‘Impossible!’ we hear you cry. Online marketing? Made easy? In three minutes? Not a chance. Getting your head around SEO, pay-per-click, social, content marketing and all the rest, you could do a full-time college course in all of that.
And yes, that is true enough. Digital marketing is a big topic, and can get pretty complicated when you dig down into the technical detail. But as with most things, when you cut to the chase, internet marketing is built on a foundation of easy-to-understand principles. Sometimes it helps to go back to basics to simplify a complex topic and get a clearer understanding of how it all works.
So with that in mind, here’s our quick guide to understanding the nuts and bolts of online marketing to hopefully help you simplify your processes.
It’s all about web traffic
At the heart of every online marketing strategy or campaign sits your own company or brand website. If we compare digital marketing to what retailers have traditionally focused on in their promotional activities, it has always been about getting people to first of all come into the store and then buy. Likewise, online marketing is all about attracting visitors to your website and then either buying directly online, make a decision to visit your premises based on the information they find, or some other related action like finding out more information, joining a mailing list, or downloading an app as examples.
So a first rule of online marketing is - if it doesn’t help drive traffic to your site, don’t bother. You might be aiming to promote specific product or service pages, or you might want to drive brand awareness with increased traffic to your home page. It is all the same - all the activity you undertake, be it SEO or PPC, social media or email campaigns, should all be aimed at getting people to click through to your site.
Content is king
This is now a very well-worn phrase in digital marketing, but it is also completely true. Great content on your website is the key both to driving traffic and encouraging loyalty/repeat visits, in other words getting people coming back over and over again. It achieves these things in several ways:
- In marketing speak, high quality content ranks higher for SEO - which translates as, the better the search bots, like Google, rate your content, the higher your page will appear in search results, and the more likely you will be to get people clicking through.
- Regularly refreshing content, with blogs, vlogs, videos, reports, photographs, infographics and so on, gives you something to share on social media. If your content is great, your followers will also share with their friends, creating more and more opportunities for people to visit your site. For brands, that is what ‘going viral’ is all about.
- The more useful and informative visitors find your content, the more trust they will put in your brand. Positive experiences will encourage them to come back, and if they think your content is great, they will probably think whatever you are selling is, too, making them more inclined to buy.
Target customers with precision
Traditional advertising-based marketing took a rather scattergun approach - pay for adverts in media (like TV or magazines) where as many eyes as possible would see them, and rely on the weight of numbers to provide some traffic. With digital marketing, things don’t work in the same way, as there are so many channels available now to guarantee reaching the high audience numbers such an approach requires.
Instead, online marketing requires careful nurturing of your audience. The overarching principle is, know your market demographics and target them directly. If you use the wrong keywords in PPC campaigns, your ads will appear for people who are not really interested in your brand, but not for those who might be. If you don't write about the subjects and topics that your audience are looking for then your content won't show up for what they are looking for.
Likewise, if you choose the wrong influencer groups on social media to target, your content won’t be shared very far. Because there is so much diversity in media channels nowadays, you have to make the effort to get your messages in the right places, otherwise you could waste a lot of time and effort.
Use the right tools for the right job
Finally, it is important to understand that different online marketing tactics have different strengths and weaknesses. View them like a tool box, with each available to do a specific job. SEO, for example, is not going to find you new customers very quickly, but it will help to drive traffic over time. If you are looking to expand your customer base, look at PPC and other forms of online advertising.
Likewise, content and social conversations are great for building loyalty and brand awareness, but don’t expect this to lead to obvious conversions into sales. You still need a distinct strategy for optimising sales rates to do that.