When was the last time you reviewed your online marketing strategy?
Why is Online Marketing Essential?
Think back to the last time you wanted to buy something or hire someone. The chances are high that you ‘Googled’ what you were looking for before choosing a preferred brand or the service provider that best met your needs.
Today, most people go about making purchasing decisions in this same way. They search online, decide, and purchase.
This being the case, online marketing is essential no matter the type of business you are in.
At a time when so many tools and platforms are available (and constantly changing), you can easily feel overwhelmed and just give up on the idea of marketing altogether.
However, if you are not marketing your business online today, you are losing out. The challenges of online marketing far outweigh the benefits, which include:
- Increasing awareness for your brand
- Improving sales
- Building authority around your brand
- Gaining new customers and cementing their loyalty to your brand
- Encouraging word of mouth marketing for your brand
- Providing better customer service
In this article, you will learn about the key components needed for a successful online marketing plan.
How can transform your little-known business to the go-to enterprise in your niche? With a basic understanding of the principles of digital marketing and consistency. Let’s take a look.
A Guide To Online Marketing For Your Business
Online marketing tools, strategies, and platforms are constantly changing and a lot goes into developing a digital strategy that delivers real results. Even then, online marketing can be broken down into seven core tenets, which include:
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Paid Search Advertising (Search Engine Marketing)
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Pay Per Click Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing
Search Engine Optimisation
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the foundation of any online marketing strategy. By now, you should have a fully functional website, one that is both desktop and mobile-friendly.
SEO is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of visitors coming to your website through organic search results. These visitors come to your site by ‘Googling’ a keyword or key phrase that points to your brand.
There is a lot to learn as far as SEO is concerned. Let’s focus on the most important.
Optimising your website for the search engines falls into two categories: on-page SEO and off-page SEO activities.
Onsite SEO is mostly a technical strategy to market your brand and attract visitors by making many tweaks that optimise your website. The overall idea is to research, identify, and use the right keywords in your webpages. This makes your brand visible on search engine pages (SERPs).
You need to identify both long and short-tail keywords that you want your website to rank for when people search for products or services in your niche.
Off-page SEO, on the other hand, involves activities performed outside of your website to help improve your rankings on the SERPs. These types of activities are geared toward building your online authority.
The most important off-page SEO strategy is still link building. The more websites that link to your site, the greater the chances that your website and brand will rank high on the SERPs. However, it is not just about the number of links but the quality of links pointing to your site.
In other words, a good link strategy ensures that as many high ranking and relevant websites point to your website pages with the goal of boosting your website’s authority.
An off-page link strategy involves activities such as guest blogging, user generated content, sharing your content on social media, and partnering with influencers who promote your brand. All these activities are meant to encourage word of mouth marketing for your brand. The more people talk about you, the better for your brand’s online authority.
Paid Search Advertising (Search Engine Marketing)
While SEO is about attracting organic traffic by optimising your website, search engine marketing (SEM) is about generating traffic by placing paid ads on the SERPs.
When you Google any term, you will see search results at the very top of the page. As you can probably guess, these paid search results draw the most attention from users when compared to the other search results that show further down the page.
If you are looking for a way to rank your website, create buzz for your brand, and generate traffic fast, SEM might be a good place to start.
However, because the cost of buying ads can often be fairly expensive, SEM comes in handy for businesses that are selling a product or service and already have some traffic coming their way.
Keyword research, which is a fundamental part of on-page SEO, is also vital in any SEM strategy. More importantly, your SEM strategy requires an in-built conversion optimisation plan. A conversion optimisation plan helps you to improve the quantity and quality of clicks on your paid ads.
With such a plan, you can analyse the performance of your paid ads, and understand your audience. This ensures that you get the best return on investment.
You have probably heard the saying that content is king. If you are not creating and distributing high-quality content, you are falling far behind your competitors.
Research shows that 72 percent of marketers increase engagement and gain new leads through content marketing. Additionally, 94 percent of consumers usually make a purchase from a business they follow on social media.
It is not enough to build an amazing website and pay for ads if you are not investing in content marketing. A lot of time, effort, and often money goes into content, but the rewards are worth the while.
