Editor’s note: a version of this post originally appeared on ChamberofCommerce.com in January 2013.
With more and more purchases, for business-to-business (b2b) and high-value consumer goods, now starting with online research, it’s imperative to make your business ubiquitous when potential buyers are searching for what you sell.
It starts with a well-optimized website of course, but there’s much more to it than that; a website isn’t the only way to show up in a search, and traditional search engines aren’t the only online tools that buyers are using to learn about products and services.
To expand your online footprint within your market, think about three types of sites where you want a presence:
- Social media sites: these include social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), social content sharing sites (YouTube, Flickr, SlideShare) and social bookmarking sites (Reddit, StumbleUpon, Diigo).
- News sites: depending on the type of business and the market you serve, this may include local news sites (newspapers, TV stations, online magazines), trade publications, and business news sites (like the Business Journal, Forbes, or ChamberofCommerce.com).
- Industry sites: these can include financial or technology analyst websites, trade show and event sites, and trade association sites.
Coordinating the manner in which your presence (whether owned, earned or paid) on these different categories of sites ultimately drives traffic and conversions on your website is accomplished through a web presence optimization (WPO) strategy. This strategy is based on the WPO framework and supported by metrics that inform decisions about budget allocation and tactics.
Each type of site requires its own strategy and offers its own unique value, but in general, a presence on these types of websites provides three unique benefits:
- Gets more brand exposure in the market, increasing brand awareness and credibility.
- Provides referral visits to your website.
- Creates backlinks (at least in the case of do-follow sites) that help your website rank more highly in the search engines.
Of course, what your prospective buyers find is just as important as where they find you. Social media sites provide the opportunity to demonstrate expertise in your field and engage with peers, influencers and potential customers.
News sites offer the opportunity to share customer success stories, what’s new with your product or service, even what actions your organization is taking to move your industry forward.
Industry sites showcase your firm’s involvement in leadership in your field, and facilitate connections.
Capitalizing on the unique strengths and benefits of these different types of sites requires strategic and tactical planning, supported by multi-channel marketing metrics that enable data-driven decision making about tactical efforts and resource allocations. It’s work, but well worthwhile. The more places that prospective buyers find you, along with content relevant to the problems they are trying to solve or the benefits they are seeking, the greater the number of opportunities for your organization to win the business.