By now you know that your business absolutely must have an online marketing strategy, but with all the info out there how do you determine what’s worth it and which to focus your efforts on?
In the online marketing realm there is no “one size fits all” strategy. Finding the best fit can be time-consuming and worrisome, and lead to buyer’s remorse.
In this blog we’ll look into the different types of online marketing strategies and which one is right for your type of business.
Online Marketing Strategy #1: SEO
We typically have two types of SEO clients (local and national) but for the purposes of this blog I will consider them both under the same SEO umbrella.
SEO generally consists of two main categories, on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO is doing all the things to your website that Google likes. You must update your title tags, meta descriptions, and alt image tags. You must have proper header structure, copy, site speed, sitemap, internal linking and other tasks that will generally be on the website itself.
Most of these tasks can be done once you start a campaign. After that, they’ll only need a little tweaking from time to time. If you install Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics, you’ll have a ton of data and tips to properly perform on-page SEO.
Off-page SEO is where most digital marketing agencies are going to earn their money. This consists of blogging (writing and outreach), social media for SEO purposes, link-building, citations, document sharing, press releases, etc. Here’s a great article from Moz on Off-Page SEO techniques if you’re looking for ways to expand your reach and in turn increase rankings.
Is SEO Right For You?
Those are the basics to an SEO campaign. After some keyword research is done, on-page and off-page SEO will begin. You’ll get a set number of keyword terms and you can watch your rankings rise over the months.
While I’m a firm believer that “SEO is NOT dead,” it may not be right for you. SEO is going to be one of the cheaper options when compared to other strategies, but you must understand what you’re getting.
While #1 rankings are great and you can watch your analytics grow month over month, SEO may not translate into actual business. You’ll keep track of your keyword terms, but you still have to enter goals into Google Analytics and have the right website that is ready to convert traffic into leads. The end game here is to increase revenue. All the other fancy stats don’t mean much if you don’t get more business out of it.
Who SEO is Right For
1. Small to Medium Sized Businesses
SEO is great for small to medium sized businesses that don’t want to spend a huge sum of money every month; think between $400-1800 a month depending on the type of business, number of keywords, etc.
2. Well Built and Designed Websites
SEO is also ideal for businesses that already have a great website in place. For SEO to be successful, your website must be the solid foundation. Whether you’ve recently gone through a website redesign or you have a well-designed website with the right layout and CTAs, you need SEO to drive the traffic to your awesome site.
3. Businesses Ready to Invest Time
Time is also a factor when considering SEO because it will take time. It’ll probably be 2-3 months before you start seeing modest results, but it’s best to be in it for the long haul. Plan on at least a year to get the most out of it. SEO is not a silver bullet.[hs_action id=”3094″]
The one thing you must understand with SEO is that rankings and traffic do not automatically mean more business. There are many other factors that go into converting traffic into leads, but SEO is a great start.
Online Marketing Strategy #2: PPC
PPC stands for pay-per-click marketing. By now I’ll assume that we’ve all seen the ads at the top and on the right side of a Google results page. In case you haven’t noticed, here’s a screenshot of ads.
If you couldn’t care less about on-page SEO, off-page SEO, blogging, site speed and all those other factors, and you just want to get some traffic to your website, PPC can be a great choice.
You or an agency can perform keyword research, build a campaign, set a budget, hook up a credit card, and in a few hours you can start running ads. If your ads are performing, you may even find yourself on the first page of Google (or at the very top) within a few days.
Is PPC Right For You?
Just like SEO, it’s best to have a website that’s ready to convert, but PPC can be great for businesses that don’t want to spend a ton of money, and for people who don’t have patience.
Most agencies will charge you a set-up fee and a percentage of your AdWords spend every month (although we do it slightly differently), so it’s entirely up to you what you want to spend.
Some industries are far more competitive than others, and if you’re in one of the more competitive industries a few hundred dollars might not get you very far, but essentially you set the budget.
If you want to be in control of your budget and you don’t want to wait months to see results, PPC can be right for you.
What We Like to Do
One of our favorite tactics is to combine SEO and PPC, and we’ve had a lot of success with that over the years. SEO is going to take some time, so in the beginning we set up a PPC campaign. As rankings increase, and you get to the first page and possibly #1 rankings, you can decrease the amount of money you’re spending with PPC because you’ll have top rankings organically.
Or, you can continue with your PPC ads, get a first page organic listing, possibly get listed in the maps, and take up a whole bunch of space on the first page.
