As I’m sure you’ve noticed, things just aren’t the same today in terms of communication. As a matter of fact, society today get’s the vast majority of their news, events, and even what’s going on with family and friends from the internet. This trend has dramatically increased over the past 20 years, or so and will continue to dominate going forward. This is why it’s so important to have an effective online marketing strategy for your business.

Currently, there are over 3 billion people (7.3 billion total world population) using the internet right now as you read this article. This number has increased from 738 million in 2000 to near 3.2 billion at year end in 2015. This is a staggering number that is continuing to grow and not show any signs of slowing down. Additionally, 2.3 billion users have active social media accounts, sending more than 60 million messages, and creating more than 1 million new accounts each day!

Based upon the above stats, I’m sure you can see how relevant and important it is to implement online marketing for your business. Users treat their social media accounts as their “virtual” living rooms and ecommerce sites as “virtual” storefronts. In today’s world, it really just boils down to the fact that if you want to be successful in business, you have to be pushing your business to potential customers online. It’s where your customers spend hours of their time everyday. The great thing about online marketing is that there are a lots of inventive and strategic ways to advertise your business with great results. Although you will need to spend some money on this advertising, the cost can be much less than traditional billboard/broadcast advertising and provide you the means to track your results, optimize your campaigns, and see good ROI.

Areas in Your Marketing Strategy to Understand and Invest In

You might be thinking at this point that you agree with the above and would like to start a marketing campaign or two, but where should you begin? Well, I can tell you that although a lot of thought is necessary to have a successful online marketing campaign, the ways to promote your business online can really be broken down into only 4 high-level categories as follows;

Search Marketing:

Paid Search MarketingSearch marketing is a marketing strategy that promotes your business when someone performs a search on the internet for a website, company, service, or product, etc… Let’s use the example of performing a search in Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Once a search is returned for the consumer, your business can show up by implementing the following marketing strategies;

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – This deals with having good, relevant content on your website as well as having backlinks on other websites that point to your website. Implementing this strategy is crucial and provides the means for search engines like Google to “bucket” your website in a way that allows your business to show up when consumers search for certain keywords, or key phrases. This is very important to have as it will impact other marketing efforts later. That said, SEO also takes some time to become effective and for all the search engines to crawl your website, etc…. so you’ll need to be patient, but it is well worth the wait.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising – This is similar to SEO, in that user goes into Google, or some other search engine, searches for a keyword, or key phrase, and your business comes up. However, in this instance, instead of your business showing up naturally/organically in the search results, you will show up with a paid advertisement (as a “sponsored ad”) and each time someone clicks on your ad, bringing the user to your website, it costs you something. This is an effective advertising method when (a) your website is not showing up well in searches yet, or (b) you need to get visitors to your website with certain key phrases, or terms that are highly competitive, or your website isn’t strong in. This same approach can be used to remarket potential customers who have been to your website, or shown an interest in your product/service.

Social Media Marketing:

Social ManagementSocial media marketing involves frequent and regular postings about your business across different social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc… Frequent and relevant posts in these accounts will start to interest people and you will accrue a following, which gives you more exposure, more clicks to your website, and ultimately more business. That said, each social platform is different and the audience expects different things from you, so it is critical to understand the nature of each of these platforms prior to beginning your plans on what/how frequent to post each day. Also, keep in mind that some social platforms may not be right for your business and some others will be. It is important to determine exactly what you want to get out of each platform and make sure that the platform is right for you before executing a plan.

Paid Social Advertising – Paying to advertise your business in social media allows you to promote your business to users just like with PPC. However, instead of showing up in search results, you show up in user’s feeds. Where paid social really differs from PPC, is in the area of demographics. Since Facebook, Instagram, and others have so much personal data about their users, we are able to tell these platforms to only serve an ad to people of a certain age, interest, location, etc… With a little piece of code on your website, you can even have these social platforms show ads to people who have already been on your website, or have shown interest in your product/service (remarketing). This is a tremendous advantage and if you know your customer well, it can make social advertising an incredibly effective revenue channel with high ROI.

