Website Marketing for Newbies: 4 Ways to Get Your Feet Wet

Getting eyeballs on your website is crucial for generating new leads and selling products. But if you’re anything like I was 5 years ago, marketing can feel super intangible. And consistent new traffic? Well, somewhat ethereal. “That stuff is for the high-paid consultants who we could never afford”.

Well yes, marketing is an interesting animal. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be understood. Here’s my operating principal:

Try something out (a marketing strategy) with a little bit of time and cash. If it works, keep increasing your investment. Keep nurturing the winners and ditch the losers.

Try something out (a marketing strategy) with a little bit of time and cash. If it works, keep increasing your investment. Keep nurturing the winners and ditch the losers.

Ok, so with this principle in mind, here are 4 simple ways to start marketing your company. 4 ways to get your feet wet.

Option 1: Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)

Goodness, are you serious? Paying for people to click on an ad so they’ll come to our website? Isn’t that just burning cash? Does PPC really work?

Well, it depends a bit on your industry. For some companies, PPC can be a great strategy to get fresh eyeballs on their website almost immediately. Contrast this with search engine optimization (SEO) that generally can take 6-12 months before you start seeing results.

Contrast this with search engine optimization (SEO) that generally can take 6-12 months before you start seeing results.

What if you decided you were going to grab a good book on Google Ads and experiment with say $500? Remember, my goal here isn’t for you to throw $10,000/month at any particular marketing activity. Instead, I want you to put a little bit of cash and time into a few and see what works. I also want to expand your mind and help you see that marketing really can work.

ultimate guide to google adwords While there is a lot to PPC, it also isn’t rocket science. In the case of Google Advertising, you create ads, bid on certain keywords and then based on your bid and your ad performance Google serves up your ad. Additional components include a/b testing your titles and ad copy and creating compelling landing pages (hint: with current software on the market, you can do all of this without any coding skills). Here is a book that I read a few years ago that helped me do AdWords like a pro: Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords: How to Access 100 Million People in 10 Minutes.

Before reading this book, I had unsuccessfully spent a grand or two trying to secure new clients for my web design agency. I ended up with one new client that ended up being a headache and hardly recouped my cost. After reading the book, I was able to successfully turn about $8K in ad spend into over $150K in revenue. That’s all 1,875% return on investment. Not too shabby! And we service all of the clients from this effort still so that’s a growing number.

Option #2: Referral Partnerships

Here’s one that’s pretty easy to grab onto. Find other companies that share a similar customer base with you. Reach out to them and see if there could be opportunities to refer out to each other. Do great work each time and you’ll find that the referral partner is more open and eager to send clients to your website.

Seem like a lot of work? Referral agreements, commission structures, constant communication with another company? Sloooooow down Nelly! Remember, our goal here is to get our feet wet with these marketing opportunities. Instead of asking for marriage, just ask the other company if they’d keep you in mind for a test project.

Stressing about referral terms and the like is pretty fruitless if the relationship doesn’t go anywhere. Focus on starter project where you can prove yourself to your potential referral partner. Then if it works? You guessed it… keep investing!

Believe me. The moment you have a real sales call from a client that visited your website due to a referral partner, you’ll be ecstatic. Who knows, maybe you’ll even become a believer in marketing.

The moment you have a real sales call from a client that visited your website due to a referral partner, you’ll be ecstatic.

Option #3: Directory / Trade Sites

My third suggestion for getting your feet wet with marketing is to look into directory sites for your industry. Directory sites are organized around a core focus like construction or doctors. Or in my case, web design agencies.

Directory sites come in all shapes and sizes, but a lot of them allow you to create a free profile with your company basics. If it’s a good directory site, spend more time making your profile perfect. If it’s a mediocre one, I’d just enter your main company details.

semrush seo toolBut how do you know if a directory site is worth your time? Well, I’d suggest you make the call based on traffic. If a directory site doesn’t get much traffic itself, then it won’t likely generate traffic for you either. You can use tools like SEMRush to see how much traffic a website or a website page gets. SEMRush does cost money, but at the time of this writing, you can register for a free account to get some free queries.

