Online Marketing Cloud – The Right Solution for Your Business?

When was the last time you felt motivated to buy something just because it was on sale?

In today’s economy, consumers have more choice than ever before, and it’s impacting what products they will and won’t buy. Specifically, temporary promotional offers (i.e., ‘one-time use’ discounts or ‘limited time offers’) have become pretty standard in today’s marketplace.

The key is to find a way to stand out among the clutter. What makes your product special (besides the fact that it’s on sale)? What makes your product special is that it is backed by a reputable company with a good reputation, and you can be assured that what you are purchasing is of good quality.

Many businesses have recognized this, and have turned to the web to provide consumers with a means to try out new products without risk. In this instance, you as a business owner have three options for getting your product/service marketed online:

1. Product placement (PPC) – Paid search

‘Product placement’ is when someone markets a product or service in return for a company displaying that product or service in a prominent position on their site. For example, if Company A sells Steelbook cases, and Company B is the maker of a fashionable laptop bag, then Company B could pay Company A for the right to put a Steelbook case on their site if they choose.

While this may seem like an easy way to earn revenue, beware of the pitfalls. First of all, you will need to ensure that the position the product/service appears in is highly visible and easily accessed. Also, make sure that the product/service that you are promoting is relevant to the reader’s interests.

2. Affiliate Marketing

‘Affiliate marketing’ is when you promote someone else’s product or service, and when a user clicks a link or buys a product you are promoting, you earn a commission.

The beauty of this strategy is that you don’t necessarily need to have a physical product to sell. You can provide a service, like SEO or social media marketing, and when a user signs up for your service, you receive a commission.

3. E-commerce

‘E-commerce’ is when you sell a product (or provide a service that includes a product component) online via a website.

This is probably the most popular option because it is extremely easy to set up, and you do not necessarily need to have a huge investment to get started. Simply create a store, pick a theme, and begin listing products.

The major downside to this strategy is that you have to take care of all the logistics yourself. You will have to create a website, set up the shopping cart, and make sure that all the billing and shipping go smoothly. If you decide to go this route, it is essential that you understand all the intricacies of online buying. Otherwise, you will find yourself struggling with a bad experience that could put a serious dent in your wallet.

What is an Online Marketing Cloud?

Simply put, an ‘online marketing cloud’ is a service that provides you with all the tools you need to market your product (including everything from PPC to e-commerce) via multiple channels (including SEO, social media, and email marketing).

An ‘inbound marketing’ approach gets you there quickly and easily, as you can use proven methodologies to drive traffic to your site, and then convert that traffic into paying customers.

Why Should You Use An Online Marketing Cloud?

There are several reasons why you should use an online marketing cloud, aside from the fact that you can access all the platforms from one place. Here are just a few:

  • Ease of Use – Even newbies to marketing can understand how frustrating it can be to navigate multiple platforms to connect with potential customers. Doing business on the internet is not easy, especially when you are not tech-savvy. Having a team of experts handle all the technical details for you means that you can simply focus on growing your business.
  • Cost Effective – While you are losing out on some income, you are also avoiding expensive errors that could put a strain on your business. Instead, you are putting your faith in experts who have the knowledge and experience to get the job done right.
  • Increased Engagement – When you add social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to your marketing mix, you are increasing the chances of connecting with your audience. Inbound Marketing takes the concept of ‘word of mouth’ and applies it to the internet, with companies constantly measuring the success of their campaigns based on the number of people who engaged with them on social media.
  • Personalized Approach To Marketing – If you use an online marketing cloud, you can ensure that your marketing campaigns are personalized, based on the individual preferences of each customer. This means you will reach out to each person based on their unique situation, interests, and goals. While many big data analysts can tell you who the most ‘relevant’ customers are, you will be able to connect with them on a much more personal level, and get them to act on your behalf.
  • Global Reach – When you connect with potential customers in one location, it is easier to understand and manage the entire ‘lifecycle’ of a customer; from initial contact, to follow-up, to close of the deal. The more you can do from one place, the easier it will be to keep track of everything. This, in turn, will help you plan out your overall marketing strategy and execution on a global scale.
  • Increased Conversions – The key to successful conversion is an effective landing page. Having a professionally written and designed landing page will increase your chances of getting customers to take the next step, which can be as simple as making a purchase or subscribing to your newsletter. Remember, without a landing page, you are losing out on the potential to connect with a huge audience. Even if you do get a substantial amount of traffic, without a landing page, you are losing out on the chance to convert that traffic into paying customers.
  • Data Aggregation – An online marketing cloud allows you to connect all the platforms you use to collect data, and then analyze it in one place. This helps you make the most of all the data you have, by being able to compare and contrast different sets of figures. It also means you can track and analyze the results of your campaigns across multiple channels (e.g., SEO, social media, and email marketing)
  • Marketing Automation – If you are looking to take the drudgery out of marketing and want to get more done, you can try out automated marketing. Simply put, marketing automation helps perform routine tasks like sending out emails or setting up automated calls or emails to customers based on actions they take, or activities they engage in while on your site.
  • Product Recommendations – If you offer a product or service that is unique and valuable, customers will be more inclined to share their opinion with others. Encouraging customers to provide feedback and suggestions is a great way to improve your product, and ultimately, their experience as a buyer. Product recommendations mean increased conversions and revenue.
  • E-commerce Analytics – When you sell products online, it is essential that you have a clear idea of how customers are interacting with your site, and whether or not they are behaving according to your expectations. Having a dedicated e-commerce analytics person watching over your shoulder as you navigate the site, analyzing all the data and providing suggestions for improvement, can help you get the most out of your online sales.

Creating Goals and Objectives

Creating goals and objectives should not be a difficult process, especially since you have an inbound marketing consultant on hand to help you. A simple Google search will help you connect with numerous consultants who can help you set up a digital marketing plan that is customized for your specific needs. Simply input the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you are currently tracking, and the consultants will have all the necessary templates at hand to create a plan that is designed to improve your business.

You will find that most digital marketing plans include a goal of attracting new customers, converting those customers into paying subscribers, and retaining the subscribers you have.