Online marketing can be a daunting concept to understand; new opportunities arise daily, old fads fade, so many acronyms, etc. But over 80% of Canadians have an Internet connection, the country is the most connected in the world, spending 40+ hours per week online. If you haven’t noticed, this Internet thing is going to stick.
To help make sense of all the elements that should go into Internet marketing, Christina Lazeski of Paperclip Creative Designs and I developed this infographic: the Online Marketing Tree. Like a tree, your online marketing efforts should be nurtured. Your desired outcome doesn’t happen overnight but instead, it is cultivated over time.
When embarking (intended pun) in online marketing most people start with the branches (tactics), don’t give enough attention to the roots (marketing plan) and virtually ignore feeding the plant (metrics).
Applicable to all market planning, the roots are the foundation to your online marketing. Dependent upon resources available, a significant investment of time and/or money should be made here to ensure what you do is effective. The old carpenters motto of measure twice and cut once (sorry trees) applies here too. More time planning now means less time fixing later. Research helps you make good business decisions. Understanding how market conditions might affect your business can leverage opportunity and mitigate risk.
Gaining an understanding of your target market will help ensure you offer what they need. Evaluating your competition makes it easier to position your business against them. Once you understand what’s going on in your business environment you can create strategies like increasing awareness, driving sales, engaging your existing client base, etc. This strategy then drives the planning, branding and design required to carry out the tactics.
From your seed a strategy will grow. These branches consist of all the common online marketing tactics businesses might utilize. That’s not to say that all these tools are relevant to your business’ strategy. Furthermore additional branches can grow as your marketing resources do so you might start out with a few, but a fully developed execution will involve most if not all of these elements.
Your website is the most complete source of information about what you do so logically it is the centre of your online marketing tree. All your Internet marketing efforts should drive traffic to your website, which in turn, should convert into business (but that’s a whole other topic). Websites and search engine optimization are very closely linked. Consider it like this, having a website and not investing in SEO is like producing a TV commercial and not buying any airtime.
For some good articles on various aspects of SEO click here. Paid online advertising is a common choice of online marketers, especially pay-per-click (PPC) which are the ‘sponsored listings’ or ads shown in search results. When properly planned PPC has it’s benefits but it can be costly otherwise. While many branches of the marketing tree bloom and flower for a long time after you have invested in them, PPC blossoms fall right off the tree as soon as you stop paying. No money, no traffic!
According to an Ipsos Reid report, over half of Canadians under the age of 55 have mobile Internet access. This could affect your business in two ways; 1) your website may need to be optimized for mobile browsing and 2) mobile ads or geo-targeting could be very effective at driving traffic depending on your business. Social media and email marketing are both about increasing awareness and staying top of mind, just done differently.
Social media involves engaging people; email marketing is closer to traditional media where you broadcast to your list of potential or existing customers. For more articles on social media click here. Content marketing is a sophisticated form on online marketing and requires a lot of planning and resources (i.e. time, money, and some expertise). Ultimately it’s an awareness and lead generation tool that offers information relevant to your target market in exchange for their contact information.
While many people skip establishing strong roots to their online marketing tree, some don’t even water their tree. The natural ecosystem of internet marketing creates a mass of valuable data that can be captured using Google Analytics, Klout, Sprout Social or many other programs. Most of this data is free and enables you to make informed business decisions. Not taking the time to measure, monitor and react to this information puts you at a great disadvantage to those of your competitors that do.
Google Analytics is free to use and provides huge amounts of data once your site is set up properly. This does involve a time commitment but is hands down some of the best time you can spend on your business. There are also programs that can help convert data to actionable information; for one example of a great website reporting tool, click here.
Whether you are the small business owner or VP of marketing, the concepts behind the online marketing tree are important to your business. Establishing strong roots in a marketing plan (simple or in-depth) will aid in growing an effective Internet marketing strategy. Ultimately, you could grow another tree for traditional marketing or have it feed into the same root system. In the end this should help guide you to implement the right tools to achieve your business objectives.