What is online marketing?

Digital marketing, also referred to as online marketing, entails the utilization of internet-based platforms to communicate a company’s brand, offerings, or services to its potential clientele. The strategies and methods employed in digital marketing encompass email promotions, social media engagement, advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), and more. The fundamental objective of marketing in the online sphere is to connect with potential customers through the platforms where they already spend their time, such as browsing, searching, shopping, and socializing online. In essence, it’s about meeting customers where they are.

Online marketing presents a unique set of advantages and challenges, relying primarily on digital channels to transform virtual visitors into actual customers.

In contrast, offline marketing diverges from online marketing by employing various avenues to execute promotional initiatives. Traditional offline marketing traditionally leveraged mediums like print media, billboards, television, and radio advertisements. Transitioning these offline customers into the online realm can be challenging since it necessitates a shift from one medium to another, typically involving the transition to a website.

In the era before the rise of online marketing channels, the cost of marketing products or services was frequently exorbitant and challenging to quantify. Consider television advertising campaigns, which were evaluated through consumer focus groups to gauge brand recognition. Today, anyone engaged in business can participate in online marketing, crafting customer acquisition strategies with minimal to no expenditure. Premier online marketing tools and services also offer the capability to experiment and optimize campaigns, refining their effectiveness and boosting return on investment (ROI).

Benefits of online marketing

One significant advantage of utilizing digital channels for marketing a business or product lies in the capacity to gauge the effectiveness of any given campaign. Additionally, it enables the assessment of how visitors, acquired through various digital marketing channels, engage with a digital interface. Moreover, those visitors who make the transition into paying customers can be subjected to in-depth analysis to pinpoint precisely where and how their online journey culminated in a purchase.

Web or mobile app analytics tools prove invaluable in ascertaining the following:

  1. The digital marketing channels and campaigns that offer the most cost-effective means of customer acquisition. This assessment is based on the conversion rate from visitors to customers and the associated cost of acquiring those visitors.
  2. The channels that excel in acquiring customers and fostering greater customer lifetime value. For instance, email marketing and social media often emerge as effective channels for encouraging repeat purchases and sustaining customer engagement.
  3. Identification of customer segments that demonstrate robust engagement behavior and possess substantial potential for upselling opportunities. This is especially relevant in the case of software or mobile apps, where it is typically easier to market additional, higher-value products to customers who have already engaged with your brand and are familiar with it.

Common online marketing tools

There are a number of tools that can be used to build and maintain a robust digital marketing program:

  • Email marketing or marketing automation
  • Social media marketing
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Online events & webinars
  • A/B testing & website optimization
  • Content marketing
  • Web analytics like Google Analytics 4
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) like Salesforce
  • Content management system (CMS)
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising like Google Ads or Linkedin Ads
  • Affiliate marketing

Examples of online marketing

Here are some instances of digital marketing campaigns:

  1. Canon employs search engine advertising on Google and Bing, targeting keywords related to “photography.” This strategy aims to reach a relevant audience and drive traffic to a specific webpage, promoting their cameras.
  2. Whole Foods collects email addresses through its website to compile email lists. These lists are then used to promote new products, sales, and in-store events to their subscribers.
  3. Dove produces video advertisements and shares them across social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This approach seeks to stimulate positive discussions about their brand and products among their audience.
  4. Bite Beauty collaborates with influencers to endorse a new lipstick to their target audience of discerning beauty enthusiasts.

While digital marketing offers numerous opportunities for online businesses to expand their internet presence and cultivate their audiences, it also presents certain challenges. Firstly, digital marketing can sometimes come across as impersonal due to the virtual delivery of messages and content to a targeted audience. Marketers must tailor their digital marketing strategies to align with a comprehensive understanding of their customers’ needs and preferences.

Online marketing can also be highly competitive and saturated. Although it empowers companies to reach both local and global markets, the sheer number of businesses promoting their products and services online can make capturing visitors’ attention a daunting task. To overcome this challenge, marketers must strike a balance between establishing a unique value proposition (UVP) and defining their brand voice while experimenting with marketing campaigns on various channels. Additionally, it’s essential to communicate insights about the audience and marketing campaigns to the marketing management team to garner widespread support across the organization.

