Home Editor's Choice Online tips: Sales and marketing strategy

Online tips: Sales and marketing strategy

Online tips: Sales and marketing strategy

A good online sales and marketing strategy begins with an armed knowledge of the marketing basics, the product itself and smart, advanced planning. With so many resources and options available online, it’s easy to get lost in the jumble of things and not know where to start.

Sales and Marketing Basics

Before starting a marketing campaign, it’s important to be aware of the 4P’s of marketing: product, price, placement and promotion. A weak point in one area can decrease chances of success, with the product acting as the foundation for the rest of the marketing mix. For instance, if the product itself is not appealing or valued because of the concept, quality or presentation (including packaging), no matter how well it is promoted, it won’t be marketable.

So given that you have a good product and a price that customers are willing to pay, here are a few helpful tips and strategies on placement and promotion to help grow sales.

Online Placement Strategy

Placement is the location where the product can be purchased and how accessible it is. This includes the following:

  • Online Store. Your online store should be attractive and match your brand image and style. Look for other distribution channels including Amazon, which is a great selling opportunity that many merchants take advantage of.
  • Blog. If your company doesn’t already have a blog, use it to personalize a product and deliver it to the reader in a more different and cool perspective. Then link that product to the item and shopping cart so if they are interested, they can immediately purchase without having to work further to find the item. A company blog is also useful to hold contests and giveaways for readers, which creates very high interest.
  • Search Engines. Get yourself noticed on search engines. If you don’t know about search engine optimization (SEO), it may be worth it to hire a SEO specialist to get your website ranked naturally on the first page of all search engines. This is a great long-term marketing strategy that is worth implementing. When a person types in a certain keyword on the search engine, if your site is ranked first, the probability of your link being clicked is very high.

Online Promotion Strategy

Promotion is different from placement. It deals with publicizing, persuading and convincing the public to buy your product by speaking to their needs and wants.

  • Google Adwords / Facebook Ads. If budget allows, participate in Google’s marketing and advertising program where you target ads on search engine sidebars and different websites where you pay per click (you set the price). And as another option, consider using Facebook ads to quickly add fans to your Facbook page. They may not easily convert into sales, but it can be a good investment for the future.
  • Newsletter. Make a spot on your homepage that allows visitors to sign up and subscribe to a newsletter. Use newsletters to make weekly, bi-weekly or monthly announcements on new products, exciting news, sales, events and exciting promotions. However, do not bombard them with emails or they may get annoyed and unsubscribe.
  • Social media. Facebook and Twitter are a must in publicizing online since almost everyone uses them. Customers love to be an insider and be part of a community. Use these platforms to engage fans and ask questions in a fun and casual tone instead of professional. If your site has interesting articles, bookmark them on sites like Delicious.com, StumbleUpon.com, Digg.com, as well as Kaboodle.com and Polyvore.com, if your products are suitable. Remember to include social media widgets on your website.
  • Traditional media. If your target market loves reading a certain blog, newspaper or magazine, buy advertising space on their websites. Depending on the site’s traffic, the costs may vary.

To make sure your online sales and marketing strategies are working, use the free Google Analytics tool to assess traffic and sales growth. It’s also worth it to conduct surveys with Facebook fans, random focus groups and ask for opinions around the office.

Tips for Tracking and Measuring Social Media

Social media and online campaigns continue to grow as more companies take advantage of these marketing channels to reach customers. An April 2009 Forrester Research Interactive Advertising Forecast shows growth in all online channels, with social media showing the strongest growth.

There are a number of tools available for measuring social media and managing online campaigns.

Tools for Measuring Social Media and Managing Online Campaigns

Free online campaign tracking is offered by Google. Google Analytics enables business owners to create a campaign and track all the links posting back to a business website. The key to using this tool is setting up Google Analytics correctly. When the campaign is activated, business owners can track the number of people who have visited the business website and track their activity on the site. E-commerce sites can even track to see if a customer made a purchase or downloaded an e-book.

Twitter has become a place for individuals to find out about the latest happenings on everything from weather events to specials at a favorite restaurant. The instant access and ability to search postings on Twitter also makes it a great tool for businesses to share news, insight and specials with their customers. Business leaders wondering what others are saying about the business may find the information they are looking for in Twitter Search. The online service allows individuals to search any topic and reveals real-time conversations happening on Twitter. Another Twitter search engine is TweetScan (tweetscan.com).

For time-crunched CEOs, Addict-O-Matic captures communications, pictures, videos and articles referencing a business when a custom page is created. The website provides a one-stop glimpse at all the online buzz about a business. Business leaders can also find out how a business online activity rates on social media sites. The Social Meter website scans all social networking websites and rates a business page based on the popularity of the business website. Press releases, blogs, twitter and frequent website updates can be used to help improve the social meter score of a business.

Managing online campaigns and measuring social media efforts is possible by using the tools outlined above. Each of the websites and tools identified can help business leaders effectively manage online campaigns and social media efforts.