Finding Love: How Online Marketing Is Like Online Dating – Forbes

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For every successful online love story, there are hundreds of horror stories. Fortunately, online marketing doesn’t have the same poor odds. However, online marketing is a lot like online dating in several ways. Here’s what business owners can learn from these parallels:

Build trust immediately.

Whether you are doing business or meeting new people online, it is imperative to build trust. When promoting a brand or product, there are several steps you must take to build trust with your audience. First, make sure that you have contact information displayed prominently. Second, provide accurate, informative content on a professional looking site. Third, although you can create a fake profile on an online dating site, it won’t find you lasting love. Similarly, you can use black-hat techniques to rank high, but it will erode trust with future prospects and tarnish your reputation.

Instead, take the time to build trust with your audience by writing to people, not search engines. Regular content, active links and proper grammar are all vital. You can also build trust by featuring customer reviews, providing how-to or informational videos and showing photos of your company and employees. All of these things help online viewers feel like they know who they are doing business with. Finally, don’t forget to provide links with additional information for those who want to learn more, and provide a secure method for payment options.

Differentiate yourself from everyone else.

Online dating websites boast tens of thousands of user profiles. It can be difficult to stand out, and the same is true of online marketing. There are virtually unlimited pages competing for your audience’s attention. Great content will make you stand out. Even in an industry that may not seem very interesting, expert content targeted to your prospective customers will capture their attention, even if it doesn’t make a worldwide debut like Grumpy Cat.

Incorporate humor into your content, either in copy or images. And don’t forget to include quality images and videos. Pages with images hold attention longer and landing pages with video have up to 80% higher capture rates. Examine your message for uniqueness. Every company has an exclusive message and knowledge base. Don’t settle for second-rate strategies that copy your competitors. Tap into your unique proposition. Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, write for your specific niche. This will build your identity as a company and create a more loyal fan base.

You will have a horror story to tell at the end of the day.

It’s probably safe to say that anyone who has tried online dating has some crazy stories to tell. The same is true in online marketing. As you work to be unique, something will go wrong. You may fail to analyze strategies for success, understand your customer base or capture your audience’s attention. Perhaps you will spend thousands on ads that are mistargeted and don’t bring results. Many of these mistakes can be corrected. Hopefully, you won’t make the mistake of advertising “white beauty” like Dove, sharing a QR Code that links to a porn site like Heinz or promoting rape culture like Bloomingdale’s.

If you do make a mistake, quickly apologize, be honest and upfront, and move forward. Time eventually erases most mistakes and will provide great learning opportunities for those who follow.

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