Marketing is a core component of doing business. You can have the best product or most outstanding service, offering unprecedented value for money and exceptional benefits, but you won’t sell a single thing unless you get yourself in front of your market.
Doing business online is no different. Marketing your business online follows the same core principles of traditional marketing, but uses vastly different tools. For digital business, you need digital marketing.
But let’s start at the start.
What is Marketing?
Great volumes of literature have been created on this, which is not my intention to reproduce here!
We’re working people, so let’s give a working person’s definition of it.
Marketing is simply getting your products or services in front of the people who need them, using a variety of different channels, with the goal of influencing their purchasing decisions in your favour.
All of us are familiar with the channels – television, radio, cinema, newspaper, magazines, billboards etc – and all of us are familiar with the method – the good old fashioned advert. But marketing also involves knowing your market – knowing who they are, what they need and how they want their needs filled.
What is Digital Marketing?
The marketing principal is the same – getting your product or service in the faces of the people who need it and influencing their purchasing decisions.
Digital Marketing is simply marketing using digital tools.
So let’s look at the most common digital marketing tools and how they can be used:
Some Digital Marketing Tools
1. Your Website
As we discussed in our post on why you need a website, whether or not you have one is no longer an option.
Your website is the core of your online marketing strategy. It is the hub that all your other marketing channels draw attention to, and the conversion point from digital leads to real-world sales.
Having a professionally built website is your starting point. This is your online showroom, and with the option of ecommerce software, your online checkout as well. Use your website to display your brand, your offerings and your customer service.
2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Now you have your website, the next thing you need to do is catch people browsing the Internet for what you are offering.
You can have every scrap of information regarding your business on your website, but unless it is structured in a way that makes it visible to search engines, you will be forever limited to direct address traffic – people deliberately typing your URL into their browser address bar. You can publish your URL all you want in the real world, but think about it – when’s the last time you typed in a web address you happened to see on a poster or side of a van?
Optimising your information for maximum search engine visibility will ensure you snag traffic from people who are looking for something and not sure who they should get it from. The sales message within your website will then do the rest. Professional copywriting or a specialised SEO job on your website will take care of this.
3. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
This is where you pay money to search engines to deliberately put you at the top of their results.
This is a highly effective way of driving traffic to your website, but it can be costly – between $6-$8 per click. Unless your website is already pumping out the leads left right and centre, SEM may not be the most cost-effective way to market online.
If, however, you are running a high sales volume ecommerce website or selling higher priced commodities at a reasonable rate, the cost of SEM can quickly be made back through the increase in sales.
We have discussed the benefits of blogging in many previous posts.
Blogging has a dual advantage – creating regular fresh content for your website will increase search engine traffic, and creating content that is useful to your audience will increase your credibility.
Posting news about your latest products or services will catch traffic searching for a supplier, and posting information about your existing products will form part of your after-sales service. Blogging will create new customers and keep existing customers happy.
5. Facebook Advertising
Also the subject of a previous blog post, advertising on Facebook is a highly cost-effective and efficient way of driving traffic to your website.
Additionally, maintaining a Facebook page for your business shares many of the benefits of blogging – indeed, Facebook could be referred to as a micro-blogging platform. Your Facebook page also puts your business in people’s memories – the first place they search when making a purchase decision.
Facebook advertising offers two options – sending traffic to your website, or getting “likes” on your business page, both of which cost far less than SEM. You can also target specific demographics, meaning your advertising is far more likely to get in front of people who want what you’ve got.
6. Commenting on Online Forums
This is often overlooked by individual business owners, as it can be time-consuming and also feel like “spamming”.
But the reality is, when people are looking for information on a potential purchase, they will go to the forums to see what other “real” people have to say about your product or service.
There is a right way and a wrong way – and doing things such as posting fake reviews or spamming comment feeds with a pre-packaged advertising spiel is the wrong way. The right way is to get on the forums and interact with your consumers. Was someone happy? Post a thank-you comment. Was someone angry? Apologise and offer to resolve their issue. Is someone asking tricky questions? Answer them. This behaviour reinforces that there is a real human being behind the brand who is backing their offering.
They’ve been around for a while, but many are still unfamiliar with what a podcast is.
Quite simply, podcasts are on-demand radio shows, delivered over the internet to an MP3 player or smartphone.
Podcasts, like blogs, are free to publish and distribute. The best way to think of them is as an audiobook version of a blog post. With over 46 million people in the US alone listening to podcasts regularly, they are another great way to get your message to your market.
8. YouTube Advertising
We’ve all seen them, so why not get in on the action? YouTube advertising offers the opportunity of a worldwide mass audience. Even if they skip it after 5 seconds, your logo has still been seen and is in their memory banks.
YouTube ads are charged per-view anywhere between 10c-30c. Therefore the only limit is your budget, and which channels you want your ads to appear on. With the largest YouTube channel boasting 38 million subscribers, if you have the money, you have the audience.
The list could go on, and the options are endless, but these are the most used digital marketing tools.
Do I need Digital Marketing?
Short answer – absolutely!
Using the Internet, you can reach millions for a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing and advertising.
But like any marketing campaign, you need a strategy, and digital marketing requires its own unique approach. That’s why a digital marketing agency is the best way to ensure you are making the most of online marketing.