The Triad of Online Marketing: Search, Social, and (Email) Subscriptions
Online marketing and digital advertising have certainly evolved over the years. Print media, television, and radio are gradually being replaced with digital platforms and social media. Like in musical harmony, different media channels can be used in conjunction with each other to augment and supplement traffic and conversions. Today, there are at least three online marketing channels that the majority of businesses should invest resources into:
Organic and Paid Search
Email and chat messaging
Here’s why each of these online marketing channels are so important:
It is essential that your business be visible to those searching for what you offer. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of enhancing your web and social presence to capture such inquiries. Organic search acts as the foundation of your online marketing channels. If it is not performing well, you may wish to improve it before looking at other channels, so that your marketing does not become too dependent on other media.
Over time, SEO has become a science, where results and rankings can be measured and calculated. Many factors can affect your ranking, including meta titles (but not descriptions), page load speed, and your domain’s authority (representative of accumulated backlinks). At the end of the day, what matters most is the quality of your content.
Depending on your industry, vertical, or location, some keywords can be quite competitive to rank on page one. There is where paid search (also know as pay-per-click, or PPC) comes in. You can choose a set of keywords to bid on in order to show up above the other search results. Even so, the cost per click (CPC) can rise to the point to where paid search is not profitable due to competition.
Capturing local traffic from searches on platforms like Google Maps is key. The snack pack (top three map results) is the equivalent of ranking on the first page of Google. If you have a brick & mortar business in a prime location, you should do everything in your power to optimize your listings for that region.
Example of what Google Maps’ ‘Snack Pack’ looks like for “Richardson Digital Marketing” query.
There’s also the new concept of app store optimization (ASO). It is similar to SEO, but the website is replaced with the App/Play store page, and the the only call to action is to install (or buy, if it’s a paid app) the app. If native mobile apps constitute at least a part of your offerings, then you should ensure that you are ranking for the appropriate queries.
Social Media Marketing
The rise of web 2.0, social media, and the mass production of smartphones has brought millions of people across the world online. Nearly a third of the world’s population has registered a Facebook account, for example.
There are many social media platforms available to businesses that serve a variety of purposes depending the industry you are in and what segment of the population you want to reach. LinkedIn consist mostly of business professionals, while Snapchat is popular among teams. Instagram and Pinterest are ideal places to share images, and Medium is a blogging platform. Businesses should focus on whichever platforms their audience is active on.
Organic Social Media Tactics
Facebook pages likes are now a meaningless vanity metric. You should focus your efforts on building a community with a Facebook group instead.
Using the right hashtags can help your content be discovered on Twitter and Instagram.
Video content should be recycled and distributed across multiple networks.
Paid Social Media Tactics
You can create your first ad on Facebook for as low a $1/day. Facebook offers a wide variety of targeting options and ad formats.
Influencer marketing has been on the rise as of late. That’s when users with a large following essentially rent out their audience one video or post at a time for a price.
While Facebook and Instagram are separate platforms, they are both owned by Facebook and both can be reached through Facebook advertising. This case is similar with Google and YouTube.
You should always have a way to reach existing (and potential) customers directly. At the end of the day, the only digital properties that you own are the domain that your website is hosted on, and your book of business, which can include email lists. Social media platforms can suspend or delete your account with zero warning, so be cautious if you start to achieve a mass following and create a contingency plan in case something goes wrong.
Opt-in email is still one of today’s most effective marketing channels. It is 40x as effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.
Building an email list will take some time and effort. While having a good list is great, knowing how to use it is vital. You must balance the messaging between educating customers with content and persuading them to buy.
You can also upload an email list to FB ads in order to create a custom audience that you can target ads to, and create a lookalike audience off of that.
Chat & SMS Marketing
Recently, the rise of chatbots has provided businesses with an even closer relationship to their customers. If a sizable portion of your traffic comes from mobile devices, you should have some strategy for communicating with customers through IM or SMS. One of my clients, Autotext.me, provides this service for automotive repair businesses. If part of your customer service or sales processes involve phone calls, then be sure to implement text messaging into those.
Facebook Messenger is quickly becoming the next channel to interact with customers on. It offers the instant delivery of SMS marketing with the sophisticated messaging provided by email, along with the enhancements offered by Facebook itself. Facebook chat bots allow you to create an automated sequence so that users can quickly schedule appointments and find what they’re looking for before even talking to an actual human. Consider using Facebook Messenger ads in 2018 to skip a few steps in your funnel by engaging with prospects directly on Facebook.
Deciding on which area to devote online marketing resources towards can be challenging.
I would suggest that you focus on:
1. Where your audience is, and
2. Whatever gets you the most the best return on your dollar.
That could mean focusing more on acquiring new customers and lead generation, or retaining existing customers with continued messaging. Don’t be afraid of either traditional channels like direct mail, or new social media platforms like Snapchat. You can experiment to see what results you might achieve before ramping-up online marketing campaigns.