You’ve probably heard of online marketing, but you may not be entirely sure what it is. Online marketing is a form of marketing that uses the internet to reach potential customers. It relies heavily on the use of keywords in website content and SEO to get its messages across to the right audience.
You can use online marketing to reach potential customers across the globe, but here’s the catch: You need an audience to target. Most businesses don’t have the luxury of attracting customers from across the globe — unless, of course, they happen to be global brands. But even then, domestic marketing may be the more effective (and, let’s face it, more fun) option.
Get To Know The Basics
If you’re just entering this world for the first time, you may want to brush up on your digital marketing skills before you dive in. Just like any other form of marketing, online marketing is comprised of four basic elements:
- Marketing Objectives
The first step is to determine who your target audience is and what they want. To do this, you will want to identify the personas (i.e., groups of people with similar characteristics or behaviors) that you are trying to reach with your web content. You can also use the information you gather to identify the content that your target audience is interested in. This content will form the backbone of your marketing campaign.
The Audience Piece
The second step is to establish the size of your target audience. This is a critical step because, as a marketer, you will want to ensure that you are reaching the right people with your content.
There are three basic approaches that you can take to find the number of people that you physically need to reach with your content:
- Use demographic information (i.e., age, gender) to extrapolate the size of your audience
- Look at the past behavior of those who are similar to your target audience to estimate the size of your audience
- Get a rough idea of how many people your target audience is likely to encounter through quantitative surveys (i.e., Google Analytics)
If you decide that you want to target the baby boomers with your content, you would use demographic information to determine the size of your audience (i.e., 54.2 million people in the U.S. between the ages of 45 and 54). If you want to target men who have a disposable income of at least $50,000, you can use past behavior to make a reasonable estimate of your audience size. You can also use Google Analytics to get a sense of how many people in your target area are searching for keywords related to your product or service. This information can help you determine what content you should create to appeal to this audience. As a general rule of thumb, it’s always smart to assume that your audience will be somewhere between two and three quarters of the way across the country (i.e., the median person).
Once you know how many people you need to reach, you can work on establishing which platforms will help you do this.
The Marketing Objectives Piece
The third step is to set specific marketing objectives and KPIs (i.e., Key Performance Indicators). These are the benchmarks that you will use to determine the success of your marketing initiatives.
Your marketing objectives should be measurable, clearly defined, and specific.
For example, you may want to set a measurable objective related to the size of your target audience. To determine the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, you may want to set a benchmark based on the number of people who have visited your website or engaged with your social media channels. You can use several different metrics (i.e., conversion rate, bounce rate, % of visits that result in a purchase, or referral traffic) to determine the effectiveness of your strategy.
The Strategy Piece
The fourth step is to create a strategy for integrating online marketing into your overall marketing plan. To do this, you will want to break down the components of your online marketing strategy into a series of smaller, more realistic strategies.
The strategy piece is critical because it helps you take a step back and see your campaign from a broader perspective. Without a strategy, you may find yourself scrambling to meet the seemingly never-ending demands of a campaign that has no clear direction.
To create a clear plan, you can use several different approaches. One of the more popular ones is called a “roadmap,” which is essentially a plan of action that you can follow to achieve a certain goal. For example, you may want to create a roadmap that takes you from 0 to 100 website visits per week. To do this, you would identify the major steps (e.g., getting 100 online friends to engage with you on social media) that you would take to get to that point. If you think that email marketing is the key to your success, you can create a detailed plan for growing your email subscriber list (i.e., the segment of your audience that you can contact via email).
With a strategic plan in place, you can move on to the next step — execution.
Execute Your Plan
The last step is to carry out your plan. This is where you will put your strategy into action. If you have followed the advice laid out in this guide successfully, you will already have a clear picture of what to do next. Your goal is to ensure that all your marketing efforts are aligned and working towards a single purpose: growing your business.
If you want to be able to track the success of your plan, you can set up automated email campaigns that will notify you when a new milestone is reached. For example, you may want to setup an email campaign that will send a weekly email when you have reached a certain number of website visits per week or when you have reached a certain number of email subscribers.
In summary, these are the steps that you will take to successfully use online marketing to grow your business.
If you need help getting started, check out these reputable websites where you can benchmark your existing web content and set up automated email campaigns to keep you on track: