What is online marketing and how does it work? Our new series about online marketing explains the basics of this complex topic in easily digestible morsels. It’s not for nothing that single areas often are the work content of a whole agency. However, not every area fits every business sector. The reason for that and how a online marketing strategy may look like will be determined during this series. For that, we start with a definition and a short overview of the different instruments available.
1. What is Online Marketing?
Online marketing is not that much different to marketing in general though only a few really get what it is about. Most have a hazy idea, but nobody knows the particulars. Marketing is advertising. Somehow. Sort of. Or maybe not quite, but something like that …
So, online marketing should naturally be advertising on the web, plus maybe something else. Or something like that …
Vague concepts like that naturally are not that helpful. There is a simple way to define the scope of online marketing, however. This is it: Online Marketing tools care for covering every action one may take to draw attention to a particular website.
Meaning, for example, that you employ search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, video advertising and more to generate visitors to your website.
You may ask yourself at this point why it should, of all possible things, be just the website? The online presence does not necessarily have to be the objective of online marketing measures. But in most cases, it ought to at least be part of the range. The reasons for that will be explained in the next part of the series working-titled “Online Marketing Basics Part 2: Three reasons why your website should always get the highest priority.”
2. The Tools of Marketing on the Web
The objective of online marketing is to generate a steady stream of visitors out of your target audience for your website. To accomplish that, there is a number of tools available. Almost anyone has by now heard of terms such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing (SMM) or content marketing. Below, these tools are given a short introduction and explanation:
2.1. The Website
The company website represents your company in the world wide web and is the headquarter and target of online marketing, as here is where the target audience is supposed to generate revenue. You will only have the necessary control over design, data and execution on your own web presence, as it is the only part of the web where you are in complete control. That is the reason why websites are the pivotal point of most successful online marketing strategies.
Moreover, the success of all actions taken in that regard is determined by the structure, design and contents of the website. Even if you manage to draw as many visitors to your site as you intend to, you will only profit from that fact as long as they then do what you want them to (buy products, subscribe to a newsletter, make contact with you etc.).
2.2. Social Media Marketing
Using Facebook (FB), Twitter, Linkedin and so on means building a network or community. This is great for the development of brand awareness and image building, as well as customer retention. The classic social networks and fora are the very emblem of the modern web. But even on your own website, you can employ social media marketing. e.g. by integrating a blog.
You cannot conduct business dealings on Facebook and Co. (or not without restrictions, at least). Therefore, a Facebook page can not replace an actual online presence. Furthermore, you would become entirely dependent on a network you have no control over. All data and information (of customers) would remain in their hands. If Facebook wanted to, you would not be able to access it from one day to the next. Or maybe the design of the site or the general terms and conditions change for the worse.
A well-known and likely expensive example for the turn from a self-owned website to a pure Facebook presence is the German men’s magazine FHM. The publisher decommissioned its website in 2010 and used the domain solely for linking to its Facebook page. A year later, they were forced to return to the usual dual approach.
2.3. Content Marketing
Content Marketing is based on the web mechanism that is usually condensed to the idiom “content is king”. Good content is shared – throughout the entire Internet: through blogs, Facebook posts and the myriad of other ways of sharing knowledge through the web. With good content you can establish yourself as an expert and first reference point on a subject and ideally create a viral effect. This tends to generate direct traffic as well as good links for search engine optimization.
2.4. Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing is split into search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine advertising (SEA). The objective is to establish yourself as close to the top result as possible in the search result pages or the placed advertisements when it comes to the terms that are searched for most often, and thus guide the searcher to your website.
This should then result in a desired action on your website. Good search engine marketing aims for the most relevant search keywords of the respective industry. In that, SEO and SEA complement each other – among other things, in regard to data collection. How often which term is searched for in which region can be investigated beforehand (in rounded numbers). This step and the perpetual evaluation are the decisive factors for every successful SEO and SEA strategy.
2.5. Affiliate Marketing
Other owners of websites advertize products and cash in a sales or lead commission when future customers are generated through these websites. Affiliate marketing is suited for entrepreneurs who manufacture their products themselves and wish to sell them to their target audience in a more or less automated way. The classic version of this would be a real webshop.
Website owners who include advertisements and a link to the web shop of the producer take a share in advertising the product. However, to do that you have to be prepared to share the profits as well.
The development and marketing of websites that solely focus on affiliate partnerships has been a business model of its own for years. Many experienced online marketing experts use their know-how to create such websites and to generate an (additional) income through affiliate commissions. Dubious methods have evolved around that topic.
2.5. Email Marketing
Reaching out to the target audience with a newsletter is a well-tried option to generate long-term customers and to offer them quality service while staying in contact. For many online marketing experts, the email addresses of potential customers are an especially valuable resource, as you get direct “access” to the mailboxes of your target audience.
Naturally, the chance that your proposition is recognized there is considerably higher than elsewhere. However, there are some legal aspects to keep in mind when tackling email marketing.
2.6. Online Video Advertising
Online video advertising offers a way to present the product or the company or the brand through online videos, such as corporate films, product videos, how-to videos or humor-fueled advertising videos. The ways and means to employ these are much more varied and numerous than the classic commercial on TV. One of the best known videos that show this was the spot „A Hunter shoots a bear“ by Tipp-ex.
On platforms such as Youtube or Vimeo, these videos become tools for social marketing as well.
2.7. Banner Advertising
Banner advertising means the inclusion of advertising surfaces in a (suitable) website. In a way comparable to the classic print media, you pay for advertising space on a website. There are several payment methods as well as several different types of banners. Again, the possibilities of the web offer more scope for design (such as animations, etc.) than a simple newspaper ad.
2.8. Online Couponing
Online couponing is the web version of the classic discount coupon. The coupon is usually verified through a code and can thus be used safely. After typing in the code, the reduced price is shown to the customer, trying to entice the potential client to buy the product.
3. What’s Next in our Online Marketing Series?
The next part of the series focuses on the actual website. As mentioned in the above article, it is the pivotal point for a successful online marketing strategy. We will then continue to evaluate and show the tools already mentioned and their possible applications step by step. The objective of the series is achieving an overview of the basics of this complex area of knowledge.
(originally written by Manuel Diwosch for our sister magazine Dr. Web / dpe)