Thanks to modern technology, there are many types of online marketing choices but not enough emphasis on the best ones for your situation. This article will help you with your online marketing strategy. It briefly tells what the various tactics are so you can implement the choices in your marketing plans. The important thing is to select the right tactics for your company.
Interesting articles placed in print and/or online trade publications can generate awareness directly to your targeted audience. Once online, these articles will be seen in search results for specific keywords and phrases. Articles and advertisements can generate links back to the company website. The more high quality links to the website the higher the emphasis Google places in the search results, increasing exposure and page dominance.
A decent marketing campaign could include phone calls, emails, letters, leave-behind printed pieces, how-to hints and tips, reports, white papers, and other propaganda (advertising) explaining the irresistible benefits to your customers.
A good marketing drive takes some time, often two to three years or more. For example, publications usually need days and weeks to place an order for an advertisement, and often weeks and months for the inclusion of an article.
Before that, it takes days and weeks to craft reports, white papers, e-books, newsletters, website pages, blogs, how-to articles, hints, tip sheets, tutorials, videos, and other useful information that can be a catalyst for customer action when offered in an ad or article.
Here is a summary of several types of online marketing to consider when developing an internet marketing plan:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Improving the rankings or visibility of a web page in search results by way of organic tactics, SEO and Content Marketing use specific keywords and phrases in precise places such as title, description, H1, H2, and H3 headings, alt tags in images, and integrated into the copy of the page.
WordPress SEO plugins such as Yoast work to analyze and help move targeted search results higher in ranking results at Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and others. The higher the ranking or page dominance when results are displayed, the more likely customers are to click on the link and go to the targeted website.
Today, social media emphasis contributes to greater search dominance; the more people are “talking” and sharing about a topic the more attention that topic gets. If your product or service is among the items getting talked about, the more importance Google places on it and positions it higher in search results.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM is online marketing promoting websites by increasing visibility in search engine results pages using organic search engine optimization (SEO), as well as through paid advertising, strategic content marketing, and social media.
The Content Marketing Institute defines Content Marketing as “Creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing free, relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues.
Ideas for material include:
- Blog content
- Case studies
- Company news
- Company videos and presentations
- How-to content
- Industry articles
- Industry news and research
- Industry trends
- Lessons learned, experiences
- Publication content
- Social media
- Special reports
- Website pages
Marketing through the use of videos, such as found on YouTube or similar sites, videos can be of any length (depending on the limitations of the site hosting the video) and have any content, message, or advocacy for a cause.
Videos may be as simple as an individual standing in front of a camera talking (think Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s Fun with Flags), to full, rich productions as found in a Hollywood movie. Video marketing marries the strengths of sound and moving sight to present a powerful message.
How-to tutorials are especially effective with videos because the motion and sound deliver a fuller dimension to instructions and directions.
Pay Per Click Advertising
Advertising which is presented on a browser which only charges the advertiser for the number of times someone clicks on the ad to go to the targeted website, not the number of viewers of the advertisement. Businesses that use Google AdWords can spend tens of thousands of dollars a month, and others are comfortable investing several hundred. You set your own budget.
Advertising composed of images, artwork, and words in a static space, similar to newspaper and magazine advertisements, display ads are usually found at the top or beginning of a search page targeted for specific keywords. Often these ads are clicked on by people who want to get more information. Display ads are also seen in online publications just as in printed versions.
Social Media Marketing
Marketing using social media outlets such as Facebook or other similar sites includes creating pages on the site directly promoting a company, organization, or product which can be easily accessed from the website or outside of the site. Social media marketing can also factor into SEO programs.
Today, many sites benefit from social media mentions. If there are many comments or links referring others to a page on the internet, search engines like Google score this as a plus for that URL destination. That is why experts repeatedly tell webinar attendees to find forums and blog sites that talk about the related subject matter that they can comment on and offer useful informative knowledge about the subject, such as “… I saw your blog about [subject matter] and wanted to share some ideas with your readers that I am sure they would benefit by at [link to blog URL].”
Abuses have occurred as many companies have given free products and samples to blog sites of “independent users” who have said favorable things promoting products. If a dominant blog site has loaded a page full of favorable comments, chances are good that that site owner received gratuities for saying such good things and having such a popular site. What began as a simple, honest review of products may have become an exaggerated view.
On Twitter, fake accounts shown as “Followers” are a real problem because it inflates the number of real followers and creates the perception that a brand is more popular than it really is. This can also be very costly for a company because they fall victim to the same, and end up creating a network of users they can’t market to (because the followers are fake) and don’t receive adequate and useful feedback.
