The Beginner’s Guide To Online Marketing

What is online marketing?

Online marketing and internet marketing are terms that are used interchangeably by marketers round the globe.  It refers to the method of advertising, selling and advocating either a product or a service by leveraging different digital channels.

On the other hand, digital marketing is the broader concept which encompasses both online and internet marketing terms. In fact, every marketing technique which uses either a live internet connection or a digital medium to reach out to the targeted audience falls under this.

Digital marketing has lived its era and is still continuing its buzz. So, if you’re new to this, you aren’t that late!

How tough would it be to learn the basics of digital marketing?

Let’s get you right there and define digital marketing for beginners in a more lucid way so that you can better understand the importance of online marketing as well as know the benefits of using digital marketing.

You must have heard about marketing techniques such as social media marketing, mobile marketing, video display marketing, email marketing etc.  These all are the various channels that people choose to execute their digital strategy and reach out to the masses.

Digital marketing is the blanket term which is used to generalize and define such acts of selling and promoting services and products via any or all of the above-mentioned channels to reach out to the targeted audience.

There are few questions that always keep coming. They are – how to do digital marketing and how tough it is to perform digital marketing for beginners?

Interestingly, you might consider yourself to be a rookie when it comes to digital marketing but let me tell you, YOU AREN’T! You’ve been a part of it already!

When was the last time you purchased something online?

Yesterday, last week or last month?

Purchasing stuffs online is so common these days, Isn’t it?

Now, what process you usually follow before making a purchase online? Let’s assume that you want to purchase a latest smartphone from a promising brand with superior performance and features but within your budget.

Usual process that anyone (including me) would follow is:

  • Browse through an online marketplace (eg. Amazon), search for some products or for products of a specific brand within your budget.
  • Read the user reviews and ratings.
  • Read about company after sales support.
  • Perform a Google search to find a tech blog review site and read about that product you’ve identified.
  • Go to YouTube to watch some unboxing videos and performance review of that phone or watch an ownership review video etc.
  • Reach out to some social channel group and ask for their comments on this product or specifically reach out to a Facebook page which talks about that product.
  • Ask some friends about their opinion regarding on that product, if they’re using it or if they know someone who has been using it.

So, this is how you arrive at purchase decision.

Well, you’re already a part of digital marketing if you’ve done this. How?

Digital marketing is not significantly different than the traditional marketing concept where the ultimate motive is to connect a product  with an end user. This continuous cycle is the heart of any marketing cycle and this pretty much explains the online marketing basics or internet marketing basics. This is how you’re already a part of the digital marketing world but now we shall get in to online marketing introduction and learn more on what is online marketing in details.

Let’s split the basics of a digital marketing scenario into two distinguishable parts.

Second half is the part where you as a customer, were able to search for your smart-phone and find more details about the product via various digital channels. Hence, you already know the digital touch points where users interact to know more about a product.

The first half is the part when the business/manufacturer on the first place, utilizes these channels to introduce their product so that it reaches out to users like you.

Well, this is where digital marketing comes into scenario. It emphasizes on how to build  an online presence to create brand awareness, user engagement, promoters and most importantly nurture an ongoing relationship with the end users.

Role of digital marketing

The role of digital marketing is damn crucial for the current world. At this point of time, can you imagine NOT to have any online way of shopping for which you need to go out and visit various shops to find a product you need?

The thought itself is nightmarish to me! I am a 90’s kid and if I had an option to go back to old times, I would go only for the nostalgia sake and not for marketing!

Let’s looks at some statistical data from the business-to-consumer (B2C) category which mostly includes the e-commerce or online retail industry (eg. Amazon).

As per the report, global online retail industry witnessed sales figure of around 2.3 trillion USD in the year 2017. These numbers were further projected to be around 4.5 trillion USD by the year 2021.

Doesn’t that sound too important to ignore? These figures should help to be able to gauge the benefits of using digital marketing with the help of different types of online marketing.

