In any smaller business deciding on how to spend your marketing budget is, of course, crucial. And, even though internet marketing tends to be lower cost than traditional marketing, that does not mean no cost, so it seems that, having looked at what might happen over the next 10 years or so in ‘2020 vision for the web’ and at Google in ‘Where is Google going’ recently, a quick look at what the key internet marketing strategies and tactics should be for many businesses is a good idea.
Clearly, the weighting will differ dependent on whether you are B2B or consumer focused and by industry type, but, by and large, this is the way we see it as we continue (we all hope!) to emerge from recession.
Search Engine Optimization is still crucial
Google delivers about 70% of the search queries but Bing and Yahoo are still important.
Google’s new ‘upgrade’ called “caffeine” has been rolling out with ‘invisible changes’ (such as faster searches and looking at websites page download speeds) as well as more visible things such as ‘real time’ searches for social media. Google also continues to move further towards personalized search results based on individual users’ habits and history and while, obviously, searchers may find this more helpful to the small business owner or internet marketer it is an extra hurdle.
Sites with relevant content and credible links will continue to do well but the search engines will be continually looking at how they can improve results and so staying on top of it all is important. Remember the ROI from good SEO is far greater than for most other internet marketing – e.g. c £2,000 in 3 months bought a client c. 9,500 clicks in AdWords, but a £4,000 investment in SEO is producing 15,000 visitors a month with a higher conversion rate.
Pay Per Click provides good returns
Despite the rise of social media people still use search engines as the main means of finding products and services. And, despite the protestations of many that they never click on sponsored listings the number who do is rising – it’s now about 31% who do.
Search advertising prices are likely to remain reasonable in most markets, and average returns will remain comparably high, so investing in qualified leads from pay per click remains attractive for smaller businesses.
The new kid on the block for PPC is Facebook who are growing their ad base fast and look like they will have a more targeted and behavioural way to place your advertising – well worth watching.
Video offers memorable opportunities
We all remember those virals we liked and production costs for well made videos are coming down.
However, simple self made Q&A videos, for a specific subject areas in a series of ongoing stories / topics, so viewers become hooked and want to learn more, shot with a good HD camera where the presenter is themselves and engaging and informative can also do well, though clearly the production values are not going to be as high as something professionally produced. That said they don’t have to be.
But video is still an investment and remember that you can’t view video as quickly as you can scan a webpage to find the information you need.
Correctly used however it can bring fantastic returns and having them on your own site as well as YouTube, Vimeo etc will probably help with SEO. But remember that if you have a video on your website and it’s not also on YouTube, people on YouTube won’t bother searching for your website. To them, YouTube represents the total number of videos available to them on their topic of interest. Also, don’t forget that the Google owned YouTube is the world’s second largest ‘search engine’ in its own right.
Social media marketing will continue to grow
As a smaller business experimenting with a Facebook fan page and Twitter are worth looking at. We have commented on them in Social Media Marketing 1, Social Media Marketing 2 and Social Media Workflow very recently so take a look at those articles to remind yourself what’s going on. If you’re already blogging to help with search engine rankings or to inform existing customers, you should continue to invest and, if you are not then at least consider a blog.
EMail marketing continues to provide predictable returns
The cost of sending emails is low and for most people email is still their primary means of ‘online communication’. Though open rates have dropped over the last few years email may become even become more powerful as improved social media integration occurs. The cost of email is in maintaining the list people change their email addresses. So time and money needs to be spent on keeping your email list current.
For consumer marketing regular but relevant product and service offers are crucial. They will almost always like coupons, discounts and savings. But are your customers now so accustomed to shopping for deals that they might begin to expect discounts? Resetting expectations isn’t easy, but swapping general discounts for loyalty discounts, free upgrades and other lifestyle (e.g. ‘green’) offers and new experiences that make customers feel important and connected is better business. Focusing on repeat business, deeper customer relationships and solving problems are what never fail smaller businesses.
If you are in B2B marketing then use email to educate your prospects. When people visit your web site, they are looking for valuable, informative content that answers their questions. By providing them the chance to make an informed decision, you are paving the way to a long-term relationship. Your goal is to help prospects make their own decisions without a blatant sales pitch but with the chance to enter into dialogue with you by providing opportunities to make contact, leave comments or otherwise contribute to your web site community.
Mobile marketing will take off
Mobile marketing is marketing to people through their mobile phones. Mobile applications (“there’s an app for that”) and browsing on iPhone and the Google Android phones is growing fast and text messaging, mobile email marketing, mobile websites, mobile application development and location based marketing will all grow. Find out if your customers are yet using their mobile for this and begin testing simple mobile marketing campaigns.
CRM integration will increase
CRM systems with customer purchase and marketing history at the salesperson’s fingertips, can make a consistent difference in the depth and types of conversations that happen. Knowing what emails a lead has opened and what links they’ve clicked on, for example, can be very powerful. CRM integration to allow better customer conversations will increase to provide more personalized product, service and solution information – think of simple things that already exist such as the directory enquiry company putting you straight through and sending the number to you phone via SMS and then start to think how you can do something similar or better for your customers.
CRM systems will continue to allow more tailored marketing messages based on individuals’ purchases, starting with their information gathering and continuing through their searching, purchasing, and reordering and then treating each customers individually, wherever they are using any medium they want, whether it’s text, telephone, web or a mobile app.
Hopefully, the points above have given you some ideas of thoughts that you’ll be able to use in your marketing.