Tom Howlett

Marketing Advice For A New Website: Starting From The Ground Up

5th Apr 2013 Brand 15 minutes to read

Thinking Outside the BoxIt can be difficult for a new website to get off the ground and get noticed, especially if there is no prior platform for promotion, for example if the new website owners already have a good web presence and following to help with the initial promotion. If the idea for the website is new, it is often difficult to capitalise on existing search volume for industry related keywords.

It is often the case that these websites need a little ‘out of the box’ thinking so they can infiltrate existing communities that are likely to take an interest in their offerings.

On occasions, the website may not offer anything new per se in terms of the subjects covered or industry targeted – it could be that you feel that your offering is slightly different or that your implementation is different and this is all that sets you apart from the competition.

Whether you feel you have the most original product ever or not, this post will explore some of the areas, tools and resources a new website can exploit to help grow your audience.


Social is one of the best ways to reach your target audience, and can be a lifeline for new websites/businesses. Aside from various types of paid advertising and SEO, it is the best way to create an interaction with your brand online that can resonate through the web and grow your online presence. If you have a thoughtful strategy, there are many web users poised to share what you create.

Social profiles

It may sound obvious, but having a presence on the popular social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and regularly utilising those platforms to interact within these active communities of users is a good place to start. You can have a company profile and individual profiles for each founder/employee. Generally it seems that people prefer to follow individuals on platforms such as Twitter and Google+, on Facebook however business associated ‘pages’ are quite popular.

Image sites

Some of the most socially shared content online is images; people like to share images that are interesting, unique, powerful, humorous, and educational and there are many platforms dedicated to helping users share and discover different images. Some notable platforms include:

  • Pinterest
  • Flickr
  • Instagram

Depending on your individual industry, there may even be image sites or categories on existing platforms that are dedicated to the industry you operate in (or one with a similar target audience).

These platforms are good places to start interacting within the community. If you are in the position to be able to create your own interesting images that you think would interest your audience, you can easily become the originator of this content online that can be shared endlessly across the web.

Social communities

There are many different individual social communities full of regular users who are sharing and communicating within the platform. Here are a few examples:

  • Vine (a video platform from Twitter)
  • Bundlr (bookmarking and content discovery platform)
  • Dribbble (designers can showcase portfolio)
  • GitHub (open source software development platform)
  • Quora (share content and knowledge, ask and answer questions on a variety of topics)

These are just a number of communities available online in different industries, if you can think of a good way you can exploit your own skills and expertise whilst adding something valuable to these types of platforms, it is a good way to get noticed and to start engaging within related communities.


Video is a hugely powerful resource, one that many businesses are yet to exploit and is a new way of reaching your audience. Google is also a fan of video and regularly displays videos relating to various topics on the first page of the search results in an effort to create more variation for their users as different types of multimedia content is created and consumed. Millions of people also search, browse and share videos online each day as one of the most popular online media; they are also shared regularly via social media and on blogs.

It is therefore a great place to help market your business or website if you have the capabilities to create useful content that is related to your offering. The more helpful, interesting and unique the video is the greater the likelihood that it will be discovered and shared by others.


Contests and giveaways are a great initial way to generate interest from a community that are highly likely to have a familiarity with your offerings. If for example interaction is required, you could gain a significant following in that time.

Popular platforms to host competitions include the above social networking sites ( e.g. “Tweet to enter” style promotions), email and on the site itself. Although it is definitely recommended that a social element is involved to reach a greater number of people.

Think about what you are giving away. Making sure that the prize is likely to draw in people interested in your services, they may then feel compelled to follow so they don’t miss out on similar opportunities in the future. A good example of a related prize would be an iPad if you run a mobile applications website for example.


By having a website and setting it live, there is no guarantee that it will be easy to navigate, engaging to your target audience or fulfil its potential as intended. It is therefore important to consider on-page factors which will help give the site the best chance alongside the external work that is on-going.

Build a following

One of your goals in growing your online presence is to create a social media presence firstly; secondly you want to help users find those pages easily by building links to these platforms into your website.

