely your content aligns with search terms, the better it’ll rank for relevant queries, which can encourage more clicks.

12. Consider Google My Business (for local businesses)

When people search for local businesses, Google search highlights businesses near them that generally have the best reputations. To appear on this list of highlighted businesses, you’ll need to have a Google My Business page. This is an important part of your online marketing strategy.

With Google My Business, you can create a profile for your organization, complete with high-quality photos, service descriptions, and opportunities for customers to leave reviews. You can also get yourself pinpointed on Google Maps. Altogether, this provides the search engine with a more complete look at your business and what you can do for customers.

Make sure to fill out your profile fully, though, including highlighting your relevant industry and the products or services you provide. This helps Google know when you align with a particular query and deserve to receive the highlighted position on the SERPs for a local query.

SEM

Search engine marketing (SEM) uses paid advertising to call attention to a business’s website. With SEM, you target specific people online who you believe will benefit from finding your website. For example, you might target people who visited your website in the past or those searching for certain terms that relate to your industry.

When you use this strategy well, your website appears more prominently for those interested in your products or services, encouraging them to visit your website and discover how you can help them. To accurately target these customers, though, it’s a good idea to research the type of searches that people make, indicating they may want to find your business. You can then create ad copy to encourage them to click.

13. Run Google paid ads

Google ads empower businesses to create advertisements that target people based on their searches. You can create a list of words for which you’d like your ads to appear, and exclusion lists that tell when you want your ad not to appear.

For example, if you sell umbrellas, you might want to have terms related to staying dry in the rain on your inclusion list. However, you might have “insurance” on your exclusion list, so your ad doesn’t appear to people searching for “umbrella insurance policies.”

Once you have your lists of words, the next step involves setting the bid you’re willing to pay per click (PPC). In other words, Google will let you know what the average cost per click is for ads related to this term, and you’ll set what you’re willing to spend. How often your ad appears will depend on the ad’s quality and how high the bid is compared to others interested in those keywords. Each time someone places a relevant query, Google will rapidly balance all the relevant ads and select the ones most suited to appear.

For example, a real estate agent might drive traffic to their site by targeting people searching for homes in their area. Their online advertising will then encourage people to learn more about their real estate expertise.

Social networks

Social media has blossomed into a variety of platforms, all of which can benefit businesses interested in building their customer base. These platforms can benefit small business owners as well as large corporations.

Research indicates that nearly 4.5 billion people worldwide use social media, an increase of over 13% from 2020. People use social media to connect with friends and family, follow news and trends, and follow and engage with brands that interest them. Thus, social media marketing can be a great way for businesses to expand their reach.

Building a strong presence on social media can help your brand become more visible. The activity of users who interact with you will also show up on their followers’ feeds, increasing the number of people you can reach with your posts and information. You can also use hashtags to help people discover your content when searching for topics you’ve written about.

Social media platforms also give you a chance to engage directly with prospective customers, such as answering their questions, which in turn encourages them to trust you.

14. Facebook Ads

With Facebook Ads, you can create paid advertising that targets people who fall into specific demographics on the platform. Instead of targeting people who search for certain terms, as you would with SEM on Google, you can create ads for people who fall into certain groups, such as an age range or a particular geographic area. You can even target people based on their interests.

These ads can further build brand recognition and encourage visits to your Facebook profile. As you gain followers, you also increase the number of people who click through to your website, engage with your brand, and eventually become customers. To run your ad, you’ll need to make a bid of what you’ll pay per click, similar to how Google paid ads work.

For example, a bookstore might target people who list reading as a particular interest and those who live within a 20-mile radius of their location. The ad will then appear on those people’s feeds, according to the bid the company used, and encourage people to come and learn more about this particular bookstore.

15. Instagram

Instagram is an image-based platform, revolving around posting images and captions that people can share and follow. Any company that has a highly visual component may find this platform helpful. People can click through from your profile to your website and connect to learn more about your organization and what you have to offer.

A florist, for example, might create inspiring Instagram images of different arrangements, the flowers used for different events, and similar flowers used to inspire people to stop and buy some flowers for their next event.

16. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional social media platform where users create profiles to network and engage with other professionals in a work-focused setting. The articles people share and the posts they make tend to revolve around business and work.

Businesses can also create LinkedIn profiles and encourage people to stay updated on the latest company news. You can create a company page on LinkedIn to help people learn more about what you have to offer. Sharing content related to business success, what your company has accomplished, and your brand values, for example, can help you professionally engage people.

Consider an accounting firm that specializes in working with businesses. Creating a profile and regularly engaging with customers on topics surrounding finances, taxes, budgeting, and managing accounts can help people see this firm as the expert they need when they have a question.

17. Hire influencers

Some social media users have amassed large numbers of followers, and they have become similar to living advertisements. These influencers inspire people to try different products based on their reviews. This works similar to a customer review but on a much larger scale. Influencer marketing encourages followers to try something, and, often, the influencer uses it personally.

You can hire influencers to speak about your organization or product. This, in turn, lets more people know about your business and what you have to offer. They may also hear more about the benefits you offer, encouraging them to visit your website, learn more about you, and even make a purchase.

A makeup brand, for example, may ask a fashion influencer to try their new eyeliner. This recommendation can inspire other people to give the eyeliner a try and visit the business website to learn more about the products they offer.

Affiliates

With affiliate marketing, you network with people who agree to promote your products or services, typically in exchange for a commission of the sales you make due to their referrals. Online affiliate marketing often involves people with larger followings, such as other websites or bloggers, including a link and mention of your product or service in their content. With a unique link, you can track how many leads arrive on your site because of this particular affiliate, and you can compensate them accordingly.

