So, you have started a new online business and need to start marketing it? Or maybe you have gone digital in some aspect of an existing business and want to start getting the word out online? Whatever the situation, you need online marketing but where do you start? With our step by step guide, that’s where.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is the larger category of marketing that online marketing falls within. It is summarised as marketing via any digital means so this can be any type of technology. In practice, this mostly means it is online marketing because the internet is such a core part of our lives. It incorporates things like email marketing and focuses on smartphones as people use these more than desktop computers.
Online marketing can be used to advertise both online and offline products although you will often want some area of online focus to use it – a website is a key piece of the puzzle while social media profiles are also important.
Digital and online marketing can, therefore, be used interchangeably in many cases. But there is a difference between it and offline marketing. Offline marketing is much less frequently used now – things like leaflet drops or billboards. Online marketing continues to dominate the money spent by companies and you can even get an online marketing agency to run the whole thing for you.
Types of online marketing
While all online marketing takes place online, there are different types or approaches that you need to understand in order to find the best course for your business. Here are a few of the main ones.
Content marketing is at the core of most online marketing strategies. Content comes in many forms from blog posts and articles to video content and even slide shares and infographics. The key is creating the right content that resonates with your audience, answers their questions and solves their problems. It is often at the heart of all other types of online marketing.
Social media marketing
This is the use of social media for marketing and is one of the biggest platforms available. It offers a high return on investment if you do it right and understands where your audience hangs out. Top of the list to consider are Facebook and Instagram and there are both paid and unpaid (organic) options.
It is a fact that email has been around since the 1970s and we are used to it. That also makes it a key way to market businesses, allowing direct communication with customers and relationship building. Email marketing is about attracting your customer, often with the use of an opt-in freebie or lead magnet, then nurturing them through emails.
Search engine optimisation
Known as SEO, this is the type of marketing that uses paid and unpaid methods to attract traffic from search engines, primarily Google. The aim of SEO is to have your company’s page, post or other content appear as near to the top of search results for a specific query as possible and therefore drive people to the website. It is a complex area that often requires specialist help but can have long term results.
How to start online marketing
There’s no right or wrong approach to starting online marketing. You want to try a Facebook Page or run some pay-per-click (PPC) ads on a search engine. You might get good results, or you might just waste some money. Therefore, the best way to start online marketing is with a method.
Understand your audience
The first step is one you may have done before setting up your business but is worth reconsidering – you need to understand your audience. Who are they, where do they go online, what are they searching for that your company can help with? By understanding where you can reach them, you can decide on the correct elements of your marketing framework.
Create a marketing framework
Next, you want to start creating a marketing framework. This is a look at how you will reach people, where you will market the business and what types of marketing you will use. For instance, if your audience hangs out on Pinterest, then you might want to use content marketing to create blog posts that answer their questions and then graphics that drive people from Pinterest to your website.
Have a brand story
Branding is a lot more than just colours, a logo and some fonts. It is the story of who your company is and why it exists. Storytelling is a key part of online marketing to help connect with your audience. Having this clearly articulated helps to maintain consistency in your different marketing avenues.
Start with driving traffic to your website
Even if you will be eventually focusing a lot of Facebook, the place to start is with getting traffic to your website. This is the shop front for your business online and you want to have this functioning smoothly and directly people to the right place before you start adding more marketing streams into the framework.
Have a sales process in place
Getting them on the website is one thing but what happens then? You also need a sales process in place to handle these visitors, to convert them or at least get them onto an email list to nurture them. This should be in place before any marketing begins.
Advancing your marketing strategy
These are just the very basics steps you can take to start online marketing. There are lots of avenues to explore such as paid advertising, affiliate marketing, guest blogging and more. But with a solid foundation in place, you can start to get traffic to your website.
You can also test what works. The key to successful marketing is to track and test everything you do. Don’t be afraid to make changes but only do this with data – so don’t just randomly change a campaign after a few days because it doesn’t feel right. Use free and paid tools to monitor your marketing and get the information you need to develop and adapt your framework for the future.