Building your online strategy

by Sarah Stone

An online strategy is key in the development of a well-run business

No longer is an online strategy only useful for those who work in the e-commerce industry, it is as important for every business, no matter what you produce, sell or where you operate.

For a lot of companies, it may be that most of your trades are carried out offline, but there’s a great chance that most of your clients would have researched your business out beforehand online. I know that is exactly what I do! An online strategy is now as important for a small independent local restaurant as it is for large online stores. By excluding yourself from the internet, you are limiting your business prospects.

Take further look into some of these options to develop your online presence.

: E-mail Marketing
E-mail marketing is a wonderful way to provide specialized content to people with whom you’ve already built relationships. Most of your clients will have an email address already on file. Consider offering a pre-order for your new product, exclusive only to e-mail recipients. Or, offer a sneak peek at the new product before it’s released to the public. This will help to nurture and reward your existing relationships and continue building on the trust you’ve already earned. However over saturating somebodies inbox can lead to a loss so be sure to keep clients interested with key data and always allow an option to unsubscribe.

: Online Advertising
Tools such as Google Ad Words (and other pay-per-click services) can increase awareness and funnel parties directly to your product. Online advertising allows you to get in front of a specific relative audience but with wide reach.
Another option is to do some research to determine the most widely read blogs and sites in your industry and also those frequented by people in your target markets. Advertising is often the main revenue generator on these sites and blogs, so it’s a great way to begin building relationships with the editors and site operators for a chance to get in front of the people who are most inclined to care about your product.
Don’t overlook opportunities to advertise on social networks. Some have predicted that $4 billion will be spent on Facebook advertising alone in 2011.  Marketers are already realizing the benefit of getting in front of this giant’s more than 500 million plus users.

: Social Networks
When your product is ready to go, inform your current customers and brand enthusiasts by updating your existing social networks. Whether you have a presence on one of the well-known platforms and/or another niche social network, craft catered messages for each. But, don’t just post to any of these social networks and walk away. There are many tools available to help you manage multiple social networks, keep the information up-to-date and continue to communicate with your connections, while providing the social proof needed for people to buy.

: Blogger Outreach
Blogging has grown tremendously in the past five years. Even though Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2010 report* found that 65% of blogger survey respondents are hobbyists, it’s likely you’ll find several bloggers in your industry who have very active communities and traffic/subscriber numbers that blow traditional media websites out of the water.
Blogger outreach goes hand-in-hand with traditional media outreach when it comes to generating interest for a new product, and the approach and methods used are much the same. Understand the blog, its audience and its content before sharing information about your product.

(*Some content is taken from mashable.com)