As Wikipedia says, “Online marketing or internet advertising or online advertising is a form of marketing and advertising which uses the Internet to deliver promotional marketing messages to consumers”. This has become the buzz word in the business community for the last couple of years. Of course, online marketing was prevalent from years before, but the traction it has got in the recent years is phenomenal. And there are strong reasons for this popularity – high ROI (Return on Investment) compared to television or print marketing, exuberantly growing pool of internet users, cavernous penetration of social media into our daily lives etc. This guide is intended to help beginners to explore the world of online marketing.
As the online world is getting more sophisticated at a rapid pace, it is becoming more complex. So many options are available that users tend to get lost at times. I have tried to organize the entire marketing exercise into 5 key steps to simplify. Each of these steps can be vertically explored to a great depth.
The first step of going online is having a domain and a site hosted on that. Domain is very important from marketing perspective, and something that needs to be paid attention to. After all, it is going to be your name in the world wide web. It should be something that can easily be remembered by users. Try to make it as short and simple as possible, so that users find it easy to type. Use of numerals, special characters etc confuse users. Try to avoid them. And the most important part – it should correctly reflect your brand identity. Equally important is choosing the extension. You should keep in mind your target audience and your brand identity while choosing the extension. For example, if you are an India focused business, it makes sense to go for .in extension. In addition to the common extensions like .com, .org etc, there are a number of extensions available now-a-days like .mobi, .biz, .co etc, so you need to choose wisely.
Equally important to a website is a prominent social media presence. It is important to have your mark in all prominent social websites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn etc. Please be mindful that having a profile in all types of social media is important, but your efforts in marketing through these social media sites should be very selective. It should be based on which of these sites your target segment is more likely to use. For example, if your business is focussed on young, college going students in India, Facebook sounds more effective, if you are a recruitment firm, you should focus more on LinkedIn, so on and so forth.
Now that you have a domain to host a website and pages in social media, next important thing is content management. At the end of the day, it is the content that will make your viewers come back, or stay in your website or page. So, it is important to have quality content management in place. Your content should be very specific and brief, any redundancy should be avoided. Your offering should come out very clearly, and should be appealing. Another important thing is that while writing contents, we should always keep in mind - who is going to read it? Use of complex language, technical jargons should be avoided to the extent possible. It is advisable to take professional help if you are not well versed with content writing. This is an area that should not be compromised with.
So, at this stage, you are having a website with some great content that your viewers cannot just stay away from. But, let me tell you, people who know of your existence are only handful. So, you need to ensure that more internet users are informed of your existence. You need to ensure that people who are searching for similar things that you offer are informed of your existence. This is where SEO comes into picture. Please note this is as important a step as building your website, or having your FB page updated. SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial or natural search results on search engines. This is a vast topic and there are lot of companies offering SEO services to optimize your website. There are also a host of paid advertisement services like google adwords which offer multiple options like pay per click, pay per impression etc. You need to choose this based on your target audience and of course, your budget.
Finally, if you want to reach out to your clients with time to time offers, updates etc, there are better ways to do it than printing pamphlets and posting them. The best way to do is email marketing. Like SEO, email marketing is also a vast subject. The initial task is to get a mailing list. There are number of companies who can provide such lists. However, you need to be careful of bogus providers. Once you have the list, you need to get software from dozens available in the web and start sending mails, newsletters etc on a regular basis. You, however, need to ensure that the mails you send do not end up in your target’s spam list.
This was in short, the starting few pointers for your online marketing campaign. This is, however, not a onetime activity, but a cyclic one. You should follow a P-D-C-A (Plan-Do-Check-Act) methodology. There are number of tools (like AwStats) which help you analyze web traffic. You should perform such analysis on a regular basis and take necessary measures to improve your website traffic.