The internet has disrupted every industry, whether you’re a business or an academic, a marketing expert or just someone who wants to get their message out there.
For most industries, the internet has meant a decline in importance of traditional advertising media, like TV and print, and an increase in importance of digital advertising, especially paid content on social media platforms.
For marketers, this shift has meant the need to reassess their strategy and how they go about acquiring customers. The best strategy is one that takes all the advantages of digital marketing and applies them to the unique situation of your business. Once you have done that, the next step is to simply continue to apply these advantages and to adapt what you have learned to be specific to your business goals.
Why Market Online?
If you’re reading this, you’re already convinced that marketing online can work for you. Perhaps you’ve even tried it, and had some success. But, why should you continue pursuing this route?
The benefits of marketing online can be diverse and plentiful. First, you can target the right audience. Second, you can conduct market research (and market testing) from the convenience of your desk. Third, you can engage with prospective customers who have demonstrated an interest in your product or service. Fourth, you can use digital marketing to its full extent, without being limited by geography or time. Last, but not least, you can measure the success of your marketing efforts in real time, through analytics tools.
In case you’re wondering, no, this isn’t a sponsored post. I’m not affiliated with any particular company or product. I just believe that anyone who is serious about marketing should consider online marketing and consider this post a helpful guide.
What Is Digital Marketing?
Like many marketing terms, “digital marketing” has become a catch-all phrase for all forms of marketing activity conducted online. But, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a specific meaning. Here’s the meaning commonly used by experts in the industry:
- All of the marketing and advertising tools used online.
- The process of attracting customers to your products or services through various digital platforms (social media, email, web banners and more)
- The strategy and execution of all marketing activities, including marketing technology platforms used (e.g. social media, email, web banners and more)
- The measurement and analysis of marketing campaigns, including those that use digital marketing platforms (e.g. social media, email, web banners and more)
For the record, this is also not a sponsored post. I’m not affiliated with any particular company or product. I just believe that anyone who is serious about marketing should consider online marketing and should be able to define and use this term accurately.
Where Do I Start?
With your mind a little bit of a blank slate, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of where you should start when marketing online. Although there is no one-stop-shop answer for this question, consider the guidelines below:
Start With A Plan
What you need to do first is to develop a plan. This should not be confused with a strategy, which is something you’ll develop over time as you gain experience and refine your approach. The strategy will be specific to your business objectives and will help you choose the right channels (e.g. SEO, social media, email) and tools (e.g. content, landing pages, social media) to reach your target audience. A plan, on the other hand, is simply a starting point. It defines the scope of your efforts and sets some parameters for what you’ll achieve. The plan serves as a roadmap to get you from here to there.
Choose The Right Platforms
Once you have a plan in place, you can start to develop your strategy for the platforms you’ll use. These are the online destinations (e.g. websites, blogs, forums, etc.) that you’ll use to disseminate your message to your target audience. It would be best to focus on at least three platforms, one of which should be a digital magazine/newspaper that has a large audience. If you’re looking for social media platforms, these should be focused on generating leads (e.g. websites, blogs, and Twitter). YouTube and Facebook are great places to gain traction and to become established, as they are the two largest, and most popular, video-sharing platforms. If you’re seeking to gain exposure through traditional print media, focusing on getting your newspaper featured in a local paper (e.g. the classified section or the op-ed page) can be a great way to gain traction.
Content Is King (Or Queen)
Once you have chosen your platforms, you can start creating content. This can be in the form of articles, videos, or both. While video is an increasingly popular form of content, and one that has many advantages, text is still a viable and effective form of content. The key is to make sure that the content you create is useful and valuable. You can start by creating a guide or an explanatory video about a product or service you offer. While guides and explainers can be an extremely useful tool in gaining credibility and in attracting potential customers, they can also be used to great effect in marketing. After all, people want to know what’s in it for them. Help them figure out what you have to offer by explaining what your product or service does. You can also use guides and tutorials to teach people how to use your product or service effectively or to perform certain tasks. If you’re looking for further inspiration, consider reading through the archives of Forbes’ famous “Forbes Woman” or reading through the Entrepreneur Blog’s website. Both are filled with incredible content from experienced marketers who are willing to share their unique strategies for attracting and retaining customers.
Build Your Audience
Once you have a decent amount of content, you can start to attract potential customers to your site. You do this by promoting your content across multiple platforms, as well as through traditional media. One of the best things you can do for your business is drive traffic to your site from relevant organic search results on Google, as well as from social media platforms. Start by sharing relevant content from throughout the internet, as well as from within your own company. Additionally, you can develop a blog for your website that will focus on regularly publishing content.
Measure The Results Of Your Marketing Efforts
With any form of marketing, whether you’re marketing on the internet or through other platforms, the ultimate goal is to ultimately gain a profitable customer base.
To measure the success of your marketing efforts, you’ll need to set up analytics tools to track the leads coming in from various platforms, the size of your audience across social media platforms, and the overall engagement of your audience (e.g. website traffic, social media posts, and email opens). The better your analytics tools are at providing you with insight into these areas, the better your overall marketing strategy will be able to determine how successful (or unsuccessful) it has truly been. If you’re looking for a free tool to track your marketing efforts, consider using Google Analytics. Not only does it provide you with valuable information, but it’s also free.
Once you have established yourself as a thought leader in your industry, you can take a lap around the track and assess the results of your marketing efforts. You’ll be able to see how many people visited your website, what articles were most beneficial to your target audience, and which platforms (e.g. email, social media, and website) led to the most leads (e.g. website traffic, newsletter subscribers, and social followers).
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of tips and tricks to market online. There are many other platforms and tactics you can use, including paid advertising, viral marketing, and more. As your business grows, so will your ability to choose the proper channels and tactics to effectively market your business.