The Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing

3,250,000,000. That’s how many search results you’ll get if you Google “online marketing”. So there you are, stoked to learn everything there is to know on the subject, but going over 3 billion results seems like a pretty big mountain to climb, doesn’t it?

Luckily, you can get the main takeaways of this immense amount of information from our article – in less than 7 minutes. Using our marketing expertise, we’ve done our best to condense the main message of a plethora of resources into one compact guide that will reveal even the best-kept secrets of digital marketing. 

If you’re late to the game, don’t worry! We’ve provided a simple approach to online marketing that you can pick up on without any additional effort on your part.

Here, you’ll find the most actionable advice and some unconventional tips and tricks that will help you get ahead of the competition.

We’re promising a quick stimulus for your online marketing strategy, so let’s jump right into action!

SEO!

We can’t stress how important Search Engine Optimization is. We gave it the first spot because it’s not only an indicator of how well you perform on Google. It’s a measure of success

Your search results ranking shows that you work hard for your business. If you managed to reserve one of the top spots in Google’s search results, it means that you’re paying attention to every detail that drives your brand forward.

So what makes good SEO? In short, offering the most convenient online channels that allow your customers to reach you quickly and easily. Discovering innovative ways to inform people about your products and services is an integral factor for ranking higher.

Then, there’s the technical aspect of SEO. Make sure to build fast-loading, easy-to-use, always-available online platforms, and learn how to structure your URLs and populate your website and apps with well-described multimedia.

Here’s what you can do to perform well in terms of SEO and skyrocket your ranking:

  • Research your niche and study your main competition’s SEO strategy;
  • Analyze your target audience and find the appropriate language for communication;
  • Implement the right keywords;
  • Use short sentences, brief paragraphs, active voice, and bullet lists for your content;
  • Apply all the technical aspects of SEO.

SEO can be a cumbersome process, so find a good resource to get started. Try this awesome guide published by Moz – The Beginner’s Guide to SEO.

Pro tip: SEO doesn’t work overnight. Know that it’s a long process that requires constant learning and continuous effort, but it’s definitely the engine of the online marketing vehicle.

Invest in Quality Content.

You’ve heard it a million times, but we’ll say it again: content is king! Investing in the ongoing development of your site’s content is an excellent way to inform your customers, promote your products, and bring awareness to your brand.

Content is very beneficial for SEO, too. Search engines are pretty intelligent when it comes to detecting if you produce content that attracts lots of attention and provides correct answers to customer’s questions

To capitalize on this strategy, improve the quality of content by making it valuable. Enrich your articles and blog posts with infographics, videos, and interactive animations, and become a reliable source of information for your visitors.

Pro tip: Focus on informing, not selling, with your content. For example, if you’re selling fitness equipment, write about why people need the type of product you’re selling, rather than pushing a model or a brand. And be honest about it – raw emotion can get you far in building trust with your customers.

Engage With Your Customers on Social Media.

It’s yesterday’s news that you should promote your business on social media because everyone’s on it, but we’ve got some exciting hints on how to spice up customer experience and convert as many leads as you can.

Utilize the power of contests and giveaways. Exchange a free product or two for a substantial amount of new followers – a great way to make more people get familiar with your brand.

Create brand pages on the platforms that are compatible with your digital marketing strategy and your product. If you’re selling clothing, Twitter would be of little use, but Instagram can ignite some real hype for your brand.

On that note, use the potential of influencers to reach the desired publicity. They can be expensive, but ROI is almost inevitable with their help – so much so that 80% of marketers believe this strategy is very effective.

Pro tip: Use social networks to connect with people on a personal level. Try to minimize the usage of bots and respond to customers’ queries yourself, as much as you can. Establishing a human relationship goes a long way in securing loyal customers.

Email Marketing Is Still Very Much Alive.

Email marketing is one of the oldest types of internet marketing and probably the hardest to do right. Over time, it became heavily associated with spam, which is why it isn’t trusted by many internet users. So, if you feel like you can’t put in the effort to put together a great email marketing strategy, it’s best to avoid it.

However, if executed properly, email marketing can be a powerful tool. Its ROI is ranked at the top amongst all other online marketing channels.

Pro tip: Email marketing works especially well if you manage to give it the human touch, but automation does wonders as well. Investing in a solid CRM tool, such as MailChimp or ActiveCampaign, promises a solid percentage of retaining escaping customers and upselling to existing ones.

Open Your Pocket for Ads.

The Verge interviewed Melissa Grady, CMO of Cadillac, and asked her if advertising really works. This was her reply:

“It definitely does. We all think about advertising as annoying, and it is sometimes, but people actually love advertising. 

How many people are so excited on Super Bowl Sunday to see all the ads? That’s good advertising. When advertising is good, we don’t mind it.”

When you think about it, her statement is very accurate. The world is overrun by irritating ads, but when they’re great, we all love them. Keep this in mind if you decide on spending money on advertising. Don’t just run anything for the sake of exposure – create something unique and captivating.

