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Marketing Products Online

5 Keys to Marketing Products Online

Reaching the point in your business’s development where you have a ready to market product is a wonderful feeling.  Chances are that your journey began with a Eureka, moment which led to tons of research and planning and then finally you have a product.

But guess what? You’ve reached a milestone moment, but you’ve still got a ways to go.  Just to put it into perspective just look at how much time companies spend on developing products and then compare that to how much time they spend marketing those products.

The work you must do to bring just one product to the market online is almost identical to the work that you must do to market your entire business online.

In short bringing a product to market, online, will require you to create an online marketing plan around the product that you intend to sale.  This plan should be founded upon 1) what you know about your audience, 2) what you know about your audience and 3) your product’s USP.  Those three items should serve to guide your decisions on items such as the type of website to create and the type of online promotional tactics to engage in.  So let us begin with the bedrock of your product’s online marketing plan-research.

1 – Do Your Research

Do your research and analyzing

Doing your research consists of learning your audience, your competition, and your industry.  You can learn your audience by analyzing your own website and website’s with similar audiences on Quantcast, you can review your website’s internal search data, and take note of the conversations that you have with members of your audience.  You are looking for clues that tell you 1) who your audience is, 2) what their needs and wants 3) when they buy, 4) how they decide on what and where to purchase 5) where does your audience spend their time at online, 6) what is their level of comfort with their current situation and etc.

This information will come in handy when you want to do things such as decide which social media platforms to utilize or when you want to determine the type of voice to use in your messaging.

To understand who your competition is I’d suggest beginning with a list of both long and short tail keywords that your audience uses to land on your website (you can find this with Google Analytics) and then searching for these terms on Alexa and Keyword Spy. The sites that show up in when you search for these keywords are likely to be your most likely sources of online competition.  Often this list will include retailers, manufacturers, content portals and affiliate sites and that is fine.

Once you know who you’re competing against you can find out what their doing by using tools such as Hubspot’s Website Grader, you can analyze their search engine strategy using tools such as Spyfu, you can look at their blog and you can observe their social media profiles to see what their saying and to see whose speaking for them.

Staying abreast of the latest happenings in your industry is a matter of attending industry functions, reading industry journals, blogs and websites.  Understanding what’s happening in your industry can be helpful because without it-how would you know whether your expectations are realistic or not?

2 – Set SMART Goals

set smart goals

The first thing that you should know when it comes to setting goals for your products is that you need goals that are SMART-specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timetabled.

Next you should know that there are two types of goals that you should concern yourself with when it comes to marketing your products online-business goals and marketing goals. These goals will provide you with the benchmarks that you need to assess the success or failure of your online marketing efforts.

Armed with the information that you have on the market for your product you will be in a position to set your business goals. Your business goals should address items such as sales, revenue, costs, and profitability. Since the type and degree of online marketing tactics will be influenced by your budget you will want to also take your financial position into consideration when putting your business goals together.

Your marketing goals should be designed so that your product sales will allow you to meet your company’s business goals. They should include metrics such as monthly website visits, page views, ad impressions, clicks, click trough rate, conversion rate, cost per conversion, average transaction value, and etc.

3 – Develop Your Elevator Pitch

develop elevator pitch

An elevator pitch, which is also sometimes referred to as a unique selling point (USP), is a tool that you use to etch your brand’s unique qualities into the mind of your audience.  In short its what separates you from your competition and it is what let’s your audience know how your product will solve their problems. Your elevator pitch makes up the thrust of your product’s messaging strategy.  You elevator pitch should be incorporated into your website, landing pages, and promotion tactics.

