If you are in business, then you are concerned about marketing. If you aren’t then you should be. Marketing is not just about “getting in leads”, it is the strategy that you use to communicate with your clients. If you aren’t interested in communicating with your clients and potential clients, then you won’t be in business very long. Period.
Online, Internet or digital marketing is now the sphere of marketing that is delivering the best return on investment. I make this statement based on two very real truths:
- First, it is far easier to measure Return on Investment in the online world. With programs such as Google Analytics (which is free) it is very simple to see what your web traffic is, and what your web traffic is doing. With a print ad, you can’t even see how many people saw the ad, never mind read it.
- Second, 50% of all content consumed globally is consumed online. What this means is that half of all video, TV, movies watched, books &magazines read, music heard and images seen are online. The idea behind marketing is to get in front of your audience and in most cases now days, the audience is online.
Types of Online Marketing
The online marketing world is really very fragmented and very few small to medium businesses use all of the different forms.
- Pay per click advertising – Google Adwords, Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads. You pay the platform involved and your ad appears.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – this is the process by which you get your website higher up in the Google search engine rankings. The idea is to get your website appearing on Page 1 of Google if someone searches for your products or services.
- Content marketing – This is an absolutely vital part of online marketing and is an integral part of SEO. It involves writing pieces of content for your website, social media platforms, email newsletters and blog.
- Social Media – this is where everyone thinks they need to be, but with thousands of social platforms, it can sometimes be overwhelming
So as an entrepreneur or marketer, how do you decide which form of marketing to use?
What Online Marketing Should I Use?
The first thing you need to do is to decide what your main goal is:
- Do you want to get leads in fast?
- Do you want to increase your credibility in your industry?
- Do you want to create a community around your brand that will deliver ongoing business?
Depending on what your goal is, then you will use a different approach.
Get me leads now!
If this is how you feel right now, then the best choice out there is Google Adwords. You can get your ads showing up on the first page of Google within 24 hours. The best thing is you can specify your geographic region, how much you want to pay, and what people must be searching for in order to trigger your ads. You can even add negative words in that will make sure your ads don’t show up! Here is an example:
A beauty salon in Durban runs an Adwords campaign. The ads only show to people in KZN who are searching on Google for terms like “beauty salon”, “beauty spa” and “aesthetician”. The salon doesn’t do gel nails, so if someone types in “gel nails” the ad doesn’t show as they included it in their negatives. They spend R1000 per month on their Adwords Budget.
So that gives you an idea of how Adwords works. You can contact Google directly to get a campaign started, but you can also get in contact with a Google Certified Individual or Company to help you get your campaign off the ground.
I want to be more credible
Credibility in today’s world is vital – consumers are aware that there are shark companies out there that will not deliver. So it is important to show your market that you are an expert in your industry. This is where credibility comes in.
The best way to establish credibility is through a mixture of content marketing, SEO and social media.
Content marketing: Writing articles and blog posts about your industry are a great way to show your customers that you know what you are talking about. A lot of business owners don’t have the time to sit and write out a whole blog post (which only has to be over 350 words really), but very few consider the option of using a copywriter. Freelance copywriters can generate really good content based on only a few lines of information.
This content can then be used to create Facebook posts, tweets, Google+ posts and LinkedIn status updates. So one piece of content can be used as the seed for a whole tree of content. And content is not limited to just writing – videos, images, infographics are all important pieces of content. In fact, never post a piece of writing without having an image in there somewhere!
The added benefit is that search engines like Google love content – the more content you have on your site, the higher the chance you are going to rank well on Google.
Social Media: Companies have lost the ability to control conversations about their brands. If I don’t like your service or your product, there is a good chance that I am going to tell someone about it, probably online. By cementing your properties online, you create a space where you can invite discussion about your company, usually in a positive sense. You also can then respond to any criticism with your branding intact. A local business with a few hundred Facebook followers and a handful of LinkedIn recommendations suddenly looks a lot more impressive.
I want to create a community
Social media is not a silver bullet – you will not make sales on the first day your Facebook Page is created. The key to succeeding with social media marketing is in creating a community around your brand. By posting content that is engaging and your followers find useful, you show them that you as a brand have value to add to their online experience. They will stay loyal because of that.
Choosing your social network is also important. Think about your market and where they are more likely to be. If you are marketing to engineers, then LinkedIn is a pretty sure bet. Trying to engage with stay-at-home moms? Think Facebook and Pinterest.
It’s a minefield out there
At the end of the day, online marketing is complicated. The space evolves every day, and it is easy to blow the budget. Try to get in contact with a local marketing company or consultant that specialises in Internet marketing and engage their services. Many consultants will even give free advice because we can’t help ourselves.
Stay true to your market, generate good content and don’t be afraid to engage your audience.