When you first get started online, no one knows you exist, and it can be extremely hard to get your business or blog off the ground. But the good news is that once you start gaining momentum, all your past efforts start to fuel your online business’s future growth – but only if you got started the right way.
In this post, we’re going to explore some of the best strategies you can use to learn online marketing so you can get to the tipping point as soon as possible. But first, let’s define internet marketing.
What exactly is Online Marketing?
Online marketing is simply anything you do on the internet to spread the word about your business. While that sounds very simple, in reality, internet marketing is a very broad term. It encompasses a vast range of tools, strategies, and methods that you can use to reach people online.
It includes clear-cut ads and subtle strategies for advertising your business. It’s basically anything that you can do to grab your audience’s attention (and hopefully get them to buy your products or services at some point…)
In this post, we’re going to look at six of the most important sub-categories of online marketing that you need to focus on when you first get started, and they are as follows:
1. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
This is the process of optimizing the content you create and publish online so that Google and other search engines show it at the top of their search results pages for specific keywords. Within SEO there are two major sectors that you need to be aware of: On-page SEO and Off-page SEO.
On-page SEO can further be broken down to certain activities that are listed below:
- Crawl errors
- Keyword research
- Page optimization
- Improving page speed
- And more…
Conducting on-page SEO is vital, and it’s the one thing that has remained relatively constant throughout Google’s never-ending algorithm updates. While most on-page SEO activities aren’t directly linked to ranking factors, they are linked to indirect, but equally important factors like ‘time on site’ and ‘clickthrough rate’.
The Off-page SEO activities you need to focus on when first getting started online can be further categorized as follows:
- Link building
- Social sharing
Techniques like link building are a critical part of your overall SEO strategy, and it’s important to pay attention to this if you want to get great rankings. Social sharing is yet another factor that indirectly contributes to your SEO strategy and helps to move your website up in rankings because those off-page tactics usually lead to more backlinks.
SEO is free, and if you’re able to create a site that ranks well in the search engines, your customers will be able to find you organically.
The process of getting ranked high in the search engines involves doing extensive keyword research and writing great content (that people find useful and engaging) focused around those keywords. Every so often, you need to check in on your main keywords to make sure that your site is in good health, SEOwise.
Luckily, your SEO doesn’t call for ongoing maintenance like other marketing platforms do. You can also use tools such as Yoast SEO, a free plugin for WordPress websites, to help you optimize your website for organic search even if you’re new to online marketing.
2. SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
This is really just a paid version of search engine optimization where marketers pay Google so their ads can be shown on the search results pages in the hopes of driving targeted traffic to their landing pages.
So instead of spending weeks or months (and sometimes even years) trying to optimize and promote content to rank organically for a specific keyword, you simply pay for the privilege of being ranked on top. And if your site is the first thing they see on the page, users will likely click on it and you’ll get lots of visitors to your website.
This kind of effort helps your ideal customers find you through Google and other search platforms, but it’s not worth even looking at unless you already have a paid product to offer customers. If you’re still at that beginning phase where you’re publishing free content for building an audience, don’t bother with this paid cousin of search engine optimization.
With SEM, you’re paying for each and every person who comes to your site, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can lose a lot of money. How much you pay for each click is going to depend on a variety of factors such as the competitiveness of the keyword. More competitive ones will cost you significantly more than the less competitive ones.
This strategy is great to use in your business as long as you’re able to immediately recoup the money you spent on advertising. A great place to start your SEM is Google Ads where you can get an impressive ROI (return on investment) of 20x your ad spend or more. Now that is online marketing at its best!
3. Content Marketing
This has to do with creating valuable content and media to distribute to your target audience. Your content needs to establish trust and draw in leads by providing immense value. You could do this by:
- Publishing blog posts on your website
- Writing guest posts on other sites and linking back to yours
- Creating and offering lead magnets like white papers, ebooks, reports, and so on.
- You can also use infographics and videos that you share on various other channels like social media or email
Keep in mind that your content marketing should be executed with specific business goals in mind, otherwise, it won’t be effective in driving the desired traffic and leads to your website. You also need to make sure that your content marketing is aligned with your SEO activities.
To make your strategy as effective as it can be, create and publish content on your website and other channels on a regular basis, and keep that momentum going. Success in content marketing comes down to being able to provide your audience with timely, relevant value.