4 – Finding an Online Home

finding online home

Now that you’re about to begin marketing your product(s) online you will want to determine which type of website is the most suitable to help accomplish your goals.  The basic options that you have are:

  • Squeeze Page.  This type of site consists of a single page, usually with no navigation that begins with copy and leads into the crescendo-a product sales offer.  It works best when you have one product and want the consumer to take one action-which is either a purchase and/or to make a request for information.
  • Micro Site.  A micro site is a miniature website that is typically built around one product; they often include several different types of commercial online content such as online videos, white papers, and etc.  This type of website works well when selling expensive or complicated products.
  • Website.  This can be an ecommerce site, a blog, or a more standard website.  This format works well when you have multiple products to sell.  Often times marketers who utilize a complete website to market their products have several different landing pages-one for each product or family of products.

So you should determine which type of platform to use based upon the number and complexity of products that you will be selling.

5 – Online Promotion Plan

internet promotion

There are tons of online promotion tactics that you can use to market your products.  However, you will not be able to use all of them.  The online marketing tools that you should include in your promotion plan will be based upon your goals, your audience’s online habits and preferences, as well as your company’s financial and time constraints.   The most commonly used tools are:

  • Organic SEO.   Organic SEO is used to impact your website’s position within the search engine results for relevant keywords.  Pros: This strategy drives targeted traffic to your site and has long-term benefits that often outlive your efforts.  Surfers place more trust in the natural results than they do in paid results.  Cons:  It takes time for the benefits of organic SEO to materialize.  It can be extremely expensive.
  • Paid Search Engine Marketing or SEM. SEM is used to drive targeted potential buyers to your site via sponsored search engine results-think “Google AdWords”.  Pros: This strategy can provide near immediate results.  It also allows advertisers highly detailed analytics.  Performance based pay structure-you pay only for clicks.  Cons:  Many a firm has lost their shirt doing PPC marketing.  Campaigns can get expensive really quick and if you aren’t conducting testing you could easily get in over your head.
  • Affiliate Marketing.  Affiliate marketing is where you pay affiliates a commission on the sales that they help to generate for you online.  Pros: Highly cost effective way to bring targeted buyers to your site.  In addition to bringing you sales affiliates also give you back-links to your site.  Cons: Your sales are dependent upon the strength of your affiliates.  Although relative to SEO and PPC overall affiliate marketing costs are low the set up costs can be expensive.
  • Online PR.  Online PR speaks to the methods that you use to influence the perception of your online audience to your product(s) or brand.  This includes social media as well as the management of your online newsroom and press releases.  Pros: Relatively inexpensive to utilize.  Since online pr often results in people sharing information with each other about your products, this tool is very similar to a traditional referral-you stand to get warm leads.  Cons: You have little control of your message as much of online pr as the consumer primarily controls or drives social media.  You also have less control over the type of traffic that your website will receive from your online pr efforts-meaning you could get a high percentage of window shoppers from this type of marketing.
  • Email Marketing.  Email marketing is a form of marketing where the marketer uses emails as the communication medium to reach the consumer-directly.  Pros:  This can be used to complement PPC marketing and it can greatly enhance the experience of your current customers.  Relative to the other tools email marketing offers a very high ROI.  Cons: You can easily alienate customers if you aren’t careful.  If you break the CAN-SPAM Act you could be fined up to 16,000 USD for a single violation.
  • Blogging.  You can use a business blog to communicate with your audience while building your web presence.  Pros: Very affordable.  Easy way to establish your brand online.  Cons:  Can be highly time consuming.  May take a long time to generate sales of your products.

Again, you may find that some of these online promotional strategies are more practical for your firm than others.  The key is that you will want to have a plan that details which tools you will use to market your products so that your company will not be flying blind.

So we’ve just covered five steps that you will need to go through in order to sell your products online.  Of course the rest is up to you.  Go get em’.

Benin Brown is a recent graduate of Full Sail University's Internet Marketing Master's degree program. Benin is an emarketer for an Atlanta based ecommerce retailer and blogs at beninbrown.com.

