These days, it seems just about everyone from Gen Y has a website they call their own. Most exist as personal journals, others more for documenting hobbies, and others solely use their website for business. You could call Secret Entourage a website, others might call it a publication, but ultimately it still is a business at the end of the day. After having webmastered over 100 different websites, and traveled the bumpy road that is online marketing, lots of valuable lessons have been learned but there are 10 things that every online marketer should know when trying to succeed online.
1) SEO isn’t dead – You hear it everytime Google rolls out an update that “SEO is Dead” but that is far from the truth. Yes, SEO has evolved over the last decade as I’m sure many of you know but the same fundamentals still exist to this day. In the grand scheme of things, the two things that matter is great content and links to your great content. How you go about creating those two things is where many people fail or take shortcuts. In reality, you should be thankful that SEO is much ‘harder’ now. All the folks who thought all it took to rank websites was decent content and paid links are long gone now. So if you play your cards right, you will never have to worry about a drop in rankings or traffic.
2) Build a website, not a page – Most former affiliate marketers used to slap together a site with very little pages in hopes of making a few bucks but what they failed to do is build a brand. Building a website around one product is easy but the success can often be shortlived as it may not encourage someone to revisit the site. Instead, think about building a brand and becoming an authority in your niche. Rather than have one site dedicated to getting 6 pack abs, why not make a site dedicated to full body fitness with all muscle groups? This just allows your readers to subscribe to you and ultimately become virtual sales person who will help spread your message.
3) Social media is more than just tweeting – What happens when you build a brand? You also have a presence on social media. Now to be fair, it’s hard to manage ALL the channels out there since there’s literally half a dozen sites all brands should be on and they all require different strategies. At the very least, Twitter and Facebook Pages seem to be very popular with other networks like Instagram and Pinterest on the up and up. The benefit of being on social media is simply to be social. No way can you easily field hundreds of emails and reply to them all these days. Brands rely on social media to share their experiences, and communicate directly with their core audience in a controlled public environment.
4) Analytics will save you time and money – Why did people stop running TV ads and radio spots? Because they had no way to calculate ROI. We live in a digital age where practically every dollar spent online can tell you if you are getting a positive or negative return on investment. Always set up your tracking from the get go as you never want to launch a marketing blitz without being able to tell where people came from, why they came, and where you lost them in the process. Double check and triple check to make sure your goals are set up to match your key performance indicators. Once this is all set up you will be able to cut your losses quickly.
5) Without traffic, you won’t survive – It doesn’t matter if your a retail store or online business, you need traffic to survive. If you built an amazing website that’s great and dandy but without visitors you won’t be around very much longer. However you want to acquire traffic is up to you, just make sure the traffic that’s coming inbound is relevant to your brand. However, don’t put emphasis on big numbers like trying to reach xxx,xxx visitors a day. Instead, try to focus more on targeted traffic, which even though might result in x,xxx visitors a day, will probably converted much higher.
6) It’s all a numbers game at the end of the day – Any kind of business is really a numbers game. Get familiar with studying analytics and data and you will soon find yourself consumed in dozens of acronyms that you’ve never heard of before like CVR, SEO, CTR, LP, CPC, etc. What it really boils down to is this: if you get X amount of visitors, you will only convert x% of those visitors to a buyer, thus resulting in $X revenue. Then you must subtract your revenue from $X spent on expenses which could be anywhere from paying a marketing agency to running ads on Facebook. Look for the small wins to make big impacts. For example, you can make substantially more money with the same number of visitors if you simply just increase your conversion rate. Keep at it until you find winning combos.
7) Never put your eggs in one basket – Email, organic, paid, social, direct, referal, video, do it all. Never put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to traffic, especially when it comes to SEO as a simple algorithm change can wipeout your business. The same can be said when it comes to websites. You’ll notice that some people like to launch multiple websites to diversify their portfolio and that’s ok as long as you treat it like a business and develop each one out. In fact, some people often make websites targeting the same niches just to have more real estate.
8) Network to network – The online community is a tighter knit group than you think and your online trail can be found hundreds of pages deep. Spend some time to meet other webmasters since some people will carry more clout than you on various channels. All it takes is one mention to really catapult your brand into the forefront. The best way to network is to actively engage in the online community through social media, website comments, and occasional email. The best way is offline networking since face to face interaction is still a little bit more genuine than online interaction. Cross collaboration and partnerships between webmasters is the goal and even though you might get dozens of no’s, all it takes is one yes.
9) Launch first, tweak later – Time is money and every minute wasted is lost opportunity. When websites can be set up in literally seconds, timing does matter more than you think. Never stress over perfecting your vision from the get go since you can always tweak and revise as you move forward. What’s more valuable is the reception and feedback you get once you launch which will really dictate how you should tweak your site based on real genuine feedback. Afterall, beauty is in the eye of the behold and what may not look good to you, might look amazing to someone else. If one of the top news sites like Drudge Report doesn’t give a shit about design then why should you?
10) Build assets rather than liabilities – We all dream of passive income but the truth is websites aren’t quite passive per say. The amount of upkeep needed, especially when you have a following and brand, can be consuming and require full time effort. It doesn’t hurt to have more than one website and once you start rolling in and getting traction, cut your losses quickly if you notice money going to waste with no return. The 80/20 principle always applies to things in life and it’s no different here. Keep your winners and scale them and cut your losers. Remember it’s all a numbers game anyway!