Google stated that content is among the two biggest ranking factors, which means that the more you produce amazing content, the higher your chances of getting ranked high and bringing in loads of targeted traffic from organic search.
If you’re just getting started, this is one of the best strategies to focus on. You’ll be able to get people to discover your business at no cost to you (other than your time and effort, of course).
4. Social Media Marketing
This is where you make use of one or more social media platforms to engage with your customers, build and strengthen relationships, and then guide them to your offers. It’s a huge part of online marketing, and if you want an idea of just how big it is, just consider how many social networks you can name right now off the top of your head:
Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Google+, Tumbler, YouTube, LinkedIn, Periscope, Reddit, Stumbleupon…. The list goes on.
That should be enough to prove to you that social media is an absolute beast (and the growth rate of this gigantic industry is scary, to say the least). As I write this, there are dozens of social media networks out there, and more popping up all the time.
This is a topic that deserves its own entire guide, but for someone who’s just getting started online, it’s important to realize that you don’t need to be everywhere all the time. Simply pick one or two platforms to start with and build from there. Once you learn everything you can about successful marketing on those platforms, you can then include another network, and so on.
When designing your social media marketing strategy, keep in mind that content follows context. So, while content is king, context is god! This means you have to respect the actual context of the individual social platforms that you publish content on, otherwise, you’re going to lose.
5. PPC (Pay per Click) Advertising
While it’s similar to SEM, this type of marketing isn’t limited to just Google and its competitors. You can use social networks to create ads for your products that are then integrated naturally into your audience’s feeds so you can pay for the clicks to your site.
The process of pay per click marketing is simple. You create an ad, then bid to have it displayed to your target audience, and pay for the results. This may be clicks, conversions, impressions, or actions taken. It varies depending on whichever platform you’ve chosen to optimize for.
PPC marketing can be in the form of either display ads or search ads.
Search Ads: With search ads you can display text ads to readers who actively search for the specific keywords that you’ve targeted. For instance, if they are searching for ‘black hiking shoes’, you can run an ad campaign for selling those, and your ads will be shown to those users at the top of the search results.
The two most popular platforms for PPC search ads are Google Ads and Bing Ads. With these, you’ll be able to connect to potential customers who are actively seeking products like yours, and have a very high intent to buy. Other types of ads include Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Promoted Pins, Quora Ads, LinkedIn Ads, among others.
Display Ads: These allow you to proactively show your ads to people as they browse the web. For instance, your ad could show up on a news page they are reading, or their Facebook feed. This allows you the opportunity for introducing customers to your products even when they’re not actively looking for them.
6. Email Marketing
While a lot of marketers consider this to be old-school, it’s still an effective channel that also happens to have the highest ROI. Once you have your customers’ permission to email them, you’re able to do so anytime. The trick here is to provide them with tons of value, and then ask them to buy when the time is right.
This practice of nurturing leads and generating sales and revenue through email communication is one that you absolutely need to focus on when starting an online business. Much like social media, the goal here is to keep reminding users that you are here, and that you have the perfect product to solve their problems.
But unlike social media, email allows you to use much more aggressive sales techniques because people actually expect email marketing to contain product announcements, offers, and calls to action!
You need to regularly capture emails from your audience, even before they become customers. You can use various types of lead magnets to incentivize email sign-ups. An email management service like GetResponse, Aweber, or MailChimp will allow you to create automatic emails that are triggered when someone subscribes to your list.
Your autoresponder will send a welcome email campaign that you pre-made, and you’ll also be able to send emails with your offers. Email trumps all other marketing channels in terms of engagement, and you’re more likely to gain new customers through email than social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
Another reason why email is great for those who are just getting started online is that it’s an effective, long-term means of contacting prospects.
While email has been around for decades, it’s important to note that it’s continually evolving. To achieve success with your email marketing efforts, make sure you stay on top of the trends that come up such as personalization and segmentation of your emails.
As you can see, online marketing is HUGE, and each of the individual sub-categories we’ve discussed above can fill a massive space on its own. This article is designed to help you get a good grip on these categories so you can start your online business off on the right foot.
Just remember, there’s a vast sea of information on online marketing out there, so avoid drowning in it by using this article as your guide to help you focus on the right things to get your business going.
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