The world’s changed. Change with it. Your prospective customers go online to search for your products and services. Make sure that they find you. Here’s how!
There was a time when the only major way to reach your audience is via TV, radio, print, yellow pages and outdoor advertising. Those “simple” days, alas, are gone.
Now, consumers spend a lot of their time online via their desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets and more. Many of them can hardly be reached anymore by “traditional” or old media. Today, online media (which includes the internet and mobile) is becoming an essential part of your customers’ lives, and online will continue to dominate other kinds of media in the near future. That is why today, the most effective means to win customers is by online marketing.
Marketing or promoting your business through online media presents a lot of opportunities and challenges not found in traditional media. For one thing, online media is more interactive. Online marketing requires that you are engaged with your customers. The new audience of online media is not used to being forced-fed with content; rather, they look for content that they choose to look at.
Promoting your business online or online marketing is done primarily through your website. Your website is where you capture your audience’s attention via its content and design. It is the hub for everything that you do online to promote your business. Through your website, you can make pitches for your products or services, make them buy or perform action that will result to revenues for your business. But people do not find your site by accident. You have to drive people to it through a number of online marketing techniques listed below:
- Search Engine Optimization – When your customers look for info or solutions to their problems, the first site they go to is Google or the other search engines. If your site is ranking high in Google, you will have a lot of prospective customers going to your site. Your customers also interpret high ranking as an endorsement – that yours is the best site for the product or services they are looking for. Your site is bound to rank high if it is search engine optimized.Search engine optimization or SEO is the process of presenting your website to the search engines so they would rank your site as high as possible for searches relevant to your business. Search engines, particularly Google, are sources of a huge amount of web traffic. More importantly, the traffic you get from the search engines is free. For many businesses, search engine optimization or SEO is the most important component in marketing their business online.
Click here for Search Engine Optimization basics.
- Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising – You can also make your ads visible in the search engines by paying for them. You bid for a keyword or a set of keyword search results where you want your ad to appear. You pay Google and the search engines every time you get a click from your ad going to your website or any landing page. Your ad can have text or graphics format. You may also choose to have your ad appear not only on search engine results, but also websites that are relevant or related to yours. The ads in these websites are fed by Google, and these sites are called their ad networks. Displaying your ads on these networks typically results in cheaper pay per click.
Click here for Pay Per Click Advertising basics.
- Social Media Marketing – The primary purpose of social media marketing is to establish connection and contact with your market or customers. Because of this, social media marketing helps enormously in winning your customer’s loyalty and trust. The most popular social networks where millions of people participate are Facebook and Twitter. By liking your Facebook Page, your audience gets messages, updates, photos and videos that you post about your products or services. They can interact with you via comments, as well as with other people who are also interested in your product. With Twitter, you can send updates to your followers to inform them about what is going on with your brand and other related topics. You can also advertise on these social media’s pay per click advertising.
Click here for Social Media Marketing basics
- Mobile Marketing – This involves all marketing activities that are targeted to the increasingly growing number of owners of cell phones or smart phones. Many of the desktop online marketing practices applies to mobile marketing, such as search engine optimization and pay per click for web-enabled phones since the principle of driving your prospective customers to your online site still applies. Many techniques though are exclusive to mobile marketing, such as location-based marketing (Foursquare and Gowalla) and apps marketing.
Click here for Mobile Marketing basics.
- Display Advertising – These appear on websites in the form which is as simple as a banner or more sophisticated and eye-catching such as a floating ad (which floats above the content) or expanding ad (changes in size when your cursor hover over the ad). It can pop-up or pop-under. You can build brand awareness through these ads, but they are less capable of delivering clicks to your site, unless you offer enticements to click.
- Email Marketing – This is a direct form of marketing, sending your marketing message to targeted customers or would-be customers. The important thing here is that your email recipient should have given you permission to contact them via email; otherwise you will turn off your audience, or at worst, could lead you to legal troubles.
- Blog Marketing – Blog is short for web log. It is written by an individual or a group and contains commentaries or other forms of personal expression. In marketing, it is a form of content regularly produced on your web or blog site. Its purpose is to be a channel of communication between you and your customers or would-be customers. This is because a typical blog allows comments on the blog’s content, and you can respond to the comments.
- Video Marketing – You can promote your product and services online effectively on video via YouTube, another extremely popular website. In fact, after Google, YouTube is the site where people do the most number of searches. The key here is to drive people to your video. You can do this by making your video page rank highly in YouTube’s search, or otherwise make your videos get spread widely and quickly via social network sharing (also known as video “going viral”). You can make your YouTube channel win a huge number of viewers by producing a series of entertaining videos that people want to follow. There are many other video sharing sites online, but nothing comes close to YouTube’s popularity.
- Podcast Marketing – This is similar to producing a radio broadcast, only it is delivered through the web. People can either listen to your podcast in the computer or download it through their portable music player and listen to it on the go. You can promote your product or services through informative content that people like to listen to.
- Affiliate Marketing – You can have your product promoted by other people who own and publish websites. In turn, the website owners are rewarded with a percentage of the revenue for every sale that they produce. These website owners are called affiliates. The affiliates basically pre-sell your product and drive customers to your site. Aside from paying per sales, you can also pay your affiliates per lead or per customer action that you specify like signing up to a newsletter, etc.
Most businesses do not rely on one promotional activity, and you have to do careful planning to create an effective mix. The online marketing strategy you choose depends on the nature of your business, budget, and resources. Also remember that the effort of getting your audience to your website is one thing, but making them buyers or customers is another.