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{ 35 comments… add one }

  • Kier February 21, 2013, 6:57 pm

    Great post. I’ve taken the long way round and set up shops on eBay, Amazon and my own site first and have left the promotion till last. These online selling mediums provide an immediate outlet for your products as they have huge amounts of traffic flowing through them you can capitalise on whilst building your product line.
    Pros.. Immediate sales and exposure without much promotion needed. Cons.. they take one hell of a chunk out of your profits.
    I find selling on my own site provides almost as much profit as selling twice the amount on other selling mediums that charge huge fees.
    So my advice would be to start promoting your own website religiously from day one whilst using the big guns to keep your products flowing. In the long run it’s your own site that will give you the biggest payback but it will take a lot longer to get there.

    Cheers

  • Mitch Hell September 23, 2012, 12:44 pm

    I like when you mention finding an online home very important. Also, where the heck do you get those great pics for your blog posts. I love them. I want to do the same. lol. Anyway, great post. Very detailed and will help alot of people. I am going to mention this to my twitter following! have a great day! Mitch

    Oh yeah, one more thing. I like to mirror the pros and what they do. Its not so much what you see as far as advertising but their systems, you can see if you look a little deeper. Follow the leader I guess. Follow who you want to be someday.

  • Carl Parker December 26, 2010, 1:39 pm

    This was a great read benin! hope to see more of your writing on here!

  • Jason October 2, 2010, 4:55 pm

    Great post Benin I myself use the affiliate marketing business model to make money online. It is low cost startup virtually nothing. Can be excellent long term income once you get past the learning curve. Once you get good at it and you build a quality responsive mailing list you can make some good money. Nice post some very useful tips.
    Jason recently posted..Affiliate Marketing And Clickbank For DummiesMy Profile

    • benin October 3, 2010, 9:40 pm

      Hi Jason, thanks for the comment. I appreciate the specificity of what you’ve just said because its an avenue that I’m currently exploring. Just out of curiosity what type of role, have you found, does planning play into affiliate marketing? Thanks again!
      benin recently posted..Social MediaSalesMy Profile

  • Usama September 28, 2010, 1:58 pm

    Yes. So many people begin to see their profession as a hobby where a lot of things can go wrong. Not that you should haev fun working but to keep focused on your goals is essential.
    Thanks.
    Usama recently posted..Who Are You Outsourcing Your Self-Worth ToMy Profile

    • benin October 3, 2010, 9:37 pm

      Thanks Usama, true. Its ok to start off in hobby mode, in effect, scaling up to where you want to be. But as you’ve hinted at, at some point we all have to kick it into gear and put a real plan together.
      benin recently posted..Social MediaSalesMy Profile

  • TJ McDowell September 21, 2010, 9:36 am

    Thanks for the step by step plan. I see from your bio that you graduated from Full Sail with a degree in internet marketing. Was that a good program?
    TJ McDowell recently posted..Business Hours – Why After Hours And Weekend Photographers Make Big BucksMy Profile

  • JamestheJust on Elance September 21, 2010, 4:50 am

    Benin –

    What a great reminder to treat your online business as a business, I’m afraid I’ve treated it too much like a hobby at times, scatter-shot, crossing the fingers.

    Luckily I’m no dolt and not “new” to business, but running any business on intuition either makes you suicidal or rich enough not to mind the write off.

    I’m neither, just not this organized. I’m printing out your post – my wife will want to thank you for it! Great details, and very glad to have found it. Thanks for taking the time to compose such a timely and salient reminder that business is business.
    JamestheJust on Elance recently posted..SEO Whoop AssMy Profile

    • benin September 21, 2010, 1:07 pm

      ;) No problem James. I hear you. And believe it or not I struggle too with this, from time to time (on my own projects), and wrote it as much for myself as I did for anyone else whose working on getting products out there.

      Otherwise, I hope to hear more about your products soon. Wishing you much success, James! Thanks for the comment.
      benin recently posted..Time to Re-Evaluate Google PageRankMy Profile

  • Joydeep September 20, 2010, 7:56 am

    I have seen a lot of people who have jumped on the main business without ever thinking and forecasting.Your first point focuses and researching and that is what I like most…persons should research properly before actually starting his campaign else no clear results would be seen.

