Effective Online Marketing Guide for Business Owners
Updated: Jun 24, 2021
It is safe to say the world has gone digital. Really, it has. The dependence on the internet in this generation is rapidly increasing and there are no indications that this will dwindle any time soon. It makes sense, if you think about it. Why would anyone want to spend hours perusing different stores from various locations for a product they can get quickly get information on by searching online? It seems absurd to do that when the item can even be purchased and delivered to their door. This automatically gives online businesses an edge in their industry. Business owners should therefore learn how to market their businesses online, and do so effectively.
What is Online Marketing?
Online marketing is any tool, strategy, plan, or method that is used in getting your company's name out to the public using the internet. So, basically, using the internet to advertise your company. Anything you do on the internet to market your business to customers falls under the massive umbrella of online marketing. From blogs to websites and social media to emails, the internet is a vast avenue that you can definitely tap into.
Small businesses are covered in online marketing, as there are several ideas that are suited to them. Oftentimes they don’t have the resources that large corporations have at their disposal. small businesses can make use of how accessible the internet is and use the variety of tactics available to expand their online presence. Some of them are publishing excellent content, creating instructional videos, proper usage of social media, getting ad promo credits, using infographics, participating in online contests, and registering for online awards, and so on.
Is Online Marketing Really Worth it?
This question is one that has been lingered on for years, and that’s very surprising considering how straightforward the answer is. Yes, online marketing is worth it. It is quite astonishing how many businesses don’t seem to grasp this.
“It’s too risky…”
“That’s too time-consuming!”
“I don’t want to waste money!”
“It’s too technical for me to handle.”
“My business is thriving. Why do I need to do this?”
Do any of these statements sound like something you would say? One thing that is common in all these assertions is they are excuses business owners make to avoid entering the world of online marketing. What you need to recognize is that the world is changing, and at a fast rate too. Providing services online has become so pervasive that this is now the norm. It is quite fascinating to see what the global market will look like in a few years. Based on current trends, probably one that is dominated solely by online marketing.
Online marketing is, admittedly, not the easiest thing to do, neither is it the cheapest. When you consider the larger picture, it is worth it though. Many people often end up disappointed after delving into online marketing because unbeknownst to them, they are doing it all wrong. For online marketing to be effective, business owners need sufficient knowledge on specific marketing tips, precepts, techniques, rules, strategies, plans, and methods. the right recipe will yield excellent results. We have compiled a guide to help you maximize the benefits of online marketing.
Before we get down to business, here's a convenient online marketing template you can download. Simply choose the format that works for you:
1. Research Your Target Audience or Niche
This is one of the very first things to do before even considering delving into the world of online marketing. Ask yourself the following questions:
Who is my target audience?
What am I offering consumers?
Where are potential consumers located?
How will I meet the needs of all my consumers?
Why are my goods/services important to consumers?
What will I do differently compared to the competition?
Finding the right answers to these questions is critical to the overall success of your online marketing strategy. Many businesses fail because they are marketing to the wrong people. Sufficient research is needed on the people you are going to market to, as it helps in the development of strategies that will ultimately help you run a successful online marketing campaign.
One way to go about this is to check the competition in your field. Look at the people they are marketing their goods to and how they are doing it too. This will give you a general idea of how to handle your target audience. You shouldn’t stop at this, though. Studying social media posts, customer interactions, and interacting with other established people in your field is also crucial. Pay special attention to demographics. Advertising baby products, for example, on a blog or space dominated by the elderly is redundant. you won’t reach the bulk of your target audience.
Know that meticulously studying your target audience is the foundation upon which you will start online marketing, as the only reason you are marketing online in the first place is to increase the reach of your company and reel in more customers. Marketing to the wrong people or in the wrong way will set you up for disappointment. You’ll end up paying the price financially when your efforts prove futile.
2. Outline Your Current Challenges
This stage is very frequently overlooked, which is shocking considering how vital it is to a successful online marketing campaign. Outlining your current challenges will help you get a clear idea of what you need to focus on, and how you need to tackle them.
What are the problems you are facing? Compile a list with every single one of them. This will enable you to devise the right set of strategies to resolve them. Don’t leave any stone unturned, as ignoring challenges can be counter-productive down the line. A thorough analysis of this very important step will determine how well you execute the subsequent phase of the online marketing process.
3. Define Goals With Realistic Deadlines
Before any business venture is launched, the owner has to outline all the goals beforehand. Not only does this provide the parameters by which business will be judged, but it also helps to maintain the focus of the owner. With that said, goals are pertinent in every aspect of the business process.
Many business owners excel when it comes to setting goals, yet they find themselves disappointed after the deadline has elapsed. This is simply because they are setting their goals with unrealistic time frames in mind. With all businesses, owners need to be realistic, but even more so with online businesses. Online marketing can be frustrating as it may take several weeks or even months before you make significant strides, especially if you've invested in an official website.
There are several reasons why you may experience that lag in progress. One main major factor is SERP rankings. This translates to Search Engine Results Page rankings, and refers to the way the search engine displays results when a user performs a search. Search engines are committed to providing their users with the best possible results. Therefore, if there are several hundreds of results for a search, the search engine ranks them in order of how relevant they may be to users.
How does this affect you? Simple. When you get started, even with good content and proper optimization, you won’t automatically get to the top of the list in terms of rankings. There may be several more established businesses that are ahead of you. It will take time before you get to the top of the ranking, which is why setting an unrealistic deadline is a road map to failure where online marketing is concerned. Be reasonable with your goals, be realistic with your deadlines, and more importantly, be patient.
