When you ask people what is the one tool or strategy that all businesses can benefit from, the most frequent response you will get is marketing, specifically online marketing.
Why? Because regardless of whether you’re a small business or a multinational corporation, the digital landscape is changing the way we all do business. And if you want to survive and thrive in today’s economy, you need to consider incorporating digital marketing strategies into your overall marketing plan.
The Rise of Online Marketing
To understand how traditional marketing as we know it is evolving, you need to look no further than the internet. If you’ve been around for even a few years, you’ll remember the golden days when people would visit a website, look at the products, and then buy them, all because they were interested in what the website was offering. Now marketers have shifted to a more holistic approach.
Today, we’re not just interested in getting someone to visit our site or app but also in getting them to engage with what we have to offer, continue their journey with us, and eventually buy our products, all because we know that person’s interests.
Forrester reports that by 2021, 80% of all business-to-consumer (B2C) purchases will happen online. This is compared to just 20% who shops online and then comes back to the store, specifically to buy that item they saw online. This means that more and more businesses are realizing the importance of having a strategic digital marketing plan in place.
Consumers have more power than ever before in today’s digital economy. Thanks to the advent of AI, consumers can now connect with brands through personalized, content-rich experiences, which are highly valuable, easy to remember and increasingly hard to replicate.
Whether it’s the personal assistant that accompanies all our Google searches or the push notifications that pop up on our smartphones, consumers have grown accustomed to expecting something, anything, from brands that they engage with online.
In the not-so-distant past, the only way to get someone to remember your brand or product was to physically visit them. You’d put up a sign, hang a poster in a shop window, or send them a catalog filled with appealing, colorful images of your products. These days, with so much information at our fingertips, people are consuming content from brands and businesses that they know and like, whether it’s something on social media or through a friend’s recommendation. This is why businesses, regardless of whether they’re big or small, must now consider online marketing a vital part of their marketing mix.
What is Marketing, Anyway?
Traditional marketing, as we know it, is any form of advertising or marketing that happens outside the four walls of your business. It can be anything from radio ads to billboards, magazine spreads, and brochures.
While these forms of marketing have been around for decades and continue to be effective, the digital landscape is changing the way we all do business. Thanks to advancements in AI, big data, and the like, businesses can now target, measure, and analyze online marketing campaigns, traditional billboards, and radio ads, all from the same place.
Since the beginning of the year 2021, Google has rolled out a series of AMP (accelerated mobile page) prompts, which are short, highly accessible snippets of content designed to engage users and drive them to action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form.
These AMP prompts are an extension of Google’s continued commitment to ensuring that all of its products function smoothly and are highly accessible to users, regardless of their device or screen size.
According to Google, 80% of users will choose an AMP prompt over a regular web page for mobile searches. This makes sense: when someone wants information on a subject or product, they’ll often turn to Google first, as it is the most popular search engine.
So if someone wants to buy a specific product or service, they’ll often type in the company’s name or brand name, along with the item they are looking for. In most cases, when you click on an AMP prompt, you’ll be taken to a product or service page on the company’s website.
This is where marketing and digital marketing — as we know it — intersect. As we’ve mentioned, consumers have grown accustomed to expecting personalized service and value from businesses they interact with online. This is why marketing strategies, such as Google’s AMP initiative, are becoming more and more important. Thanks to platforms like Google and social media, businesses can now see real-time analytics about how their marketing strategies are performing, and make necessary adjustments, all from one place.
How Do I Get Started With Online Marketing?
If you’re completely unfamiliar with marketing or digital marketing, the first step is to determine your goals and objectives. What do you hope to achieve with your online marketing? Are you looking to grow your email list? Gain brand recognition? Build a community?
Once you have a clear understanding of why you’re doing what you’re doing, the next step is to choose your platform. This can be somewhat of a daunting task, as there are lots of options out there. Google, Facebook, and Twitter, to name a few.
Each of these platforms has a different function and niche, but if you’re looking for simplicity, stick with what you know, as these three platforms cover almost all of your needs. If you’re looking for something more integrated and fancy, check out HubSpot, as it connects all your marketing platforms (email, social media, web, etc.) in one place.
Once you’ve chosen your platform, the next step is to set up automated email campaigns, using software such as HubSpot’s. Once you have an email list, you can start to send out regular marketing emails, containing useful information about your products or services, or simply news about topics that your niche cares about.
As we’ve mentioned, people are increasingly doing their research online before buying a product or service. This means that companies must have websites, where they provide all the necessary information about the item they are selling. While it’s not always necessary to have a fully fledged website for every product or service, for those that do, the information must be easily accessible and polished, otherwise, customers may find other, easier platforms to do business with.
The Importance of Mobile Marketing
Mobile marketing, or the use of mobile applications, such as Snapchat, to promote products and services, is becoming a necessary evil for businesses.
Thanks to the rise of the ‘digital nomad’ and the many freelancing platforms that make up today’s gig economy, more and more people are seeing the world as a playground, where they can quickly establish themselves as an expert in their chosen field, in exchange for a freelance job that can be done remotely.
The issue, however, is that while the platforms make it easy to connect with customers, they don’t always provide the tools needed to effectively market a product or service.
If someone wants to buy air purifier machines, but doesn’t have the time to dive into the complexity of the task, they’ll often resort to using a mobile marketing app, such as Snapdeal’s ‘Collabera’ (formerly known as ‘Velo’), to find and connect with local sellers, who have air purifiers for sale, nearby.
Mobile marketing, including the use of games and other immersive technologies, is evolving to keep pace with the digital nomad lifestyle. Thanks to innovations in AI, VR, and more, businesses can now target, engage, and convert customers, regardless of whether they’re on a computer, mobile phone, or tablet.
How About Email Marketing?
While social media and mobile marketing are all the rage, with more and more people using these platforms to do their research and gain more information about a product or service, sometimes, you need to sit back and do some old-fashioned, albeit effective, marketing.
Often, the best approach is to use email marketing, which, as we’ve mentioned, is one of the most effective and simplest forms of marketing. If someone is already on your email list, you can continue to send them information about products or services that they might be interested in, using a simple email marketing software, such as MailChimp.
Thanks to the efforts of these email marketing software platforms, you can create automated email campaigns, gathering as much information as you need, about your customers’ demographics, interests, and behaviors. This way, you can tailor your messaging, based on what works best for your target audience.