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What’s the best way to promote my website?

8 minute read

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Once a small business has set themselves up online with a website, the next big question all business owners will ask themselves is: how do I promote it?

In today’s video, I look at the various ways you can promote your website, as asked by Harriet Sanders. I’ll cover both online and offline techniques and why certain channels are worth more investment than others. Looking at paid media, owned media, and earned media, I’ll look at:

Social media
• PPC
• Display advertising
• Print
• Website content
• Email marketing
SEO
• Word of mouth
• PR

Video Transcript ♪ [music] ♪ Hello, and welcome to The UK Domain. Today’s question comes from Harriet Sanders who asks, “What’s the best way to promote my website?”

This is quite a broad question and I’ll try to tailor my question to Harriet as much as I can, who I know runs an e-commerce website and also has a high street shop. But broadly, just for the general audience, I’ve tried to explain why certain channels, I think, are worth more investment than others.

A really nice way of thinking about the various ways of promoting a website, both online and offline, is to think about paid media, earned media and owned media. So, paid media is advertising and promotion that you pay for. The examples I’ve put up here is paid social media advertising, PPC advertising, which is predominantly AdWords, you know, when you’re searching on Google, you’ve got the paid listings at the top. Display advertising, which is the banner ads that you see across the web, on newspapers and magazines, for example. And I’ve put print here and I’m going to come back to that when I talk about it.

Within owned media, these are channels and properties that are under your control completely. So your website is something that you own and you can control that so that it includes website content. I’ve put social media within owned media. Arguably you could say that while you may run your Facebook page and you may own your Twitter account, but as we know with social media, some channels exist and 10 years later, they decide to close. So strictly it’s not really owned media, but for the purpose of this conversation, we’ll consider it as owned media. Email marketing which really kind of crosses the boundary in between earned and owned, and I’ll come back to that one.

And earned media, so search engine optimisation, PR activity and also word of mouth or referrals.

So let’s start with paid media. So a lot of small businesses consider doing paid advertising, typically the budgets are quite small compared to larger organisations, and it’s very difficult to know where is the best place to put your money because the thing with paid media, once you’ve paid for it and stopped paying for it, it’s gone. So you need to make it as effective as possible. Now, I’m going to start with PPC and AdWords because for most businesses, PPC which is again, like I say, predominantly AdWords but we may be talking about Bing advertising as well, PPC is probably the most cost-effective and best converting paid media channel you can use.

The reason for this, if you think about the way that your customers buy their product or buy their service, if they’re searching on Google, you know they’re right in the right mindset for buying whatever it is you offer. So if you can get yourself to the top of Google using PPC, you know you’re capturing your customers at the kind of perfect point really in their buying decision-making process.

Paid social media advertising, this can be very good for promoting, perhaps, an event that you’re running, maybe you’re running a promotion and you do a Facebook ad and you have a voucher code or something like that. Twitter advertising can also be effective but it tends to be quite expensive. And because Twitter is a very different platform to Facebook, people are still a little bit skeptical of advertising on Twitter but you may experiment, spend £100 or £200 just to give it a go.

Display advertising, so we’re talking about banner ads, the easiest way of running display advertising is using the Google Display Network. This is run using the same interface as AdWords. You can create some images, you know, you could have still JPEGs, you could have an animated GIF, for example, as your advert. Again, it can be really hard to judge how to do display advertising well. Now, if you wanted to read up on this subject, and perhaps we’ll return to this subject in a future video, but one of the easiest and perhaps most cost-effective ways of running display advertising is using something called “remarketing”.

So re-marketing is when someone visits your website, they leave, perhaps without making a purchase, and then you show them adverts elsewhere on the internet. So you’ve probably been to a shop where you’ve put stuff in your basket, you haven’t checked out and then that website will try to prompt you to go back and finish your purchase. That’s what remarketing is and you can use it in a variety of different ways.

I’ve put print on here because print is a type of paid media. Fewer and fewer people are doing print advertising. That’s not to say it’s completely ineffective but bear in mind with print, unlike digital advertising, you can’t really monitor if it’s working. And if you’ve got a budget of a few hundred pounds, let’s say, put your money into places where you can actually track the performance. And you can say £1 of paid advertising equals £2 of revenue. So print is something to consider but bear in mind that you may be better off using AdWords, for example.

So let’s move on to owned media. I’m going to start with website content. Your website, in terms of promotion, is the single most important platform that you have and if you had to invest all of your time into your website, then I would do so because the website is the single most important thing. What that website content is, it depends on the type of business you are, but obviously up to date store information, information about your products and about your services. But if you kind of want to take it to the next level, and also these two things they’re incredibly linked because, in order to get high organically in search engines, you need good website content.

