Think of it this way: internet marketing is the all-encompassing strategy you need for your business or brand to be “found” online. Your online presence will make or break your business. No online presence means you’re invisible. A bad website says you’re not credible. Bad online reputation means you’re not trustworthy. Lack of communication with customers means lost opportunities. This is where internet marketing comes in. The benefits of implementing an online marketing strategy speak for themselves; they have helped thousands of small businesses in every industry climb to the top.
The internet— among other things, of course— is the perfect platform for small businesses to catapult themselves into a new echelon of success. The online universe is much more than the repository for information, news, and cat videos. When it comes to the marketplace, it’s the great equalizer. It used to be only big shots got television advertisement, but today small businesses are essentially competing on a level playing field. The rules of the game, however, are being written and rewritten in real time. That’s why it’s an exciting time for online marketers, as we learn to navigate the tools, algorithms, and patterns that help businesses succeed and reach customers like never before. So here’s what you need to know. The industry of internet marketing will provide you with a long list of benefits—as tools, strategies, and tactics accumulate with the changing technologies— but it essentially helps you do three things: Target. Connect. Measure.
And this translates into more phone calls, more online form submissions, more foot traffic, more visibility, name recognition, and ultimately more customers.
Targeting customers is not a new concept. Marketers have been using research and strategies to target consumers since the dawn of the advertising days. Whether it was with newspaper ads, radio, or television, marketers were always trying to reach the people most likely to engage with their product. The difference today is that internet makes this far more precise, effective, and faster than ever before. There is a lot more data that helps marketers aim with much more precision and maximize marketing budgets.
When online marketers target a specific group of people or demographic, this means that an online marketing strategy is being tailored and customized to a particular business, its niche, its needs, and its particular potential audience. Targeted advertising is particularly effective in a world where we have so much information about potential audiences. In other words, an online marketing strategy adapts to your business, not the other way around. Online marketers will communicate with you in order to understand your goals and devise a plan from there.
Internet marketing will help you target and focus your marketing dollars and efforts by creating a customized strategy. Here’s how:
- Target demographics: Target customers by age, gender, and other characteristics. Want to target men ages 40 and up in a small city outside of Phoenix? Want to hit a certain zip code? It can be done with effective online marketing and provides unprecedented specificity.
- SEO keeps you at the forefront. How are people searching for your business? Learning how your customers are searching for businesses online helps build your online strategy. SEO is how people find you and what drives your content.
- Hit leads with remarketing: Retarget people that have already shown interest in your product/service. Remarketing targets people that, for example, visit your website or a certain page on your site. Once they have visited your page, ads for your company or service will follow them as they continue to browse online.
- Use automation: Use tools to automate repetitive tasks and reduce human error. This can refer to targeting and emailing new leads or current clients, as well as sending out newsletters and promotions.
- You never pay for impressions: Online marketing is based on action. You ONLY pay when people engage. Be strategic with your marketing budget and every dollar will count.
- Create custom audiences: Target people based on behaviors, interests, and search history. The internet allows you to collect data so you know who you are hitting and whether you want to target young women between the ages of 24-35 looking for beauty products, or young couples on the market for a new home, internet marketing can make it happen.
- Target location: Hit customers within certain countries, states, cities or zip codes. Depending on your business, you might need to focus on one specific area. An internet marketing strategy will hone in on this and create a specific strategy for your needs.
- Access to competitors: Know what your competitors are doing, how it’s working for them, and use it as a way to adjust and improve your strategy. One of the benefits of internet marketing is that the information is out there; an intelligent internet strategy will take into account what the closest competitors are doing and how that can help you.
Oh, the beloved search engine bar. How we’ve grown to love thee! Let’s face it, we’ve all had intimate midnight conversations with that glowing and welcoming Google search engine bar. It knows all our secrets, our passions, our desires, and needs. It is the portal to new information, but it’s also the gateway to finding what we need—i.e discovering new local businesses. When you need a service or product — be it a car mechanic or immediate medical attention— the convenient, inevitable, and unavoidable course of action in the 21st century is typing it into the search engine bar and seeing what pops up.
If your business lacks an online presence or has been careless in reputation management, your business is compromised. According to a report by Forbes magazine, 65 % of Americans see online search as the most trusted source of information on companies and more than half of U.S adults say they have Googled someone before doing business with them. The same research shows that 93% of searchers never go past the first page and base their impression on the first ten search results. That tells you a lot about how people search for businesses today. That search engine bar— especially with mobile devices— is how people search well-reviewed dog groomers, find the nearest medical clinic, search the custom handbag designer, or check the local dentist’s office hours. It’s also how they decide who to call.