Some critical points about online marketing to consider are:

  • Via internet, business organizations can reach wider audience in a jiffy.
  • Even small scale industries can reach out to global audience.
  • Just a mere website could get a business started.
  • Creates awareness among targeted audience easily using digital channels.
  • Capable of reaching out to audience on-the-go.
  • Has the power to turn product marketing and advertising into mammoth success.

Apart from these, there are few more important reasons discussed below which has led even a successful brick-n-mortar business to go online. Let’s check these out:

1. Increased visibility:

How many people from the neighboring cities know about that awesome supermarket you always prefer buying your groceries from?

Few? Some? Many?

That geographical limitation doesn’t apply to online marketing. Many successful businesses with physical stores moved online in order to scale up and open up a bridge for more customers to connect.

Not only online businesses are thriving because of digital marketing awareness, physical businesses like restaurants are also getting more foot-fall by running digital campaigns.

So, online presence of any business is of utmost importance in the current world.

2. Duplex way of communication

In earlier days and even now, we do get promotional flyers from businesses tucked inside newspapers and some billboards showcasing some or the other products. The methods of announcing products were monotonous and not inviting any communication with the end users. Things are different nowadays where we have social media channels, forums and discussion groups, vlogging channels etc. wherein discussion about a certain product or service can happen which can directly impact the buying decision of consumers.

On the other end, businesses can now maintain a conversation with their audience and keep a check on user satisfaction, product performance and optimization. Businesses can now stay in touch with their consumers, keep them in loop and engaged through simple tweets, follow-up emails, thank you greetings, offers and discounts etc.

3. Research & Analyze

This is again a two way activity performed by both businesses and consumers. Businesses can constantly learn more about consumers and their needs, competitors, fair pricing etc. and can plan their next product or service accordingly. They can learn more from the market and identify the gaps and jump right there with innovative solutions. Businesses can also utilize web analytics tools to learn more about user activity and their preferences to cater to their needs non-intrusively.

This way, marketing becomes easy and sales become easier!

On the other hand, end users can research in-depth about a certain product or service through various online channels and blogs before making a buying decision.

Advantages of online marketing

Benefits of online marketing for businesses are extensive. Let’s discuss some important ones in details:

1. Global reach and influence:

Businesses can reach out to global audience and influence their buying decision with the help of online marketing. A little investment on building a website can open a gateway for the business to reach out to the wider audience.

2. Cost effective:

When it comes to marketing budgets, larger organizations might not have to worry but smaller businesses need to. In traditional marketing, the fight for ad space is brutal and small businesses find it very difficult.

With online marketing, those small businesses can still execute their strategy with a limited budget and still get higher ROI. With a list of online marketing channels in hand, you can easily decide which ones to utilize to target your audience better.

For example, a business could reach out to 1000 prospects at a cost of $3 using social media channel which might have cost around $16 through a magazine ad or a newspaper ad.

3. Measurable marketing format:

Businesses can measure whether their online marketing strategies are working as intended or not. Marketers can analyze the marketing campaign data and can further optimize their strategy to reap more benefits. So, this puts guess-work out of the picture.

4. Target potential customers:

No more shooting in the dark with online marketing as it helps in targeting only those people who are potential customers for the company. For example, with SEO, it is confirmed that the ad will only reach out to those people who are searching for content relevant to the business. This ensures that the business is not spending money on the wrong audience.

5. Surviving the competition:

Surviving the fierce battle against the larger organizations would have been tough for smaller players but thanks to online marketing that they’re still given chances to compete by expanding their reach and gain new customers. A smart and well-thought online marketing strategy could get you a long way.

6. Feedback and implementation:

With digital marketing, receiving user feedback and gathering the same is easier than traditional marketing world. This helps businesses to quickly understand, what’s working and what’s not. It also allows faster implementations to get rid of the loopholes and fine tune the approach.

