This article covers the basics for new advertisers/businesses. It is not written for advanced marketing professionals or established businesses who already have teams working on their promotion. Let’s get started!
That Online Presence
For the sake of illustration we’ll consider a store in Bangalore as an example. However, the foundation is applicable for almost all businesses even if it’s a professional working from home.
To being with, our fictional store would need a website. We are not talking about free hosting options like WordPress.com or Blogger. Keeping things simple, here are some suggestions, from our personal opinion:
- Visit GoDaddy (or the host that your developer recommends) and find the right domain name for the store. Look for .com options and keep the letters minimal.
- If you’ve selected the domain name, the next would be the hosting. This is where all your files, images, etc will be stored. If you choose a hosting plan for one year, you might get a free domain along with it.
- Purchase an SSL. Unlike earlier, the “https” part is now an essential for all websites. Even search engines recommend it.
These three are the basics for a website. If you buy cPanel hosting that includes a domain and SSL, companies like GoDaddy will make it easy for you to setup and integrate all three. We are talking about DIY options for a businessperson with no coding knowledge.
Login to your hosting account and install a CMS like WordPress. This again, is a drag and drop option and you don’t need coding experience. Also, you can call GoDaddy’s call centre for help navigating around.
Congratulations, you’re now live!
Making it Yours
Starting from the domain name, ensure that you do not infringe on any trademarks or brand names. A quick research online would let you know how things are placed. The images that you use on your website should be royalty free, paid for or attributed with the copyright owner’s consent.
The text content is equally important. Use something like CopyScape to check if you have inadvertently plagiarised content from elsewhere on the internet.
Now that you have a website with original content, go ahead and change the look-and-feel with WordPress themes. There are plenty available for free. However, paid versions will have enhanced functionality along with support. You will need professional support, if you don’t have an in-house coder building out the site for you.
Google or Microsoft won’t let you know how to get on top of their rankings based on their algorithms, although they certainly have guidelines for you to get some direction. We recommend you keep adding fresh, original content (such as blog posts) every now and then without worrying about what Search Engines are looking for.
If you’ve created your website and satisfied with the content you have online, the next step would be to let Search Engines know that you’re ready to be found. Careful before you do this! Double check if your site is actually ready for your target audience. Take your time and hire some developers and content writers if you feel it’s necessary.
Verifying your website with Google Search Console is automatic if you site is hosted with GoDaddy. Then, Bing verification can be done based on Google Search Console. No complications here.
The final step is to request indexing of your website. Keep checking often to see the insights the Search Console offers, along with errors, if any.
Create a sitemap for free using a service like https://www.xml-sitemaps.com and upload to your hosting account.
Yellow pages, like floppy discs are a thing of the past. You’ll only need to list your website on one or two of the world’s largest directories – Google My Business and Bing Places. Professional photographers who offer Matterport services in the U.S. have said that their websites ranked high on SERP (Search Engine Results Page) by just posting regularly on Google My Business.
If our hypothetical store in Bangalore owner wants to get herself listed on GMB, she’ll need a verification code. This will be sent to her through India post to the store. Once she verifies, she’ll be able to control the GMB page and will be shown on Maps as well.
As Google Local Guides, Street View Trusted Photographers and a Google Ads agency, we sometimes get calls from business to help them get verified on Maps, without the postal verification. Do note that this is not possible and any shortcuts taken could lead to account suspension.
Word of Mouth
Now you have a website with great content, indexed in search engines and listed on directories. Next, it’s time to get referrals.
Our store owner in Bangalore meets with one of her favourite customers who is all praises. She can request the happy customer to leave a review on Google My Business. This will help others to see what the store offers, along with getting genuine popularity. Careful not to push customers to leave positive reviews because the public can notice fake ratings a mile away.
On the same note, if a customer leaves a negative review, work with them to resolve their issue so that they change it themselves, if they feel like it. Do not get emotional here and take negative ratings as an opportunity to clarify your position by posting a public reply. Offer something in return for any inconvenience caused.
Where's the Interaction?
If you’ve covered all the steps above, it’s time to go social. Our imaginary store owner in Bangalore can now create a Facebook page and fill up all the necessary information. Add the logo, cover image, descriptions, contact information and start the first post.
She’s worked in many companies and has quite a reputation built for herself as a professional. Now that she’s started her own store and created the FB page, all she has to do is invite her followers to like it.
Her store has a new product which some of her friends might find interesting, so she posts about it. Then the magic happens – the post is shared.
When people like and share your posts, brand reputation is created. Half the battle of marketing is already won.
Replicate the same across other platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and anything else relevant. Post videos on the official YouTube channel and share those links in these social media sites so that it may get more subscribers.
With over 15 years experience in SEM (Search Engine Marketing), we’ve managed sponsored campaigns for businesses of all sizes, globally. So when we say have the basics right, there’s a good reason for it.
Sponsored advertising means paying to get visitors to your website or social media page, with the end goal being some kind of conversion. In the case of our store owner, she’ll probably want her products to be sold. If it’s a real estate agency, for instance, their conversion would be a “lead”, which means a potential buyer filling up a form showing interest in purchasing a villa.
To get to this stage, we strongly recommend going through all the above stages – website, SEO, social media and some genuine reviews.
When you’re getting paid visitors to your website, you want to retain them as much as possible or even getting them to convert. If the website has scant information, they might “bounce” and probably would never return even if they keep seeing your ad.
Each of the above sections can go into hundreds of pages just to explain the steps with screenshots and videos. Rest assured, we’ll be publishing an eBook soon.
While these are the basics of digital marketing for a small store in an Indian city, almost all of it can be done by the owner themselves by putting in some time and effort.
Granted that there are many details and probably better managed with experts in the field, these areas are worth learning. End of the day, all that matters is profits and if it is increasing by the day, week, month, quarter and year.
In WordPress, use this official Google plugin to integrate search console, Analytics, PageSpeed Insights and AdSense. Even if you don’t use all the services, Analytics alone can be vital to see how you can make your website user friendly for your visitors.
We hope that you (and our Bangalore store owner) benefit from our ideas here, and become economically empowered. Feel free to email us to consult regarding anything – no obligations and we are always around to help. All the best!