Internet marketing is developing at a breathtaking speed, and keeping up with all the developments is almost impossible. Unless you work with it as a full-time career, you are unlikely to have a complete picture of where the field stands today. Even then, you may not be aware of what an integrated marketing automation system or a video marketing platform can do.
This situation can be frustrating to business owners and others who need to use Internet marketing in their work, but do not have the time to keep up with the technical evolution. Among a thousand other tasks, you also need to know the whats, hows, and whys to make your online presence a business success.
What was tried and true not long ago has been replaced with new strategies and truths, and long gone are the days when online marketing only meant having a website and sending monthly newsletter emails. There are so many more components involved today.
Many content already exist on Internet about Digital Marketing. Is there a need for more? I would argue yes. Of all the posts I’ve read on this over the years, none of them offered what I’m looking for: the one content that provides the grand overview of it all, including the latest state-of-the-art concepts with enough detail to give practical and actionable knowledge that can be useful immediately.
This post does not take an academic approach, but tries to provide hands-on advice of real value to practitioners who want to get started with Internet marketing, or take the next step to improve current efforts. With this guide, you should be able to pick up and use these new skills immediately.
So let’s jump in!
What is the first step to building your online marketing presence?
To start, the objective of a website should be clear, with measurable goals to signal success. Without an understanding of what drives your success, you cannot measure the effectiveness of your website and other marketing efforts. To do this. you should setup and continuously monitor the most important goals using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Don’t worry, I will explain this later.
It is also important to be conscious of the radical change currently happening in modern Internet marketing. Outbound mass marketing techniques that interrupt and annoy the recipients are being replaced with inbound and personalized content marketing that aim to give the targeted audience more of what they already want. This paradigm shift serves potential customers with valuable and useful knowledge at the right time, creating a positive buyer experience. It is not about pushing your sales pitch anymore, but rather serving potential customers with trust-building and educational content that helps them choose you over your competition.
Concepts like buyer persona definitions, the marketing funnel, customer journey paths, and leads segmentation are important to understand. Likewise, strategies for attracting more visitors to your website and knowing how to convert them into leads are vital for success. While this post covers traditional techniques like having a website and sending newsletter emails, more focus is put on generating organic traffic using a blog, and efficient lead generation strategies.
New leads aren’t usually ready to buy right away, so you will have to deploy various leads nurturing strategies to help them along the customer journey towards the purchase decision. Today, refined leads nurturing strategies can help improve the engagement with your leads until they make a purchase decision. This post will tell you how.
In the new era of inbound marketing, content creation is king. You need to know how to create effective digital marketing assets like white papers, eBooks, videos, infographics, and case studies. Your digital assets should help generate traffic by attracting new visitors, converting them into leads, and supporting leads nurturing. There are best practices in developing different types of digital marketing assets, and we’ll cover this in detail in the chapter on content creation.
Social media and video marketing channels are increasingly becoming a viable option in Internet marketing too, particularly on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. You can use these channels in conjunction with other online marketing efforts to set up a marketing system where different parts interact and support each other.
In modern Internet marketing, there are many independent tools and techniques that work together towards the goal of attracting more visitors, converting them to leads, and finally into customers. Unfortunately, using separate tools is not always the best strategy. For this reason, fully integrated marketing automation systems are becoming increasingly popular, and the chapter on marketing automation will explain what these tools can do in quite some detail.
Unless you have studied high-end marketing automation systems already, I can guarantee you will be amazed to learn what is possible these days. Most website owners (not to mention the general public) are unaware of what advanced capabilities are now available using leading-edge tools. Companies already using these systems want to keep this to themselves to preserve the advantage over their competitors. But soon, you too will know the secret and understand the power of these systems.
Finally, you cannot measure success and improve upon it without careful monitoring. This can be done using web analytics tools, which provide statistics and metrics on website usage. This metering is the feedback loop of the goals and KPIs you should have defined early in your online marketing efforts.
In fact, web analytics is a lot more than measuring your top-level business performance. Several chapters are dedicated to recording and analyzing the behavior of your visitors and the effectiveness of your online presence. This post explains how to do this using Google Analytics, a free and powerful web tool available to anyone from Google.
