We are an ecommerce startup into online services in India and are looking for ways to advertise ourselves. Is google adword or facebook ad a good choice? Also does getting big time into social media marketing (twitter, facebook and G+) help?...like connecting to customers etc on a regular basis. We are bootstrapping and have very tight wallets. We dont have much of marketing or ad budgets and hence want to find out the best possible economical ways to advertise and make our site popular and hence attract customers.
Advertising is a complicated field. There is no simple answer to what advertising will work for you as there are so many unique factors that effect it.
I would just suggest experimentation. Spend a small amount of time and/or money in each area and measure the results. You can then increase whichever is working best for you. You will really never know until you try/test different approaches.
The best takeaway though is to make sure you can measure the results. Get your infrastructure in place so that you can measure results before you spend any time/money on advertising. If you aren't measuring, you will never know what's working.
A lot depends on the service you render and the type of customers you want to attract.
I find that adword offers more flexibility; it offers search advertising as well as the ability to target specific local websites that may better address the market you are targeting. Facebook is yet to start its own ad network so you are limited to facebook.
Social media is the best way to promote your business today.
First you need to know your market. If you know your product, you should be able to figure out your market yourself. Once you have a thorough profile of your customer, determining how and where to reach them is much easier.
Then set your goals. Determine what you are looking to gain from online marketing. Increased awareness? Increased revenue?
Set your budget according to your target market is and has set goals and plans your on budget accordingly. The good thing about online marketing is that you can be successful even when on a tight budget.
Brand yourself. Having a professional website and a strong social media presence is important here, but you should also take the time to interact with potential customers and build relationships with them.
Search engine optimization. SEO can admittedly be a complicated and time consuming process, however the time needs to be spent here to ensure your website is getting found. Essentially, you need to make your website more appealing to search engines. Do this by using keywords that are commonly searched, back linking your site, customizing the headline and description, etc.
Facebook is one the main social media marketing methods used at present. To market more effectively on facebook consider the following.
Be Unique and Keep Updating:
There’s nothing more boring than bland Facebook pages. Add lots of personality and fun to your profile. If possible, try to create applications just for your page. Offer something different so that they keep coming back, instead of letting them wait for updates from you.
Use a Big Profile Picture: Who says size doesn’t matter? Using a big profile picture is one of the best ways to brand your Facebook page. Facebook allows images of up to 200pix wide x 600pix high to be used as profile images Pages. This way, you stand out in a crowd.
Tag Fans in Photos: You can tag your fans in pictures of new collections, or even ask them to tag themselves as a part of a game or contest.
Actively Participate Outside Your Page: Find other Facebook pages related to your industry or topic using Facebook Search & start actively commenting on their posts & updates.
Use Contests and Polls: Holding contests encourage fans to interact directly with you.
Apply SEO, start and maintain a blog that relates to your e-commerce website, post on forums related to your e-commerce website, add your website to the business directories, use social media and PPC. Check other websites related to your e-commerce site. Ask the owners to link to your website. If they agree, do the same in return. Ask your existing customers to tell their friends about your website and offer a discount for future.
Online ads, either Adwords or Facebook or both is a good start. Though I'd suggest getting active in social media. Have accounts on Google+, Twitter, Facebook and start interacting with people there. Also get a company blog.
Basically you have to get people to notice you. Can you afford to advertise in local papers or magazines? That would be a good start. Or even better, if college students belong among your prospective clientele then advertise in college campuses. Flipkart, which is basically the Amazon of India, has a lot of ad campaigns running on TV networks for the last year or two, but the first time I heard of them was through a flyer posted on a notice board in my University campus a few years ago. Go local, try handing out fliers in local markets, or something similar. That way a small subset of the population notices you, and if your product is any good, word of mouth should start to work for you, albeit at a not to large scale.
If you want more specific advice, then it would help if you told us what exactly your business is.
Don't go with SEO, it's a waste of money. Do social media marketing, build your brand familiarity and make yourself considered an "expert" in your field. Takes time and effort but something called the multiplier effect with definitely be worth it.
Multiplier effect is the references made by individuals on SM platforms. For example, Joe says he likes your store, then a year later Joe's friend is in the market for your product so she uses search google it. Your company will be on the top of that list because her friend, Joe, had tweeted about it a year before.
You can do it by social media marketing. Create a social networking fan page for your site and invite your friends and colleagues to "like" the page. Post regular, interesting updates to the page and include free offers, interesting articles, questions for your viewers and other information that engages your readers. Avoid spamming your fans with constant updates. Instead, stick to an update or two per day that users will find interesting and compelling. If you're selling a product on your website, offer discounts or early notice of sales on your fan page.
Create a Google Adwords account. Adwords allows you to target Internet searchers using keywords and is typically fairly cost-effective. However, Google regularly runs promotions giving first-time users $50 to $100 worth of free advertising. You can cancel your ads after you've used your Google-allotted free budget.
Submit your website to blogs covering topics relevant to your website. For example, if you run a website selling jewelry, send links to fashion and jewelry bloggers. If you write about politics, send links to political bloggers. Avoid commenting on every post with a link or constantly sending new information, as most bloggers won't post something if they feel they're getting spammed.
Establish a blog on your website and submit it to blog directories. Comment on other people's blogs using your blog screen name with a link that links back to your website or blog.
Post on online communities and forums related to your site regularly, and become a valued user who provides useful information. Provide occasional links to your website when you have something that might be relevant to the community's users.
Incorporating keywords related to your site into the first few sentences of your site, as well as into headings, can help search engines find your site.