The New York Times states that 65% of all new business comes from referrals. Referral marketing is based on one individual pleased enough with a website or social media site to refer it to another person, who creates a brush fire of referrals from one group of individuals to another (going viral) rather than traditional advertising. Referral marketing also can be a major component of SEO programs.
Affiliate marketing can be highly effective in an e-commerce or online environment because of the popularity of social media and sharing sites. Internet referral marketing can potentially spread faster and to a wider audience than traditional advertising methods, and catalogs can be designed easily even if you sell only someone else’s products.
Marketing through e-mail distribution of a message, e-mail marketing can consist of a text message, a combination of words and images such as in a display ad, or provide access to a video on a website or public video site such as YouTube. E-mail marketing also has the ability to offer a link to a specific website to drive traffic and revenue to that site.
Used properly, with a defined value proposition, e-mail marketing can get the conversation started and drive targeted customers to take action—visiting a website, making a call to the company, placing an order, etc. Unfortunately, the vast numbers of e-mail marketers mistakenly send information that touts their self-importance without regard to benefitting the customers that receive the email messages and end up being deleted immediately.
Inbound marketing is a method to draw attention and visits to a website by placing information on a website others are seeking. This includes the use of providing valuable information (see content marketing above) via blogs or articles on a website or general information provided as website content beyond the main purpose of the website.
When a person searches for specific content, the website containing the content is displayed, even if the content is not the main purpose of the website. By drawing search engine users to the website through secondary information, consumers are exposed to the website and its main offerings without having specifically searched for the website.
This organic method of online marketing is a powerful way to support a topic of discussion or a product or service being searched for. People discover something of value themselves without being contacted by a salesman or being annoyed by advertisements.
This is a sequential strategy that I received some time ago that is still valid today. Depending on where your business is in its sales cycle, you may find some things you may have overlooked or weren’t previously prepared for, but there is nothing holding you back from achieving more sales from calls to action that these tactics support.
Suggested Online Marketing Strategy
- Frequent blog writing or RSS feed writing
- Tell your story or explain a situation that includes your input or solution to a problem.
- Provide how-to scenarios such as How (Company You Know) Is (Doing Something) to Achieve (Positive Result). Another twist on this could be: Why (target audience, Roofers, for example) Are Using This Simple (tactic) to (the end result).
- Write trade show, conference, and event recaps and reviews and submit to blog submission sites. Use the event or conference hashtag(#) so that it gets in front of the conference audience.
- Submit articles/blogs to social media sites like LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and dozens of others
- Establish a profile page on LinkedIn, Manta, and other sites that customers use to research your company.
- Spend an hour each day finding forums worth contributing to and mention a helpful blog or article with a URL link to your site.
- Update your old website content
- Even just a new sentence or headline registers as new content with Google. That gets your site indexed and keeps it “alive.”
- Publish case histories
- Detail instances when your product/service solved a problem.
- Make summaries to use as blogs.
- Combine blogs into articles and then generate a different version of unique content
- Use outside cited sources to include in your article.
- Summarize instances about how your products or services solved a problem.
- Publish a guide, checklist, or How-To book
- Let your experience and knowledge shine by writing a guide that customers and prospects will find valuable.
- Use this guide as a way to acquire an interest in your company by offering it free to people who simply provide you their email address. For example, you can write an article that talks about the guide, and provide the guide to the editors who want to publish the article in their publications. Their readers can then email you to receive the free guide. You can also comment on blogs or other articles of particular interest that the guide addresses and provide a link to your website (for people to get the guide).
- Publish articles in periodicals and newspapers
- Local newspapers like to include stories about local business.
- Prepare advertisements to place into periodicals (check their rate cards for price specifications).
- Submit your site to general company directories like Manta or HotFrog, and niche-specific directories.
- Publish a newsletter
- If you have enough newsworthy things to write about, such as new products, improvements to existing products, new models, new accessories, milestones, new guides, reports, previews, etc., a newsletter can be useful to customers.
- Offer tips on products, installation, maintenance, repair, troubleshooting.
- Offer how-to articles that detail more than a blog.
- Publish videos
- Popular topics include trade show reports, how-to instructions, and tutorials.
- Create a Wikipedia page
- Use plenty of outside sources for content.
- Use outside articles that you researched to create an outline. All Wiki article topics must be verifiable with independent, third-party sources.
- Develop an email campaign
- Craft subject lines that won’t immediately get deleted.
- Emphasize the target audience’s pain points and offer solutions (your value proposition).