Starting a new business is a very daunting venture. The stakes are high. Your life savings are often on the line. You have employees that look to you for security. You have customers that you need to delight. The number of moving parts involved in turning your company into a success can sometimes seem overwhelming.
However, the rewards are impossible to overstate. That includes not only practical rewards, like building wealth independently but also abstract ones like fulfilling a deeply held ambition or creating a legacy for yourself.
Serious entrepreneurs are always looking for new marketing strategies to get closer to their goal of becoming profitable and showing consistent growth in this area. However, many existing or new businesses overlook harnessing the immense power of digital marketing – leveraging the internet and all its glorious mechanisms to expand and serve your customer base.
In this article, we’re taking a look at the basics of online marketing. We’ll be delving into the ten most effective methods of developing your sales funnel using techniques that have proven immensely successful.
1. Email Marketing
Some of our readers may be scratching their heads at the prime position we’ve given this marketing technique. Email is the oldest internet communication platform. Does it really play such a vital role in online marketing?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Despite the growing influence of modern communication channels like social media, email marketing still delivers a phenomenal return on investment. On average, when done correctly, an email marketing campaign delivers $38 for every $1 spent.
It’s vital that your email marketing efforts are based on a solid strategy. Don’t just rush into this blindly. Building an effective email marketing strategy involves:
- having a deep understanding of your target audience and their needs
- developing a content strategy that addresses these needs
- building your subscriber list – which includes giving people the right incentive to sign up for your emails
- crafting subject lines that result in a high open-rate
- writing content that results in a strong click-through rate (you want to turn email recipients into traffic)
- creating an email schedule and sticking to it – consistency is key.
To manage an email marketing campaign effectively, you need to be able to measure its results. Measurability is critical for almost every single marketing method we’ll be discussing here. Ensure that you can measure the open rates and click-through rates of each email you send out. There are numerous tools you can use for this purpose.
2. Content Marketing
This marketing technique is for businesses ready to play the long game. Essentially, it involves creating engaging content (mostly blog posts) that are related to your company’s product or service, as well as the wider scope of your industry.
The purpose of this content is not primarily to sell yourself. Your main goal here is to provide valuable information to your readers, who are your potential customers. Once they’re on your site, reading the information they googled or found on social media, there should be enough subtle calls to action for them to explore the rest of your site and convert into customers.
A company that’s done a great job of this is Eachnight. Their website is absolutely packed with an incredible inventory of well-researched content on the science of sleep – a topic related to the product they’re selling. There’s no fluff here. Eachnight’s articles are clearly written to give their target audience valuable information, not to deliver a clumsy hard sell on their products.
image source: eachnight.com
Their marketing managers will have done research into search engine keywords involving sleep and briefed their writers on these requirements. The content writers’ job is to create a meaningful, engaging article that’s populated with these keywords sufficiently to rank highly on Google. Ensuring that content is visible is one of the most important aspects of successful content marketing.
3. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing can seem like a bit of a beast to the inexperienced business owner. There are so many channels, each evolving so quickly, and each offering so many innovative ways to make a connection with your audience.
The first step is to choose the social media platforms that are suitable for your brand. Understand what Facebook offers you when compared to Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Ask questions such as:
- What type of content is typically published on these platforms?
- What engagement-promoting functionality does each of these offer?
- Do these features fit with your brand strategy and your target audience’s needs?
- Most importantly, answer the question of whether your product is a good fit for a particular platform.
Take paddleboard manufacturers Gilli Sports as an example. Their brand image is about adventure. Their website is image-heavy. They promote an active, fun lifestyle. Their target audience is people who love the outdoors and appreciate the aesthetics associated with adventure sports.
image source: gilisports.com
As a result, the company has poured its energy into social media channels where this aesthetic can be incorporated into the content they post: Instagram and Facebook. They’ve opted not to spread themselves too thin across too many platforms, focusing hard on building an audience on these two channels only.
Another aspect of successful social media marketing is giving real thought to the content you post. Don’t go through the motions here.
You want your followers to feel enticed by your visuals and delighted with every post that you publish. Don’t bombard them with superficial fluff they can find elsewhere. Social media is about being social. Remember this with every post you make. Remember that you’re building a community, and every time you reach out to them, you want to say something interesting and engaging.
4. Interact With Your Community
If done correctly, each of your social media posts will also be an invitation for your community to respond. This is called engagement, and generating a lot of it is the holy grail of social media marketing.
Each response you get from a follower is an opportunity to build loyalty, not just to your social media presence, but to your brand. Be friendly. Be engaging. Ask questions. Make your audience feel valued, and you’ll be one step closer to creating loyal customers.
At the same time, be comfortable with handling difficult questions, dealing with complaints, or providing support. Potential customers will think of your social media account as a platform for any type of conversation with you. Don’t shy away from this. Embrace it.
5. Get Your Customers Involved
Customer retention is a big part of successful online marketing. This is especially true if you’re operating in the “recurring revenue” space, where customers pay monthly subscriptions for access to your product.
Research has shown that acquiring a new customer costs five times as much as keeping an existing one. Not only that, but a long-time customer is one that eventually becomes what’s referred to as a “brand evangelist.” These customers are so loyal to your brand that they actively recommend your company to their network of friends and family. Evangelists are worth their weight in gold, and the only road to them is through retaining existing customers.
