Advantages of Online Marketing
So you feel like a dinosaur, and you’re not sure whether you’re proud of yourself or embarrassed. You feel proud because, as a small-business owner, you’ve stuck with the traditional marketing tactics that have always “worked” for your business. Rarely, have they let you down. On the other hand, marketers and other small-business owners can make you feel as though your methods are as prehistoric as a T-Rex and that you should join the legions of business professionals who have embraced online marketing.
There’s nothing wrong with friendly peer pressure, so if you’ve been curious about what you’re missing, read about the advantages of online marketing in a no-pressure zone of your choice. So that you don’t feel overwhelmed by all the forms of online marketing, limit your focus to the five most effective online marketing methods. They could make you howl – in approval or in derision.
Consider the General Advantages of Online Marketing
Some people refer to online marketing as internet marketing, simply because you need the internet to go online. Whatever you wish to call this type of marketing, online marketing is:
- “The process of promoting a business or brand and its products or services over the internet using tools that help drive traffic, leads and sales,” Search Engine Journal states.
No matter what you’ve heard the advantages of the internet for online marketing, no one single tactic should stand alone. One tactic may be powerful, but it’s not almighty:
- “Internet marketing and online advertising efforts are typically used in conjunction with traditional types of advertising such as radio, television, newspapers and magazines,” Webopedia states.
The five methods presented here – email marketing, inbound marketing, pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization and social media – are as different as television and radio. But generally, online marketing could deliver tangible benefits to your small business, assuming that the tactics are executed creatively and carefully. You could enjoy:
- A growth in revenue. Reduced marketing expenses. Enhanced control over your marketing messages. Better customer service. A competitive advantage in the marketplace.* Elegant, classy – you can pick the adjective communications that set your company apart.
Consider Email Marketing
Don’t think in terms of a single email you may send to a prospective client but think about email campaigns that drive traffic to your website via a link within the email itself. And yes, every small-business owner should have a website. It takes commitment, but many small-business owners also send monthly newsletters to inform and educate their clients about news and updates on their products and services. In this way, you can build a powerful subscriber list and entice active subscribers to invite others to join the fun.
Key advantages include:
- A comparably simple method to implement. Believe it: One-page newsletter templates can make the task a snap. The ability to remain “front and center” with existing clients. The ability to target a campaign to only certain people.
- A high return on your investment.
- One billion people use Gmail.
- Active email accounts are expected to reach 5.6 billion by 2019.* 75 percent of companies agree that email offers “excellent” to “good” ROI.
Consider Inbound Marketing
Your marketing may go in one direction: out – outbound – as in out the door with mailers, postcards, coupons, brochures and catalogs. Inbound marketing reverses this direction by bringing new customers in, with content as the lure. In fact, content anchors an inbound marketing strategy, and can include tactics such as the following:
- Blog posts and articles. White papers. Case studies.
- The advent of e-books.
Key advantages include:
- Brings customers who are already interested in you directly to your website.
- Provides upfront value by giving potential customers content for free. Converts leads to customers. Encourages customers to share content with others, thereby spreading the word about a business without any extra effort on the part of the small-business owner.
- Enhances a company’s brand and reputation.
- Companies that published 16 or more blog posts a month got about 4.5 times leads than companies that published from zero to four posts a month.
- Content marketing gets three times the number of leads leads than paid search advertising.
- 47 percent of buyers view between three and five pieces of content, before speaking with a sales representative.
Consider Pay-per-Click Marketing
Pay-per-click, PPC, marketing is also known as paid-search marketing. As its name implies, advertisers pay a fee for web users to click on their ad to send these web users to the clients’ websites. The ads can take the form of display ads, shopping ads and video ads, but the consumer should know that he is clicking on an advertisement.
A small-business owner should be able to master the art and science of PPC marketing with time and practice, but this should be regarded as an eventuality. Initially, an experienced marketing professional should be consulted, because guiding the process to a profitable conclusion requires skill and precision. As Social SEO explains so well:
- “Most of PPC marketing is conducted via Google AdWords, which makes up about 85 percent of search traffic comes through Google. AdWords is basically a giant, worldwide auction. When you start a paid search campaign, the first thing you do is determine a list of keywords that you believe are relevant to your business that people are likely to be searching for on the internet. Then you bid on those keywords and hope that your ad wins the auction, i.e. , it shows up at the top of the search results page.”
- One of the quickest ways to generate web traffic. The ability to target ads by type of customer or location with speed and accuracy. If you want, you can even target people who are are searching on their smartphones. Results are relatively simple to measure.* PPC campaigns can be changed and updated quickly.
- Nearly 65 percent of people click on Google ads when they are looking to buy an item online.
- The average conversion rate in AdWords across all industries is 2.7 percent on the search network and 0.89 percent on the display network.
- The average cost-per-click in AdWords across all industries is $2.32 on the search network and 58 cents on the display network.
Consider Search Engine Optimization
As you probably know, you have to do more than create a stunning website; you have to regularly optimize it, too. Search engine optimization includes all the techniques that improve a business’ visibility and rankings in search engine result pages, also known as SERPs. The higher a business appears in the rankings, the more website traffic, and hopefully revenue, it’s able to attract. Most people, after all, rarely scroll beyond the second page of a search.
Smart SEO techniques can, and do, fill books, which is why it’s equally smart for a small-business owner to place this important function in the hands of an SEO expert. In time, you may feel comfortable using SEO tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Moz and Bing Webmaster Tools. An SEO expert will ensure that your website is organized and designed so that it is “rewarded” with higher rankings. And he will review all your website content carefully so that one keyword per page is used in blogs, headlines and subheads. When Bill Gates declared in 1996 that “content is king,” little did he know that inbound marketing would wear the crown.
- It’s flexible and capable of customization, especially when you create a tight union between inbound marketing and SEO. It’s relatively precise, even though some of the metrics behind search engine rankings will probably always be a mystery. You can track your rankings and scrutinize your audience.
- 72 percent of consumers who do local searches visit a store within five miles. Local searches spur half of mobile users to visit stores within one day. More than half of smartphone users discover a new company or product while conducting a search on their smartphone.
Consider Social Media Marketing
The advantages of online marketing may be tugging at your instincts, but it’s possible that social media marketing may be giving you the greatest pause. It is the youngest form of online marketing and the one favored by the younger, hipper generation.
It may help to know that many small businesses have done more than build their brand and reputation on social media; they have successfully – and sometimes exclusively – relied on it to launch a business. While there are literally hundreds of social media platforms, the most popular ones are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter. If it’s any consolation, it may not be wise for you to create a presence on all these platforms. Like any form of marketing, it’s best to align your business with the ones your customers gravitate to – i.e., target your messages carefully.
- It’s free to create and post messages. It’s conducive to multiple strategies, including engaging and attracting attention, promoting, selling and developing customer loyalty. It’s capable of reaching a large and diverse audience. It encourages sharing, which can further extend the reach of a small business. It gives you the ability to respond quickly to customers and potential customers.
- 79 percent of all people online use Facebook. 76 percent of people rely on Facebook to find interesting content. The consumption of content on Facebook has increased by 57 percent in the last two years – statistics that should make any dinosaur stand up and take notice.