Here are a few ways in which this can be done:

  • Include links to these platforms from every page of your website. Make a point to highlight these on the Home page and Blog pages.
  • Try to secure profile usernames that include your company name should anyone choose to search for you on these platforms or via the search engines.
  • Create an email newsletter – highlight the benefits of signing up to build up an email list. This will give you a platform to reach an interested audience with business updates, news, new site features and more.
  • Include a Twitter username in blog post Meta titles – Although I have not tried this myself, I have noticed a few sites utilising this method so that when people share a post from the site, it will add in a mention within the Tweet (unless the Tweet is edited to remove this).


Video has been mentioned above as a good quality off page tactic to generate interest and help build your brand. It is also useful to include video content on your own website to bring more balance to the website.

Video is useful to educate and inform visitors about your site (which can help to create potential customers); it can also be used to highlight your brand values and display shareable media. Visitors are just as likely to discover your videos through your website and go on to share if they want to, as they are to discover them on video platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo.

Referral Programs

By referral programs, I mean employing a system whereby affiliates can promote your products or services and in return will gain commission towards the value of what was sold. You will need to have a system in place to be able to track these referrals and pay these affiliates; however there are plenty of third party platforms for merchants wishing to do this.

This is a great way of generating business on the site when starting from nothing, it gets people talking about your business and helps grow your brand. One factor to consider is monitoring the links affiliates use to make sure they are not damaging your website.


In my opinion, blogging is one of the best ways to grow your site if you are starting from zero. You will need to have a clear content strategy by establishing the type of content you would like to post and how often you may be able to create content. Outsourcing the content is a possibility (if you do not have the time) as long as the content is of a good quality and unique, it is however suggested that as experts in your industry, you find the time to put together a post once or twice a week.

Here are some pointers on getting a blog going:

  • Include a summary of your blog, the topics you cover and what people can expect. This can be useful for those who are unsure if the blog has a theme that they might be interested in following.
  • Create a variety of posts and topics; including generic industry related posts, tutorial type posts as well as business/news related posts.
  • A lot of traffic can be generated by creating useful content that people are likely to be searching for and bringing in people that are essentially your target market.
  • Try to create a blog schedule – once or twice a week is a good starting point.
  • Make your blog social – include sharing icons so people can easily share your content.
  • Promote your content using your social media profiles.
  • Link to your social profiles from the blog, this way the visitors can follow you on these platforms and discover any new content you have created.
  • Enable comments on these blog posts to encourage engagement.

Help users find the information they need

Online user engagement is key nowadays because the typical web user doesn’t have much patience when it comes to discovering new websites. When landing on your website, they will be searching for something specific and if they cannot find the information they are searching for easily and quickly, they are likely to leave and not return.

It is therefore important to have a clear navigation on the site and ensure you educate visitors as much as possible, especially if your product or service is new.

Review and optimise the landing pages

Following on from the above point, you will want to be careful to ensure that you review every potential website landing page. If a visitor was to land on that page, is the function of the page clear? Does it contain all the relevant information a visitor is likely to expect to see? Can they easily navigate to other pages on the site and find any other of your offerings that may interest them?

Each landing page is not static, it can be reviewed and optimised continually so be sure to install an analytics package to help you review the page performance, don’t be afraid to play around with these various page elements.

Off Site

Here we have included some off-site strategies that can help grow your online presence on top of what has been mentioned so far in the post. These are not directly related to the elements of the web page or utilising social media.


Infographics are another popular and highly shareable form of packaged content. There are many of these around nowadays so it is recommended that some research is conducted as to what already exists for any ideas that you may have.

These have the potential to be shared across the web and can appear on some high profiles sites. These external sites should link to you as the source, however you can provide an embed code to ensure that the image links through to your site.

Become a community contributor

Earlier on in the post, I briefly mentioned a range of current site communities that have a thriving user base. By participating within these communities, providing good content and helping others out, you can easily start to create a presence within your industry. This can have additional benefits if requested to contribute on another user’s site or alternatively a link may even be generated naturally if someone discovers you through one of these platforms.

You can also allow employees to create a presence and become another face that represents the company on these communities, multiplying the benefits.