    • benin September 20, 2010, 2:28 pm

      Great observation Joy! Preparation through research, goal setting, and forecasting are key. Certainly, if more businesses did this we’d inhabit a less cluttered web space.

      By the way, thank you for your comment!
      benin recently posted..Time to Re-Evaluate Google PageRankMy Profile

  • ZK September 20, 2010, 4:25 am

    I want to ask you one question.

    For example – If a person wants to sell different kinds of SEO service than according to you what kind of design will be helpful …

    What will be the pattern of such websites so that they can bring more sales.

    Would love to see your answer and if you have few examples than simply add their URLs.
    ZK recently posted..The 5 Basic Points of Digital MarketingMy Profile

    • benin September 20, 2010, 6:38 am

      Hi Zk,

      For companies that sell SEO services my advice would be that they operate in a manner that shows that they are able to practice what they preach.

      Oftentimes, what I have found is that irrespective of professions when folks are really good at something they tend to have the feeling that since they are good in it they can take it easy on doing whatever it is for themselves. For example, I’ve met many barbers and hairstylists whose hair did not reveal their profession. I’ve also spoken to doctors who said that they self medicate rather than getting an objective opinion, and I’ve seen landscapists with very dull lawns.

      How this relates to SEO’s is that often SEO’s stress that website architecture should be clean and easy to use from a usability stand point. It should also have an information scent that is consistent with its organic SERP landing pages (its paid ones too for that matter).

      I will sort of take a slight departure from protocol on this one and mention someone that I work with whom I think has an impeccable website architecture when it comes to usability-that is a firm called the g3Group.com in Baltimore, Md.

      If you look at their site its streamlined, its easy to tell when an element is clickable (because they’ve implemented alt tags) , their usage of flash is minimal and doesn’t get in the way of the user friendliness of the site nor does it compromise their internal page structure, their contact page also provides not only a form but actual contact information, their links are “clutterless”, and its easy to find their privacy policy.

      I hope that helps. Otherwise, thanks for your comments. Will be in touch!
      benin recently posted..Time to Re-Evaluate Google PageRankMy Profile

  • ZK September 20, 2010, 4:20 am

    Boy this one is really inspirational one.

    My advice – Why don’t you start this with a live example. I mean you should try all these tips on one product and show the results.

    Believe me this will be more effective.
    ZK recently posted..The 5 Basic Points of Digital MarketingMy Profile

    • benin September 20, 2010, 6:19 am

      Hi ZK,

      That’s a wonderful suggestion. I think this is certainly something that I will want to do in the near future. Although this might not go over so well with my employer its the sort of thing that I could certainly do on my own upcoming projects.

      Hope to keep you posted on that.
      benin recently posted..Time to Re-Evaluate Google PageRankMy Profile

  • Joy September 18, 2010, 2:02 pm

    thanks for these great marketing tips Benin. I should be able to use these right away.

  • Benin September 18, 2010, 12:45 pm

    I just want to say to everyone how much I have enjoyed your feedback on this post. You all are a terrific audience. Looking forward to posting a new piece here really soon. Thanks again, all. Thanks to you especially, Hesham!
    Benin recently posted..Time to Re-Evaluate Google PageRankMy Profile

  • A. Tatum September 17, 2010, 10:18 am

    I enjoyed this very much Benin. A lot of good info here that I will use for sure.
    A. Tatum recently posted..What is Your Online IdentityMy Profile

    • benin September 17, 2010, 11:35 am

      Tatum,

      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it. By the way, just checked out your latest blog post. I like what you said about Google-ing yourself. Thats a great idea.
      benin recently posted..Time to Re-Evaluate Google PageRankMy Profile

  • Lennart Heleander September 17, 2010, 9:48 am

    Hi Benin,
    Good post. We are working with a combination of short-term and long-term tactic. PPC, blogs (SEO with longtail) and website (SEO with exact keywords). And we always control what our rivals (enemy) do..