Email Marketing:

Email Marketing

Sending emails is still the number one way of reaching your customers and increasing sales. To date, email clicks to a website account for over 60% of all online purchases. This is a huge number! With all the spam emails get, it’s surprising that so many people actually open marketing emails, let alone make a purchase from them, but they do! Sending emails to your customers is a great way to retain their business and upsell an existing customer. Once you develop an email list, it is critical to start advertising to those customers, or you are missing out on a lot of lost revenue. That said, it is also equally important to have a solid strategy in place for sending so that you don’t go into the user’s spam box. There are three types of emails;

Transactional – This is an email that goes out in response to a customer that performed an action on your website. As an example, this email could be in response to someone entering his/her email on your website to sign up for a newsletter, or it could be a thank you email for making a purchase. In my experience, transactional emails have an average open rate of about 40% or higher and a very good conversion rate. Industry standards that are considered “good” depict about a 15-20% open rate, so I highly recommend using this type of email whenever possible in your marketing strategy.

Marketing Emails – After a user opts in on your website, you will want to (on some frequency) send the consumer a marketing message, or incentive for them to interact with you to read some article, or sign up for something, or make a purchase, etc… This is an opportunity to remind your customers that you are still there and offering them a good incentive to take some action. These emails are crucial for retaining your customers, however, as mentioned above, you need to have a detailed plan for this, as you don’t want your customers to unsubscribe or put you in the spam box. These emails need to be sent with an approach that is helpful, or interesting to your customer base. As an example, I’ve personally seen these emails work very well for an ecommerce site selling products, because the email (in addition to the sale it offered), also had a small interesting article in it about the industry each week. This made the email interesting and/or useful to the customer, which dramatically increased our open rates, as well as our conversions.

Notification Emails – A notification email is an email that goes out to your customer base announcing something, like a press release about your company. This, although isn’t too frequent, can be a great way to re-introduce your brand to a customer that might otherwise have forgotten you. Also, it can provide the helpful impression that your business is legitimate and well established.

Affiliate Marketing:

Competitive AnalysisHave you ever been on a website and seen banner ads, or links advertising a product, or service? I’m sure that everyone has at this point. This type of advertising is called affiliate marketing and what it means is that you (the “Advertiser”) have made a deal with a website owner, or an ad network (The “Publisher”) to have your advertisements appear on a specific website, or multiple websites. The deal you make as an advertiser is that you agree to pay someone some money if a user clicks on one of your ads, or in a lot of cases, views your ad (this is called an “impression”). The amount of money exchanged may be just a few cents per click/impression, or it could be dollars. You may be wandering what the difference is between a website owner/publisher and an ad network…Well, here it is;

Ad Network – This is a business that has access to virtual real estate (ad space) on multiple websites, also called “inventory”. This inventory is purchased at a bulk discounted rate by the ad network and allows them to place ads on all the websites it has inventory with. Once this inventory is purchased and you place an ad in this network, the website owner will get paid and the ad network will also get paid…They split the earnings for the click or impression. You may be thinking, why not cut out the middle-man then? Well, it’s simple…An ad network has multiple websites categorized into all kinds targeted categories, allowing your ad to not only be seen by a very large audience, but also allows you to narrow down the specific audience you want your ad to be seen by.

Publisher – This is a website owner allowing you to place an ad, or multiple ads on their website, usually at a cost each time the ad is clicked or served (impression). This can be a good thing to do if you happen to know that this website specifically represents your demographic and the website has a lot of traffic. However, costs can actually be higher than using an ad network and you also lose out on a lot of visibility by not displaying the ads on multiple websites through an ad network. Each business need is different and sometimes a mix of going with a single publisher as well as an ad network is the best route…It really just depends on where your target audience spends their time.

Things to Consider

As you have been reading, there are a lot of great ways to advertise your business online, however, it is important to have a planned marketing strategy. Don’t just go and spend money hoping for good results. Digital marketing is all about strategy. Your marketing campaigns need to be executed in a way that compliment each other and depict the right message about your business.

Next Steps

I’ve found that most businesses don’t have a detailed digital marketing strategy and they just kind of “wing it”, losing more money than they earn, or at a minimum, spending way more than they should. That said, don’t be one of these people…With a little upfront planning, your return on investment can be much higher and you can get there much faster. We have a real passion for online marketing at Lystra Marketing and would love to get a solid and cost-effective strategy in place for your business. Please feel free to reach out anytime. We would love the opportunity to grow your business!

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