5 Great Ways to Promote Your Services Online (Other Than SEO)
As an SEO professional, it pains me to no end to find myself constantly reminding clients that search engines aren't the be-all-end-all of online marketing. It's easy to get focused on the daily clickety-clack of the keyboard, trying to squeeze an extra keyword onto your site, or an extra .01% increase out of your conversions.
But what about all the other ways to reach your audience online? Why fight for a .01% increase when you can see huge gains in previously untapped (and often completely ignored by competitors) online venues such as:
One of the most often overlooked places to find customers are online communities. There are often websites full of your targeted audience out there who are already engaged in your product or service. Find a forum dedicated to what you do, and get involved.
Websites like Reddit, Google+, and others have communities that are geared towards a specific topic. For instance, if you cater to small businesses, Reddit's small business subreddit gets up to 150,000 page views a month and Google+'s Small Business community has over 450,000 members! These are all people who could be interested in the types of products and services you offer.
Now, don't just go posting self-promotional links to your website or blog - that's a quick way to get banned or ignored. Instead, get involved with the communities and provide as much value as possible. Answer questions, start discussions, offer advice, etc., and every now and then you'll have a good opportunity to build awareness for your brand and website.
When we think about email marketing, we get visions of Viagra ads or Nigerian princes generously offering us portions of their fortunes. There was a time when email marketing became taboo and not worth the effort. But nowadays, email marketing can be a great tool to reach your audience.
According to the research group Forrester, "Thirty percent of transactions by repeat customers start with an email from the retailer." And, according to Custora in 2013, "Customer acquisition via email has quadrupled over the last 4 years."
The difficulty lies in building your mailing list. Sending out unsolicited emails is a good way to suffer the wrath of a blacklist, so you have to do things the old fashioned way - ask for sign-ups on your website, reply to emails with a request to add the recipient to your list, request email addresses from everyone you meet in real life, and so on. Building a quality email list is a lot of work, but the payoff can be huge.
We spend a ton of time writing quality content for our own websites and blogs, but one of the best places to promote your expertise is a site dedicated to your audience, other than your own site. Websites dedicated to your niche are always hungry for content, because more quality content = more shares and visitors, so why not promote your own expertise so everyone can see it?
If there's an industry site you frequent to get news, information, and opinions, take a moment to see if they accept guest posts. You can usually find a link regarding content submission in the website's footer, or on their contact page. Follow their guidelines, pitch your story, and if they feel it will help their readers, you’ll be given the go-ahead to write your guest blog post. Make sure it’s as compelling or interesting as possible. If they publish it, they will include a byline containing your information, and maybe even a link to your site. If not, you've still written an article you can post on your own website.
If the website you target doesn't accept guest posts, then take a look at their comment sections. Get involved in article comments, offer insight, and stay visible. I've personally received a good deal of web traffic, and even new clients, by offering my expertise on relevant article comments. If you have something interesting or insightful, an article that already has a lot of readers is a great place to share it.
Just remember that guest blogging and commenting are not good SEO tactics these days - you're doing it to establish expertise and reputation, not spam your website links.
Dealing with online reviews can be a pain in the rear end. When you get a negative review, it can be deflating and cause you to discredit the review platform altogether. But, have you ever thought to yourself that if you're ignoring sites like Yelp, Angie's List, and others, then maybe your competitors are as well?
If you stay active on review sites and promote your company and services by asking clients for reviews, you improve your chances of reaching potential clients. Two thirds of customers make a decision based on reviews, and a consumer who is making a choice based on reviews is much more likely to contact the company who has 20 reviews, even if not all are positive, than they are a company that doesn't have any reviews.
So, stay active on your reviews: respond to all reviews and campaign for new feedback from current and past clients.
Hey, did you know that outside of your cubicle there's a real world with living people, animals, and most importantly, potential customers? It's obvious, I know, but it's amazing how often I have to remind people how meeting people in real life can connect them to your website. Handing out business cards, getting involved in business groups, speaking at workshops, getting involved in your local chamber, and so on - these are all opportunities for you to promote your website or online presence, and they'll help connect the "online you" to the "real you." Some of your most engaged web visitors may be people you've made a good impression upon when you met them in real life.
So stay active, and find unique ways to bring visitors to your website - an engaged audience is much more likely to convert than one comprised of people who find you through a search engine.
What are some untapped online venues you've found to drive traffic and awareness, that many people overlook?