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  • 24 June 2014
  • Eric Michaels

Want to launch a digital promotion? Here's how

Since most consumers will find your business on the Internet, there is no use debating the need for an online presence. In fact, Internet use has evolved to the point where people in the U.S. are more likely to access the Internet on a mobile device (through an app) than on a computer at home or work. The statistics say there are new customers waiting to be pitched the perfect deal online right now on their mobile devices. Here is how to set up a digital promotion and start converting them into sales.

Establish your business profile across the board

Before you are ready to run an online promotion, make sure your business is ready for its close-up. Run searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo to see what turns up for your business. You will see everything from your company website (Web.com offers free website building through The UPS Store) to your Facebook profile and listings on Google+ business pages and Yelp.

No matter what style of business you run, there is an online promotion suited for it.

If you have not done so already, take the time to claim your business and provide detailed, accurate information on each profile so visitors get the correct picture of your business when they land on any site. Having Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles these days is mandatory, but it is important to think of the location-based listings that pop up during random consumer searches. Sites such as Yelp and FourSquare provide ways for consumers to interact with your brand immediately, so they deserve the same care as your Facebook and Twitter profiles do.

A digital promotion for all seasons

No matter what style of business you run, there is an online promotion suited for it. Elegant spas may consider running deals in the run-up to wedding season to give brides-to-be that pampered look on their special day, while air conditioning contractors have a winning strategy in running promotions as the weather gets warmer.

One of the oldest yet still effective ways to run an online campaign is by buying pay-per-click ads on search engines (Google) and social sites (Facebook). Since you only pay when a consumer clicks an ad, you have little to lose and can increase exposure when initiating an online promotion. You may choose a more targeted (and more expensive) form of display advertising to reach consumers interested in products like those you sell. If you have ever searched for a topic of interest then seen a relevant ad display later on in the day on your browser, you know how the system works.

Email marketing is also an effective way to reach and convert consumers interested in your services. The hard part is building the email list so you can send it out when you have a promotion ready to launch. Small business owners can decide whether to require an email address (i.e. registration) when a visitor comes to your website or set up an informative blog that asks for an email when visitors want to read more. In either event, you build your consumer base among a targeted group. Companies like Constant Contact can assist you with creating and managing your email list and distributing professional-looking emails. When you have a winning promotion ready, send an email offer and watch your sales increase.

Coupons and promo codes

Another excellent way to run an online promotion is by using coupon sites. There are several options (e.g. Coupons.com and RetailMeNot.com), and you can buy display ads on these sites when you have an offer and want to get the word out to deal-seekers. Consumers pick up the promo code and add it to the checkout page on your site when they make a purchase. It sweetens the deal without requiring any work on the consumer's part.

Daily deal sites in the vein of Groupon provide a great way to introduce your business to people who may otherwise not have found it. Groupons are digital coupons that consumers can show on their smartphones or print when they arrive in your store. By offering access to first-time customers at discounted prices, you are auditioning for their long-term patronage. For this reason, it is essential to treat Groupon holders as if they were VIPs. At the very least, you are likely to get a positive online review from a happy, Internet-savvy consumer if they have a quality experience at your business. At best, you are going to add a customer that buys from you numerous times.

No matter what type of business you run, there is a solid digital promotion ready to boost sales. Offer the right deal to the right audience at the right time and you will cover the discounts many times over.

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