Promoting your website: crash course for beginners

Whether privately or professionally, many people run their own website today – even if it is only a small blog. But there are still many small and medium-sized companies whose websites are in their infancy. Teaming up your website with online marketing strategies is therefore becoming more and more important. If you want to promote your website, you shouldn’t underestimate the effect of SEA, SEO, social media, and other online tools. We’ve compiled a compact guide.

Using marketing correctly: how to improve your web presence

If you want to sell a product, you need advertising. But how does marketing work if you want to increase your online presence? For this, you mainly use online marketing, but classic marketing also has its continuing advantages. Television or radio commercials, as well as advertising in print media and on billboards, draw attention to a product. Online marketing is usually more targeted. Some of the most important advertising measures in online marketing are therefore comparatively inexpensive and are more likely to generate leads, i.e. customers. A lot of effort needs to be put in to avoid scattering loss. How does this work?

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) increases the probability of your website being found for a specific search term (the "keyword") in a search engine.
  • Search engine advertising (SEA) places advertisements as cheaply and accurately as possible at a highly visible position in a search engine’s search results. These advertisements resemble natural search results and also refer to what your online presence is offering.
  • In affiliate marketing, advertisers place their ads on relevant websites. In return, the website operator receives a commission, often based on lead generation.
  • Content marketing, also called inbound marketing, is intended to arouse the interest of the target group through editorial content, captivate them with knowhow or humor, or win their trust and, in the best case scenario, keep them in the long term.
  • Email marketing is a good way to address your customers individually. Those who willingly provide their contact details will probably be more interested in your offers and content.
  • Banner advertising, placed on thematically appropriate websites, attracts customers to your offers with meaningful images and a call to action.
  • Social media increases reach, opens up creative opportunities for customer participation, and is an inexpensive platform for small businesses.
  • Multimedia content is on the rise. If you produce short videos or podcasts, you can also score points in the mobile sector.

Before using one of these marketing methods, analyze how visitors use your website. How long do users stay on which subpages? Which topics or products are of long-term interest? As long as it’s permitted by law – and with the consent of site visitors – you can analyze data that gives you indications of the interests and characteristics of your target group. Only then does it make sense to work out a longer-term marketing strategy. Use a mix of strong content, SEO, effective advertising with third-party providers, and an active social media presence. These measures take time, but you will most likely be rewarded for your efforts with better customer relationships.

Classic marketing can be used to expand your reach even with less internet-savvy customers and can generally carry your branding out into the real world. With QR codes, website addresses, or social media hashtags you can link to your internet presence and promote your website. The right mix of online and offline marketing increases your website’s popularity.

SEO measures

Search engine optimization aims at placing a website as visibly as possible in the search results. This means that if a potential user searches for a certain keyword, the most helpful answer should be at the top of the results list. Ideally, this would be your website or a relevant subpage of it.

What’s especially interesting for local service providers and retail shops: potential customers are increasingly using mobile devices to stay informed of local offers and to make targeted purchases. Localization makes your website and the location of your company accessible to these people. Therefore, tailor the contents of your website to the relevant region.

Tip

Do you want to be found offline as well as online? Read all about localization in our article “Local SEO: How local search engine optimization works”.

Whether localization or general visibility, these SEO methods improve the ranking of your website:

  • Structure your website clearly according to subject areas with flat site hierarchies
  • Use short, meaningful URLs
  • Link subpages to each other in a meaningful way
  • Provide added value for your visitors through helpful content: texts, images, and multimedia content
  • Make sure that you do not copy any content from other sites ("duplicate content") – plagiarism will be punished with a bad ranking
  • Place relevant search terms, i.e. the keywords, to an appropriate degree in the text – ideally with the help of wellresearched texts
  • Structure your content with headings and loosen up texts with bullet points or tables
  • Machinereadable websites improve accessibility and ranking, so provide images with keyword optimized titles, alternative texts, and captions
  • Transcripts of podcasts, videos with subtitles, sign language and audio descriptions are further optimization measures
  • Use metatitles and descriptions (often the first thing users see including the displayed search result, the snippet, and breadcrumbs, which facilitate navigation on the page)

SEA is top of the list

Search engine advertising is, like SEO, a sub-area of search engine marketing (SEM), i.e. marketing that refers to search engines. With SEO, the aim is to get your website as high as possible on the result list of a search query, but with SEA, you invest specifically in advertisements. These appear above, between, or next to the normal search results and are marked as ads. The advertisement links to a suitable page on your website, a so-called landing page.

Goals of SEA:

  • Attract more visitors through visibility
  • Increase the reach of the brand, promoting the website
  • Attract customers and find out what motivates the target group to buy

Before you place an ad in a search engine, research relevant keywords for your offer. What’s important is what potential customers enter into the search field when they search for information, products, or services. You calculate a budget for these keywords: How much can an ad cost depending on the product price and a certain conversion rate from click to purchase without incurring losses? Then you bid – automatically and in real time – for a place on the results list. Market leader Google provides the advertising platform "Ads" for this. Of course, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines, as well as third-party websites, also offer this form of advertising.

