The internet has dramatically changed the way we communicate with each other and this global networking phenomenon has given birth to an entirely new way of reaching customers. The last two decades have been pretty dynamic for marketing.
For businesses, this has demanded new skills, but it has also democratised the industry. On the internet, the marketing channels we communicate through are managed by us. There is no TV sales rep or a newspaper agent. Online Marketing has allowed small businesses to compete with big, on smaller budgets and with better performance measurement.
Whatever your industry, the internet has given us new tools and that help us communicate, work and learn. Online marketing is now a necessity for businesses. But where do you start? Let’s look at the options…
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is simply using the internet to reach your target market. This can include optimising your website for search engines, email campaigns, posting on social media and bidding for the top position on search engine results pages. All of which help you to grab the attention of your target audience in order to convert them into consumers.
Why should you invest time in digital marketing for your small business?
Your marketing media strategy will be based on your business and your customer base. A purely local business will have a different strategy to a global one. Your audience demographics, buyer journey and brand are all important factors in working out what the best media mix is. And often, a combination of traditional and digital marketing tactics will be the best way forward. Here are some of the benefits that are specific to marketing online:
- Low cost – You can reach large audiences for less. While conventional marketing tends to be broadcast, your internet marketing can require less investment to create more customised impact.
- Highly targeted communications – If you are advertising on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, you can set your target audience parameters to reach a specific audience based on their interests, locations, demographics. Paid search campaigns put your website in front of people who are already looking for your product.
- Engaged audiences – As above, your digital marketing campaign can be tailored to the individuals that are already looking for your products and services online – giving you much higher conversion rates.
- Flexibility – sharing news, product updates, new features online can be done relatively quickly without significant resource and often by your in-house team.
- Able to overcome geographical barriers – As millions of people across the world use the internet in some form, it is easier to overcome distance barriers. Without expanding marketing efforts individually in different areas, you can run one campaign across each target market and localise campaigns for different geographic regions
- Analytics – No extra research costs to ascertain how your marketing is working. Digital marketing is very measurable. Your performance statistics are easily available, making it much easier to understand your return on investment.
- Multiple marketing options – the internet has provided for a variety of new advertising tools: email, social media, search engine marketing. You choose the techniques and channels that suit your business and use your insights to guide your next move.
Digital marketing tactics
There are lots of digital marketing strategies that cost nothing or very little. It may seem a little overwhelming when you are getting started, so start with what you can manage and build on it. You will learn new skills as you go and become more comfortable engaging with your audience online. Here are some of the ways you can use digital marketing to meet your objectives.
- Email Marketing: Email marketing is a great way to communicate directly with customers. In fact, 77% of us prefer to get messages delivered by email than any other channel. Once you receive the permission to contact consumers via email, you can send them targeted emails like product releases, sales, useful guides and newsletters.
- Social Media Marketing: Using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, you can connect with your consumers, build relationships and promote your products or services. These platforms allow for two-way communication and enquiry. Make sure you are posting regularly and respond to the comments and questions you receive. The more engagement on your page the better.
- Video marketing – Moving pictures tell a story and the research shows that 75% of users visit a company website after watching a video. Video can be shared across YouTube, Vimeo among others, and on your Facebook and Instagram accounts.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is the essential practice of improving your website to increase your prominence in search results. When someone types in a query or words into a search engine, search bots crawl the internet and evaluate the information they find in order to deliver high-quality results for people. Search engines rank websites based on about 200 factors. There are lots of things you can do yourself to optimise your website such as having a technically robust and user-friendly site, posting unique content, having popularity and authority (trusted sites link to yours) and use of relevant keywords. Find out more about SEO
- Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising: This advertising model allows you to bid on keywords that are specific to your product and target market. You can pay search engines and social media channels to create ads and promote your brand, allowing people to click to visit your website or a specific landing page. Your ad will appear alongside search results on search engines like Google and you only pay when someone clicks on the ad.
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM): SEM actually is the umbrella term for all internet marketing that increases your visibility in search results and it includes SEO. However, the term is often is used to refer to paid search tactics.
- Influencer Marketing: Like social media marketing, influencer marketing is a growing trend in the world of online marketing. Brands collaborate with social media influencers to promote products to their audiences. Influencers like fashion and beauty vlogger, YouTuber, Zoe Sugg has over 10 million Instagram followers. Finding an influencer whose content is relevant to your products can help connect a much wider audience with your products through endorsement.
- Affiliate Marketing: This tactic is where an online business pays a commission to an affiliate for promotion. Affiliate marketing is based on the performance measures of sales or traffic generated by the referrer.
Among the methods above are many organic ways (which require no monetary expense ) to drive traffic to your pages, such as optimising your website for search, regularly posting on your social channels and using email marketing. Paid search boosts your organic efforts by allowing you to create highly targeted campaigns to reach qualified prospects more efficiently. Both are important in growing your customer base. When a prospect clicks on an ad to visit your site, make sure you are delivering what they are looking for and offer compelling calls to action. A balance of both organic and paid digital marketing tactics will give you a solid foundation on which you can beef up your marketing.
A final note: Whether you are marketing online for small businesses or a huge conglomerate, stick to your original value proposition. Also, keep the image and values of your brand consistent. It is quite easy to lose your business’s personality among the hubbub of various online platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. On these channels, remember that the content that works best is content that looks like it comes from a friend. Be yourself and you will be more engaging.
Take your time to understand the channels and the opportunities each offer. As you go you will experience the excitement of a post that is shared and commented on, the power of a paid search campaign and the buzz of a positive response to an email campaign.
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