How to start marketing online

The initial step in embarking on online marketing is to assess your business objectives and ensure they are quantifiable. Are you aiming to acquire 100 new customers, generate 1,000 leads for your B2B sales pipeline, or amass 10,000 followers on your social media platforms? It’s essential to have a method for monitoring your progress toward these set objectives.

Following this, you must decide how to construct an online presence that will support your pursuit of these goals and formulate a corresponding digital marketing strategy for these platforms. Here are some fundamental considerations:

  1. Establish an Ecommerce Site: Setting up an ecommerce website allows you to either start selling your products online or at least list them for potential customers to view.
  2. Create Valuable Content: Building awareness and attracting subscribers can be achieved by launching a blog or podcast. Crafting excellent content and optimizing it for search engines (SEO) is crucial to ensure it’s easily discoverable.
  3. Leverage Customer Advocacy: Partner with satisfied customers willing to champion your products. Creating case studies or infographics featuring their experiences can serve as compelling social proof for prospective customers evaluating your company.
  4. Develop a Landing Page: Construct a simple landing page featuring a lead capture form. This is particularly effective for B2B companies as it aids in brand development and traffic generation.
  5. Implement Analytics: Utilize a basic analytics platform such as Google Analytics 4 (which is free) to commence the measurement of your marketing efforts and their alignment with your initial objectives.

When you’re ready to initiate your online marketing endeavors, involving your team members and marketing management team and keeping track of all the tasks can be challenging. Consider utilizing a (free) Content Marketing Platform to streamline task management and facilitate content publication.

How to start with web analytics

A well-structured digital marketing plan doesn’t just begin by outlining goals; it also includes a methodology for monitoring progress towards those objectives. It’s crucial to consider metrics before commencing your efforts because it’s generally not feasible to retroactively gather historical data or measure online activities after the fact.

Here are the key steps to follow:

  1. Create a Measurement Plan: Define the actions a potential customer might take on your website, and ideally, map these actions along a customer journey. Typical actions include clicking to your website from a search engine results page or filling out a contact form.
  2. Implement Web Tracking Tools: Set up a web tracking tool, and since over half of all websites use it, Google Analytics is a widely popular choice. It’s user-friendly and requires minimal setup. This tool helps you track web metrics efficiently.
  3. Leverage Web Analytics: Utilize web analytics to examine customer behavior, conduct market research, and explore visitor demographics. Web data is invaluable for making informed marketing decisions, including pricing strategies and campaign planning to target the right audiences.
  4. Enhance User Experience: Go beyond standard web analytics by incorporating techniques such as surveys, user testing, and face-to-face conversations to gain a deeper understanding of the overall user experience. This helps in identifying areas for improvement and optimization.
  5. Personalization and Audience Segmentation: Take your data analysis a step further by implementing personalization strategies and segmenting your audiences. This makes the collected data actionable for business owners, enabling more targeted and effective marketing campaigns.

By adhering to these steps and maintaining a focus on measurement and data analysis, your digital marketing plan can be more effective and adaptable to evolving customer needs and market trends.

Optimizing your online marketing

Online marketing offers a unique advantage in terms of optimizing and measuring performance due to the significant control it provides over the digital experience, a level of control that is far more challenging to achieve in offline marketing.

Typically, businesses focus on optimizing their digital campaigns for search engines (SEO) by using visitor data such as search traffic and demographics to create more relevant and engaging content. It’s important to note that optimization should prioritize the reader’s experience rather than solely catering to search engines. Search engines have become adept at identifying websites that genuinely provide valuable answers to user queries, and attempts to manipulate rankings can lead to penalties such as lower search engine rankings.

Based on customer demographics, businesses might choose to employ social media campaigns to promote their products and services. In the realm of social media, the emphasis should be on engaging with the audience and demonstrating the functionality of products. Social platforms, being inherently interactive, also serve as excellent platforms for soliciting customer feedback and garnering endorsements through product reviews.

As you make changes to enhance the performance of your online marketing campaigns, it’s prudent to monitor how these modifications affect the buyer’s journey. Tools like A/B testing can provide more effective measurements, offering a higher level of certainty regarding their impact on customer behavior.

Furthermore, consider the potential synergy between online and offline marketing strategies. While online customer behavior may differ significantly from in-store or offline marketing, many businesses have achieved success by bridging the gap between these two realms. They do so by promoting in-store offers online and vice versa, ensuring a cohesive and holistic marketing approach that caters to a wide range of customer preferences and behaviors.


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