The advertising platform Google Ads (formerly "AdWords") is still the first point of contact for many SEA experts. In our guide, you will find five tips for your first Google Ads campaign, which will help you to use this marketing tool as optimally as possible.

Display advertising: more than just banner advertising

Display advertising uses graphical elements to get users to click on the advertisement. A link leads users to your website (or landing page) after clicking. In their simplest form, advertising banners like these are the online equivalent of billboards, but offer far more possibilities. The difference to SEA is mainly in the content: SEA uses text; but display advertising also uses images and video. In addition, SEA measures are usually limited to search engine result pages. Display ads promote your website in various ways:

  • Banner: fixed or moving image, also interactive shapes with audio
  • Popups: new window that appears in the foreground when users do something specific
  • Popunder: new window opens in the background
  • Layer ads: advertising content that overlays the website content
  • Content ads: embedded banner advertising
  • Native advertising: advertisements that are embedded as believably as possible in editorial content.
  • Video ads: shown before and between video streams

“There’s life in the old dog yet” could also be said of banner advertising. Price slumps and the resulting wave of advertising banners ended up causing so-called banner blindness and led to ad blockers being developed. Meanwhile, more high-quality and more unobtrusive forms (like native advertising) have started looking more promising. With real-time advertising and programmatic advertising, banner advertising is becoming increasingly automated.

Tip

Do you want to create a banner, but don't know where to start? We'll show you how to design an effective banner yourself in a step-by-step guide.

Using social media to gain a wider reach and more customers

Social media marketing is a form of inbound marketing. This means that the customer approaches the company – hopefully because of the appealing content that your website offers. Sometimes customers post negative statements on social media, which start a dialog between the company and its customers. Direct contact is an opportunity to show customers that their concerns are taken seriously.

Another advantage of social media marketing is its potentially wide reach through viral content. Those interested share or “like” the content and make others aware of your company, since they act as brand ambassadors. In order to increase your web presence, influencers are of particular importance, since they have a large reach.

Since this is also about content, similar rules apply to content marketing. Content with added value should pursue a consistent strategy. Because social media platforms are increasingly being used on mobile devices, snackable content is a good idea. Of course, you can also use your website to provide more detailed content whenever you want.

Social media also offers space for advertising. Either you refer to offers on your website or you place ads. You can tailor them to specific target groups to avoid scattering loss.

Newsletter marketing: maintaining customer contact with e-mails

Newsletter marketing is a traditional part of the online marketing mix. It belongs to direct marketing because it addresses individual customers directly. In contrast to other direct marketing means such as flyers, an e-mail usually contains a call to action. The addressed customer should carry out a certain action. Therefore, this measure is a part of dialog marketing. There are two types:

  • Newsletters reach the customers regularly (weekly or monthly)
  • Emails are sent on an event-driven basis (vacations, summer sales, or new product lines)

A challenge with e-mail marketing is when you come across a recipient's full inbox. Spam and advertising mails from other competitors make it difficult to be noticed and stand out. In order to speak to a customer, the e-mail subject line must stand out. Then comes the content. Analysis tools allow you to tailor your newsletter exactly to the needs and preferences of your customers. As always, the actual content is the most important. An exciting introduction and interesting visual content will encourage you to read on.

You can also place interactive offers for customers in the relevant content. This includes information about discount promotions, current topics, and high-quality content that you provide on your website.

Measure how the number of clicks and lead conversions change as a result of e-mail marketing and, if necessary, optimize the result. You can find even more useful tips on newsletter marketing in our article “Successful customer retention with newsletter marketing”.

Offline marketing: not to be underestimated

Offline marketing can cover many areas. Basically, you use the usual ways to promote your company and apply them to your website. All advertising materials – from business cards and flyers to exhibition stands, and customer gifts to official invoices – usually carry the company name and your address and telephone number. Simply add your new domain to them.

Or you can connect online and offline. More and more billboards are becoming increasingly equipped with QR codes that lead passing customers to a landing page on your website when they take a photo of it using their smartphones. Surveys, competitions, and discount promotions can be easily implemented here. Creative marketing is also possible. For example, encourage as many online users as possible to create a flash mob. You can then use this offline campaign online for your social media content.

Summary

Promoting a website takes time. Strategic marketing is just as important as a technically well-positioned website, since long loading times and cumbersome page navigation can easily deter first-time visitors. You can increase your reach more quickly with active advertising measures such as SEA and display advertising. However, you can only achieve long-term success with a solid SEO strategy and relevant content for your target group. Due to the large number of websites on the web, it’s not easy to get a foot in the door. Patience, networking, and exciting content help.