The modern world of business relies heavily on the way the world perceives your company, how professional it is and what your customers say about your products and services. There are a multitude of online review websites and governing bodies for all sorts of industries.

Take the trusted trader scheme here in the UK or websites such as Feefo, they both have the power to make or break a company’s reputation online.

Marketing can help to raise awareness of your business, building your brand and help enhance your online reputation. There are 6 main avenues of online marketing which can help businesses grow and prosper.

1) SEO

Search Engine Optimisation is one of the hardest techniques to master, but when done correctly can be awesome for your business, and devastating for your competitors.

SEO is the practice of developing a website with the search engines in mind, incorporating keywords throughout the website coding, with which the search engines can rank your website within the search results. This type of SEO is referred to as On-Site SEO, and integrates all the aspects of your websites code and configuration to help improve upon website traffic. This usually makes up roughly 20% – 30% of the overall picture, there is a second category of SEO, referred to as Off-Site SEO.

Off-Site SEO includes all “external factors” to a website which can help to improve upon its traffic. The main factor in modern SEO is “quality back links”, this has formed the backbone of every successful SEO campaign and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Search engines such as Google examine the relationships between websites and if they discover a link from a high quality website linking to yours they will see your site as being of high quality and a reputable source of information. The opposite applies too, if they discover low quality links pointing towards a website then that site may be penalised and experience traffic drops, have a read about Google Penguin for further information.

2) PPC

Pay Per Click is another highly effective method of driving traffic to your website. There are a few different PPC platforms but the most common are Google AdWords and Bing Ad’s. PPC allows advertisers to bid on specific keywords in order to obtain positions in the search engine results, the higher the bid the higher the position (there are a few exceptions to this rule, but that should be covered on a more advanced PPC blog post).

Each time a search engine user clicks on the advert, the advertiser has to pay for the click, hence the name.

PPC can be a very powerful tool when set up correctly, because unlike other online marketing channels the advertiser has full control over how much is spent, the time of day the adverts will show, where in the country they will appear and even which days of the week they will display. All of these combined give the advertiser a great flexibility in their marketing campaign, allowing them to tailor each campaign to a specific marketing goal.

Google Adwords is the most powerful platform to run your adverts on, and Google provide various different formats for your ads. There is the traditional “search network” which displays text based adverts determined by a predefined list of keywords. These search network adverts only appear within the Google search results.

They also allow advertisers to set up “display ads” which are similar in a lot of ways to the old “banner ads” of days gone by. You can design various different sizes of banner and set up your campaign to display these banners on related websites, sites which have opted in to be a part of the “display network”. You can also create text based adverts to run on the display network for all sites that have opted in to this service.

Google also provide “remarketing” adverts, similar to display banners, however this type of advert are only displayed to the user after they have already visited your website and not converted into a sale or lead. There remarketing banners will appear on websites which are part of the display network, effectively “following” the user around the internet and continually remarketing your company to them of r the next 30 days, or until they come back and convert.

3) Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing is the new kid on the block! In recent years the major social media websites have begun offering various marketing tools for businesses and individuals. Social Media has become a great place to find your potential customers with websites devoted to certain demographics. Linked I for example is aimed at b2b users and professionals, where FaceBook is more geared up to consumers. Twitter focuses on short messaging, often referred to as “micro blogging”.

Social media gives companies the opportunity to have their messages and marketing material shared by users directly on their own profiles or “wall”. This is a key difference with other online marketing channels, as by placing your content on their own wall the users are effectively recommending your products and services to their friends! Kind of an online “word of mouth” scenario.

Once somebody has shared your content on their wall or profile, if it’s high quality and of interest their friends will also share it and then their friends and so on, kind of like the way a virus replicates, hence the term “viral” marketing.

Social Media has very close ties with SEO as the major search engines are thought to use “social shares” and “mentions” as a rankings signal, sharing content on social media helps to build the authority of that piece of content, and as a knock on effect the domain it is hosted on.

4) Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of, if not the oldest internet marketing technique. In its golden era it was seen as a very effective method of attracting new customers and building website traffic. Unfortunately email has become a heaven for spammy marketing companies effectively “cold calling” in an effort to get business.

Email marketing can still be a highly effective channel, especially in the world of eCommerce when used to support other marketing activity. Sending out voucher codes to existing customers or sending out emails to “upsell” additional products for example.

The hardest thing with email marketing is building a list of contacts. Building a list of people who already have an affinity with your company, brand, products or services a key to successful email marketing.

There are various platforms with which you can run an email campaign, MailChimp and Aweber are two of the industry leading solutions. They both offer sophisticated email list management options, giving you more flexibility with how the campaigns are delivered.

A word of warning, modern email marketing platforms are very strict on the quality of your contact list, if you receive high numbers of “unsubscribes”, bounces or complaints you run the risk of being blacklisted or banned from sending emails.

5) SMS Marketing

SMS messaging is a relatively new marketing channel, and also one of the most effective with regards to getting your message across. The open rates of SMS messages greatly outweighs the open rates of emails. Companies like Esendex based here in the UK offer SMS gateways and an API which can be integrated into other systems to help make SMS marketing easier.

The Esendex SMS API has been integrated into a Magento Extension, giving eCommerce stores built on Magento the ability to send vouchers, up selling and cross selling messages directly to the pockets of their customers.

SMS marketing offers instant deliverabiity, literally putting your messages into your subscribers pockets within seconds of your clicking the send button.

SMS messages don’t have to battle against spam filters unlike email messages, this means that there is a much higher chance that your message will reach it’s intended recipient.

6) Affiliate Marketing

This is possibly the hardest technique to master as it relies heavily on the quality and demand of your products. This is a technique which is mainly aimed at eCommerce.

As a supplier you would sign up as a “merchant” to an affiliate platform such as Affiliate Window, Affiliate Future, ClickBank etc… List your products on these platforms and allow other website owners to sell your products on their websites. These site owners or “affiliates” will then be paid a pre-determined commission by you for selling your products.

There are some well known websites which are essentially Affiliate sites, Wowcher, Groupon and Hot UK Deals are all highly successful affiliate websites.

Summary

I have introduced you to 6 internet marketing techniques, all of which have their different uses. For a business to be successful online it often takes a combination of these techniques to effectively promote your services or products. If you would like to discuss these techniques further or you would like to discuss your specific requirements for internet marketing please contact The Web Design Group, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Thanks for reading.

Andy.

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