What has your journey into online marketing looked like so far? For many people that we meet. it has been a pretty steep learning curve. As companies recognise their need for a dedicated online marketing or SEO professional they very often promote from within, handing the responsibility to their existing webmaster or one of the marketing team. While this is great in many respects, because they end up with the role filled by someone who really knows the brand and the existing web presence, it has resulted in a whole swath of online marketing professionals who have missed a few rungs on their way up the ladder; they might be doing a great job but there are some basic principals missing from their knowledge and there is no-one they can ask to fill in the blanks! If this sounds like you then read on, we’re here to help.
Things Don’t Change
The first thing to remember is that the principals of marketing don’t change. We can market to people who are searching for a product, or we can show our product to them unprompted, in a context where we hope they may be primed to buy. In this way marketing has never and will never change.
The Yellow Pages is an answer to search marketing. The customer wants a plumber so they flick to ‘P’ and assess the various ads before selecting one or two to contact. In exactly the same way, the customer may type a search term into Google. ‘Plumber in Liverpool’ or ‘local plumbers’ are typical searches they might use in this example; your job is to work out all the possible incarnations of this question that could lead to your brand.
Placing a hotdog stand outside of a football stadium on match day is a form of contextual marketing. The online equivalent may be a Facebook ad for a fashion store in London that displays to females between the ages of 20 and 30, living within a 15 mile radius of the shop. Locating and exploiting the online opportunities for contextual marketing is another large part of the role.
How Can We Apply These Principals Online?
The great thing about online search marketing is that we can be more specific about what people want than it is possible to be with any other kind of search marketing. The search engine is our vehicle here and by working out the very specific questions that people looking for our service will ask, we can choose to target only the most qualified leads.
Contextual marketing, by its very nature, will never be as targeted but whereas before you may have placed an ad for your female fashion store in a local newspaper covering a15 mile radius, now you can choose to target the same geographical area but target only females within a relevant age range, using social media.
‘Free’ Versus Paid Online Marketing
Both search and contextual online marketing have free and paid-for options and both have their own merits. The reason that the word ‘free’ is in inverted commas in the title, is that anything you don’t pay for in cash, you invariably pay for in time and effort.
If a potential customer asks the question ‘where can I find a good, local plumber’, they will probably do so by typing ‘local plumber’ into a search engine (so this key phrase becomes the question). The ‘answers’ they receive will be in the form of both natural and and paid search results. Your website can enter the paid results quickly for a fee, or you can work on optimising your site to enter the natural listings.
With social, or contextual, marketing no question is being asked but you can pay to display to relevant users in the hope that they choose to visit your site or you can, for example, create and upload a video to YouTube for free, sharing it with friends on Facebook and via your blog in the hope that it will spark interest.
These are the basic principals of online marketing and we will return with further posts on the subject soon so, of you found this useful, please check back in the coming weeks.