So, you want to really step it up a notch and take your online marketing efforts to the next level but you’re not really sure what you need to do. Not to fear, I’m here to help get you pointed in the right direction so you can optimize your efforts and get the most return on your time and investment when it comes to online marketing.
First things first…the online marketing landscape has come a long, long way over the past few years so what was needed to succeed in the past isn’t necessarily the right path to take now. As the search landscape evolves, your online strategy needs to follow suit.
What Has Changed About the Landscape?
- Consumers are more tech savvy than they use to be.
- They use different shopping and search patterns than they did a couple of years ago and the landscape continues to evolve rapidly.
- The online world is cluttered and it’s sometimes hard to find what you are looking for.
So, how can you make sure you are doing everything in your power to succeed online? Let’s take a quick look.
The first step is to create a strategic plan around your goals. Ideally this plan of attack will include multiple online marketing channels that speak to your audience. But wait, your not going to just pick marketing channels out of a hat. You need to think strategically. Remember….You are creating a strategy!
You are going to pick the best channels that make sense for YOUR business and audience. In order to decide on what online channels you should be using, you need some information.
Why It’s Important to Utilize Multiple Online Marketing Channels
In the past, when a person searched for a product or service online, they would head over to Google, type in a search term, click the button and they would be given a search results page that displayed a variety of sites based on their search criteria and relevancy. From there, the user would browse through the results and click on one of the results that was most related to their search or what they were looking for.
The shopper or searcher would then head to the site where they could browse around and find more information about the product or service they were looking for. Last but not least, they could make a decision to purchase or leave the site and continue shopping elsewhere. If they decided to not buy at that time, they might come back to the site later, they might not. That was pretty much how the search process worked just a few years ago. Times have surely changed!
Today, the online shopping and search process is much, much different.
Users still do that initial search on Google and check out what the sites have to offer but this is not where the shopping cycle stops. Once a consumer finds what they are looking for or finds something that “might” be the right product or service, they now head to social sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Yelp to see just what people are saying about the product or service they are interested in. If the general consensus is good, the person is much more likely to take action and buy. If the consensus is bad, the person is likely to keep searching until they find a good match. People trust people and what better way to learn about a product or service than to read unbiased reviews via social sites?
With this different way of shopping and searching online, it’s ever so important for companies to utilize multiple online marketing channels to generate leads, create awareness, engage with their audience and target them to a high level in order optimize conversions.
On top of this, the search landscape (Google) even looks different than it use to. With more options to choose from comes clutter on a search results page which can distract you from doing what went there for in the first place.
In this example, I did a search for best coffee maker and above is what was returned on the search results page. There is a lot going on there. From just this quick search, we can see that three online marketing channels are being shown. Google organic results, Google pay per click results and Google Shopping feed results (which is being phased into a paid model soon). So, just with this search example it’s pretty clear that utilizing multiple online channels is extremely important if you want to hit all angles of the way a user searches.
What Online Marketing Channels Should I Be Using?
This is a tough question to answer because each and every business has different goals, models and audiences. What works for one business might not work at all for another business. It comes down to choosing the online channels that will get you in front of your audience. Here you can be heard and therefore your message has the greatest chance impact your revenue and success.
To list out and go into detail about all of the online marketing channels is above and beyond this blog post but getting a high level idea of what you should be doing is essential so you can start planning out the logic behind your strategy.
Ideally you need these channels to create a full lifecycle approach to online marketing. There are several channels that fall under each of these sections below and we will break these down in a future blog posts but this should give you a high level idea of some common channels that can be customized to fit your business.
- Lead generation
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Pay per click marketing (PPC)
- Social media ad buying (Facebook Ads)
- Email marketing
- Affiliate marketing
- Engagement and interaction
- Social media
- Reputation management
- Content marketing
- Email nurture campaigns
- Retargeting & Re-marketing
- Conversion strategy
- Landing page optimization
- Analytics & Reporting
Okay, I’m Ready to Get To Work – How Do I Get Started?
At this point, you’re probably saying, alright, let’s cut to the chase and get to work! It’s time to roll up the sleeves and get our hands dirty. Not just yet. So, where exactly should you start?
The best answer is: before diving in head first, get back to your core business for a minute. Lay the groundwork correctly before taking the plunge. You have to first ask yourself a few questions before you can dive in and get working on your online marketing strategy and tactics.
- What are our business goals, both short term and long term?
- Who is our target audience? Do we know everything we need to know about them?
- Where does our audience “hang out” online?
- What resources do we currently have that we can utilize?
These are just a few questions to get you started. Once you find the answers to them, you can then start to think about your online marketing strategy and how you want to lay everything out.
This should give you a good starting point as to how to plan your online marketing strategy. It takes time to develop a good strategy and to do it the right way. Take the time to really think about your audience and how you can best reach them and your underlying business goals.
How do you currently create your online marketing strategy? We’d love to hear your thoughts.