By Angela Hribar
Virtually every company has a Web site — that’s a given. But with the volume of professionals going online for work-related purposes, you need more than a Web site to command maximum visibility and generate attention for your products and services.
To compete effectively, it’s necessary to expand and enhance your exposure in the same online sources your customers and prospects use while searching for products and conducting research. A broad and deep online presence gives you greater opportunity to present your brand, message or offer to your target audience — increasing the likelihood of gaining customers.
Here are nine online strategies — beyond your Web site — that will help you build the presence you need.
1. Get listed in searchable directories and catalogs. Professionals in virtually every industry have preferred Web sites and directories they return to over and over again to find products and solutions. Searchable online directories give you a powerful and highly visible presence in front of customers and prospects when they are searching for answers.
2. Advertise in industry e-newsletters. E-newsletter advertisements deliver your message directly to the inboxes of prospects and customers. They are a great way to announce new products or your presence at a trade show, or to offer white papers or Webinars to an opt-in audience.
3. Publish technical articles online. Consider publishing your technical articles and white papers on industry authority sites, content aggregators and online publications read by your target audience. Work to establish relationships with these sites by pitching article ideas and positioning your company as experts for reporters writing stories.
4. Place banner advertisements. Due to their highly visible nature, online banners offer both branding and lead generation opportunities. But your ads need to appear on the appropriate Web sites. Seek out a media partner that knows the online behavior of your target audience and can help you place banner ads across a network of relevant sites used by your customers and prospects.
5. Join industry trade associations. Associations typically list members and provide links back to your Web site. Some will allow you to submit your logo, which helps increase brand visibility for your company. Make sure the link back to your Web site goes to a relevant page — it might be your home page, but it also might be a deeper, more specific page.
6. Use keyword search ads wisely. Most companies are using keyword search ads to some degree, driving traffic to their Web site. If you use keyword ads, choose specific keyword phrases rather than the most popular search terms (for example, “hydraulic linear actuators” instead of “actuators”). This way, you will not waste money gaining visibility with people who are not your target audience.
7. Comment on blogs; participate in online discussions. Interactive social media such as blogs and online discussion groups devoted to your industry are good ways to get your name out there. Remember to post comments with care — anything you write can be seen by many people and is a direct reflection of your company.
8. Don’t forget about SEO. Search engine optimization (SEO) can draw more attention to your company’s Web pages by helping them rise higher in search engine results for specific keyword searches. Determine how SEO can best fit into your marketing strategy without too much strain in resources.
9. Consider social media. Social media — including blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook — are another way to promote your company and key messages to your target audience. Although you may not be using social media as part of your online marketing strategy right now, it makes sense to gain a better understanding of it and how you might effectively use it in the future.
Maintaining a comprehensive online presence will help you get your message across to business professionals who rely on the Internet for work-related information, resulting in increased exposure for your products and services.
Angela Hribar is chief sales and marketing officer of GlobalSpec, Inc., a specialized vertical search, information services and e-publishing company serving the engineering, technical and industrial communities. She has more than 25 years of experience in marketing, sales, business development and operations management, and is an expert in building and facilitating a collaborative environment across cross-functional executive teams. She can be reached at email@example.com.