Online marketing is an important part of any business. As someone who stays as far away from this as possible (while still running a business), I know enough about this to know why I want to avoid it. Having said that, I'm not avoiding all of it for a few different reasons. While I'm staying off social media, that's not the only way to do online marketing,
In my opinion, online marketing consists of 5 main areas to focus on. These areas can each be seen as a separate online presence, but I urge you to look at them all together. For example, SEO is most commonly referred to for sites, but the keywords can be used as hashtags on social media. Without further ado, here are the five areas of online marketing you need to know about.
1. SEO (search engine optimization)
Search engine optimization involves complicated algorithms and using specific keywords and text to make sure your site has a better ranking on search engines. You want to make sure to know the basics of SEO and how to apply them to your website, in order to improve your online marketing strategy. The main thing to know when it comes to SEO is the importance of keywords. Use hashtags, repetition, and variation for what your product or service is and what it does.
Use SEO plug-ins or add-ons to your site to check everything is working right (ex. Yoast SEO)
Create new content on a regular, scheduled basis (ex. Post blog articles every month)
Share your information using hashtags on multiple social media platforms
Since I started my business I've been focusing on SEO. In fact, I used to offer SEO services when I first started for the simple reason that I have an educational background in writing, and writing to set guidelines can be really easy. As such, SEO is a big one for me and I check it regularly, especially with the optimization changes that happen, so I do keep an eye out on that - though I do use helpers/plugins to make my life easier.
2. PPC (pay-per-click)
Paid search is sometimes considered an alternative to SEO, by helping your site appear on search engines, but I think there are a lot more opinions out there that it is a complement to it. The good thing here is that you are guaranteed to receive targeted search traffic based on your budget. Additionally, you only pay for the results, not the promise. This means that you only pay if someone clicks through to your chosen destination. The worst-case scenario here is that you gather analytics on where your readers are coming from.
Google Ads, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, etc. etc. etc.
Consider click-to-call ads for your mobile users to contact you faster
Research and customize your ads to reach the correct audience and get results
I am always wary of paying for anything without knowing the ROI, but I have tried both PPC and other ads. In fact, I had a campaign for a few months last year that ended up bringing me one of my biggest clients of the year. I also, however, ended up dealing with too many discovery calls and potential clients because of this, so while the return on investment was good, the return on time was not. I will not be doing this again for a while.
Yes, I'm categorizing these differently than PPC because there are a lot of ways to advertise! In this category, I'm referring to banner advertising. Typically, this form of online marketing is seen as headers and sidebars on sites (or magazines), but there are many size options available. It is, however, still a small space on a page that is usually filled with other information. As such, make sure yours grabs attention! The best thing here, in my opinion, is that because ads are visual, they are a great way to build on your visuals.
Rely on graphics and a short call-to-action or headline - grab attention!
Be selective as to where your ads will appear (no point in advertising your new shooting range on a yoga blog)
Consider retargeting your ads on various websites
For other ads, I actually decided to take it a different route and instead of going through ads and agencies, I ended up reaching out to a few businesses and asking them if they were interested in backlinking. I did drop that shortly after I started since the amount of research involved was too time-consuming, but I also recently found a company that can do that for me and I'm excited to work with them next quarter and do backlinks instead of ads.
Email marketing is often ignored by readers. However, with laws such as Europe’s GDPR and Canada’s CASL (both intended for privacy and against spam), most readers actually sign up themselves for newsletters. As such, they can actually be one of the most effective and least expensive marketing tools for you. Email marketing is optimal for staying in touch with your audience since you already know they are interested in learning more, and giving them a heads-up when you have new products, services, or limited-time promotions.
Send out regularly scheduled (ex. weekly/monthly) newsletters to keep in touch without spamming
Make it connect with your audience and keep it relevant
Pick a goal and stick with it - do you want to bring in more clients or inform?
When it comes to newsletters - I can't remember when I started mine. I do, however, know that it has changed multiple times since I started it. At one point, I was emailing once a week, then twice a month, then every day (for sales), then changing the content type, and so on and so on until I finally settled back into my original goal with my newsletters which is - to share information. I now send one newsletter a month that includes tips, resources, and updates. Easy! 😀
5. Social media
For this area of online marketing, I have taken a big step back away from it, but the power of social media is undeniable. Everybody is online somewhere, somehow, sometime, so, may as well join the masses, right? Personally, I'm against this (hence why I'm not doing it) but there are a lot of people that like it and it works for them. The main things you need to keep in mind here are your brand, focus, objectives, and timelines. But remember one thing: once it’s out on the internet, it will never be erased.
Be regular in your updates and follow proper scheduling
Target the correct audience, not all users of that platform
Interact and stay active, don't drop a post and run
As of early 2022, I've taken myself off social media posting. My accounts are there, but I haven't interacted at all on any social media platforms because of personal reasons. And I like it. Because of that, however, I've definitely tightened up in the other areas of my online marketing. Pre-break, I followed the algorithms and the advice and the burnout. I was shouting into the void but was not interacting and it was just too much time spent with no ROI at all.
Extra marketing tips
And lastly, I'm going to point out another three areas of marketing that are not included above and this is where I get 90% of my clients:
Referrals - these are old or current clients talking to their friends or co-workers and mentioning me. Most of it happens online as I don't meet with most of these people face-to-face, though the communication is all email or message based.
Job sites - I'm currently a member of multiple sites where people post their jobs and then contractors apply to them and, sometimes, I get chosen. This is hands-down the most involved I get in my client searches and I love being picky about it.
Communities - personally, I wouldn't put Slack and Discord into the same category as social media because those communities are closed off. This is where I go looking for clients mostly for my side gig, but if you find your community, go for it!