One of the latest reports by a leading website traffic ranking site claimed that they are tracking over 133 million blogs. If you think about all the standard websites as well, this number will be even bigger. The result is hundreds, if not thousands of blogs and websites on virtually every single niche on the web. You can also bet that a good percentage of those will be offering outstanding quality content just like you do, so the competition is fierce. So how can you stand out and market your internet shopping portal effectively on the web?
In a word: Branding
Brick and mortar businesses have discovered the importance of branding decades ago, but on the Internet this is a very new trend (just five years ago you didn’t have that many websites around after all). What follows is 10 ways to brand your internet shopping portal efficiently. Branding your business as an owner is a very effective step into driving traffic to your web portal.
1. Make Your Purpose Known – You must have a crystal clear vision about the purpose of your website, and you must communicate that to the visitors as well. They must know why they are visiting your website. Why it is worth their time. The customer is always asking in their heads, ‘tell me what you have to say quickly so i can decide if you have what I need’ “I am going to write about my business” isn’t going to cut it. What part of your business you are going to write about? What angle you are going to have? Breaking news? Deep analysis? Where will the value to your readers come from? You need to be able to answer to those questions easily. Your aim is to make people associate a concept or thing with your website. If I say online video, you are going to think YouTube. If I say Coca Cola, you’re going to think soft drink. You get the idea. Now you must make this with your own website. It is not easy, and it takes time, but you should always keep this principle in mind.
2. Keeping Your Tagline Consistent – Using a tagline is not mandatory, although it can help if you come up with a really catchy and descriptive one. The important thing, however, is that you stick with it. It’s got stick in people’s heads. If you change your tagline every other month, people won’t remember it, and they might even get confused about it. With most internet shopping portals offering millions of products from partner stores, your ability to choose a niche market is great. Choosing several products of relevance to market online is a great way to start focused marketing efforts to drive portal traffic. If you are going to use a tagline, you could also consider adding it to the title tag of your website. This will make sure that the tagline will be displayed on search engines when users come across your site, reinforcing the message that you want to pass.
3. Investing Money in a Good Logo – Just like medieval castles used their flags to identify themselves, websites are identified by their logos. If you have limited money to spend on design, make sure that the logo is your top priority. These days you can get good looking logos for as low as $100 (obviously though that the more you spend the higher the quality you should get). The logo is important because it is the first thing that visitors pay attention to, and usually it is also the image that will stick on their mind once they are gone. Additionally, whenever people mention your website on a blog, they will consider using your logo as an illustration on the article, meaning that the logo itself will characterize your site even on external places.
4. Having a Consistent Writing Style – There are many studies confirming that the writing part of a blog or website is one of the main parameters that readers use to determine the overall quality of that site. You need to be consistent with your writing style if you want to strength your brand with it. It does not matter if you write bringing your personal experiences aboard or if you try to keep a more neutral tone, the important thing is to be consistent with it.
5. Making the Content Match the Design – The overall look and feel of your design must match the content. If you plan to talk about myWorld, it would be weird to have flowers on the background image, right? Identify what your core audience is going to be, and design around their perceptions and preferences. If you are going to write for professionals or older people, perhaps a traditional newspaper look would be a good choice. If your readers will be younger, a more colorful design could be used. And so on.
6. Maintaining Color Consistency – Make sure to choose a color palette and to stick with it. Colors and moods are very easy to be remembered, so use this in your favor. You could use the main color on the links, on the footer and so on. If you are going to create special images or badges for the website, make them match the overall color pattern. Also, keep a consistent set of font types throughout your blog, website, and other marketing. Online, this is called CSS, or cascading style sheets. Most popular blogs have CSS built in, but others like MySpace, allow you unlimited possibilities, and can clutter and hinder your message and your brand. Throughout the years it is a good bet that you will need to give a face-lift to you design. That is fine, as long as you keep consistent with the color readers will still feel at home, and your brand will be kept intact.
7. Using Your Website Portal’s Name on Social Media – Are you going to use Twitter? FriendFeed? Facebook? MySpace? If you are, you could create an account on each of those services specifically for your website. Then tell your network of friends about your shopping portal and post links. Social networks are a big online trend, and probably one that will last. If you manage to get your site inside those networks, your brand will rejoice.
8. Spending Money on Advertising – If branding was easy, companies around the world would not spend billions of dollars every year on advertising right? It is possible to create a strong downline without spending money on advertising, but paid promotional efforts can certainly make you reach this goal easier and faster. If you don’t have a big budget, you could consider spending money only during the initial period and on the first few months. Use the money to kick start your brand, and after that work with the content, refine your message and use the free methods. One advantage of paid advertising is that it allows you to deliver a specific message to a specific audience. If you purchase a banner on a popular blog, for example, you know who will be reading that, and you can tailor your words to pass your brand to those readers.
9. Use PPC Advertising Networks to extend your brand – Google AdWords is the most popular option under this category, but there are also others. Basically you need to sign up with the network and choose keywords related to what you are selling. The profitability of PPC advertising depends on the general traffic levels of the website and, most importantly cost per click (CPC). The CPC depends on the ability to hook your readers with a simple, effective message. Mortgages, financial products and college education are examples of profitable niches (clicks worth a couple of dollars are not rare), while tech-related topics tend to receive a smaller CPC (sometimes as low as a couple of cents per click). You will receive a higher click through rate (CTR) the better your message can convert interested web surfers into customers. The source of the traffic can also affect the overall CTR rate. Search engine traffic (the one that comes from search engines) tends to perform well because these visitors were already looking for something, and they tend to click on ads more often.
10. Spread it Virally – Branding is psychological, and you will need to get inside people’s thoughts. Sometimes this will inevitably be a numbers game. That is, the more exposure you manage to give to your brand in front of the web surfer, the longer it will stick with them. Practically speaking, use your logo and website address in a many different places as possible. Put the link on your email signatures. Write guest articles for popular blogs and put your website name on the byline. Talk about your website in online forums. Purchase advertising banners. Stamp t-shirts with your website logo on it and so on.