Online Marketing Strategy #3: Email Marketing
I was tempted to call this section “Marketing Automation” but then the section would go on forever. If you want to learn more about Marketing Automation check out this in-depth (as always) blog from Neil Patel. For the purpose of this blog I’ll take one section of marketing automation, email marketing, and focus on that.
Email marketing, or drip campaigns, can be a great way to grow revenue for businesses of all sizes and there are a variety of software applications available to make it easy. You could spend as little as $40/month on a tool like Constant Contact (on the low end), $250/month on SharpSpring (middle of the road), or get a full-on marketing suite like HubSpot for $750/month. (More on HubSpot later when we discuss inbound.)
I don’t want to turn this into a software review, so just remember that you get what you pay for. Obviously, spending $40 a month on Constant Contact isn’t going to give you the same capabilities as spending $750 on HubSpot. Do some research before you sign up with anyone and make sure it’s the right fit.
Is Email Marketing Right for You?
Email marketing is great for businesses of all sizes (or budgets) but it’s important to consider the size of your email list and whether you are continuing to grow that list. If you only have 20 contacts and aren’t regularly pursuing email addresses on your website, then email marketing will just be a waste of time.
If you have a list of 20,000 contacts and you’re growing it every month, you may be missing a huge opportunity if you’re not taking advantage of email marketing.
Email marketing is best for businesses that have a large email list and that don’t want to spend a ton of money; think $100-600 a month depending on how much you’re willing to do yourself vs. hiring an agency. If you already have the list and are willing to write the emails, you can get started right now for a few bucks.
If you want to work with an agency, put a plan together, come up with an offer and an end goal, and have the emails written by a copywriter, you can expect to pay a little more, but it’s still an extremely affordable option.
Online Marketing Strategy #4: Inbound Marketing
Inbound Marketing (IM) may be the granddaddy of all online marketing strategies. When I think of Inbound Marketing I think of landing pages, calls to action, web design, analytics, split testing, forms, buyer personas, conversion rates, emails, workflows, eBooks and blogging, just to name a few.
I’ve written previously what SEO means in an inbound world, but when I think of IM I think of SEO on steroids. Let’s call it the Alex Rodriquez of online marketing. Essentially, SEO is going to get people to your website; IM is going to turn them into leads, nurture them through a funnel, and create revenue for your business.
Quite honestly, a lot of what I’ve written about can be done in-house, but for inbound marketing to work you need a great team. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done in-house, but your marketing department had better be prepared to write, design and analyze – a lot. You’ll need website copy, CTAs, eBooks, landing pages, blogs, forms, workflows and emails. Then once everything is in place, you need to analyze the data and make the proper changes.
Is Inbound Marketing Right for You?
IM is right for you if you’ve got a large in-house marketing department, or a big budget, and if the profit margins for your products and/or services are high.
If you’re selling $10 t-shirts or $100 massages, IM may be more than you need (although that’s not to say it wouldn’t work). However, if you can sell one of your products and/or services and make a few thousand dollars, IM is worth the time and monetary investment.
While the cost of inbound marketing can vary, you can be prepared to spend a few thousand dollars a month. You’re going to need the right tools and team in place for it to work, but it will also take time.
Setting up the landing pages, forms, offers, eBooks, emails, etc. can take a few weeks on its own. What’s great about the set-up, though, is that while it will constantly need tweaking, once it’s set up it’s virtually there forever. You can have leads coming in for years after a proper inbound campaign is set up.
What We Like to Do
I discussed our combination of SEO and PPC earlier, and in the intro I also mentioned that there’s no “one size fits all” solution.
Your online strategy must be tailored to your business, its needs, its goals, and its budget.
What we like to do is come up with the most cost-effective solution that will work for your business. It may be inbound marketing or it could be SEO. It might be PPC or social media, or a little bit of everything.
What works best for a Fortune 500 company might be great for them, but more than you can handle or more than you’ll ever need!
Quite often we’ll talk to a business that wants Inbound Marketing and after a few meetings we’re helping them with web redesign and SEO. It’s important to focus on what your business needs instead of following the latest trends.
Before you hire anyone for any of these services, or if you decide to do it yourself, you need to sit your entire team down and begin with the end in mind. What is the reason you’re looking into different online strategies? Is your goal eBook downloads? Growing an email list? #1 rankings?
No matter what it is, you have to know the end goal before you start. You can’t possibly come up with a solid plan if you don’t know what the goal is.
[hs_action id=”3093″]When we started as a company we mainly focused on SEO. I would guess that Social Media and Inbound Marketing were terms that no one had ever heard of, let alone people in the industry. That has all changed!
There are a number of online marketing strategies that can work; the real key is finding what will work for you!