Press releases

There are a number of free and paid press release websites for the submission of newsworthy articles. Using a good quality press release site, you can secure a link for the site and reach additional web users (or journalists) who may have an interest in your website.

Contacting industry related blogs

Your newsworthy content can also be really interesting from an external blogs point of view. Some blogs are constantly on the lookout for new things to talk about – your new website/product/service may just be the type of thing that they would be interesting in writing about.

If you are already aware of some well-known blogs in your industry, it is worth contacting them to see if they might be interested. A large number of the more high profile websites will have a submission form for these types of enquiries.

Creating external websites, tools or resources

As mentioned previously, people love sharing any interesting or useful content and this includes useful websites, tools and resources. If the resources are available to you and you have the expertise in your industry to create something helpful and free for users, these can easily gain authority and an established user base that are at your disposal to help promote your main site.

Some existing examples include mortgage calculators, hex colour generators, online image editors, file converters, tutorial blogs and many others; the opportunities are endless as long as it is manageable.

Paid advertising

Paid advertising is a good way of instantly reaching your target audience via platforms such as Google AdWords and Microsoft AdCenter or through website banner ads and even advertising in traditional print media.

Despite the initial monetary investment, you can easily send some good quality traffic to your site.

Local presence

Exploiting local resources can be a quick, free and easy way to send traffic to your site. Here are some of the resources available to you:

  • Local business directories (, Yelp, Qype etc.)
  • Google+ Local (previously Google Places)
  • Review sites

By creating a presence using the above sources, people may discover you through these platforms. The search engines also likely to include local results within the search engine result pages and by having a presence on the above, you are likely to show up for these local searches.

Competitor analysis

In an existing industry, there will be a number of websites and companies that already have a presence. It is worth analysing this existing competition to see what they are doing to market themselves online and whether they are doing anything that is bringing them success. There may even be opportunities they are missing out on that you could exploit; this method is particularly good for generating ideas.

Please note that it isn’t suggested that you copy their strategy. This is just a good way of seeing what exists and spotting any gaps in the market.

Should you have a process/plan?

It is less important to follow a specific process or plan per se. A marketing strategy should and will be different for all websites. It is however important to establish what resources are available to you and form a strategy based on these (using the above information).

How important is keyword targeting?

SEO is a great way to bring relevant traffic to your site, when it comes to keyword targeting, this should be a consideration in the layout of your site. Make sure you have a clear page structure and assign a relevant keyword to that page to help users find you. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Choose keywords relevant to each page (don’t force in keywords purely because you wish to rank for them).
  • Each page should target one or two keywords, any more would be bordering on keyword stuffing.

Please note that SEO is a longer term strategy and that you are unlikely to see value from this straight away.

If you decide to create a blog for the site, keyword research can help generate ideas for blog posts – the longer tail nature of blog posts will increase the likelihood that they rank for related searches.

Inspirational example

I wanted to include an example where a new site quickly managed to generate a lot of traffic to their site which helped them secure an active user base. is a UK based company that specialises in unusual experience days. One of their main offerings when starting up was a zombie experience and to capitalise on this unusual day out, they decided to Tweet the service to Simon Pegg (star of Shaun of the Dead) who then retweeted the link to all his followers. Various websites picked up on this and they managed to grow a user base quickly with this out of the box thinking.

See for more information on the success of this story.

Key takeaways

Here are some key takeaways from the post:

  • Create a social presence on the main social networks and any others related to your industry.
  • Use resources such as video, images, Infographics and anything else at your disposal to help market your company, website, products and services.
  • Optimise your website to engage visitors.
  • Highlight your social media presence to visitors.
  • Create a blog for your site to help generate additional visits and help grow the number of followers/regular visitors.
  • Keep SEO in mind throughout so that you are gradually increasing your search engine presence.
  • Keep an eye on competitors and look out for opportunities that they may be missing.
  • Create a long term strategy for the website and stick to it.
  • Think outside of the box wherever possible – some of the most inspirational examples have come from this.

I would be interested to hear your comments on the post and whether you know or have heard of any other strategies that may help a newly launched site.

Image Credit:

Thinking outside the box from BigStock.

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