The advantages of online marketing are not just inclusive of all that are mentioned above as there are other benefits as well  from the customer’s’ point of view. Such as:

  • Easy to browse through millions of products right from the comfort of home.
  • Easy way to compare one product to several others.
  • Great way to save time as you needn’t go anywhere.
  • Great way to save money due to continuous flow of offers and discounts.
  • Easy door-to-door delivery of products.
  • Opens up job opportunities for logistic partners; creates livelihood.

Hope the importance of online marketing and shopping is clear and relatable now.

How to do online marketing?

Simple question! However, there is no straight-forward answer as it is a continuous process to build up, tweak and tune your marketing strategy by learning from your customers every single day.

No exaggeration here! Once you start knowing more about your customers, you will know how to do online marketing even better than your competitors.

However, there are various online marketing techniques which you could opt for to target your audience and spread the word about your business.

There are different types of online marketing strategies that we shall be discussing for your better understanding.

Let’s begin with the various types of digital marketing.

Types of digital marketing:

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

Search Engine Optimization is the most popular segment of online marketing and can be a very crucial step for your business.

SEO can be simply defined as a continuous process of optimizing your web content for specific keywords and to increase the reach of your website to appear on top ranks of the search engine result page whenever any of those keywords are being hit. Importantly, it starts with a proper keyword research where you’ll get to know which are the most searched and relevant keywords for your business.

SEO can help in increasing the credibility of your website if you are able to maintain the quality of the content you have on the pages.

You need to try your hands on both off-page and on-page SEO to reach out to customers who might be searching something relevant to what you have to offer.

1. On-page SEO:

Google has around 200+ factors which decide upon your search page ranking and it is almost impossible to follow each one of those  since Google keeps on revising those time to time. However, implementing on-page SEO on your site do not always directly impact your rankings but it takes care of some critical metrics like the “avg. time spent on site” and “click-through rate (CTR)”. The  time people spend after landing on your site implies that people are reading your content and are finding it interesting whereas CTR would be the ratio of people who have seen your ad in the search result page versus number of times they clicked on it.

Common example of on-page SEO would be optimizing your meta tags such as title and meta description as these show up on the search result page.

Having keywords placed in  meta description certainly enhances the probability of getting higher CTR but having said that, unnecessary keyword stuffing is not what Google encourages.

2. Off-page SEO:

This is a different approach where you try to impact your rankings by doing activities off your page from outside such as:

  • Link building: Getting more backlinks from reputed sites to your site increases your rank and credibility.
  • Social Publishing: What can be better than sharing relevant and interesting posts on social platforms and getting truck loads of traffic redirecting to your site? Awesome, isn’t it?
  • Guest blogging or posting: This is another good way to let people know about your product by posting guest blogs or by commenting relevant stuffs in some other blogs as a visitor. It works great if the blog or the post where you intend to comment also speaks about similar subject as yours.

2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM):

Search Engine Marketing. You knew that too? Great! So this is the paid version of SEO where you have to pay Google to display ads to people who might be interested in your product.

Whenever your ads are being displayed and hit by users, Google would charge you for that but this will increase the CTR for your website too. For keeping the CTR figures interesting and still avoid all your money to drain, you need to choose your keywords wisely.

Some keywords might cost you $0.3 and some might even cost you up to $500! That’s ridiculously high! Isn’t it?

Investing on popular keywords might be an expensive deal as the competition would be cut throat. So, identify your important and relevant keywords for your business and try being specific. Later, you can setup a measurement strategy to find out what kind of purchase did happen to calculate your money spent v/s money made.

3. Content marketing:

“Content is the king”

Being able to constantly create quality content which is interesting, relevant and captivating is no less than a blessing! This will always keep your audience engaged and yearn for more. Through your content, you talk to them and they listen to you. Content marketing again links back to SEO and helps in getting organic traffic to your site.

A gotcha here: Do not get confused with content to be only blogs or text materials as content can be anything from infographics, videos, ebooks, podcasts, press release, viral campaigns etc.

