Simply, the term online marketing refers to using the power of Internet advertising to generate a response from your audience. Also known as Internet marketing or web marketing, online marketing is used by companies selling goods and services directly to consumers as well as those who operate in the business-to-business sphere.
Online marketing offers several benefits. It's convenient, affordable, and provides the opportunity for companies to track campaign results. Internet marketing allows even the smallest company to compete in a global marketplace.
Online marketing vehicles
Social media sites include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Social media marketing utilises these social networking websites as a marketing tool. The goal is to produce content that users will share with their social network to help a company increase brand exposure and broaden customer reach.
One of the key components of social media marketing is social media optimisation. This is a strategy for drawing new and unique visitors to a website, either by adding social media links to content, such as RSS feeds and sharing buttons, or by promoting activity through social media by updating statuses or tweets.
Social media enables a business to get direct feedback from customers. This interactivity gives customers the opportunity to ask questions or voice complaints and feel they are being heard. The other thing about social media is that it creates a “warm” database of people to whom you can market special offers and promotions.
Companies that use email marketing send promotional emails directly to customers. Developing a well structured email marketing campaign is a proven way to dramatically increase the effectiveness of your Internet presence.
You can choose to use your own email lists, or to add targeted "cold call" lists. Many email campaign management tools allow you to monitor and track all aspects of your email campaign. Getting the design right is a very important aspect of email marketing as it determines whether the email will be read and conveys the professional image of your business.
The best practice here is to build a robust database that will enable you to segment your prospects and clients in order to provide targeted communication that best interests and appeals to them.
- Website content marketing
From whitepapers, to videos and webinars, content marketing encompasses all marketing formats that involve the creation and sharing of content in order to engage current and potential customers.
Content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering high-quality, relevant and valuable information to prospects and customers drives profitable consumer action and improves brand loyalty.
Content marketers either share proprietary information with selected audiences, or they create new information and share it via different types of media, such as online newsletters, digital content, websites or micro sites, white papers, webcasts/webinars, podcasts, video portals or series, interactive online and email.
The purpose of this information is to inform target customers and prospects about key industry issues, sometimes involving the marketer’s products. The motivation behind content marketing is the belief that educating the customer results in the brand’s recognition as a thought leader and industry expert.
No matter what your budget, you can display your ads on Google and its advertising network. You pay only if people click your ads. You create ads and choose keywords, which are words or phrases related to your business.
When people search on Google using one of your keywords, your ad may appear next to the search results. That means you're advertising to an audience that's already interested in you.
People can simply click on your ad to make a purchase or learn more about you. Google AdWords offers targeted reach, greater control over your ads as you can edit them and adjust your budget, and measurable value. There's no minimum spending requirement – the amount that you pay for AdWords is up to you.
Blogs on news and industry sites are used to enhance a business’s marketing, branding or public relations, while providing the reader with valuable information and opinions on a particular industry or trend.
A blog post should comprise an eye-catching title, in-text links to landing pages, banner calls to action, social sharing buttons, and a call to action at the bottom. Every blog post should be written in line with your overall marketing content strategy, so you should stay on topic and have your posts fit into the categories you’ve established. This type of communication is extremely useful in positioning the company and its key executives as thought leaders in their markets.
Word of mouth marketing
From restaurants to cars, bands or dry cleaners, some businesses and products are loved and become huge successes without much promotion. Smart companies get people talking about them.
In his bookWord of Mouth MarketingAndy Sernovitz describes exactly how companies of all sizes create passionate, loyal fans that do their marketing for them, for free. Sernovitz says there are hundreds of ways to get people talking, but you only need one to change your business forever.
A silly something, a special moment, service with a smile — anything worth talking about. To build your word of mouth marketing plan, you need to walk through what he calls the Five Ts and apply each one.
Find people who will talk about you like fans, customers, bloggers and influencers.
Give people a reason to talk, such as a special offer, great service, cool product, silliness, clever ad, or a new feature.
Help the message spread faster and farther with tell-a-friend forms, viral email, blogs, handouts, samples, coupons and online discussions.
4. Taking Part
Join the conversation by replying to feedback, participating in social media and joining discussions
Measure and understand what people are saying. Search blogs, read online discussions, listen to feedback, and use advanced measurement tools.
Tips and advice
Sernovitz offers four great suggestions to get your word of mouth marketing off the ground:
- Be Interesting.Nobody talks about boring companies, boring products, or boring ads. If you want people to talk about you, you’ve got to do something special. Anything. If you are boring, you’ll never get a moment of conversation. Your word of mouth will fall flat on its face. (Actually, it will just fade away, unnoticed.) Before you run an ad, before you launch a product, before you put something new on the menu, ask the magic question: Would anyone tell a friend about this?
- Make It Easy.Word of mouth is lazy. You’ve got to help it along if you expect it to go anywhere. You need to do two things: Find a super-simple message and help people share it. Start with a topic that anyone can remember. Something like, “Our software doesn’t crash,” or “They have chocolate cream cheese!” or “They give you snacks while you’re waiting for a table,” Anything longer than a sentence is too much. It’ll get forgotten or mangled.
- Make People Happy.Happy customers are your greatest advertisers. Thrill them. Create amazing products. Provide excellent service. Go the extra mile. Make the experience remarkable. Fix problems. Make sure the work you do gets people energised, excited, and eager to tell a friend. When people like you, they share you with their friends. They want to help you, they want to support your business, and they want their friends to enjoy what you offer. You will get more word of mouth from making people happy than anything else you could possibly do.
- Earn Trust and Respect.If you don’t have respect, you don’t get good word of mouth. Nobody talks positively about a company that they don’t trust or like. Nobody puts their name on the line for a company that will embarrass them in front of their friends. Always be an honourable company. Make ethics part of everything you do. Be good to your customers. Talk to them. Fulfil their needs.
Make people proud to tell your story to everyone they know.
Word of mouth online
With more and more people sharing their views and opinions on public platforms, online word of mouth has become increasingly important.
You need to know what the word on the street is regarding your services and products. Monitoring and engagement tools provide businesses with real time information that also helps them to solve customer problems that may come to light.
- Google Alerts (www.google.com/alerts) provide you with updates on what’s being said on the web and social platforms about your topic, client and his/her competitors on a daily or “as-it-happens” basis. The alerts are a must for anyone in marketing or PR who needs to stay on top of the news, a client, the competition, or industry trends.
- SocialMention (www.socialmention.com) is like Google Alerts, but for social media. You’ll get email alerts about what’s being said on social media platforms.
- CyberAlert (www.cyberalert.com) is a powerful word of mouth monitoring tool for reputation management (public relations), market intelligence (marketing and brand management), consumer insight (market research), competitive intelligence, investor relations, and intellectual property infringement.
Seeding Online Conversations
Get people talking by planting a seed – a question, observation, piece of advice or new idea. If it’s interesting enough, your audiences will respond and you can keep the conversation going, all the while building your brand and positioning your business as an industry expert.