This effort can drive more people to your website and increase people’s awareness of your brand. Selecting affiliates with trusting followers can also help you further your brand’s reputation.

18. Utilize existing affiliate networks

An affiliate network can help you manage some aspects of affiliate marketing, such as running campaigns and tracking the results from the efforts put forth. Using existing ones can help you jump right in so you can start seeing results.

Consider a sporting goods store that wants to promote hockey equipment ahead of the hockey season. Contacting an affiliate network and setting up a campaign can help them get affiliate links from online sources related to sports, all of which will point back to the company’s website and encourage people to make purchases.  

Those in the market for hockey products have the convenience of buying what they need with just one click of the mouse.

Partnerships

Partnerships allow you to team up with others who have some audience overlap to produce digital content that will benefit you both. With a marketing partnership, you might produce:

  • Blog posts
  • Webinars
  • Ebooks
  • Events

With a partnership, you can have your business and role in the event promoted to the other company’s target audience and your own. This can increase your audience and encourage more people to interact with you online.

19. Find relevant partners

For this effort to work successfully, though, it’s important to find the right partner. For example, you don’t necessarily want to work with a competitor and provide them with your leads. At the same time, some slight overlap in the audience is necessary to make the endeavor worthwhile.

For example, a nutritionist might decide to pair up with a gym to target people interested in improving their health. The two can decide to host a webinar about keeping New Year’s resolutions in early January. These two don’t directly compete with each other, but they likely have customers in common and can supply each other with leads.

Direct mail

Direct mail shouldn’t be overlooked as a means of building brand awareness and bringing in new customers. Direct mail can boast open rates as high as 90%, which means that actively reaching out to customers this way can provide you with substantial benefits.

You can use direct mail to work alongside your online strategy. Specifically, you can use your mailings to let customers know where they can find you online and on social media. This encourages customers to visit your pages and see what you have to offer. This can become even more pronounced if your marketing efforts include incentives that encourage direct mail recipients to follow you. For example, you might have exclusive rewards for social media followers.

Additionally, your direct mailings can increase brand recognition so that when potential customers see you on the SERPs or elsewhere online, they’ll feel more inclined to click on your link.

20. Send your prospects and customers promotions

Use your direct mail to send prospects and customers promotions that encourage them to visit your business website. A local beauty consultant, for example, might use direct mail to let people know about a discount they can use during online checkout. The same flyer can also give them more information about your business, including where to find you online and how to contact you so they can take advantage of your offers.

Sponsorships

With sponsorships, you lend your support to different events or fundraisers. It can provide you with a means of demonstrating your values to people and getting your name in front of potential customers. You can also incorporate links to your website through promotional materials for the event. This encourages people to engage with your brand online, searching to learn more about you.

21. Sponsor local events in your community

Sponsoring local events in your community allows you to get out among potential customers within your community. By sponsoring local events, you can:

  • Help people in your area get to know your brand and increase reach and recognition.
  • Have a chance to meet people in your community in person, hopefully providing you with opportunities to network and let people know about your business.
  • Have your name appear in news and press releases related to the event, which can help you build your digital presence.
  • Encourage people to visit your website.

For example, say a nutrition store wants to attract potential customers and increase purchases made on its online store. It might sponsor a 5K run to raise money for a local school. Doing so introduces people interested in health and fitness to learn about their online store. They also communicate to the community that they care about local schools. People will then be more inspired to learn about the nutrition store.

Customer reviews

Customer reviews play an important role in building an online presence. Customer reviews are readily apparent whenever someone searches the name of your business, as they appear on Google My Business and other review websites. Having a two-star rating versus a five-star rating will definitely impact the impression people have of your organization.  

A good rating will also impact the likelihood of Google showing your business to users when they search for companies in your industry in your area. Positive reviews can increase your online presence and encourage more potential customers to visit your business website.

22. Obtain reviews for social proof

Social proof means that people are more likely to trust a business or product if they see others using the same business or product. For example, if you have several friends who use one particular contractor, you’re probably more inclined to use the same contractor.

The same thing occurs with customer reviews. Say, for example, you’re a plumber. Building a strong reputation with numerous positive reviews on both Google and Yelp can help you bring in more customers. If someone searches for a plumber in their area to help them with a leaky sink, they’ll be more inclined to contact you.

You can encourage customers to leave reviews by letting those satisfied with your services know you appreciate positive reviews and testimonials. You can also ask people for feedback throughout your interactions to let them know you appreciate their opinion. This can help them foster a positive impression of your business.

23. Leverage Yelp and other third-party customer reviews

Keep in mind that Google is not the only platform where people can leave reviews. Numerous other review platforms exist as well, such as Yelp and Angi. You might also have some options related specifically to your industry.

Know the review sites that apply to your business. For example, a hotel or travel agency might want to pay close attention to reviews left on TripAdvisor.

To get the most from these platforms, link to your review site profiles on your website so that customers know they can find you there. Also, make sure your profiles on the different sites have been claimed and filled out. This includes adding photos, information and updating your profiles as needed.

Conclusion

Whether you want to promote an e-commerce business or have a business-to-business (B2B) organization, building a digital following and engaging with potential customers online can help you grow. As you learn how to promote your business online with these different strategies, employ metrics to help you understand your progress and which strategies work best for you.

If you’re a freelancer interested in learning how to market your business online, see how easy it is to promote yourself and find work through Upwork. If you need an expert to help manage different parts of your multichannel marketing campaign, though, Upwork can also connect you to independent professionals who can help. With talent covering a wide array of skills—from social media marketing to website development—it’s easy to find the professionals you need to help your business thrive online.



Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.

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23 Ways To Market Your Business Online and Increase Sales
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