Online marketing generally includes any strategy and tactic to promote a business or organization online in an effort to reach their target market/audience. Most consumers now search for information online before buying a product, choosing a restaurant or hiring a service provider. This is a known fact and with that said; every type of business and organization should have an online presence and have an online marketing plan.
Types and Tactics
Online marketing is effective and affordable. It should be included in any business plan or marketing strategy. But where do you start? There are dozens of ways to use online marketing in your small business marketing strategy. Lets look at a few of them here:
- Website: Websites are the cornerstone and most important piece of any marketing strategy today. Every other marketing platform you use will point your audience to your website. It is a great way to establish your brand identity. Use text, images, audio, and video elements to communicate your message, and tell existing or potential customers about your products and/or services.
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM): This marketing strategy uses Search Engines like google as a platform to generate website traffic and leads. Either by improving yours website’s natural (organic) ranking (placement) through search engine optimization (SEO), Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) ads, or Google’s Display Ads on other websites.
- Email Marketing: This strategy has many advantages. When used properly, you can leverage sales, generate new leads or customers and maintain their attention. Using these strategies coupled with relevant content can deliver great good results to both small businesses and non-profits. When email marketing you can use various communication strategies, such as the following:
- Commercial: This strategy is considered to be the most traditional and is intended to generate impulsive behavior while announcing promotions services or a new product.
- Loyalty: Use this to retain customers, this campaign is used to promote your customer’s relationship with your brand or company, generating more sales.
- Informational: These campaigns are mostly used to tell clients about future events or to request feedback regarding a particular service or product.
- Online Community Participation: You can create or participate in forums and discussion groups in your area of expertise in order to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Answer questions, post comments, offer your opinions, or making announcement in a discussion forum. This can also be an excellent way to reach your target market.
- Content Marketing: Writing articles or blog posts related to your business and industry is another great way to reach your target market for free. Submitting your articles to a specific website can help with your SEO efforts, boost your credibility, and reach audiences that may not know about you.
- Social Media Marketing: Today consumers expect the businesses or organizations they do business with to engage with them on more personal and interesting ways. Social media is how you can interact with potential customers and current customers. Social media marketing success comes from focusing on the platforms where you’re your target market spends their time, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest. Develop a strategy and content plan. Research tools that will help make the posting easier, such as Hootsuite or Buffer. But most of all be real with your posts and how you interact. Try new ideas and be creative.
You do not want to waste time or money on strategies or platforms that do not deliver results. To avoid this you need to track what is preforming well and what is not.
For example, you can study how your audience interacts with your website via analytics. This can be done through your web host or by using Google Analytics. Most of the social media platforms also provide analytics so you can see which posts, ads or videos are generating leads or site visitors.
Marketing is a Marathon
While it is possible to see a return on investment and results from your marketing efforts quickly, the reality is that marketing, takes time. You are entering and competing in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace. The more you connect genuinely with your target audience and build a relationship with them, the more results you will see. If you provide a quality product and/or service and are attentive to your customers, your customers will give you great reviews, referrals, and testimonials that will give you a head up over the competition.