“I don’t know a lot about business, but he did an Internet and now the computers like him and Wall Street is Google.”—Jenna Maroney, on the American television comedy series 30 Rock.
Okay, so most of us aren’t quite that Internet-illiterate. But it’s 2014 and if you don’t already have an Internet presence, then there is no better time to start then now. The age of the Internet and smartphones is upon us, and using traditional media is not enough anymore.
So you’ve got an amazing product, service or idea. And you know you need to be doing some sort of marketing, but should you be Facebook-ing and Twitter-ing? Should you be creating an email list? Should you be buying Google Ads?
The answer is probably yes. If people are successfully selling things like cat toilet training systems online, you should probably be online too.
So, what is online marketing exactly?
According to Webopedia, online marketing or Internet marketing is the, “advertising and marketing efforts that use the Web and email to drive direct sales via electronic commerce, in addition to sales leads from Web sites or emails”. In other words, online marketing is conducting your marketing efforts on desktop computers, tablets and smartphones targeting your customers wherever they are and providing them with a means to learn more about your unique business offering, product or service.
Customer 2.0 has turned off the extra noise
People nowadays can choose their own adventure every day. Anyone can choose the news they want to read on their way to work, listen to the music they want throughout the day and then come home to watch the TV shows they want when they want.
If you want to be successful online, you must know where to meet your customers and when. Once you have figured out where to meet them, you must dance a delicate dance of informing them about who you are, how your product or service can meet their needs and/or wants with the aim to ultimately secure their business and retain them as a customer.
In 1974, Peter Drucker suggested that the goal of marketing was, “to make selling superfluous…to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
So… what can YOU do with online marketing?
1. Find your customers
Be visible at the right time and place when people are actively searching for your brand, products and services. Gone are the days of having to employ costly mass marketing techniques that deliver few leads and result in a lot of wastage. Online marketing allows businesses of all shapes and sizes to cost efficiently and effectively target their desired customer during all stages of the purchase lifecycle wherever they may be.
As the number of smartphones increase, the number of shoppers conducting local mobile searches has also increased. The number one reason people use a mobile device for a local business search is because they want to make timely informed buying decision. Engaging in savvy local, mobile and PPC marketing allows you to reach your customers when they are nearby and/or ready to buy from you.
2. Inform your target audience
It is crucial that every business have some sort of web presence that provides general information about your organisation allowing existing and potential customers to learn more about who you are and what you can offer them. Having a website and a social media presence gives your business a face enabling you to actively engage with your target audience, providing them with helpful information to assist with their buying decisions.
3. Engage and interact with your audience
Being online and having a social media presence is a great way to engage, understand, interact and converse with your consumers in public and behind the scenes. Build customer confidence and loyalty by responding promptly to any customer enquiries and/or concerns they might have.
Providing your target audience with engaging and useful content has been made easier than ever with the advent of video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo. The costs of video production have dropped dramatically, allowing anyone with the camera to create quality videos and engage in video marketing.
4. Understand your audience
Online marketing has come a long way. In-depth analytics allow you to track almost anything nowadays. For example, you can track what keywords people are using to find your brand, how people engaged with your organisation, what other interests your customers have and whether or not your marketing campaigns are effective in driving increased sales.
Social Media in particular gives you the invaluable ability to capture comments and complaints directly from the consumer. Everyone likes to be heard; now you have a way to listen, respond and optimise your products and services to meet your customer’s individual needs.
5. Generate leads and drive sales
Properly executed SEO techniques and PPC marketing will bring your website increased exposure, recognition, generate traffic, leads and sales. If you weren’t to engage in online marketing your website is likely to get lost in the vortex of hundreds of thousands of websites never to be found despite your customers actively searching for it. Advertising your business using Google AdWords is an effective way to drive low cost targeted traffic to your website, generate leads and drive increased sales.
6. Develop a relationship for ongoing business
Offering quality content in the digital age is not just for media companies anymore; everyone needs to be doing it. Being a good source of content boosts your credibility and customers will trust you more. Pay attention to your loyal followers, figure out what they want and give it to them.
People rarely respond to huge, faceless organisations. People respond to people. So if your goal is to provide something of value and be accessible, then there’s no way you won’t be successful.
7. Commit to continuing education
Internet marketing is constantly changing. Many of the strategies that worked five years ago are no longer relevant or effective. Committing to staying informed and up to date with the fast paced digital industry is a challenge, but doing so will help your business to continue to enjoy high levels of online success now and in the future.
If the above 7 reasons for doing online marketing are still yet to convince you that you should be doing it, then here are a few statistics from a research study by event-promotion company Eventility and published by Forbes, that might help you in making the leap into the digital world.
- 87% of the world’s population use mobile devices and 40% of mobile searches are for local businesses
- 97% of consumers now search for local businesses online
- 72% trust online reviews & 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business
- 61% of young people (Gen Y) refer to social media to decide where to go when they go out
- 78% of small businesses now get at least a quarter of their new customers via social media
- 59% of people surveyed have gone into a store because they found a coupon on the Internet
- 73% of smartphone users have accessed Google Maps