Generally speaking, a phased, multi-channel approach is recommended to build your brand identity online. Online marketing can be used to supplement or replace conventional marketing efforts, potentially at lower cost. It’s important to note that internet marketing should not been seen as one-time investment, but a strategically planned, executed, and maintained process that can substantially improve your company’s web presence. A well-planned strategy, making use of a range of marketing vehicles, can deliver lasting benefits including increased visitor traffic, improved lead qualification, and increased sales revenue.
In all but the rarest cases, it’s pretty much inexcusable not to have some form of website representing your company in cyberspace. Your business website is the doorway to your online presence, the beacon of your brand identity on the information superhighway. However, many companies fail to look beyond their website as simply a marketing tool, and harness its power to drive real business results based on a clear set of goals, for example:
- To inform potential customers of your offerings
- To build a user community
- To gain valuable market research
- To reduce support and customer service costs
- To reduce printing and mailing costs
- To generate sales leads
- To conduct e-commerce or gain advertising revenue
Having a firm grasp of the goals you want your website to accomplish enables you to make the best choices regarding design, programming, usability, and the host of other considerations that are crucial to effective site development.
Search Engine Marketing
Most Search Engine Marketing (SEM) methodologies can be broken down into two camps: paid referrals (outbound marketing) and earned referrals (inbound marketing).
Paid Referrals (Advertising)/Outbound Marketing
The fastest and most flexible way to direct traffic to your website is through paid search engine advertising, also known as Pay-per-Click (PPC). Using PPC campaigns immediately puts your site advertisement in the Sponsored Listings area of major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing) and their network affiliates. You decide how much to spend, which regions to target, and what keywords to bid on, with the ability to test and modify ads and campaigns on the fly.
Display, Video, and Mobile Advertising
Initially limited to static images, then simple animations, online display advertising now encompasses a range of rich-media formats spread across the web. The technology for presenting the right ads to the right audience has also improved drastically, directly benefitting both consumers and advertisers. Analytical targeting options such as demographic and behavioural targeting are available and you can track the performance of your campaign daily to measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in order to calculate your Return on Investment (ROI).
Meanwhile, video is swift becoming the dominant form of content delivery online. Video advertising provides your business with tremendous reach, helping you make connections with consumers and driving your commercial success by associating your brand with high-quality content. Real-time targeting, measurement, and optimization tools guarantee superior performance.
Finally, from smartphones to tablets, mobile devices already permeate the consumer market and their dominance is growing in the business space. While location-based services and real-time reporting have helped build the medium’s success, click-to-call/act is the latest feature moving it forward, and the results come in the form of higher brand awareness and click-through rates than typical online advertising. Mobile advertising has become an essential pillar of a successful online marketing strategy, engaging and influencing millions of consumers making real-time purchase decisions.
Earned Referrals/Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing (a.k.a. permission marketing evolved) is designed to help potential customers find you on their own, primarily through search engines, blogs, and social media. Inbound marketing efforts generally involve less up-front costs than outbound ones, but more labour may be required. Ideally, the two approaches should dovetail each other.
Search Engine Optimization
The goal of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is making sure your company’s website has the highest possible placement on major search engines, thereby allowing potential customers to find you quickly and easily. This is accomplished through internal changes to your website (on-page) and actions by other websites (off-page).
One of the most important steps in creating a successful online marketing program is the development of a list of High Performance Keywords. These keywords are the phrases that prospects and potential visitors will type into search engines in order to learn about the products and services that they want to purchase. They also form the basis for various source code and response features recommendations designed to optimizing site performance, usability, and conversions. They can also be used in the creation of Content Optimized Pages as an alternative for websites that are not search engine friendly and incorporate technology such as some e-commerce shopping carts, dynamic page generation, Flash, or Frames.
Google’s search algorithm ranks every page it find on the Web from 1-10 (PageRank). The details of the criteria for this ranking are one of the biggest secrets in Silicon Valley, but we can say with the confidence born of experience that in-bound links are one of the largest factors. In-bound links to your site act as a vote for its relevance and credibility, the cornerstones of search results.
Social Media Marketing
The development and rapid adoption of various ‘Next Generation’ Web technologies present today’s businesses with unique, affordable, and effective ways to generate publicity, increase sales, and build their brand by interacting with potential customers directly (often in real-time) in ways not previously possible. The term social media describes a variety of different media vehicles where information is published by and between users sharing in some form of online community. Typical examples include:
- Blogs (e.g. Blogger, WordPress)
- Wikis and Podcasts
- Video (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo)
- Social networking platforms (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn)
- Social bookmarking sites (e.g. Del.icio.us, Digg, Technorati)
- Social geo-location platforms (e.g. Foursquare, Google Places)
Success in the arena of social media marketing requires a keen insight into online marketing concepts, familiarity with the range of Web 2.0 offerings, and the ability to effectively deploy and maintain social media campaign strategies. C4 Solutions equips businesses with the resources needed to compete successfully online. Whether you are targeting a niche market or something broader, locally or globally, we can help you communicate your brand with credibility and authority. C4 Solutions offers a portfolio of customized services to maximize your marketing potential. Contact us today to find out how or request a FREE SEM Readiness Assessment.