John Rampton, founder and chief executive officer of Due, shares his best practices for building an online following
Getting your brand noticed online means putting yourself “out there”. That might be nerve-wracking to some, but it’s definitely worth it when it comes to your business.
Building an online brand requires more than just telling people why your product or service is great. It’s about providing tangible, industry-specific advice to your core audience and figuring out how to help the most people. The goal of online branding is to make you and/or your company well known and seen in a positive light for a specific subject.
The best way to start may sound counterintuitive: “Don’t try and sell your product. Try and help others,” says John Rampton, a serial entrepreneur and online influencer.
When Rampton first started blogging, his goal was to boost product sales at a startup he worked for. His sales increased exponentially over six months, from the 12 sales per day he made by telephoning prospects, to 240 per day thanks to his posts, and they did most of the work for him.
His secret? Just writing about problems he had experienced as an entrepreneur and the solutions he created to deal with them.
“I gained a lot more trust by not being pushy and I find my customers stay a lot longer as well,” he says.
Start small if you want big results
Rampton started out by simply posting articles on his own blog and his company websites. Realizing that his readership was limited using this strategy, he reached out to websites with larger audiences like Entrepreneur Magazine, Mashable and even his own competitors.
“If I can go to them and offer expert advice, I start gaining their audience as my following,” he says.
Rampton says readers who are scanning his articles may not even know what he does at first – and that’s not a bad thing.
He weaves his startup, Due, into the articles through gentle content marketing, creating a constant connection to the brand. But it is rarely the main focus of his content. The goal is to build trust and credibility so customers feel comfortable buying from you. And in the online marketplace, a good (or bad) reputation can travel fast.
Rampton recommends publishing consistently and being patient as you grow your brand.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” he says.
Publish quality content to stand out
But it’s not enough to mass-produce content. It has to be exactly what your ideal customer needs to know. “You have to actually give really unique advice”, says Rampton.
Longer, in-depth articles engage your audience more than easy clickbait with vague titles such as, “5 ways to sell better,” Rampton says. They also perform better in a Google search.
You can also pay to promote your content on the websites your customers visit and social media platforms they use. Your followers will share your content within their own networks if they like what they read.
“With today’s social media, find out what engages your followers because they can make or break a post,” says Rampton.
It can be frustrating to wait for your burgeoning online reputation to generate sales. But Rampton reminds startups to stay focussed on their content strategy and keep the needs of customers in mind.
“Always be mindful of other people.” Rampton says. “And it will always, always, always come back. Truly help others and you’ll be rewarded for it.”