Download: The Tricky Business Of Online Marketing
Finding and reaching customers has always been a challenge for businesses, since time in memorial. Marketing, either online or offline, involves a wide range of disciplines which have to be properly utilised, mixed, and matched, to achieve the desired end result.
However, online marketing in particular, brings an additional dimension to the task that makes it comparatively more challenging, than its offline counterpart. The reason for this increased difficulty, in the case of online marketing, is the added requirement for the online marketer, to be savvy in the technical concepts that underlie the process, as well as to have insights into the psychological disposition of her target market audience.
The first step in embarking on an online marketing campaign is understanding how the technology works. And this begins with a well designed and developed website. Although it is not essential to get tied up in the technical complexities of how a website works, it is important to have a fair understanding on how to use it effectively for marketing purposes.
The online marketer needs to know the vital features of their website, with respect to marketing, and how to leverage them for maximum advantage. They need to be able to tweak meta-data, that are required by their marketing platforms of choice. Be it organic social media reach, or paid advertising, or organic search reach.
By leveraging the website features, and integrating them as an integral part of an online marketing campaign, remarkable results can be achieved. Marketing online can be carried out through organic search, and social media marketing campaigns or through pay per click advertising based on search.
Organic search is the most technical of the approaches, which involves search engine optimization, and requires advanced website management, and control to achieve. With this approach, the online marketer is targeting the millions of people who carry out web searches every day.
As a user of the Web, you undoubtedly are familiar with the search results on search engines, such as Google or Bing. Organic search results are displayed based on relevance, without the marketer paying for better placement of adds. These results, are not marked as ads, in the search engine results pages.
The best ranking pages appear at the top of the search result pages, and are more likely to get clicked on. This means more visitors visit the website, and purchase products as a result. Search engine optimization is usually a long process, that involves the online marketers producing content, that makes them relevant to search engines.
The time and effort invested in search engine optimization is worth it, and rewarding, since it highly targets searchers, who often have clear intent, of what they are looking for when they carry out a search.
Pay per click advertising delivers faster results, for the amount of time and effort invested in setting up a marketing campaign. Adverts can be placed with search engines such as Google or Bing, as well as social networks, with the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.
The idea behind pay per click, is to display your ads, and only bill you when your add gets clicked on. Your ads will compete with other ads in an auction system, to determine what rate you are going to pay, for having your ads displayed to your target audience.
There is a lot of flexibility on who you can target your ads to, such that they are only display to certain demographics. For instance, you may target your audience to a specific location such as a country, or a city, and on social networks such as Facebook, you may even target according to age groups, and occupation. All this targeting, results in highly refined delivery of ads.
Marketing on social media can also be carried out organically, by building social capital with users of a social network, instead of advertising directly to them, and paying for the results. This requires the building, and maintenance of social relationships in the long run.
Crafting ads that will appeal to your target audience, is an art in itself. It is crucial that you understand your market. And market research is essential, before you launch your marketing campaign.
You need to understand your market, and figure out what they want, then go about finding the best way to deliver that need. Doing this is not so easy, considering that on an online platform, your market may be in a location thousands of kilometres away, from where your business is based.
Due to the wide reach that can only be achieved through the benefits of marketing on online, your potential market may span a wide range of age groups, and run across multiple cultures as well. All these are considerations you have to take into account, and balance out, in crafting your online campaigns.
Throughout all the planning, you have to bear in mind, that your website plays a central role in launching an effective online marketing campaign, and it should be built with all these considerations in mind.
Developing an online marketing strategy, requires you to answer some vital questions. Do you have a website, and do you have expertise at your disposal, to run it effectively?
A good website is central to a good online marketing campaign, and it is equally important that you educate yourself, on how to effectively use your website, as a marketing tool or hire a web designer and developer, as well as an effective marketer, to give you a hand.
You also need to decide which marketing channels you are going to use, and set an appropriate budget. Are you going to advertise with Google, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, or you will simultaneously run your marketing campaign across multiple platforms?
Ultimately, the choice of marketing channel will depend on the results of your research, so that you use the channel which is prominently used by your target market niches.
Do you have a way of measuring results? It is important to be able to have analytical data about your online marketing campaigns, so that you can make informed decisions regarding the progress you are making, or a lack of it.
Online marketing is a tricky affair, but if done right, it should pay handsomely in the end. Do not expect that your marketing campaigns, will be very successful the first time around.
Whilst it is possible to achieve great success on your first attempt, it is more likely that your success will improve over time, as online marketing is an iterative process, where you learn from your experiences.
When you first start marketing online, you will make certain assumptions regarding your target customers. Some of these assumptions will be valid, and others will be off the mark. In most cases you will have no way of telling, whether an assumption is valid, or not, until you validate it through experience.
Your website should also evolve to adjust, and adapt, with the lessons learned from your experiences. As tricky as online marketing is, it is bound to get better with time, and if you are persistent, you are likely to reap the rewards of accumulating a greater customer base, and eventual success for your business.
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