Think about your customer, maybe draw out your customer, think about the decision-making process. I mean, classically the one easy way of thinking about this is a marketing funnel. If your customers are thinking about their purchase, then they’re researching options, then they’re considering where to buy it and then they actually make their purchase. If you can think about which types of content would help them get further and further down the funnel, then you’re using content marketing in a really kind of cost-effective and conversion focused way. And you may just be writing blog posts, it could be updates about what’s going on, new products, and actually one of my favourite tactics, and we’re doing it right here, is answer questions. If all you could do is maybe make an FAQ section and answer question after question of, you know, all the things that your customers are likely to ask, that’s really beneficial for search engine optimisation.

Also within owned media is social media. So Facebook, Twitter. The very minimum that people should do is set up an account on the major channels, so Facebook and Twitter, you may consider Instagram if you’re quite a visual business, same goes for Pinterest. Certainly set up a LinkedIn profile for your business. I think it’s common for people to think well, social media obviously over the past, kind of, 5 to 10 years has been booming and everyone thinks, “Oh, we need to be on social media.” That’s true to an extent but what a lot of people think is that they should be investing, you know, a significant amount of their time on social media. That’s not really true because if you can work on your website content and do some PPC advertising, for example, if you invested your time and money into that you’d see very immediate returns.

Social media can take a lot of time so I’m not saying don’t use it, I’m just saying use your time wisely. And that just may be, you know, seeing what’s going on, giving the latest updates, latest products. You could do a bit of paid social media advertising. So, yeah, don’t neglect social media but also don’t feel like you need to be spending all of your time there because using it from a personal level is very different from using it on a, kind of, business level. But having said all of that, I know people who run quite visual businesses, such as interior designers, who get clients calling them after seeing pictures on Instagram. So if you are a visual business, think about Instagram, for example, because if people can see the work that you’re doing and interact with it and visual information is very engaging then, you know, that can be a really good lead generation tool. I’m going to jump down to email marketing. So email marketing is typically where you’re sending emails to lists that you already, kind of, you’ve built up. You know, maybe it’s like people have signed up to your newsletter. So you’re not really promoting your website to new customers, you can use email marketing to reach new customers by sponsoring other people’s emails. But if you just think about email marketing and building up your own list, email marketing is still one of the most effective channels to promote your website, if you can build up a good list.

So on your website have a newsletter sign up, give people a reason to sign up for it. You know, maybe, “If you sign up to our newsletter, we’ll give you 20% off your first purchase,” for example. That works in store too because if you can get people to sign up to a newsletter in-store by offering them 20% off on their current purchase, for example, that gives you a really effective way of talking to, promoting, your products and services to an audience that’s already engaged with you in the past. So email marketing is still really, really effective. Also if we move down, so email marketing, like I said, kind of crosses earned media with owned media.

In terms of the earned media, so media that you’re earning from other people, SEO. Now for most businesses, there are some exceptions to this, but for most businesses, SEO is one of the best ways possible to get people to your website. The reason for this is that if you invest time into making a good website, writing good content, answering people’s questions, you can earn traffic that you don’t have to pay for. Sure, using PPC, AdWords you can pay money and get your website to the top immediately, using SEO you’d be getting traffic for “free”. I put “free” in inverted commas because you’ve got to spend time and time isn’t free but you’ve got traffic coming for months and years.

So do invest time into your website, into making good content. Think about the sorts of things that people will be searching for, you know, what…if you could put yourself into the mind of one of your customers, what would they search for if they were looking for one of your products or one of your services? PR, a lot of small businesses don’t really do an awful lot of PR. That’s because it’s quite difficult and it can sometimes feel like you’ve got to work with a PR company. But if you’re running, perhaps not a promotion but a big event or you’ve got yourself involved with a charitable initiative or something like this, speak to the local media and the local press because they will…the local press really do want to feature local businesses and share their stories so it can still be a great way of getting your name out there.

And lastly on this list, I’ve put word of mouth. Now, word of mouth is obviously a type of promotion or media that you earned, but how do you get word of mouth? Well, you offer a great product, offer a great service, make sure that your customer service is really, really good. But also invest time into social media because social media is where people are talking about businesses. If you go to Twitter, the most common way for people to interact with a business on social media, on Twitter specifically, is to complain. People like to talk about businesses on social media so that’s another reason why you need to be there and another reason why you need to interact with your customers when you’re there. But also people leave reviews so Facebook, increasingly people leave business reviews on Facebook. When someone leaves a review, their friends will see it. If someone likes that, their friends will see it so social media can be a really, really effective way of earned media through word of mouth.

So they are my ways, best ways, of promoting a website. If you’d like to ask us a question, you can do so using #asktheukdomain and if you go to our website, you can get in touch with us there. ♪ [music] ♪

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Peter is the Head of Content at Nominet. He's passionate about helping small businesses make the most of being online, especially through the use of content marketing.

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