In practice, small businesses may not have the time or resources to start using all of the concepts presented in this post, at least not initially. But quickly getting an overview of the options and best practices is key to successful results. You can always expand your campaigns and improve over time.
I often refer to selling a product or service as the final goal, as this is the aim for most businesses. If you are representing a non-profit organization or some other type of website, your goal may be different. For example, it can be getting more blog readers, more YouTube subscribers, more members to a golf club, raise more funds for medical aid, or any other goal that fits your organization. In such case, just replace the final goal of getting more customers with your own objective.
The following section provides a short overview of the major concepts in Internet marketing before we dive into more details. This is a top-level view of how it all fits together, and serves as a background for the rest of the post. Later chapters will discuss these topics in more detail and provide practical, hands-on advice in specific areas.
Setting goals and KPIs
Before spending time and money on Internet marketing, you should be entirely clear on what your objectives are. This may be obvious, but how to set this up may not be.
For example, do you want to generate more leads, or get more sales transactions in the web shop? Perhaps you’re trying to reduce the number of support questions to your service team, or spread the word about your charity’s work overseas? Consider carefully what your primary goal is, and improve different parts of your website and digital marketing efforts accordingly.
Once the principal objective is evident, you need to determine what measurable goals you have. A goal is a user-initiated action that signals to you that a visitor has taken another defined step towards buying a service or product, or done something else of direct or indirect value to your business.
According web metrics, a “goal” is not a vague step, like the number of visitors or “pageviews” you hope to gain. It should be something that has an evident relation to achieving the objective of selling a product. “Goals” are particular events that affect your website success, either indirectly or directly.
And in addition to sales transactions – there are other “goals” worth monitoring. These include the number of requests for quotes, requests for free product samples, the number of software downloads, or something else that a potential customer usually does before buying your product. But a goal can also be other types of goals that signal success, such as reducing the number of submitted support questions.
Dependent on your business, you may end up with many goals you want to monitor. It may become hard to get an at-a-glance top-level overview of your website/business health if you have more than ten goals to track! To solve this, you will have to define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These are a limited set of “goals” that measure your website success at an overview level.
You will monitor the KPIs more frequently than other goals to track the performance and get insight into the current status of your website. The KPIs will tell you if your business results are going up or not, and provide a measure to gauge trends and relevant data over time. You should only pick the most important goals as KPIs, or you will not see the forest through the trees.
With the KPIs defined, continuously monitoring the result can provide valuable insights. For example, if your average purchase cycle is one month, you can expect a sales drop four weeks from now if the quantity of requests for quotes decreases this week. The same may be signaled if you get fewer downloads of the evaluation version of your software product or requests for free product samples.
In effect, KPIs help monitor the success of your website at measurable key points in your digital marketing system.
The radical change in online marketing
Internet marketing is in a state of transition. Traditional marketing approaches push the same information to everyone, hoping someone cares enough to read it. This is usually not the case. To make matters worse, the message may interrupt the recipient at inappropriate times and cause animosity to the company.
This is called outbound marketing and typically includes having to pay for advertisements or sending emails to thousands of addresses you have bought. In the end, you spend a lot of money and effort distributing information the receiver does not want to read.
For paid advertisements, your marketing reach is in direct relation to the size of your marketing budget. When the money is spent and the advert has expired, the investment will not give you any further results. Luckily, this is no longer the best recipe for success.
While this strategy may still work, Internet marketers have increasingly started to invert the process and provide content that the intended audience wants to read. Therefore, they come to you when the time is right for them. This is called inbound marketing – or “content marketing“.
By offering valuable or educational content such as blog articles, eBooks, white papers, and training videos, people interested in products like yours will find you using Internet search engines. They can then start to interact with you and your offerings when they are ready to receive more information.
Because visitors are actively looking for information from you, inbound marketing is more engaging and captures the lead when they are most interested in what you have to offer. We’ll cover traditional marketing approaches, but the majority of this post will cover these new and effective techniques.
The good news is that inbound marketing will increase your sales at a reduced advertisement budget, if done properly. The downside is that you will have to create a lot of digital marketing content instead. However, once content is created and published online, it will continue to generate visitors and leads for years to come with no further work or investment. The marketing value does not stop when the ad budget expires.
End of “Mastering Digital Marketing, Part 1”.