This series will take you through all the internet marketing venues including; Landing page layout, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Blog/Article Marketing, Pay Per click Marketing, Email Marketing and Direct Mail Touch Marketing. It is meant for a business person new to internet marketing, but the techniques covered will work as well for the seasoned veteran. The series as a whole will tie all the elements together and provide you with a plan for internet marketing success. Stay tuned and tighten your belt because this will be one fun and productive ride into the world of internet marketing.
Marketing can be rendered in two ways
To start off, marketing can be implemented as a one-off advertising event or as a campaign. As a general rule, campaigns are longer term commitments that need to be planned out. By nature, campaigns in general produce far better results than one-off advertising purchases.
For example; You may have a long term objective to land 1,200 new monthly subscribers of your product/service in one year. Your tactical plan will include specific marketing elements (different type of advertising like Pay per click, Blogging, Social Media Contest) that will run on either a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or on an annual basis.
Annual agreement should always be part of a cohesive strategic campaign. Examples of these types of programs would be a Social Media Development campaign, (i.e. Growth to say 1,200 fans) or Search Engine page Ranking campaign, (i.e. Reach a page one position). These two items generally take some time to achieve. Trying to engage in this type of marketing as a short term proposition usually doesn’t work.
From a digital marketing perspective, organic efforts are usually set up as part of a long term campaign. For the most part your individual elements will be set up on a monthly, quarterly, semiannual, or annual basis, but the contracts themselves are usually annual. This is due to the fact that reaching long term goals usually take longer to achieve. An exception to this is pay per click which usually runs until your money runs out. We will talk more about this later.
Some of the marketing elements you chose may not seem to change much. For example; Social network development or Organic Search Engine marketing efforts are usually annual contracts. You would normally pay a monthly fee to a company that is providing some guaranteed growth or rank position, not running ads. However, if the companies you contract with are worth their salt, they will constantly change what they are doing in order to meet the growth targets or reach your page rank goals. Contrast this to individual pay per click ads running on Google or Facebook and you will notice you are managing (or having someone manage) specific tactical ads that are usually geared to taking advantage of event driven circumstances (seasonal or other promotion etc…). Pay per click ads usually have a shorter in duration play, have a finite run and a finite budget that may or may not last a year.
The promise of Pay Per Click
Now let’s define a few more terms that are bantered about. We’ll start with Pay Per click. PPC as it is often referred to, means that you are running specific ads on one of the search engines, directories or social media sites. Typically Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook or LinkedIn. Each time someone clicks on your ad you are charged a fee based on the highest bid for the keyword. Winning the bid will trigger the appearance of your ad in a specific location. This will differ between the specific medium you choose (i.e. Google Search, Facebook etc.…) But with all of them the person that bids the most gets the best placement.
In many contracts some services charge for each view whether a person clicks on the ad or not, (aka pay per view). Generally you are charged per thousand views/exposures. In most cases PPC is better than PPV because you only pay for an actionable event. A click through to your site.
Before we get too far into PPC, let's define Search Engines and Social Media a bit more. Search mediums fall into two categories, search engines and directory listings. The primary search engines are Google (which has 81% of all search traffic), Yahoo, Bing and a few others. Secondary Search mediums include directories like Merchant Circle, City Search, Search Local and thousands of others. Today the line is becoming a little blurred as Social Networks have gotten so big that they also provide search services. Facebook has 900 million subscribers. Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ exceed a billion subscribers.
All social networks provide some form of search function and the top five also provide PPC, PPV and sponsored ads. A search on a Social net is different from a Search Engine search in that it’s targeting is based on a subscriber profile (which can include geographic, demographic and psycho graphic information listed in a person's profile) as opposed to keywords.
Now let’s define social media or more precisely social networks. A social network is a free subscription service that individuals and businesses join for their own reasons. Many individuals join to connect with family, friends and coworkers. Others have joined because it’s the new “in” thing to do. Many businesses join because they want to connect with prospects and clients to sell and support the products/services they offer.
As a rule, people join social networks for one of four reasons; to connect with others, find useful information, be entertained or learn interesting facts. Another important rule to remember is that nobody joins a social network to be sold to. Businesses on the other hand join because they want to sell and connect with prospects and clients! They want to sell to the millions of subscribers on these social nets. But rest assured that if you try a direct sales approach you will lose many of your fans.
Is Organic better than Paid?
Another term related to Search Engine and Social Media Marketing is the term Organic. Organic in search engine marketing refers to a company’s listing position that was reached based on that search engines criteria, (verses a paid position). For example; Google’s primary determining factor for organic position is being “Relevant, Current, and Useful.” Relevant means how well your content matched the keywords being searched. Current means it is timely and fresh. And content refers to information that is useful to the user. Ads are not very important item on the list!
Organic, when used in a Social Media circles usually referrals to natural growth of your connections (followers, fans and friends etc…). Natural growth means you did not buy or bribe the follower/fan by giving them gifts or holding contests.
However, the most important aspect of your social network growth is not whether it was achieved by organic means or by bribing them to follow with gifts. The most important factor is how loyal they are to you and your brand. As a rule, fans who follow you naturally are usually more loyal than those who were bribed. But the difference in loyalty long term is based more on what you do with these fans once they are connected to you.
The last marketing element I want to discuss in this article is audience size. Market size is very important. The primary reason that TV, Radio, Newspaper and the Yellow pages dominated most of marketing for so many years is that they had the largest market share.
This transformation is taking place because the internet is ultimately so much more personalized, convenient and user centric than traditional media ever was. As a medium for content the internet offers more choices, allows the individual to engage on their timeline and it gives them the ability to truly interact and communicate with the advertisers and their peers directly. This is something that traditional content mediums like TV, Radio and Print could never hope to match. On top of that, the digital world is truly global whereas conventional media was, (and still is) almost always regional at best. This new global reach also means that your market is now the whole world!
As a business owner it’s important to recognize the additional advantages that digital marketing provides over traditional media. One of the biggest problems with traditional media was it only offered minimal tracking capabilities. You could create a special tracking phone number or use a tracking code on a coupon, but for the most part it was much harder to attribute specific sales to specific ads. Conversely, digital marketing can track specific actions in many more ways. Clicks, views, requests, forwards, re-tweets, posts, comments, calls and more can all be tracked directly to an individual online ad. More importantly, prospects can be targeted geographically, demographically and psycho-graphically.
With the advent of email and social networks, your cost for staying in touch with both prospects and clients have plummeted. Engaging in meaningful communications and distributing information can now happen with the press of a button.
In this article we have explored many digital marketing elements. I defined and compared strategic and tactical perspectives. We defined, compared and explored the boundaries of Search Engines and Social Networks. We explored the difference between pay per click, and pay per view as it pertains to search engines and Social Media marketing. And last but not least we defined the importance of audience size and the transition from traditional advertising to the age of online marketing. Future articles in this series will explore the many aspects of online marketing. I hope you have enjoyed and learned from this article. If you have a different perspective, comment or thought, share them with us.
Hector Cisneros is COO of W Squared Media Group, a prominent online marketing company based in Jacksonville, FL. He is also co-host of Blog Talk Radio’s “Working the Web to Win,” which airs every Tuesday at 4pm Eastern.