Developing an online marketing strategy is different for every single business. Each company has to work out their goals they want to achieve and how that fits into their business model before even discussing jumping into online marketing. However, any company that ignores it or goes at a lackadaisical pace will be outperformed by their competitors in a business world that emphasizes the value of marketing online.
There are many different strategies that businesses use online in order to brand and sell their products, but they all fall into three general categories. Those three categories are considered to be paid media, owned media and earned media. The ultimate goal that all companies will try to achieve is the earned media level, which provides the greatest benefits versus the cost. However, all the media strategies should be studied first so that a business can use them to their advantage.
Online Marketing and Paid Media
Paid media is where most businesses start out in their online marketing journey. Quite simply, companies pay another company to show or promote their products or services in exchange for a fee based on impressions, clicks or even sales. This is the logical first step for all businesses, since anyone can do this type of marketing as long as they have the money. Also, paid ads are extremely stable, meaning a company is able to control all of the content that the consumer will see, ensuring that your company will always be represented in a positive light. Finally, unlike other methods that take time to build a brand, a company can quickly jump in and compete in a tough market.
Another example of paid media is ads that are shown on search engines and social media sites. The most popular and oldest form of paid media is display advertising, or banner ads as most people know them. Websites charge businesses to display a banner on their sites of varying size and then charge the business per impression or even per click. Other examples of this type of media include pay-per-click (PPC) ads, which are ads that are mostly displayed on search engines. With these ads, a company only pays when someone clicks an ad, but in order to be shown, you have to bid higher than other competitors in the industry who are also utilizing that type of advertising. Major sites such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Bing all use a PPC platform to display their advertising.
Online Marketing and Owned Media
Owned media is a website, social media account or a blog that a business directly owns or controls, meaning that the business is in total control of all content that goes on this type of media. This is an extremely critical part of any online marketing campaign, because at the end of the day, customers need a place to buy the product or learn about the service. Companies that do not know how to properly address this section will never have success online, no matter how much money they pour into their online advertising efforts.
The three main parts of the owned media approach is a website, blog and a social media account. As people move more and more online, they want to see businesses that are engaged with their customers. That is why a simple website is not enough. Here is why.
A website is designed to be the final platform for a business. On a company website, the site showcases the products/services, sells the benefits, give the company background and provide a way for customers to get in contact for questions or problems. If a customer looks at a site and does not trust what they see, it can be virtually impossible to make a sale.
While the site is the final point, customers often need a reason to go to a site. That is where a blog or a social media account, like Twitter or Facebook, can come into play. When a customer subscribes to a blog or a social account, the business then can easily update their customers by posting a short article or a quick Tweet. This is a great and free tool to build a large customer base quickly, and customers can be reminded of sales and new products in a matter of just a few minutes.
Online Marketing and Earned Media Strategy
Another way to think of the earned media strategy is to think of branding a company. Once a company brands itself properly in a market, the products can almost sell themselves without doing a single bit of paid advertising. Think about some of the largest companies in the world, specifically online. How often does Facebook or Google advertise on other sites or even on something like television? They don’t, and that is because they have built their product to be a market leader that advertises through word-of-mouth.
A referral is the biggest compliment a business can receive, and when people talk about a business in a positive way online, it is free advertising. While most businesses will never hit the level of positive media that Google or Facebook has, local businesses can build a strong local following. The best way to do this is to incorporate the strategies above, and once they have been implemented them for a while, people will naturally spread the word about the business.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to an online marketing strategy, but it will give any business a great start to developing the perfect strategy to incorporate. Every business will be different, so in the end, it is all about doing what works and makes the most money!