4. Devise a Feasible Plan
In the spirit of being realistic, the plan you devise should also be feasible. But before we go into that, we need to establish the fact that you have to come up with a marketing plan. This is going to be your blueprint - how you want everything to be handled. Appropriate planning is critical to a successful campaign. Deriving a plan for online marketing is not exactly the easiest of tasks to do. It can prove arduous for business owners with little or no experience at all in that field.
Now, let's delve into feasibility some more. The marketing plan you create should be one that is executable. Don’t come up with something that cannot be achieved or one that will yield very little results. Adjust your budget to reflect the ideas you plan to proceed with. Every step you’ve taken thus far serves as a mould for what’s to come. No online marketing plan is solid without proper research, a doable strategy and the right pace to get things moving.
5. Choose the Right Digital Marketing Strategy
This is arguably one of the most critical stages in online marketing. There are tons of different digital marketing strategies today, making it impossible to implement every single one you see. Then again, you wouldn't want to take that route either for it is better to be a “Jack of one, than a Jack of none...”
The good news is that based on certain factors pertaining to your business, you will be in a position to eliminate the options that are irrelevant. You certainly won’t have to apply every single digital marketing strategy; you just need to implement the right ones. For example, a brand new company may not have the budget for a website with it’s own registered domain. In this case, using a free website builder such as Wix can definitely work, along with ads on social media. Your choices will make or break you at this point. You must be wondering how you'll know which one to choose. Well, it all depends on what your end game is and the resources you have at your disposal. Don’t fret though, we’ve got you covered:
Up-to-date Website Design & Structure: One of the few certainties in life is that technology is always evolving. What used to rule just a few months ago may flop today. You should ensure your website is not lagging in terms of design, responsiveness, structure, and content. Website visitors hate unnecessary, annoying pop ups as they have a great impact on users’ experience. You need to know that your website is like your online business card, and as such, it has to be of the best possible quality. You don’t have to update every few days, but the moment you discover it is lagging, you need to act.
Email Marketing: Email marketing seems like a whole new world on its own. If you can find a way to tap into it, success will undoubtedly follow. You should start by capturing customer emails. One way of achieving this is by using a landing page. Offer current and prospective customers a complimentary item via a landing page that prompts them to enter their information. This would then add them to a contact list that can translate to subscribers for a weekly newsletter. Once this is achieved, follow through by staying in touch with them and updating them on any exciting changes in your business. Feel free to use a service such as Mail Chimp to monitor statistics such as the number of contacts that open your newsletters and which products or services pique their interest based on the hyperlinks they click on in the emails. Mail Chimp doesn’t have a steep learning curve and is a great place to start, especially if you’re not in a position to employ the services of professionals from marketing firms to help out.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This is a term you are going to hear a lot in online marketing, and rightfully so. Do you remember the SERP rankings we talked about? Well, one of the primary ways of increasing your ranking is by SEO. SEO is a vast concept to grasp. It includes keeping website metadata up-to-date, keyword optimization, image tags optimization and updating website content. If you want a high SERP ranking, you need to churn out brilliant content and utilize SEO consistently. These tactics can be implemented, and with the right approach you can successfully do this on your own. There are companies dedicated to this type of service as well. The latter is usually better because of a guaranteed high level of quality by professionals.
Social Media Marketing (SMM): It is impossible to mention the internet without mentioning social media. In case you were wondering how big a deal it is to have a significant social media presence, well, let’s just say quite a number of people make decisions regarding purchases based on a review or post they see on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The internet revolves around social media, and you should take advantage of this. With the right content, you can drive traffic on your website and also reach more people. Social media advertising, typically involving paid ads and sponsored posts, is important to the success of your online venture. As with other strategies, you have the option to employ a professional to handle it for you if your hands are full.
Promotions & Giveaways: Everyone loves giveaways! There isn’t too much to write on this because who doesn’t like freebies such as discount codes and samples of new products? Giveaways are a way of attracting more customers to your company, and also show those who are already on board that you appreciate their support. Try not to overdo it though.
6. Assess Engagement Metrics
One of the most typical ways of judging the success of an online marketing campaign is by measuring engagement metrics. These are basically statistics that help you monitor the number of new followers, daily website or page visitors, overall post reach, and how many people share, or even comment on your content. Engagement metrics offer an idea as to how users perceive your posts. If your engagements are high, it means many people visit and spend time on your website or social media pages, which in turn increases your chances of selling products.
There are many different types of metrics, each with its own set of pros and cons. Some are exclusive to certain platforms as well. Knowing the metrics is one thing; learning how to assess them is a whole different ball game.
7. Review and Revamp
You need to know what works and what doesn’t. It’s as simple as that. If a strategy is not working, stop, review, and make the necessary adjustments. You don’t have to bench the strategy entirely, as you may just be doing something wrong. Even so, revision is very important to the success of your online marketing endeavors. There’s no point in flogging a dead horse. Nothing will change.
Reviewing the strategies outlined in your online marketing plan is something that should be done from time to time and not just once in a blue moon. If there are still no improvements, then it may be time to bench it completely. don’t be afraid to go back to where it all started, if necessary. After all, online marketing is a continuous cycle that all business owners must embrace. Retrace your steps repeatedly until you attain your aspirations.
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