Smarter online marketing is something that any growth-minded business aspires to, isn’t it? The trouble is, with little experience and even less time, many business owners or marketing managers dive straight into digital marketing because they don’t want to be left behind!
In this post, I’m going to suggest some questions about online marketing that you should ask yourself before you prepare a formal plan. Plus, I’ll briefly list some basic online marketing concepts and finish off by providing you with tips on how to market your business online.
The pitfall of rushing into online marketing, just because everyone else is, risks a complete waste of time and money. Just like any other business activity, it is advisable to plan for it. Even before that, we would advocate standing back to ask yourself some questions about how embracing digital might impact your business.
Questions such as:
– Will it change the actual business that you are in or drive existing business objectives?
– Will it help you to be more competitive?
– Could it help you increase the value you can offer to customers?
– Will it improve the cost or quality of your existing product /service?
– Might it serve to change your target audience?
– Will you be adding digital capabilities or adding digital to your capabilities?
Instead of rushing into formulating an online strategy, we would recommend that you focus on how any new technology you use, can add something extra to the business strategy you already have in place.
8 Smarter Online Concepts to Understand
In our experience, what seems to be happening these days is that many organisations are looking at their online presence as being separate to their other marketing activity. Some contact us and ask – “can you help us with our Twitter or Facebook?” or whatever.
In response, we explain how social media is just one digital element in the overall communications effort. Thereafter our job is to show how to integrate their digital objectives into their overall business strategy.
Every day, it seems, we come across new specialist roles in the online marketing space. In our opinion, unfortunately, these people, whilst experts in their field, are failing to grasp how their outputs fit into an overall business strategy. Their impact on business growth, therefore, is negligible.
Of course, digital experts are required but all people in business should have at least a basic understanding of what online activity might entail. Whether you are a business owner, a marketing manager or a not for profit, it is important to understand these 6, fairly basic, online concepts:
- SEO – being findable and having the best answer for your customers/prospects questions
- Content Strategy – planned content must be able to attract, engage and convert
- Paid Social Media – social media algorithms means effective reach must be paid for
- Pay Per Click – reduced organic search means paid advertising is required to reach your audience
- Influencer Marketing – amplify your created content by using online influencers (e.g. bloggers)
- Online Analytics –analyse your existing data and also measure success of your online activity
Do you add to your digital capabilities or add digital to your capabilities? This article will help you ponder…Click to tweet
Be smarter about your online image and the tools you use.
Your Image –
At a very minimum, it should be understood that how you look online is as important as how you look offline. We are starting a new year, so it is probably a good time to refresh your online presence with an image makeover. Here are some quick fixes that you can do immediately:
- Update your professional headshot – hair, clothes and even you can change over the years.
- Use new images on your website – your homepage image, your team, your results
- Ask your customers for new pictures of them using your product/service
- Update your images on your social media channels and display advertising
- Remove any images of promotions that are out of date
Some of your customers might only engage with your brand online so it really is important that your online marketing landscape is professional, consistent and reflects the authentic you.
Your tools –
As an SME, have you signed up for some time-saving online tools that you no longer use? Or have some of the tools you use, been surpassed by better ones? There are hundreds of marketing tools out there that can genuinely help you improve your effectiveness, way too many for us to cover. Here is a sample of some that we use and have found to be effective:
- Open Site Explorer – check out your competitor’s domain authority and copy their links
- Siteliner – duplicate content check and internal/external links view
- Portent Title Generator – it might not find you a title but it will get you thinking
- Grammarly – a must on your computer for checking grammar – even if you don’t blog
- Google keyword planner – good resource when launching pay-per-click campaign
- Buffer – schedule social media posts for optimal times
- PostPlanner – similar to buffer but also has a content generation element
- Pablo – free images for social media
- Followerwonk – for analysing your twitter followers
- Start a fire – places a link back to your website on shared content
- Wisestamp – professional email signature
- Adobe Spark – free graphic templates for whatever platform you are using
- Evernote – store everything for later (free version is excellent)
- Playbuzz – allows the creation of polls, quizzes etc. for social media posts.
12 tips on how to go about smarter online marketing
The first thing to remember about online marketing is that it is not a quick fix. Some actions will have a short term effect and others might take months and years. Being smarter about it means adding value to your digital journey and to that of your customers’.
- Website/SEO – your site has to be user-friendly, relevant and attend to your SEO in three elements based on the search impact i.e. tech SEO -25%, on page SEO – 25%, off page SEO – 50%.
- Post high-quality content on a blog regularly – adds value, drives traffic and creates authority
- Use social media purposely – LinkedIn groups, Facebook ads, Instagram influencers, YouTube tutorials and Twitter lists.
- Email marketing – Connect first and then sell. Use lead magnets and landing pages.
- Online Reviews – Accept them whenever you can and always answer negative posts
- Collaborate with bloggers – find the industry leaders and their blogs and collaborate
- Offer something free – a consultation, an audit, a review and upsell in due course
- Use business listing sites – google local, whatswhat.ie etc. and contribute to local forums
- Sponsorship – there are many online groups that would love to develop an awards programme
- Become an authority – use webinars, Quora, speak at conferences etc.
- Manage your email signature – link your website, blog, social media to your signature
- Use hashtags – create #smarter hashtags and use on Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram etc.
The caveat here is that none of the above tips is going to get you instant sales or perhaps not even instant traffic. The objective is to build a network of people that view you / your brand as being relevant, authentic and personable, and therefore somebody they want to do business with.
There is absolutely no point in jumping into online marketing at the deep end. It could cost your business time, money and even reputation. Understand the basic concepts of what’s required and if necessary outsource the work to professionals.
I was asked at a recent www.whatswhat.ie sponsored networking event to highlight some areas that will impact online marketing this year. In response, I suggested that online advertising will grow (especially Facebook), and off page SEO will be even more important. I stressed that search is not dead especially on mobile devices and neither is email marketing. Finally, I thought aloud that real online interactivity e.g. answering live questions will become an expected way to engage.
“Thank you for reading our blog post today – Aidan & Jim.
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