What is Online Marketing?
Online Marketing refers to techniques and services (free and paid) implemented to improve your business’s reach via the internet. The goal through advertising and promotion of your product or services is to boost revenue or brand awareness.
Online Marketing is like going to the gym to work out. There are so many options and tools available to get the job done.
I’m using this as an analogy because its low hanging fruit. The new year is upon us and everyone has made a resolution or two about getting into the gym and working out. I’ve spoken to quite a few business owners that have made a similar resolution regarding their business’s marketing.
It is very easy to be overwhelmed at the prospect of working out and getting in shape. So daunting is the task that when you finally arrive to the gym you just stare at the machines, and you end up getting on the stair master for a few minutes and doing some bicep curls (hopefully not in the squat rack).
You ask someone who seems to know what they’re doing. You only think they know what they’re doing because they’re covered in sweat, and drinking a protein powder/water concoction from a shaker bottle.
They tell you about “supersets” and “drop sets”. They tell you that you should be “carb cycling” and doing “HIIT Training”. By the time this “seminar” is over and you’ve finished taking notes, you’re utterly exhausted.
Is this what it means to get in shape and work out on the regular?
You’ve decided that you are going to REALLY market in 2016. You’ve seen the stories where people have increased their “revenues by 1000%” by instituting a PPC (Pay Per Click Campaign) and an SEM/SEO campaign. You want a piece of that. No, you NEED a piece of that.
You decide to look to Google for help. You type in “online marketing” and you’re immediately hit with a multitude of agencies and businesses that want to help you out.
You switch your search to “online marketing tools”. This isn’t much better. You see results for “competitive analysis”, “back linking services”, and “alternatives to traditional online marketing”. You don’t even know where to start, let alone what “traditional online marketing” includes.
Where’s an expert when you need one? Well, you have the next best thing, a nephew that “knows websites and stuff”. He tells you all of the tools you should have to track all of the work that you aren’t doing yet (hooray for spending money, with no return insight).
He says your website needs to “really pop” and be like twitter. He tells you that you should also get onto Kickstarter or look for venture capital. Your head is spinning. You’re a broker that sells 3rd party contracts for Information Technology, how does this help you out? Honestly? It doesn’t.
So what do you do?
To become an expert in anything requires dedication and time. As a business owner, I doubt you have the time to make Online Marketing you sole focus for the next few months (or years). However it’s recommend that you have a passing understanding and familiarity with online marketing.
Get An Understanding Of The Basics.
Here are some great resources for online marketing:
Neil Patel is a Seattle, Washington-based entrepreneur, angel investor, and analytics expert. He is best known for his work in digital marketing, and as the cofounder of the analytics companies KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg, and Quick Sprout.
Neil has a great blog and provides a lot of free information that can help guide you along the way as you start building your Online Marketing efforts.
Moz is a software as a service (SaaS) company based in Seattle, Washington, U.S., that sells inbound marketing and marketing analytics software subscriptions. It was founded by Rand Fishkin and Gillian Muessig in 2004 as a consulting firm and shifted to software development in 2008.
These guys are pretty much the authority on everything SEO. They have an excellent guide for beginners regarding SEO. I highly recommend taking a look at it.
You need to understand what you’re getting into before you jump into the water. Online Marketing can be very costly and result in very little return if you go into it guns blazing.
Figure Out Your Goal.
This may sound corny and obvious, but it’s a necessity. You need to figure out what your goal is honestly and realistically. If you want 10,000 leads in the first year you better prepare to be hyper-focused. If you want to simply improve your company’s exposure on the web you should set reasonable benchmark. These should be:
What kind of improvement do you want, specifically, more visits?
This has got to be something achievable. Lofty goals and aspirations are great. The world thrives on those however, we want to set you up to succeed. The 10,000 leads in a year mentioned above, might be a bit much to start with.
You should figure how you will measure improvements or at least determine an indicator of progression towards the goal.
Your goals have to matter. They need to fit in the grand scheme of things which should be the growth of the business.
Set Your Budget.
Know how much money you’re going to spend before you start. This will keep you grounded in activities that will align with your goals. Frugality is the key until you find out something that really works, before you pile on the coals.
Get After It!
This is a hefty undertaking. You’ll need to fully grasp the basics and beyond. It’ll become necessary to
Hire A Marketing Director
This is a commitment to a salary and a future. You need to make sure they have the needed experience and have run successful campaigns in the past. The key thing to remember is not only will you be taking on an expense, but you will incur many more in the execution of your marketing plan. It’s rare to find an fully self sustaining marketing employee
Hire An Agency
When you know the basics it’ll make you better equipped to find the right agency for you. Not only should you find an agency with a proven track record, you want an agency that is GENUINELY excited and interested in your company and success. They should always be willing to direct you to an alternative information source if you can’t afford their services. Sure, the execution of your plan requires a budget, but taking a few moments to find an article to answer your question shouldn’t be out of the question.