Whether you have an established brand in the real world thanks to a brick-and-mortar location or you’ve decided to start your enterprise in the online arena first, you should know that making yourself heard above the clamor of competing noise on the internet is no easy feat. However, there are steps you can take, when launching your brand online, to ensure the best chance of success. And while your first thoughts may be of catch-phrases like keywords and SEO, the truth is that you need to start with a solid foundation before you even think of optimizing. So here are just a few tips that will help you to kick-start your brand online so that you can take it to the next level.
- Homework. In any type of business undertaking you’re going to want to perform some research, and launching your brand online is no exception. You need to start by seeing what’s already out there; when you know your competition you can strive to develop an approach that is unique and appealing to consumers, or in other words, find your niche. But you also need to figure out what type of market exists and how to target your demographic effectively in the online arena so that you can create a business plan that will offer the best odds for success.
- Targeted design. Once you’ve done the appropriate research you can begin to design your website and other online portals (blog, social media profiles, etc.). It’s important to understand both your target demographic and your own brand sensibilities so that you can create a cohesive online effort that speaks to consumers while remaining true to the goals, ideals, and professional image that you want to convey. Your design will provide customers with that all-important first impression, so you definitely want to wow them, but you also want them to return, so functionality is a key consideration. A targeted design should not only draw customers in, but it should also encourage them to return. It’s a tall order, to be sure, but an important component to nail when it comes to branding.
- Domain and web host. No matter how great your website is, it won’t do you much good if customers can’t find it or access it. For this reason you need to be choosy when it comes to your domain name and your web hosting service. Ideally, you’ll choose a domain that is the name of your business with a dot com designation. But if this is not possible, try to choose a domain that incorporates at least part of your brand name and is easy to remember. As for selecting the right web host, look for a vendor that is reliable, offers guarantees pertaining to blackouts, provides scalable solutions for expanding bandwidth and storage, and has competitive pricing.
- Networking. When you’re first starting out online you need to get your name out to as many sources as possible. This could mean joining forums and making friends in order to spread your brand name to a community of peers. Or you might target blogs in your field by commenting on posts, writing guest articles, or finding other ways to promote your business (through reviews and giveaways, for example). You could also join directories and ad-sharing sites. The important thing is to spread your name in any way you can (so long as it conforms to search engine standards).
- Content. The content you post on your site is about more than just a clever logo design or a spiffy layout. You need to provide information as well as entertainment. And you have to give your visitors added value if you want to keep them coming back. This will require frequent updates, innovative design, and of course, optimization. The upside, in addition to bringing in more traffic and retaining patronage, is that this strategy can also help to raise your page rank with search engines, leading to an upward spiral of success.