Inbound (online) marketing
Over 3,000,000,000 people use the Internet every day. Approximately 40% of the world population has an Internet connection and 78% of Internet users search for product information online.
It doesn’t matter if you are a first-time marketer, small business owner or savvy entrepreneur, these are facts you must keep in mind when deciding whether you need online marketing.
What is online marketing?
Online or inbound marketing is a strategy that includes a variety of powerful tools and solutions used for promoting products and services to build a company’s reputation and brand exposure online. Online marketing requires knowledge of social media, search engine optimization, display advertising and more. With many online marketing tools and techniques to choose from, online marketing is not easy. But if your plan is developed strategically and executed correctly, it can help you grow your business and turn strangers into loyal customers.
Online marketing is also called Internet marketing, online advertising, online marketing, digital marketing, web advertising or e-marketing.
Where to start?
Online marketing is growing rapidly, evolving at the speed of light and is continually changing. Primarily, a strong foundation is necessary to keep up and stay ahead in this aggressive industry.
Customers are the most important part of starting, running and growing your business. Build your online marketing strategy around them. To do that with success, you need to know and understand them. Who are your customers? What are your individual client segments? What are their likes and dislikes, tastes and interests? What products are they currently using? What message, voice and source does each segment respond to? Achieving success with your online marketing initiatives requires a deep understanding of each of your buying markets. Understanding your customers’ needs is critical to the success of any campaign.
In order to create a successful online marketing strategy it is crucial to identify your business needs and goals, as well. Your business goals may include increasing awareness of your products and services, selling more products from a certain supplier, reaching a new customer segment, etc. The key to successful online marketing is your ability to define the goals of each campaign and choose the best possible channels for achieving those goals.
There are several online marketing channels:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – SEO is used to improve search engine rankings. Organic results are free in the sense that companies do not pay a fee to search engines for the page rankings they receive as a result of search engine optimization efforts. Organic search engine optimization is a comprehensive strategy designed to improve the visibility of your website so that search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, can easily find it. When search engines are able to find your website, they crawl it and then index it according to the quality and relevancy of its content, quality of optimization and keywords. This allows your website to be found when a visitor’s search query matches your keywords and content. Your site must score well against the many, many search engine page ranking factors required to achieve high-level page ranking results. Hiring a qualified SEO specialist who has a history of achieving high-page-ranking results is very important to your success.
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – SEM usually includes SEO. It is used for improving the visibility of your website in search engine results pages (SERPs) through primarily paid advertising and listings (paid placement, paid inclusion, shopping search, video search ads, local search ads, product listing ads) but also through on-page and off-site optimization.
- Social Media Marketing (SMM) – SMM is a form of online marketing that uses various social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to connect with customers in order to gain more website traffic and increase online exposure. It is a more targeted type of advertising. Social Media Marketing activities usually include social sharing of content, videos and images for marketing purposes. Some of the benefits are increased brand recognition, improved brand loyalty, increased traffic, enhanced SEO rankings, and more.
- Email Marketing – It is, as the name suggests, the use of email in marketing communications. It can be very effective if done correctly. It is also a practical and low-cost marketing tool. There are three types of email marketing:
- Direct email (promotional message in the form of an email),
- Retention email (usually in a form of newsletter. Retention email is used to encourage the recipient to take action – sign up, buy, etc.)
- Advertising in other people’s emails (You pay for your advertisement to be in another company’s newsletter)
- Video Marketing – Video marketing uses video to promote or market your brand, product or service. Video marketing is so effective because video builds trust and credibility more effectively, it is more persuasive than other types of content, it helps convey complex information more clearly and it is more likely to go viral.
- Display Advertising – Online display marketing is used to market your products and services. It comes in various forms such as banner ads and rich media. It involves text, images, flash, video, and audio.
- Affiliate Marketing – Affiliate marketing includes working with other individuals or companies who will market your products or services for a commission.Alternatively, your company may publish content or promote another brand, service or product for a fee.
- Inbound Marketing – Inbound marketing leverages your content creation to increase brand awareness. The goal is to reach potential clients and create loyal fans before they are even ready to buy your product or service. Inbound marketing is a permission-based marketing strategy and it naturally attracts traffic to website through quality and compelling content.
By building a solid online marketing foundation and choosing the best combination of online marketing channels you can create a successful strategy that works for your business. The advantages of good online marketing strategy are vast:
- Lead and new customer growth
- Smaller marketing budget than traditional marketing strategies
- Better control
- Flexibility and convenience
- Very specific demographic targeting
- Instant analytics
- Increased competitive advantage
- Improved customer service
How to keep up?
Online marketing is a continually evolving industry. Online marketing experts must keep their finger on the pulse of change and trends if their strategies and plans are to be successful. Today’s best practices may not work next week. There are many channels and many choices. If you are developing and executing your own online marketing strategy, we recommend
- Understand the unique way each client segment “hears” and finds your message
- Know what they want
- Know where to find them
- Begin focusing on one channel at a time
Insights about future online marketing trends:
- Your content must be highly relevant and high quality
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain potential and regular fans and customers. In 2015 content marketing was a necessity for every company – regardless of size or industry. Quality content can help you be perceived as a trusted expert in your industry, which is important in this world of mass production and misconceptions.
- Mobile friendly websites
The impact that mobile devices is having on every industry has dictated and dominated how search engines respond your website and how well you’ll do in SERPs. Significantly more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computer. In mobile searches, mobile-friendly sites are ranked higher in the Search Engine Page Ranking Results (SERPs) than non-friendly sites. If your website is mobile friendly it will be shown above non-mobile friendly web sites when users search via mobile device. Having a highly mobile friendly website is critical to your success.
- Video is becoming a necessity, not a luxury
Video is the best way to tell an interesting story about your brand, product or service in less than 90 seconds, sometimes even fewer. In the past people would simply go to YouTube for video content search, but soon they will be dominating traditional search. Up to 76% of marketers intend to incorporate video onto their websites. This number will grow quickly as Google recently announced they would start incorporating video ads into search results in 2016.