Before we jump in with all the exciting new tools available, let’s take a step back and think about what you want to achieve. Too many people think: Everyone’s blogging (or podcasting, tweeting, or on Facebook) – I should be blogging – let’s start a blog! This is the wrong starting point. Just because it’s quick, easy and free to set up an account with WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or YouTube doesn’t mean you should. Like any form of marketing, your starting point should be your marketing aims and objectives, then identifying your community and where they hang out, then you choose appropriate tools to reach them. This article will give you a crash course in online marketing strategy, and help you understand some key principles of social media that will enable you to use any tool appropriately and effectively.
What is online marketing? There are almost two billion people online. Some of them are your ideal clients or customers. If you can reach even a tiny fraction of them, you will have a viable business. The internet has brought enormous benefits to the way we market our businesses. A website is like a virtual shopfront that is always open. Email reaches targeted audiences with news of our latest products. A blog provides regularly updated information for customers and prospects, which they can comment on. People can listen to us wherever they are on an MP3 player. They can watch video demonstrations of our products online, now that massive take-up of broadband enables us to watch large streaming video files. Social networks enable us to make direct connections with people who are interested in our wares. We can reach niche audiences more easily than ever before – and the power of the Internet makes these niches global. However specialised our niche, there is a market for it online, which not only can we reach but, by increasing our visibility online, will also come looking for us.
Online marketing does a lot of the same things that traditional marketing does – it just does them more cheaply and effectively with a greater reach.
You may be familiar with the traditional marketing concept of the sales funnel. It describes the stages through which you push potential customers from being a mass market of people who are unaware of your existence to a highly loyal customer who comes back for more. It also describes which marketing methods to use at which stage.