Why do I like directory sites?

Because they’ve been huge for my business. Many of them don’t do much for us, but others do fantastic. For instance, we started “investing” in a directory site called Clutch a few years ago. I was skeptical because I had tried directory sites (unintelligently) in the past and they were a waste of time.

But then something happened.

I closed a website deal for around $25,000 that originated from Clutch. I was ecstatic! Do you think I continued to invest in our Clutch profile? You better believe it. Now 3 or 4 years in, Jordan Crown (my agency) has a 5 star rating with over 40 reviews. At the time of this writing, we also ranked #1 on their list of “Web Design Agencies” nationwide.

Has Clutch been a big win for us? Yes.

Have we closed deals? A lot of them.

Did I know any of this was going to happen? Absolutely not. I’m just not smart enough. I simply decided I would put my toes in the water and keep investing if I saw a return.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Though there are a ton of different website marketing strategies out there, my last one for this post is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I’m putting this last, because with my 4 ways to get your feet wet with website marketing, this is the more complicated one. But again, just like PPC, it’s a pretty big topic, but it’s not rocket science. Here are my thoughts on SEO:

#1 Fall in Love with Writing

Writing quality content is crucial for SEO. It’s also super important for conversion rates and keeping prospects interested in you. Writing good blogs posts, homepage copy and services pages won’t put you instantly on page 1, but it’s still the foundation of SEO.

Google is a search engine. It’s trying to answer questions for the searcher. Well written content does just that. Falling in love with content and trying to generate some minimal traffic from Google is a great way to get your feet wet with SEO.

#2 Familiarize Yourself With the Basics

I won’t go into huge detail here, but these are essentially the fundamentals for SEO:

  • Quality content creation – as I discussed above.
  • Internal and external links – internal links are links in your content to other content on your website. These links, among other things, help Google understand your content. External links are links to other websites. These connect your website to bigger conversations that are happening on the web.
  • Keyword research – finding keywords – that are appropriately competitive – that you can put into your content as you write.
  • Onpage optimization – optimizing your titles, metadata, word count etc. so that it’s favorable to search engines.
  • Technical SEO – optimizing your website as a whole to be more favorable to Google. This could include speed improvements, mobile-friendliness, 404 corrections, 301 redirects (did I lose you there? There’s a reason why this is called technical SEO).
  • Inbound link building – Securing additional links from other websites. Think of a website link as a “vote”. The more votes a website gets (links), the more Google sees them as credible. But there’s more to it. These should be credible website themselves and not all links are created equal.

For more on the basics, I’d check out folks like Neil Patel. The more you study and try to understand SEO, the more you’ll up your chances for success.

I’ll be really frank though and tell you that understanding SEO can take years… but if you’re going into marketing, do yourself a favor and start now. You can’t make yourself an SEO genius overnight, but you can choose to start now by writing good content and trying to optimize it for search.

You can’t make yourself an SEO genius overnight, but you can choose to start now by writing good content and trying to optimize it for search.

#3 Consider working with a firm that specializes in SEO

Ok, so I’ll get straight to the point. Working with an SEO company on our website has taught me more about SEO in the last year than I had learned in the previous 10 years. If you have the luxury of $1,500 or so a month to engage with a reputable agency, this is a fast track to understanding.

But you have to pick a good agency. So look for one that has a great reputation, does work for similar companies and has references that are similar to you. Make sure the references are happy and ask them how long it took to see results.

SEO is a big topic but start with writing good content and trying to understand the basics. This will get your feet wet and allow you to move on to more advanced material.

Conclusion

In this article, I’ve laid out 4 different ways to get your feet wet with marketing. As I’m ending this post, it’s probably good to repeat my main operating principle for marketing opportunities:

Try something out (a marketing strategy) with a little bit of time and cash. If it works, keep increasing your investment. Keep nurturing the winners and ditch the losers.

Your biggest liability in all of this is doing nothing. If you’re not investing time and energy trying things out then you aren’t learning. And that’s the goal, right?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Happy marketing!

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