Okay, so we know from my previous blog post that online marketing is simply marketing on the Internet but how does that help us?
All businesses need to have a Marketing Plan. Whether that plan be a clearly defined structured strategy or a loosely rough idea, all business owners need to know what they are going to do to promote their products and services in order to reach their target audience. In order to make an informed decision, we first need to consider which online marketing options are available to us.
Promoting a business online can take many forms. Let’s take a look at some of the key components of online marketing below.
Your Business Website
Your business website should be the hub of all your online activity. This is the one part of the Internet that you can completely own, and therefore, have full control over. Your website should be your first port of call when it comes to your online presence. You should take every opportunity to direct your target audience back to your website from all other forms of online marketing.
Your Business Blog
As with your website, you have full control over your blog (as long as your business blog is housed on your website). This is your space to voice your thoughts, opinions and concerns about your industry and is your way of communicating valuable information to your target audience. Take a look at my Business Blogging Basics Series for further advice and information in this area.
Using Social Media
Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube … There are many social media platforms available and the majority of which are free to use. You don’t need to be using all of them, you just need to ensure that the ones you do use are the ones most appropriate to your business and your target audience. Social media is a great method of almost instant communication and a fantastic way to keep in touch with customers.
There are many of these on the Internet – from a free listing on Google Maps to a paid for listing on Yell (the online equivalent of the traditional Yellow Pages). Choosing the appropriate ones for your business needs a little research as not all of the directory listings available will be suitable for your business. Directory listings provide a valuable way of directing traffic back to your website by promoting your website’s URL.
These are numerous and can be industry / subject specific and often take the form of a members-only forum and website. Online communities enable you to provide valuable advice in an area in which you are experienced. This allows for you to become an entrusted part of the community where you are able to impart knowledgeable advice and guidance to those members that are specifically looking for it.
Paid for Advertising
There are various forms of paid for advertising online. The most well-known is likely to be Google Adwords – these sit alongside the organic search engine results. Paid for advertising works by you allocating a set budget for your identified keywords. Once a potential customer searches for the specified keyword your advertisement will appear. When the advertisement is clicked on by the potential customer, you pay for the click (Pay Per Click or PPC) and a preset amount is deducted from your allocated budget. This type of advertising can be very effective depending on your industry and the competition levels involved.
The main decision that needs to be made when deciding which options to choose for your Online Marketing Plan is to decide which methods are right for your business. To help with this ask yourself the following questions:
- Where are my customers when they’re online?
- Where do they hangout?
- How will they find my business?
These may seem like difficult questions to answer but they needn’t be. In just involves a little role-playing in order to adopt a different persona. Pretend that you are your ideal customer and put yourself in their shoes. If your business is customer-focused you should already have a good idea of who your ideal customer is and so with a little thought these questions shouldn’t be too difficult to answer.
Once you have an idea of the online habits of your target audience, you can start tailoring your Online Marketing plan around this information in order to make your marketing methods more effective.