One of the most effective ways to retain customers is to make them part of your marketing strategy. A company that’s done this extremely successfully is Ultimate Meal Plans. They allow their customers – subscribers to their meal plan service – to actively participate in providing support to each other. This is a core part of their service and a priority in their marketing strategy.
image source: ultimatemealplans.com
Customers who feel like they’re part of a community that actively supports each other become emotionally invested in a product. This is true for subscribers who provide and receive support. Subscribers are empowered to get involved in the actual process of delivering one of Ultimate Meal Plans’ offerings. This is one of the cornerstones of retention, so if you can find a way to work it into your marketing strategy, don’t hesitate.
6. Involve a Digital Public Relations Agent
Digital PR may not be the cheapest of the tips we’re discussing here, but if it’s within your budget, and brand awareness is what you’re after, it’s a terrific strategy to gain visibility and attract customers. This is an especially helpful approach for companies that are unwilling to make the commitment of hiring a full-time marketing manager.
Digital PR agents employ a wide variety of tactics to increase their clients’ brand exposure. They do this by leveraging their knowledge of the online marketing industry as well as their relationships with influencers, bloggers, and journalists.
The amount of effort involved in building and maintaining this network is something that an entrepreneur focused on running their business simply cannot take on. It’s a job in itself, and there’s a reason why there are specialists in this field.
When done right, digital PR will ensure that you raise brand awareness among your target audience within a much shorter timeframe than if you had attempted it on your own. Reputable PR agents are not only well-connected, but also familiar with software and techniques necessary to measure the success of a particular campaign.
They have an arsenal of techniques at their disposal to tailor a visibility campaign that’s ideal for any client. If you need to see results fast, and you have the means, this is an excellent option for you.
7. Utilize Google Analytics
Having a solid understanding of where your website’s traffic is coming from and how users spend time on your site is critical if you want to take online marketing seriously. Google Analytics is a fantastic tool that offers a vast amount of data on users’ behavior on your website. All of this data can be built into the kind of knowledge you need to streamline your marketing campaigns and block leaks in your marketing funnel.
However, Google Analytics can be a difficult beast. It offers a depth of functionality and reporting that is very likely to intimidate even people with an intermediate knowledge of online marketing.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of free online educational material on how Google Analytics can be used to streamline your marketing efforts. Educate yourself on the basics first, and once you’ve mastered them, continue on towards its more complex uses.
image source: analytics.google.com
8. Partner with Influencers
With so much online messaging constantly competing for their attention, internet users are becoming less susceptible to traditional marketing. Influencers represent one of the newest forms of online marketing, and influencer marketing is one of the most effective ways to combat online advertising fatigue.
Having your product actively endorsed in a sincere and novel way by a reputable company or individual with a loyal following is a great way around this problem. In a recent study published by Forbes, results showed that only 1% of millennials trust traditional advertising, while a staggering 33% of them consult reputable blogs before committing to a purchase.
Another survey revealed that Twitter users trust the opinion of influencers almost as much as they trust the endorsements of their friends and family. Add to this the fact that, on average, influencer marketing returns over $6 for every $1 spent, and you’ve got a marketing strategy that’s too good to ignore.
image source: adweek.com
Finding an influencer that’s right for your brand isn’t as difficult as you may think. There are numerous avenues to getting the right person to represent your brand online. The important thing is to ensure that their following overlaps with your target audience. Don’t make the mistake of partnering with an online celebrity just because they’re willing and they have a large following.
9. Provide Social Proof
On the topic of generating trust, there are many ways in which your online presence can be leveraged to shine a light on your customers’ experience with your product. This is called providing social proof, and it’s becoming one of the most important aspects of marketing.
Social proof can be illustrated in a variety of ways, but one of the most effective methods is to provide reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers. Make them clearly visible on your website and social media platforms. Do this in a transparent way, and you’ll be gaining the trust you need to convert a website visitor into a customer.
Here are some of our favorite ways of providing credible social proof:
- Use popups to show purchases or sign-ups in real-time.
- Show the logos of companies that you’ve done business with.
- Show product reviews and star ratings from verified customers.
- Have a page on your website dedicated to detailed testimonials from customers.
image source: landingcube.com
10. Make Use of Paid Advertising
This is an online marketing technique that can result in extremely fast returns on investment. Setting up an account with Facebook, Google, or Instagram is simple, and the process of creating and publishing ads has become relatively painless. In short, it’s arguably the fastest way to generate traffic for your website.
Another benefit is that all three of the advertising platforms (Facebook, Google, and Instagram) offer excellent targeting features. Before publishing your ad, it’s possible to get very specific about the demographic you want to reach. This goes beyond things like age, gender, and location; you can get extremely granular when deciding who you want to expose the advertisement to.
As we mentioned before in this article, it’s incredibly important to be able to measure the effectiveness of a particular marketing campaign. This is something that all reputable PPC (pay-per-click) or CPM (cost-per-impression) advertising networks offer. This allows the diligent advertiser to constantly A/B test the effectiveness and ROI of different adverts against each other.
A/B testing is essential to succeed with paid advertising. Constantly experiment with different images, headline copy, and descriptions. Eliminate ads that don’t perform as well as others, and work on improving the well-performing ones frequently.
There’s no shortage of strategies in online marketing. Knowing which is right for you, let alone how to plan and implement them correctly, may seem overwhelming.
However, you can’t hide from the fact that if you’re not using the power of the internet to market your business, you’re miles behind your competitors. Companies cannot afford to rely purely on traditional marketing or put all their eggs in the word-of-mouth basket.
Another benefit of getting your hands dirty is that it will teach you a great deal about your business. Many of the best practices we discussed in this piece involve tasks like building relationships and growing a deeper understanding of your target audience.
Don’t let the size of this undertaking prevent you from getting proactive here. Take ownership of this journey, and you will see results.
That’s a guarantee.