The rich and fertile earth of the internet has grown several options for businesses trying to reach their clients online.
Depending on the type of product or service you're offering, some methods are better than others for your target market. Some are for everyone (like search engine optimization), and in most cases, you'll want to leverage a few together as part of your overall internet marketing strategy. Let's take a product example to illustrate each: Hand sanitizer.
It's the age of COVID, and you've had to close your local distillery, no longer able to welcome guests into your storefront. But there's currently a scarcity of hand sanitizer, and you realize you can easily switch your product line around to produce a hand sanitizer made from alcohol. Excited, you need to let people know your new product is available. Knowing most people are at home right now, you head to the internet for marketing and advertising.
There are several paid options online to make your presence known to your target audience. These are available through pretty much every social media outlet, and some privately owned websites (like media outlets). Options for purchase include PPC (pay-per-click), PPI (pay-per-impression) and display advertising. With PPC, you set up an advertising campaign (with Facebook, for example) where you define your target market by a wide range of characteristics and then agree to a price per user action and set an overall campaign budget. Every time a user clicks on your ad, you pay the agreed-upon PPC price. PPI is the same, but instead of requiring a user to take some action, you are paying for the number of "impressions," or times the ad displays. Display advertising typically takes the form of traditional banners and blocks, and you would seek out an online source where you would most likely find your clients. For your hand sanitizer, you might put together a Facebook PPC campaign that is regionally focused and targeted to the age and gender of people most likely to buy local.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is for everyone with a website, blog, or YouTube channel. With SEO, you want to make sure that when someone searches for your product or service on Google, Google finds and recommends your site as the most relevant and user-friendly answer to their search. Relevant, in that, your site appears to have just the right content (achieved through meta tags, keyword-rich content, and backlinks) and user-friendly, so for example, it loads quickly and displays well on mobile devices. For your hand sanitizer then, you might include keywords like "COVID-19, virus, coronavirus, sanitizer, hand sanitizer," and if you're selling locally, regional references like the name of your city, town, province, state.
For more information on SEO, check out our article How SEO Helps Your Business Succeed Online.
Social Media Marketing (SSM)
While SMM can also include paid advertising or promotion (as discussed above) in generally refers to organic forms of corporate citizenship and participation in social media. Especially right now (COVID pandemic), social media is exploding with people who are working from home, looking for daily news and updates, and using channels to socialize while stuck at home. If you don’t already have a Facebook page for your business, you’ll want to set one up now. Post daily updates and information pieces, preferably with attention-grabbing images. Know your audience and make your content appealing to them, whether by use of humor or social awareness. Set up giveaway contests that ask for likes, tags, and shares. Same with Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube (if your content lends itself to images and video). Be everywhere your clients are and engage with them by commenting, liking, and replying quickly and authentically to questions and concerns. While organic SMM has been described as “free” (versus paid), make no mistake: It requires a significant commitment of time and talent to maintain engagement and provide regular, fresh content.
Affiliate and Companion Marketing
Teaming up with a compatible product or service for joint promotion is a great way to increase your reach. So, you might join forces with a local face mask maker for a joint contest with your sanitizer. Or seek out new retail sales opportunities through local craft markets, farm vendors, or other specialty or health-based outlets.
Affiliate marketing is a more formalized approach of recruiting other online outlets or individuals to use their media reach and assets to resell your product for a commission. An affiliate marketing program is a reasonably organized thing, requiring contracts, payment, and tax considerations. You'll also want to market to your affiliates, giving them new content, sales ideas, and incentives. Think this one through before you pursue it.
Influencer or Ambassador Team Marketing
Influencers are social media personalities who have established a significant presence and group of followers. Typically found on Instagram and Twitter, you can recruit influencers to try, promote, review, and recommend your product to their fan base. They always receive free products to try (or trips!), and very successful ones get paid a fee per post. An influencer relationship can be ongoing or one-off. Be sure to provide your influencers with the key points you would like them to cover, like feedback on price points, and with your sanitizer, how was the scent? How long did the product last? Was it a convenient carry-around size?
Ambassador programs are a bit more organized, where you select a group of people who work with you on an ongoing basis to consistently receive and promote your product through their own social media channels and websites. Ambassador programming also adds some complexities like agreements for photo rights and more. Choose your ambassadors carefully, keep them happy as a team, and enjoy their genuine and enthusiastic support.
A nebulous category as all of your marketing efforts should contain quality content that is appealing and relevant to your audience. Content marketing can be set apart as a separate category, though, focused on more in-depth types of content development such as podcasts, YouTube channels, and blog posts. So, for example, this article, for us (Aptitude), is content marketing.
You can't fix what's not broken, and the oldest method of direct internet marketing is still the best way to reach and keep your clients closer. Get your clients to sign up for your mailing list by offering them a first-time purchase discount code offer and then offer them early bird or insider notice of sales, special events, and more. Don't spam them by providing non-useful content, and survey them from time to time to make sure you’re hitting the right frequency of when and what they want to hear from you, and that they still value your content. Otherwise, you risk losing them to opt-out.
Want to opt-in to our help in evaluating your current online marketing plan? Give us a shout; we have the Aptitude for that.