    • benin September 17, 2010, 11:42 am

      Hi Lennart,

      That’s good to know. Sounds like you guys are ahead of the game then because scoping out the competition is highly critical too.

      Thanks for commenting on the post and by the way I saw your website-I like that you have incorporated web 2.0 elements to the site.
      benin recently posted..Time to Re-Evaluate Google PageRankMy Profile

  • Andreas September 17, 2010, 4:58 am

    You can get best marketing results from your own website, which is available nowadays for a very low budget (0.9 US$ per month for the domain name (usually paid 1 year upfront) plus 5 US$ for a virtual hosting account of good quality where you can even run multiple domains on)

    • benin September 17, 2010, 5:28 am

      Thanks Andreas. You’re right, one doesn’t necessarily need to break the bank to get results. It’s putting oneself in the mind of the consumer that matters.
      benin recently posted..Time to Re-Evaluate Google PageRankMy Profile

  • Tinh September 17, 2010, 3:48 am

    Very strategic marketing steps that no one should miss any of them. Thanks
    Tinh recently posted..5 Simple Tricks To Restore Your PageRank EffectivelyMy Profile

  • Ryan Biddulph September 16, 2010, 3:43 pm

    Hi Benin,

    Super post here. Welcome to the Famous Bloggers Community :)

    I like your clear, step by step breakdown of how to market products online. Blogging is time consuming but can be a strong traffic driver: it’s like one stop shopping for your readers, like a Content Central. Videos, articles, Pod Casts…you name it, you can include it on your blog.

    Thanks for sharing your insight.

    Ryan Biddulph
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted..How to Tap into the Miraculous Power of Your Subconscious MindMy Profile

    • benin September 16, 2010, 6:18 pm

      Ryan. Hi there. Thank you so much for the kind words my friend. Hey, you’re right blogging requires so much time. But as you’ve pointed out it can be quite reqrding too. I especially like the community building aspects of it.
      benin recently posted..Time to Re-Evaluate Google PageRankMy Profile

  • Aaron September 16, 2010, 2:50 pm

    Great first post Benin. I completely relate to creating an elevator pitch. It sounds easy, but it does take a lot of work and time to get it done right, and make it flow out of your mouth. I’ve often had people ask me what I do and had to take time to think how to explain it. Having it memorized in a friendly way makes it MUCH easier.
    Aaron recently posted..blogReaction Introduces Revenue Sharing on Free Blogging PlatformMy Profile

    • benin September 16, 2010, 6:16 pm

      Aaron. Exactly! The elevator pitch is so big. But many businesses, both large and small, miss the boat by overlooking it. If you think about it an elevator pitch forms the basis of a brands entire branding message. Thanks for the warm welcome too.
      benin recently posted..Time to Re-Evaluate Google PageRankMy Profile

  • Derek Jensen September 16, 2010, 1:19 pm

    Judging by the length of each key, online promotion methods or strategies is one that requires a great deal of thought.

    But, many just want to do what others are doing and really end of finding out their promotion methods don’t align with the audience they are trying to reach out to and attract, etc.
    Derek Jensen recently posted..It’s Not For Me Passing Those Lines in the Sand to Be Apart of the Changing CultureMy Profile

    • benin September 16, 2010, 6:17 pm

      Derek. Great observation. Funny thing is when I started the post was way bigger than this. I tried to strip it down to its bear essentials and actually took so much out at first that it was incomplete. So I had to go back and add deeper explanations. My main hope was that was clear and didn’t lose the reader in unnecessary details.

      Oh, yes…Another terrific observation. Many out there just follow the crowd without putting much thought into how or even whether their audience will receive their messaging. I am happy though if through these types of discussions even one business is able to find the direction to do it right the first time.

      Thanks again for your comment!
      benin recently posted..Time to Re-Evaluate Google PageRankMy Profile

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