Do you remember back when you started out ? When you started moving your business online? I started moving ours online in 2006, it seemed a lot simpler back then. A website, a bit of SEO, a newsletter and customers called.
Now when new business owners first start out online, there is a lot to learn; social media, blogging, websites, email marketing, learning to pull not to push, working out the online buying signals and learning the secondary customers that will promote you. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed.
When you start out you have to choose between what’s essential and what’s nice to have. There are certain must-have internet marketing tools every beginner needs. Once you’ve mastered these tools, you can move on to something new.
A Solid Business Plan
I bet you wasn’t expecting that to be my first tool now was you? In order to be successful in any business, including an online business, you must have a clear idea
- of what your business is
- where you want it to go
- and who your target audience will be
You must determine the costs involved – just because the business is online it doesn’t make it cheap and how much time everything will take, even an online business will take up more time than you think. The more you can visualise your business in your mind, the better you will be at following through with what needs to be done. Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses is a good thing to include in your business plan- you’ll know when to outsource and get help.
Your Own Website with a Blog
While it may not be necessary for some online business models such as affiliate marketing, it is always advisable to start your own website (with a blog) for your online business presence. You might find that some people recommend building your presence on Facebook or your following on Twitter first. You need a home base, and your blog fits this nicely, before you start anywhere else you need somewhere to send your audience that you control. You can start building your own branding with your blog, and use your hosting account to store files that may be useful in the future.
It is not expensive to maintain your own website. On average, a domain costs just $10-$15 a year, and a hosting account (where your files live) will cost you about $10 per month.
Keyword Research Tools
Keywords tools help you find out what your target audience is looking for. These tools will allow you to find the most relevant keywords for your audience, and when used properly can mean the difference between success and failure.
You can find free sources like Wordtracker’s free keyword tool, or Google’s Adwords tool. Once you learn more about what to track and look for in keywords, you may want to invest in a more sophisticated solution like the Market Samurai.
Email list & Autoresponder
If you want to grow your business, make more sales and profits, and build a solid customer base, then you need to invest in an autoresponder service. With an email management system like Aweber, you can easily build a list of subscribers by offering a free gift such as a special report or ebook. You might like to use a pop-up that invites readers to stay in touch, you might like to add an opt-in box in your sidebar, whatever converts best for your audience is what you should use.
Once your reader has subscribed, you can build on the relationship by sending them weekly newsletters containing product updates, discounts, new free resources you’ve found, your blog updates, or anything else that may interest them and build the relationship. You should reply to your emails, you’ll find people respond better to personal emails when compared to commenting on your blog. You might want the comment for social proof, but the email is a sign of a better relationship being built.
See this post here about planning your email autoresponder.
Tracking allow you to test and refine your online marketing strategy by keeping track of which social activity brings traffic to your site and your online offers.
Start with simple stats on your website and then when you become more proficient and need to set up gaols and track conversion, install Google analytics or another tracking tool. Whatever method you choose, tracking is a powerful weapon in your arsenal, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked.
There are dozens – perhaps hundreds – of other tools you can and should learn to use as your business grows tools like Jugnoo, themes like Dynamik but all of those depend on you having the basics in place.
Online shopping carts, task management solutions, and payment processors may all become necessary in the future, but without these five must-have Internet marketing tools, no online business will succeed for long.