Pro tip: PPC (Pay Per Click) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) are proven ways to generate considerable ROI when done well. Sponsored content on social media works great as well, as it allows even the smallest, capped-budget businesses to thrive through targeted advertising.

Go Risk-Free With Affiliate Marketing.

Imagine having tons of people constantly spreading the word about your business and products with positive reviews and testimonials. Your friends would do it for free for sure, but to convince a large number of people to do it, too, you need to offer a commission. 

The process of creating an affiliate program is a well-established method of online marketing that works like a charm. The best thing about it is that you don’t need to pay anything to your affiliate partners until they actually bring you customers who’ll purchase from you.

Another similar marketing option is setting up a referral program. Offer your existing customers discounts on future purchases or lower the price of their membership plan in exchange for new customers that they’ve recruited.

Pro tip: Take a closer look at how your competition handles this type of marketing. It’ll help you understand the right referral rates for your business.

List Your Business Everywhere.

We’ve talked about how important it is to discover the right social network for your business, but if you’re operating locally, it would be very smart to use every available channel. Make sure to list your business in all the top web directories if you want customers to find you with a single click. 

Google My Business, Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Foursquare are several of many directories where small businesses can claim a listing and publish everything about their company that can be used to drive more traffic in.

Some of the basic things you should do to generate more leads include:

  • Posting fancy images and videos of your place;
  • Adding a map of your location to give directions to your customers.

Pro tip: Ensure that your address, business hours, and contact information are always up-to-date. Messing up on these details can infuriate customers, so you’d basically be leaving money on the table.

Do Everything With Mobile in Mind.

Simply put, take every guideline that we’ve gone over in this guide and make sure it’s mobile-friendly. With almost everyone owning a smartphone these days, it’d be ridiculous to ignore the importance of mobile marketing.

Having a responsive website is the first step for successful mobile marketing. Today, more people browse the internet from their smartphones rather than a computer, that’s why you need to pay attention to the importance of responsive website design for mobile

If your company can afford a mobile app, there are wonderful ways to use it to expand your marketing strategy. Offer special deals, discounts, and coupons if your customers make a reservation or order from it. This way you’ll make sure they have your app on their phones, so you can use push notifications to often expose your business to them.

Another great way to leverage this strategy is text messaging. Figure out a way to collect phone numbers from your customers and text them whenever you offer sales or promotions. Text messages are never ignored, judging by the success rate of this method.

Pro tip: Get noticed with a mobile loyalty program. Offer your customers an app where they can earn loyalty points and exchange them for discounts, freebies, or perks. Very few businesses implement this kind of marketing, so it’s a great opportunity to stand out.

Follow the Marketing Trend of Social Responsibility.

Green is the new black. Every day, more businesses incorporate sustainability and organic production. They try to innovate by reducing animal cruelty or pledging to offer ethical worker treatment. Companies don’t only do this because it’s the right thing to do; they do it because customers demand it.

Appealing to the current customers’ needs not only ensures decent placement on the market, but it also opens the doors to new marketing possibilities. So, explore the current trends and upgrade the way your business operates with new socially-conscious and eco-friendly practices.

Never forget to promote those new milestones. Write content about your new recyclable packaging and the high percentage of diversity on your team. It’s a good idea to post regularly about it on your social network profiles.

Pro tip: If your brand isn’t green, organic, or vegan enough, make sure to partner with charities and nonprofits to leverage the power of this aspect. Making donations to a social or environmental cause and posting a Facebook status about it is a marketing move on its own.

Avoid Unnecessary Clichés Unethical Marketing.

Spare your business from humiliation by avoiding tacky and outdated attempts at quirky marketing that often make customers cringe and provoke eye-rolling.

Here are some examples of bad online marketing that we really hate:

  • “We’re number one in our trade.”
    Let the audience decide for themselves on this one. No one will promote their business by saying “we’re the number four donut bakery in town”, so naturally, everyone likes to attach that “no.1” to their tagline, making them not stand out among the competition.
  • “Find us at our convenient location.”
    Who exactly is your location convenient for? Again, leave it to your customers to determine how conveniently you’re positioned to each of them and save your taglines for more meaningful attributes.
  • “Check out our Instagram.”
    If you constantly rely on your social network channels – great! Go for it. But please don’t leave this type of link laying around if you haven’t updated your social media pages in a while. People will think you’re not very enthusiastic about doing business or worse – they’ll think your business is closed.
  • “Take a look at our ad on YouTube.”
    Who in their right mind advertises their advertisements? Why waste more of your customers’ time by pointing them somewhere else, when you’ve already got their attention?

Many companies have also been known to take advantage of difficult situations to promote their business. That’s unethical and, in today’s internet culture, it can get your business “canceled” fast. 

Conclusion

There you have it, our go-to, must-have advice for beginners to online marketing. We sincerely hope you’ve learned something new about how to enhance your online marketing strategy today.

While we understand that there’s no definite formula for successful digital marketing that’s optimized for every business out there, following our guidelines will certainly help you turn some heads, increase your traffic, and close as many deals as possible.