The Share, the Like, the Retweet, the Regram, the Repost, the Comment, the Review, the #Hashtag and the @. Internet marketing certainly has come a long way. Gone are the days of starting a business, running a few banner ads and sitting and waiting for something to happen. In fact, the entire landscape of the internet has changed, from an advertiser-driven platform, to a user-focused and user-curated platform. While this may seem complicated and intimidating if you are wondering how to market your business over the ‘net – it’s quite the opposite.

Leveraging the full scope of what can be done on today’s internet has never been easier or more cost effective. Social media, consumer and content-driven marketing and the stand by - the website - are all key elements to having a robust web presence. Social media to engage and interact with your fan base, content that is frequently updated (relevant and informational), and a website that’s not just a brochure online will all work together to complete a full circle of internet awareness, marketing and most important – a direct sales tool.

Your website – the first impression

The first step in creating your overall web presence is writing and building your website. Choose your topics, tone and style of your information to reflect the brand you would like to portray. Traditional? Edgy? Professional? Have the site designed and built by a professional web designer/developer or even a web design firm, you want to look professional to your clients and members, so leave it to the pros to help you on the internet.

You’ll want to think of the website as more than just a brochure online or “static” information. Keep the copy fresh and relevant and certainly integrate a blog and social media into the site. This will keep visitors coming back for updated information and more. Use the site to engage and interact with your visitors – utilize an email sign-up feature, offer social media posts and social media sharing directly from the site. Having your readers sharing and referring your content with their peers far outweighs any ad campaign you could ever run. Use your site to share branded content, schedules and more…think of the site as the one-stop-shop for everything you want to offer your clients.

What’s more, utilizing direct marketing tactics like email newsletter sign-up and referrals from the site will help build a solid database for future customer relationship management campaigns.

Social media – the importance of engagement

Social media has literally changed the way we interact, communicate and market to current and potential clients and customers. No longer are companies and brands operating behind a protective shroud, only putting messages forward that were supremely crafted to shape the perception of the brand. Now more than ever, social media is the driving force behind almost all internet marketing campaigns. Social media has whole-heartedly been accepted, and the level of interaction, engagement and communication we can now have with a “fan base” - or clients – is at an all-time high.

When a client or customer “likes” or follows you, they’ve essentially opted-in to be a part of your brand, marketing and message and it’s up to you to take advantage of this new relationship. An important way to keep fans sticking around, engaged and happy is to really interact with them, like they ARE part of the brand. Offer exclusive information, photos and more to your social following. Offering special rates, deals and incentives is great but why not post helpful articles, diet information, special workouts and more?

Keeping your fans engaged should be your number one priority when utilizing social media. Leveraging user-generated content is also another fantastic way to let your fan base promote your brand for you. Encourage sharing, commenting, tagging photos, reposting, re-tweeting – all of it. The more information about your brand that gets spread around by your fan base, the better off you’ll be. Guide fans back to your website to read new blog posts, check the new schedule and more. The more you can offer the fan, the more trust you will earn.

Search engine optimization – be found when being looked for

So you’ve got the website and have a decent following on social media…how does this all tie into being found on the internet? Search engine optimization (SEO) is a major factor in owning a successful online presence. We all search for things on Google, Bing, Yahoo, even Facebook – and we usually know what we want to find. This is why SEO is so important…you want to be found when searched for – by name, service or even location.

Having a relevant and content heavy website along with a robust social media presence will push your search rankings to the top. Every link you can put in front of the searcher will instill more trust, confidence and will ultimately lead to a click-through to your site or social media pages. Consumers are more educated than ever about options, so being there when they search for your service is extremely important; it’s a qualified lead with little-to-no sales work (or cost) on your end.

Turn your web presence into clients and loyal brand ambassadors

While the thought of an “integrated web presence” may be overwhelming and seem expensive – in reality it’s one of the simplest and cheapest marketing initiatives you can do for your business. By simply leveraging the email addresses, contact information, social interactions, blog comments and other efforts ensures the possibility of maximizing your return on investment.

Take this opportunity to offer real-time and relevant information that's beneficial to your readers, via email, social media and even text messages. Update them with schedule changes, new products, classes or services you may be offering and encourage them to participate in the conversation via social media. By utilizing open communications and user-generated content, the viral word of mouth that will resonate through your fans’ personal social media communities will be invaluable to your business, and literally, almost free.


Ryan Csolak is the founder and creative director of the Ryan James Agency, a full service advertising agency in Hamilton Square, NJ. Ryan has been living advertising for over 15 years, offering out-of-the-box creative solutions, marketing strategies and client service leadership. Contact Ryan at 609.587.0525 or visit www.RyanJamesAgency.com

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