In addition, you need to be consistent with publishing new content regardless of whatever content type you choose (you do not need to stick to any single form of content. Be open to experiment to find out which one works better). You can strategize  a blog content to bring in interested users on your site and make them realize why that product or service is best suited for them.

According to a survey by HubSpot, any business publishing more than 16 posts per month tends to attract more traffic than  one who doesn’t do it at all.

Again, do not compare this approach to that of a PPC or SEM in terms of ROI. Content marketing is a long term approach capable of giving long term gain. Every approach is unique  in its way and not everything works for everybody. That is the reason why the question on how to do digital marketing has no one-liner answer.

Do not underestimate this ever! This isn’t the #KiKiChallenge where your vehicle just goes along with you! You need to be present right inside to generate quality content and drive your audience through it to know more about your offerings. Once you love it, it’ll love you back!

4. Social Media Marketing (SMM):

Probably you knew that too! But hold on! It essentially doesn’t mean to create a page or a group and to be a silent audience. Rather, you need to be proactive in creating engagement for your audience and eventually drive them towards your product or service. There are so many of them out there for you to choose from.

Let me make it easier for you. Here is a list of online marketing channels that you can dive in to execute your learning on internet marketing basics.

These are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google+

But every channel has its own requirements, like you can’t tweet more than  a certain limit. Facebook attention span is quite low and hence sharing long posts is not a good idea. For Facebook, you can also opt for paid marketing campaigns and target interested audience group based on your requirements.

So, for each and every channel you choose, you have to prepare content accordingly.

5. Affiliate Marketing:

All established businesses like Amazon, Flipkart etc. does it. Even small organizations can opt for it. In affiliate marketing, you’d have to share a bit of your revenue with people who would be referring and promoting your product.

For example: For a person to be an Amazon affiliate, all that he needs to do is identify the product, get a share link for that product and post it on different marketing channels or even on his blog post. When a visitor clicks on that link and makes a purchase from Amazon, a little commission is being shared with the affiliate. As a small business owner, you can decide on such strategy and give a commission to your affiliates. This is quite similar to the word-of-mouth in real life.

6. Pay-Per-Click (PPC):

This you can do for both search engines as well as for social media channels wherein they would display your ad in their feeds and you have to pay for every click user makes after seeing that ad.

For example, in case of Google AdWords or Facebook, you can start a paid campaign, target your audience and post it. Now you have to set a budget for your campaign and then they will serve your ads to your audience. When they click on it  they’ll be redirected to your page or site for a purchase to happen.

8. Email Marketing:

Old but young! This is a pretty old technique but this allows you to talk directly to your customers and probably give away some discount or personalized offers to keep them engaged. Segmenting your audience and then crafting personalized deals as per their previous activities on your site and then dropping that exclusive email right in to their inbox is a very good approach that works every time.

For example, a user who just bought a pair of trekking shoes from your site indicates that he might be interested in some outdoor activities. Hence, it makes sense to target that user with a personalized email with some discounted offer on some adventurous activity gears that are usually required when going out for a camping or so.

A gotcha here: Do not plan to use a service like Gmail to shoot out bunch of such emails as you might end up landing on the spam folder and die unattended! So, it’s better to choose a tool like ‘Mailchimp’ to execute such campaign.

As per reports, email marketing gives away the best ROI amongst other marketing techniques and now we know why.

Choosing your digital marketing strategy

That’s right. Now that you know what all the options are, you need to choose yours as per your business requirements. Knowing your business well is a prerequisite.

You need not to worry about failures if you’re genuinely doing something strategically right. In course of time, you’ll be able to notice what is working for you and what’s not. Do not hesitate to try out newer online marketing methods even if no one has tried before.

Hope these online marketing basics would help you to get started with digital marketing. Why wait then? Get it ON!

About Paul Hughes

With over 20 years experience in the web hosting industry I have a passion for technology and security solutions.