Social media is also a big player. Pew research shows 78% of adults who use the internet use Facebook. That’s a lot of people and these are social platforms, designed for people to communicate, share, interact, and connect. It stands to reason that if that’s where people are connecting today, then your business needs to join the party.
So how does internet marketing help you connect? Here are a few benefits of internet marketing that help you better engage customers:
- Personal connection: The internet allows for communication and outreach directly with customers. Customers that engage/interact with companies on social media develop trust and are more likely to spend on your product or service.
- It’s mobile. New online marketing strategies are built with mobile in mind. A mobile website is vital to visibility. You are connecting with people through their most trusted device.
- Builds relationships: Personal communication builds relationships and this creates returning and loyal customers. Reach people in a real way. Join the conversation. Listen. Make a difference.
- Testimonials and reviews. The digital word of mouth. Research shows 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. The reviews they read impact their decisions.
- Shows your expertise. Whether it is through informative posts, blogs, or other communications, sharing your knowledge will help connect with customers.
- Provides 24/7 access: Be available to your customers all day every day. The internet has no off switch. No matter where you are, you want people to find you.
- Collect data: Internet marketing allows for the collection of customer data that can be used for outreach to engage and engage again. Customers might sign up for a newsletter with their email, input information onto your site, and fill out forms with phone number and/or address. Use all of this to reach out to them with personalized emails or SMS blasts. These types of personalized communications, when paired with automation and a good strategy, are great ways to connect, nurture, and convert customers.
You’ve heard that age-old adage: that which is never measured is never improved. It might be a cliche, but it contains a valuable truth: understanding trends and patterns will tell you what’s working and what isn’t. Once you know what works, you can adjust, shift, monitor, and progress. Internet marketing—with ever-evolving software, tracking tools, and technologies— has a tremendous capacity for data collection and measurement that will provide you with valuable information on your progress.
The benefits of internet marketing can be recorded and understood in order to pursue the strategy and continue achieving results.
Here are just a few ways that online marketers can help you measure your success:
- Monitor progress: Whether you are running an ads campaign or trying out a new strategy, internet tools provide constructive feedback that shows your company what is resonating with potential customers.
- Immediate updates: See campaign success as it happens. For example, if you’re running a campaign and your business receives phone calls during this time, it’s possible to immediately verify if those calls came from the campaign and what keywords were searched.
- Measure traffic: Keep track of traffic passing through your website and social media sites. By monitoring your site you know what part of your business is gaining traction. This helps with data collection. Understand what content is resonating and what customers are engaging with.
- Split test: Online tools make it easy to do split testing and compare and contrast different campaigns or content to see which one works better. Get quantifiable data about what you’re doing right.
- An abundance of tools. Internet marketing offers a tool for everything. These tools facilitate the collection of data, the synthesis, and understanding of statistics, the dissemination of social media posts and email blasts, automation, and even personal communication and responses. Use Google Analytics, CRM software, organizational tools, and social media schedulers like Hootsuite.
At its core, internet marketing is about valuing your business in this vast and changing marketplace. There are a lot of aspects that go into it. The problem is the lack of understanding of how these complex structures function and the often misguided suspicion from the part of business owners that internet marketing is nothing more than another corporate ruse to milk them of their profits. This is, of course, not the case; the benefits of internet marketing are tangible, they are strategic and can be tracked and recorded.
Small businesses looking to join the great migration towards the digital realm, need to understand that the change has already happened. Most of America (and the world) is already there. A company that remains static will be short-lived. Take Yahoo, for example. It dominated its market for a short time until they missed the boat, and Google swept the rug from under their feet. It takes the blink of an eye in a fast-paced world to topple over. In a short span of time, Yahoo lost its domination and was forced to start over. The same thing happens to companies that reject new models and reject change. Anybody remember Radio Shack? Blockbuster video?
The work of marketing companies today involves a multi-faceted approach to the digital universe and its language. If you don’t speak SEO, you’re likely to get lost in translation. There is no set formula for success with internet marketing, but innovative thinking and expertise is key. A good strategy is customized to your business. The benefits of internet marketing come from understanding the available tools and a balance of data collection and organization—a scientific-like study of the complex systems—but also a creative element that speaks to the human heart and mind. A strong business has always been about connecting with people; the difference is that online marketers have the rules of the internet to contend with.
Target, Connect, Measure, and GROW
AGI Marketing is a Google partner company that utilizes the latest tools to compose a viable strategy for local businesses to thrive. The AGI team is a symbiotic effort of creativity and technical knowledge of the systems we interact with every day. Customer connection. Quality content. Creative website design. Targeted advertising. Data collection and measured results. We are on the frontlines of innovative marketing, helping businesses break through the noise and stand out. We create. We think big. We find digital solutions!