“Give, and you will receive” — found in the 6th chapter the New Testament of the Christian Bible, and preached by most religions (in some form). I very much doubt this ideology was conceived with online marketing in mind. Nonetheless, if you give to the online community you’ll be rewarded with opportunities in return.
Not everyone sees the benefits to doing something for free when it doesn’t directly translate into money. So I’ve listed effective ways to “give” in order to attract more sales.
1. Content — Blogs, Articles, E-Books
The internet is there for us to exchange information. And once you become a supplier of that information, you build the foundations for selling products and services.
Crucially, written content boosts SEO, which shepherds free, organic traffic to your site. Whilst there’s no upfront return for writing on your website, some of your content will go on to generate sales leads long into the future — especially if you achieve high search rankings.
Blogs and articles also help in overcoming one of most difficult aspects of selling products or services online: earning trust. People don’t tend to buy from any-old online stranger. People do gravitate towards those devoted to a particular cause, and can demonstrate they understand the topic. Therefore websites containing an abundance of helpful posts or articles — supported by images, graphics, videos and relevant external links — gain and retain the most customers.
A neat way to establish yourself as an authority in your niche is to provide free content, in the form of a downloadable e-book. A popular strategy amongst bloggers is to offer their e-book to anyone that signs up to a newsletter. It’s the give and receive principle: you give helpful information on your niche, in return for their consent to receive marketing from you.
2. Promotions — Discounts & Giveaways
Another way of attracting sales and more visitors to your website is to offer a promotion. Ideally one that offers more to the customer than your competitors (but be realistic with that). Promotions come in various forms, such as:
- Limited-time-only (For example: “30% off for the next 24 hours!”)
- For specific audiences (usually obtained by entering a “discount code”).
- Loyalty rewards (such as discounts on repeat purchases, or bulk buys)
- First time buyer discounts (For example: “20% off your first yearly subscription”)
- Free delivery (Amazon FBA entitles members to offer this on purchases over £20)
- Freebies (a good opportunity for social media promotions)
- Buy one get one free (essentially a discount, presented in another way)
- Bundled products (something free along with the purchased product/service)
If you’re an affiliate marketer, then enquire about the possibility of offering unique promotions. You might be entitled if you draw in a lot of customers, have an established website, or deliver excellent content to your audience. Remember that brands want to work — and be associated with — the best domains in their niche. If you’re the best then you might have more leverage with your affiliate managers.
With any promotion you offer, aim to highlight a value proposition that sets your business apart from the crowd. It’ll hopefully help to draw in new customers, establish your product or service, and improve sale conversions.
3. Helping People — Answers, Advice, Assistance
The internet wants answers… fast!
So aside from publishing useful content on your website, you might also explore other, more direct ways of engaging with potential customers. There’s so many free platforms to utilise for this.
Answer banks are an alternative to a search engine. Throw questions out at the internet and await a direct response from someone kind enough to answer. Anyone can contribute. Those interested can watch-in, check an answer and vote for their favourite one(s) — it’s all public. What’s more, these answers show up in Google searches!
So if a question relates to your product/service or the industry you’re in, then it’s a golden opportunity to chime in, and recommend your business to them at the same time. Give advice — and if it’s good — then you’ll receive traffic in return. The most popular questions banks are:
- Quora (my personal favourite. It’s growing in popularity)
- Yahoo (slightly outdated, and largely replaced by Quora)
- Reddit (also considered a social network)
- Forums (less public, and specific to particular subjects/niches)
I’ve used these platforms to help drive traffic to my own websites and build up my reputation. They’re a great way to establish yourself as an authority on a subject. They also help in researching what people are interested in, so that you can target your content accordingly.
Once your product has been sold, is that really the end of the line?
Everything online today is measured by feedback and ratings — so you need to ensure that your customer is happy with what they’ve purchased. Providing customer service isn’t an option for many companies. An Amazon business, for example, is hinged on good customer service: feedback makes or breaks it.
Here’s some platforms you can use to provide customer service:
- Email (yes, it still works)
- Facebook (such as a fan page)
- Twitter (with comments, direct messaging and tweets)
- Instagram (with comments and direct messaging)
- LiveChat (there’s several WordPress Plugins to set this up on your site)
Enable customers to easily reach out to your business for enquiries or requests. Good customer service means they’re more likely return to you in the future.
Well, you know what, if I’ve offered a generous favour to someone in the past, then who might I might call upon for one in return? You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
Giving with the expectation of receiving might just go against the ‘religious’ title of this post. But perhaps “do to others as you would have them do to you” works in this case?
Here’s how some favours work online:
- Reviews (promoting or reviewing products in exchange for reviews of your own ones)
- Link building (linking to websites, in exchange for them linking back to you. The higher their “authority” the better)
- Positive publicity (e.g. providing comments on other people’s posts, liking other people’s posts, or recommending their services within your own content. Ideally this is reciprocated)
I also try to exchange tips with other website owners. Often you learn of good website plugins, or new ways to market your content.
More Marketing Ideas…
Hopefully I’ve helped you understand one “philosophy” for marketing your online business. But it’s OK, don’t worry, I’m not after anything in return.
If you want to learn more about driving traffic to your website and attracting business, check out the following posts:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Secrets
- How to Drive Even More Traffic to Your Website
- The Pros & Cons of Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
- How To Use Instagram & Twitter For Online Marketing
- E-Mail Marketing Do’s & Don’ts — Tips For Small Businesses (coming soon)