So 2017 was the year you decided to make your dream a reality and start your own online business.
Or perhaps 2017 was the year you took your existing bricks and mortar business online to make sure you compete with your rivals.
Whichever position you find yourself in, you're probably now looking ahead to 2018 and wondering how you can attract more customers in the coming year.
In this guide we'll look the online marketing techniques you can use to reach new customers. Whether you're a complete beginner, or have some marketing experience there should be something useful in this guide.
Online marketing technique 1 : Search engine optimisation (SEO)
SEO is the cornerstone of good online marketing. Done well, SEO will help your website rise to the top of search engine result pages. That means when people search for a business like yours, you're likely to be the first business they find and clearly that's what you want.
The downside of SEO is that it takes a long time to see results. Of course, that means the sooner you start working on it the better. But it also means you'll have to try other marketing techniques, one with a more immediate impact, while your SEO takes effect.
You should try SEO if: You have a website! No matter what kind of business you're running, SEO is vital. You can bet your competitors will be doing it, so make sure you don't let them get the drop on you.
No matter what kind of business you're running, SEO is vital.
How to get started: SEO is a broad area, covering things like local SEO, technical SEO and linking building. If you have no experience of SEO at all, a good place to start is Search Engine Visibility from GoDaddy. It can scan your site and report on changes you need to make to ensure it is as search engine friendly as possible. It can also identify the keywords you should be targeting to attract customers, so you know which keywords to include in your content. There's also a site map generator, to help search engines find your website's pages.
If you need a bit more help with your SEO, then you can try GoDaddy's SEO services, where our experts will learn about your business, and then make SEO updates to help your site rise up the rankings.
Still want to learn more about SEO? Why not try Moz's beginner's guide to SEO?
Online marketing technique 2: Email marketing
One of the problems with online marketing is that so often your business is forced to rely on marketing channels which it doesn't have full control over.
For search engine marketing that means companies like Google and Bing, for social media marketing that means companies like Twitter and Facebook.
Now on the face of it, this might seem like nothing to worry about. But if you rely on one of these marketing channels for the majority of your website traffic, and hence the majority of your customers, then if something goes wrong with one of these channels, you could be in real trouble - after all, you won't be able to ring up Mark Zuckerberg and ask him to put right a problem with your Facebook account.
Email marketing gives you a direct line of contact to existing and potential customers
That's why email marketing is so important. It gives you a direct line of contact to existing and potential customers. It's a relationship that you have control of. You can contact people who've signed up for your mailing list whenever you have something important to say, and you can actively encourage people to visit your website rather than waiting for them to discover (or rediscover) you via search engines and social media.
You should try email marketing if: You already have an established stream of traffic coming to your website. Email marketing is great, but its biggest weakness is that you can only really get people to sign up for your emails if they're on your website.
So invest in other marketing channels and then make sure you have an email sign up form so you can send promotional messages to people even if they don't become a customer on that first visit.
How to get started: To get started with email marketing, you'll need an email marketing package like the one offered by GoDaddy - once you have that, you'll be able to start creating signup forms to capture email addresses, and once you've built your list, you'll be able to start sending those promotional messages, or helpful newsletters.
A good way to get your email marketing list started is by offering a discount count to people who sign up, or giving away a useful ebook.
Why not check out this getting started with email marketing guide from Kissmetrics
Online marketing technique 3: Search advertising
Search advertising, sometimes referred to as pay per click (PPC) advertising is a fantastic way to get your business noticed by new customers.
Put simply, search advertising allows your business to appear at the top of search engine results pages almost instantly. Here's an example:
Of course, to get the most out of search advertising, you need to identify the right keywords to target, so your ads only appear when people use search phrases related to your business. You also need to understand how much to bid so you can get the right balance on the amount your ads cost, and the amount of revenue you generate through sales.
If all that sounds intimidating, don't be put off. Setting up a search advertising campaign that actually works is surprisingly easy, and you'll find that the two main platforms (Google AdWords and Bing Ads) offer plenty of support.
Setting up a search advertising campaign that actually works is surprisingly easy.
You should try search advertising if: You're looking to attract more customers quickly. You might just be starting out and have no traffic to your site, or you might be looking to promote a new product, you might even just want to expand an already successful business.
A good search marketing campaign can help establish your business while you develop other marketing channels as part of a long term strategy.
How to get started: You have two choices when it comes to search advertising - you can either learn to do it yourself, or you can hire an agency to do it on your behalf.
Balancing the pros and cons of these two options can be difficult. For example, a costly mistake while running your own campaign could mean that not using an agency to save money becomes a false economy.
So make sure you base your decision on whether to use an agency or run search ad campaigns yourself based on a fair and accurate assessment of your abilities, your available time and your business's position.
If you decide you want to run your own search ad campaigns, this guide from HubSpot is a good place to start.
And if you decide to partner up, here's a guide to picking a good PPC agency.
Online marketing technique 4: Social media marketing
Social media allows you to do something slightly different with your marketing. Of course, you don't want to go completely off brand and start sending out messages that have little or nothing to do with your business.
But social does allow you to move a little bit away from the hard sell and focus on other aspects of your business. If you're creating helpful resources such as blog posts and ebooks, social is a great way to get them to an audience that hasn't heard about your business yet, but may be interested in becoming a customer in the future.
Social marketing is great if you're creating helpful resources such as blog posts and ebooks.
All this doesn't mean that there's no room for selling products via social media, just remember social is usual for much more than that.
It's also important to remember that most big social media platforms now allow you to run paid advertising campaigns, so your posts can reach a big audience even if you're still working on growing the number of followers you have.
You should try social media marketing if: You're looking for a way to interact with existing customers, while at the same time attracting the attention of people who haven't heard about your business yet.
Although there are paid options for social media, you should still view it as a long term project. That means working out how you can attract a loyal following and keep them engaged - not just setting up short term social ads in the hope of making a few sales.
Your long term social media plan will no doubt involve in depth content planning, and engaging with influencers in your chosen market.
How to get started: This guide will help you get started with social media marketing in general, while this guide walks you through the basics of social media advertising campaigns on the biggest platforms.
The world of online marketing can seem overwhelming, but with the right plan and some dedication you'll be able to master what were once complete alien concepts.
Don't worry about implementing every possible marketing tactic we've talked about all at once. Instead, decide where your business is now and identify the one or two tactics that will help you get to where you want to be this time next year.
Don't be afraid to partner up with experts, and certainly don't think you have to do everything yourself.