A good place to start is to build a content marketing strategy that aligns with your business objectives. A content strategy is essentially a plan that outlines the type of content you need to invest in. It also covers how you will create and distribute the content, timelines, and desired outcomes.
Your content plan also lets you learn more about your competitors and to brainstorm ideas to put you ahead of the curve. A good content marketing mix uses various content formats including blog posts, articles, video, podcasts, and social media among others.
Another aspect of content marketing to consider is content distribution. The best content will have no impact if it is not widely distributed to the right audience via the right channels. Social media and guest blogging are popular channels for content distribution.
Content is among Google’s most important ranking factors. This means that you must invest in creating high quality and unique content that gets shared widely.
A lot of content is already floating around online and attracting consumers’ attention is becoming harder. Your goal should be to create and distribute content that shakes things up and really gets people talking. If your budget allows, consider building a content marketing team or appoint an agency that will help you execute a content strategy that delivers results for your brand.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is an area from which many small businesses shy away. It is true that, like other aspects of online marketing, social can quickly become overwhelming, especially if you do not have a solid strategy.
Even then, social media is an absolute necessity if you are serious about taking your business to the next level. The figures do not lie:
- Today, there are 2 billion daily active social media users, which translates to almost half of the world’s total population!
- Consumers expect brands to have a social media presence and up to 54 percent use social media platforms to research a business
- Users spend an average of two and a half hours browsing social media
Success on social media will not come overnight. It is important to post relevant, high-value content regularly. A social media strategy can help you plan the type of content to post, the best time to post and to identify ways to improve engagement.
That being said, a powerful social media marketing strategy requires a two-prong approach—organic and paid social marketing.
There is no denying that social media is crowded. Posting content alone will not give you the significant results you want. This is why it is important to run paid ads with your social marketing strategy. This will drive traffic and boost sales.
Almost all popular social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Twitter allow marketers to sponsor their posts or pay for ads that show up directly in the news feed.
The best part is that each of these platforms has powerful tools that let you segment your audience. This means that people who are highly likely to take action, get to see your sponsored posts and ads.
In the next section, we will cover paid ads as part of your social media marketing strategy.
Paid ads work on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis. This means that you pay for each click on your ad, with the cost per click depending on the budget you set. PPC marketing, when done right, can offer excellent results in terms of generating and boosting sales. In fact, PPC visitors are 50 percent more likely to purchase than organic visitors.
PPC marketing is closely related to search engine marketing. However, search engine marketing focuses entirely on placing paid ads that are typically keyword optimised on search engines such as Google and Bing among others.
On the other hand, PPC marketing involves showing ads to a very specific target audience on diverse platforms including social media sites and search engines.
To get the most of your social media marketing strategy, consider starting with sponsored posts first in conjunction with regular content posting.
As you grow your audience and business, you can set aside a budget for PPC campaigns.
In spite of the popularity of social media and instant messaging, email is still the leading communication channel between brands and consumers.
You will notice that email marketing ties into almost every tenet of online marketing from SEO, SEM, down to social media marketing.
Unsurprisingly, research shows that 93 percent of marketers already use email to distribute content. At the same time, 59 percent of consumers base their purchase decisions on the marketing emails they receive from brands.
At a basic level, to do email marketing you need:
- An email list based on existing customers or by attracting new leads to your website or landing page. You must offer a valuable incentive to encourage people to join your list.
- A drip marketing campaign to send highly relevant content, offers, and announcements to a targeted audience.
- An email-marketing tool to help you automate the entire process.
The two most important aspects of email marketing are segmentation and personalisation. Segmentation allows you to target your email campaigns to a very specific audience that is actually interested in doing business with you.
Personalisation is about creating customised email marketing content that meets the unique needs of each of your subscribers depending on where they are in their buying journey.
Without a doubt, email marketing is the engine of any serious online marketing strategy.
Online marketing can appear daunting. Whilst there is definitely a learning curve, this should not discourage you from building your online presence. The only way to learn is to jump in and do it, or better still, connect with an agency who can help. Whether you do instruct an Agency or not though, the same principles that we have discussed here apply to those with a large budget and an established growing brand as they do to those new to marketing their business.