Business owners are always looking for great ways to market their businesses, and with marketing forever changing there are always new ways to try to gain new customers.
Online marketing can be utilised to get more exposure for your business so below we have outlined seven free and paid ways any business can market their business online today.
1. Facebook Advertising
Facebook Ads are a great way to reach a targeted audience for your products. Once you have a solid grasp of who your target market is (your customer avatar), you can input that information into Facebook to target that exact persona.
Facebook makes it possible to target customers in a certain demographic, age-range and even your competitor’s customer all by tweaking their audience tools.
The reason why some businesses see little success with Facebook Ads is because they expect too much too quickly. They expect that as soon as they run a Facebook Ad campaign, leads will start flowing in like a fire hose, which of course is not the case.
Remember to be patient with your online marketing efforts. Testing and optimising campaigns will help you see what works and what doesn’t work for your particular business. Always analyse the numbers, and work to optimise them as much as possible.
2. Content Marketing
If executed correctly, content marketing can take you (or your company) from a ‘nobody’ to a ‘somebody’ in your industry or market. People are increasingly looking for information online. Whatever stage of the buying cycle they are in, your customer or prospective customer will want content that resonates with them at that level and moves them along the cycle.
If you are regularly creating, and distributing content at each stage of the buyer journey they will start to trust your brand, and even see you as the expert who helped them by giving them value.
For example, if you are a suit company online then you can identify some key areas that your audience may have an issue with and create content around that. A great example is by a company called Ties.com, during their research phase they identified that tying a necktie was a huge issue for their target market so they set out to create the ultimate guide to tying a necktie, you can see the final result here.
As you can see the guide includes images, videos, and content that explains in extreme detail how to tie each knot and outlines a whole bunch of knots for a variety of occasions. If the customer was to purchase a tie who do you think they would go to? Assuming the price was right and the designs were good Ties.com would be the obvious choice for them.
This concept of adding value before you ask for a sale is widely becoming the norm. Consumers are used to getting a lot before they even decide to purchase from your company, so try and identify areas where you can add value without asking for money upfront in order to build a relationship with your customer.
For content marketing to be effective you must create a content marketing strategy that follows the structure below:
What are your company’s larger goals? How will content marketing fit these goals? How will you execute these content marketing objectives and when? These are all valid questions to ask and to plan for before embarking on any sort of marketing activity. Having a clear north star for your company will make sure everything you do leads to that one goal. Planning can help to keep you aligned with this and on track when you may deviate from it.
Here you need to identify whom it is that you are trying to reach i.e. your target customer. If you haven’t already created detailed buyer personas then this is the time to do so as it will help you greatly when creating any piece of content.
It’s important that you create unique campaigns for each persona and not overlap them, as they are less likely to resonate. In addition to buyer personas make sure you are creating content that matches each part of the buyer’s journey.
Every company has a story, a vision, a mission or something that makes it unique. What is yours? It doesn’t have to be spectacular but it has to be personal to you. Why did you start your company, what’s the backstory? What are you trying to achieve? The clearer you are with this, the more people will resonate and join you on your mission. People love to buy into and support a company that has a clear vision. Tell your story, tell your audience what you are all about, and let them support you on the way.
Pick Your Channels
In today’s marketing landscape there are so many different channels you can use to reach your audience but should you be on all of them? No, it’s important that you outline the platforms that your target market frequents the most and ONLY start with them. Spreading yourself too thin will affect your marketing and result in little impact.
The key is to focus your effort on the few channels that your target market will visit and create content, especially for those channels, to increase the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Make sure any content that needs to be created is allocated to the correct person. If there aren’t any clear guidelines on who is supposed to carry out what function then the work will never get done. Assign clear responsibilities and tasks as well as specific timescales to each task to make sure everyone knows what they need to do to support the company in achieving its vision.
Social media is a great way to engage with people in your industry and even distribute your content. Start creating relationships with industry influencers so that you already have a fan base that can help you distribute your content when you need it. The further your content is distributed the more impact it can have, so building relationships and actively engaging with your audience should be a big part of your content strategy.
What gets measured gets improved. If you aren’t measuring your efforts you won’t know what content is resonating with your target customer, which content is working and which isn’t. For this to be effective you must first outline the KPI’s and ideal objectives that you are trying to achieve, then use these as the benchmark.
SEO is extremely important if you want to have a presence online. To the uninitiated SEO can be a confusing topic and we see many businesses make some rookie SEO mistakes that produce little results.
SEO involves a number of different steps and requires a long-term commitment; if you are looking to get instant results then paid search marketing would be your best option, as SEO takes time!
A reputable online marketing agency can help you with SEO or you can also implement it yourself. There are a few things to keep in mind before you embark on your journey into the ‘SEO black hole.’ Make sure anything you do is legal and ‘white hat’ as the last thing you want is to get penalised by the search engines and drop down in the rankings. It’s just not worth it.
Also, don’t fall for unscrupulous individuals that promise you quick turn around, generally these are cowboy agencies that use bad SEO practice that get your website blacklisted. As mentioned before SEO takes time so you should be wary of anyone who advises otherwise.
4. Social Media Marketing
Social media is a great way to build connections with your target audience and engage in valuable conversations that are important to them. Too many businesses confuse it for a place to sell.
Social media is a place to be social and build relationships, which EVENTUALLY lead to sales but not immediately! The basic marketing principle ‘Know, Like and Trust’ runs true when it comes to social media marketing because it’s a platform that if used correctly can help you do just that. Your potential customers can see what your company is all about, they can build their trust and when you have engaged and added value, they can consider your company for a purchase.
Like SEO, social media takes time to build meaningful relationships that result in backend sales.
Even though social media marketing is free, you must identify the best platforms to concentrate your efforts on, for example, if your target audience is mostly on Facebook then use that network to connect with them, if they are on Pinterest then use that social network to reach them. When you have mastered one network move on to the next and do the same.
5. Email Marketing
According to an email statistics report by Radicati Group Inc, more than 34% of people worldwide use email, roughly amounting to 196 billion emails on a daily basis. And it’s growing by almost 3% each year, so it’s safe to say that email is going nowhere.
One of the reasons why email is so great is because it is the most personal form of marketing you can do compared to the other methods outlined in this post. You have direct access to a person’s inbox!
Email is extremely cost-effective and can be a great way to keep in touch with your current customers, provide offers, and gain feedback on your products. It’s now also very easy to track your emails to identify key metrics such as ‘open rates’ that can help you plan future campaigns.
6. Video Marketing
Video as a content medium in marketing is something that is certainly growing! An increasing number of platforms are embracing this medium as consumers spend more time watching videos. In fact, 55% of consumers will consume a video through to the end compared to written content.
Using video on a landing page can also increase conversions by 80% so if you are running advertising to a landing page (PPC or Facebook adverts) then it is beneficial to have a brief video or animation video on that page which outlines why they are there, what you can do for them and what action they need to take (the call-to-action).
7. Podcasting/ Audio
Digital home assistants like Amazon Echo are opening the way for audio as a viable medium for marketing. Even though audio mediums such as podcasting have been around for a number of years, more and more brands are embracing it to reach their target audiences.
Audio maybe the lesser cousin to video, but it is certainly gaining in prominence through the popularity of podcasts. The sooner you get ahead with trends like this the further ahead you can be from your competition. Remember, the pioneers always benefit from a trend the most, while the laggards only realise the potential when everyone else has made their money and moved on!
It can be difficult to know where to start when writing your marketing strategy. Our free marketing strategy template on creating a plan that gets results can help. Download now.