Search engine marketing (SEM) is one of today’s most important online marketing channels. But what exactly is search engine marketing? And how do its subcomponents SEO and SEA vary from one another? By adhering to fundamental marketing measures for web searches, website operators are able to optimize strategic aspects of their websites, thereby gaining more visitors and enhancing their web...
Online PR, social media, affiliate marketing, newsletter campaigns, Google AdWords – these all count as part of the ideal marketing mix. There are so many different components belonging to online marketing that it’s often difficult to get an overview and to find the right approach for your company. You have to decide yourself which channels are relevant and which strategies are best for your business. Depending on the industry, the offer, the target group, and the objective, some channels will be more important than others. But despite all the variables, there are some online marketing principles that every marketer should know and bear in mind. We present seven essential online marketing basics for a successful start.
1. Use the website as a means of communication
Your company’s website is generally the core intermediary on the internet between the public and the firm. As such, it will usually be the starting point for any form of online marketing. Even though the importance of company websites has diminished somewhat due to the increasing dominance of social networks, it is still viewed as the label and business card of the company. A lot of work goes into a professional web presence, but even when it’s finished, it’s still not technically finished. You have to continue updating your website, maintain it, and use it as a communication tool. Through regular updates and exclusive news, you create an incentive for the user to visit the site. Keeping the page up-to-date and the content relevant also has a positive affect on your relationship with Google.
Not every company needs to create a complex website with a CMS and a large database. For small business, especially those specialized in catering, a blog is often a good alternative.
2. Content is key
A typical online marketing mistake is losing sight of the content’s quality when deciding on the scope of the marketing campaign. In the last few years, content marketing has proved itself as being a lot more sustainable in comparison to traditional advertising such as TV commercials and advertising banners. Every marketer should be aware that more and more inbound methods are being used in online marketing. This means that the content is structured so well that users search for it themselves rather than potential customers needing to be found so it can be sent to them. Therefore, the focus should be on high-quality, interesting, and informative content that offers value to the reader. By positioning yourself as the expert in your own subject area, you gain the target group’s trust.
Good content is the basis for success in online marketing. It’s the foundation for search engine optimization and is an important quality factor since it influences many other marketing disciplines. It is crucial that content is always unique and isn’t merely copied from other online sources.
3. Online marketing takes time and expertise
Social media marketing and content marketing strategies doesn’t just happen by coincidence. Online marketing is a full-time job. Managing the company’s social media profile should not left to the intern, just as off page optimization should not be forgotten about until Friday afternoon. Implementing a marketing strategy, which also benefits the company, doesn’t happen automatically and is not a task that should be given to an amateur.
Many companies often don’t realize how much time needs to be invested at the beginning when taking the first steps in online marketing. It can take weeks or even months until initial campaigns are optimized to the point that they bring in profit. When it comes to search engine optimization, you need to be patient. A good position in Google’s search results doesn’t happen overnight – you need to wait it out until you start seeing the initial successes. The efforts also need to be sustained.
As mentioned above, know-how and expertise are factors that shouldn’t be underestimated (in addition to time) – since accounts and profiles should be set up and managed by professionals and not left for the interns to take care of. You have to train employees, explain the most important online marketing principles, and bring in expertise knowledge from external services, if needed.
4. Online marketing must follow a defined strategy
A deadly combination in online marketing: no experience in the online sector, but still a big budget at hand. Many marketers begin to invest the money sporadically here and there so that it’s evenly distributed among the various marketing channels. This might sound like a good idea, but this approach actually leads to money being wasted. It’s better to have a strategy from the start and then follow it. Plan your online marketing mix accordingly so that you can coordinate the channels and individual campaigns. This also includes selecting the right methods and tools for clearly-defined goals. Attribution models enable companies to identify the most relevant and profitable channels.
Once you have your own strategy, you should let other departments in the company know so that they can coordinate their actions with yours. If you want to create a successful marketing mix, you need to stop seeing each approach as an isolated case. If you consider channels as independent disciplines, without thinking about the marketing mix, then you could face some problems. For example, you could end up circulating duplicate content or, even worse, distributing content on different channels that contradicts each other.
5. User-friendliness comes before design
The design aspect of a website is obviously important. Depending on the industry or service, the user expects appealing designs when they visit a company’s website and for them to be implemented in a modern and creative way. Design can be a unique selling point just like Apple has proven with its unmistakable corporate identity.
But don’t ignore other factors that are relevant to success – you should always keep user-friendliness in mind. Clear and organized navigation has to be your first priority: the visitor has to be able to use the page intuitively and quickly, and easily find their way around. A website can still look and be innovative, but if there are shortfalls in the usability, users won’t spend much time reading it. The same principle also applies to mobile optimization: you should make the design of the mobile site sleeker and simpler so that mobile users can navigate the site as easily as possible.
6. Obtain information about the target group
In traditional retail, customers can be personally advised – they should be wooed, cared for, and above all, well-informed. This shouldn’t be any different online, but many marketers forget this basic online marketing principle. Businesses should appeal to customers and try and win them over with their online marketing tactics. Unlike in brick-and-mortar stores, where the shoppers come of their own accord, online is a bit more challenging online as you need to find potential customers in the first place. This is why it’s so important to know your target group so that you know which adverts are better suited to them. Web analysis is an important tool that every marketer should use to measure, analyze, and maximize their online success. By using analysis tools like Google Analytics, you can obtain information about your own target group, its online behavior, and how to go about winning them over.
7. Keep an eye on the ROI
The last principle of our online marketing basics: never lose sight of the return on investment (ROI)! There is a simple calculation if you want to run a successful business: the benefit of an advertising measure must always be higher than the costs incurred. Online marketers use a special indicator to work this out – this is the return on investment. The ROI is used to measure the return on a business activity by showing the profit in relation to the capital invested.
It is especially important to keep track of the ROI when it comes to expensive disciplines in online marketing such as Google AdWords campaigns. This makes it possible to control the profitability of advertising measures. When it comes to paid advertisement, you have to also take into account the probable scatter loss. If you don’t plan carefully, you will end up wasting money.
Be prepared for holiday shopping season and turn off-line visits into online sales. Learn more about Small Business Saturday and special marketing & promotion ideas for business owners in our Startup Guide article.