If you’re reading this, I bet you’re new to online marketing or have at least heard of it. If not, here’s a quick overview of what it is and why you should care.
What is Online Marketing?
Traditional marketing, also known as offline marketing, consists of things like TV ads, billboards, magazine spreads, and radio spots. These are all still very prevalent and effective ways to get your message out there to potential customers. The difference is that now we have a giant button in the form of the internet to allow us to target our ads exactly where they’ll be seen. When someone clicks on an online ad or opens a website, they’re given more information about the brand or product that was advertised. In most cases, online marketing is considered a form of “digital marketing”. It typically uses digital platforms like search engines, social media sites, or email to reach potential customers.
There are four important distinctions that make up online marketing.
The first and most important distinction is that your prospective customers are targeted. Traditional marketing is not; you’re just throwing up ads in front of whoever happens to come across them. Targeted audience allows you to connect with individuals (i.e., “audiences”) who have an interest in your product or service.
A good example of targeting is Google Adwords. When someone enters “coffee” into the search bar, they’re presented with ads for coffee-related products and services. When someone clicks on one of those ads, they see content related to coffee, such as facts about the origins of the drink, pictures of people drinking coffee, etc. They also appear to be on the coffee website, rather than a generic shopping website.
If you’re running an eCommerce store or blog, you can use Google Analytics to track the behavior of your customers to learn more about what they like and don’t like, and what would encourage them to purchase from you. You can also use Google Ads to run targeted ads that appear to be relevant to a site or blog you’re analyzing in Google Analytics.
The second important distinction is that your target audiences are geographically located. With traditional marketing, your ads would be seen by people all over the country (or the world). That’s why it’s important to keep in mind when you’re placing your ads that they’ll be seen by a localized audience.
For example, if you’re a shoe store and you want to gain traction in Asia, you might want to run ads on platforms like GrabOne or Classified Advertsing, which are specifically geared towards the region. In these platforms, your ads appear only to individuals who are physically located in a certain area, which can be extremely effective when trying to penetrate a market segment that’s far away from your physical location.
Another great example of this is podcast sponsorships. Many brands will pay good money to have their product or service featured on popular podcasts that have a significant portion of their target audience. This could mean millions of dollars in revenue for the company that purchased the sponsorship.
The third distinction is that you have competitors. With traditional marketing, you might have a large company that decides to enter the coffee market and throws down some tough competition. However, as long as they keep up with the bribes and payoffs, your product will likely remain the same, regardless of their intentions. The only difference is that you might have more or less money to spend on advertising.
On the other hand, if you have a new product that will drastically alter the game, you might not see much of a difference at first. But, over the course of a few months or years, you’ll notice that your competitors are either unable to keep up with the change, or they decide to stop trying because they can no longer compete on an even playing field.
The competition between Uber and Lyft is a perfect example of this. Both of these companies started out as drivers with no money in the bank. They had to keep driving to make a living. Once they established themselves as reliable companies with a good reputation, they were able to attract more customers, which led to more revenue. This, in turn, allowed them to expand their services, purchase a lot of new cars, and continue to undercut their competitors. Even now, a few years later, they’re still going strong, while their competition has largely disappeared.
The last but not least distinction is that your customers are now empowered. Thanks to the internet and social media, your customers can now be much more involved in the process of purchasing your product or service. Instead of passively receiving information about your company, they can now access the same information online, which allows them to make better informed buying decisions.
For example, if you’re an eCommerce store and you sell shoes, you might want to consider having a special deal where, if a customer purchases four pairs of shoes, they get the fifth pair for free. Or if a customer buys a certain amount of tickets to a sports game, they will receive a special offer for a discount or free item.
Nowadays, if someone wants to learn more about your company, they’ll typically do so by visiting your website, reaching out via email, or looking you up on social media. And, when they do, they’ll often leave a review about what they find on your site, which helps establish your credibility as a brand, and drives business to your company.
Why should you care about Online Marketing?
If you’re reading this, I bet you’re new to online marketing or at least haven’t actively participated in online marketing to this point. If so, here are just a few reasons why you should care about online marketing, and why it will continue to grow in the years to come.
First, targeted marketing allows you to connect with your customers where they are. Instead of just having ads in your local newspaper or on TV, you can now have specific ads designed to connect with an audience that has an interest in your product or service. For example, if you sell shoes, you might want to target individuals in the UK who like expensive, imported shoes.
Online marketing is also a great way to increase brand awareness and establish credibility. Thanks to platforms like Facebook and YouTube, your company’s name, slogan, and photo are placed in front of a potentially huge audience which could result in millions of impressions.
Last but not least, having a clear digital marketing strategy can be invaluable. It can help you identify the goals you want to achieve, the metrics you’ll use to measure your success, and the platforms (i.e., channels) you’ll use to reach those goals.
Where Do I Start?
If you’re completely new to digital marketing or just need a bit of a refresher, I’d recommend starting out simply. Some of the platforms listed below offer free trials or limited time offers, so you can test out their services for free, without any risk of exposure. Once you’ve determined that this is something you’d like to pursue further, then you can move up to a premium plan and grow your business online.
If you’re interested in running a targeted marketing campaign, then check out Google Adwords, which as I mentioned above, is a platform specifically designed for this kind of thing. You can also use Google Analytics to track the performance of your ads, or other platforms like Chilipro.com and BizEaze to create ads and social media posts, respectively. These are just a few of the most prominent options, but there are many others out there that you can use to build your business online.