Online Marketing Basics
The capabilities and technology of digital marketing services providers are growing so quickly, business managers have trouble keeping up with these developments. To be successful, vendors need an online marketing strategy that works for customers and the company. This requirement really challenges small businesses that don’t have in-house digital marketing expertise. Most of these will achieve success by hiring a professional online marketing services company to devise and implement these programs.
Website Development and Optimization
These days nearly every business has a website. And many larger companies have multiple websites. Just as ‘the eyes are the window to your soul’, your website is the world’s online window to your business. The website’s content (words), navigation, layout and visual appeal portray your business and your brand. And determine how effective your online efforts will be.
Most importantly, a business needs to attract the visitors you want. Not just any visitors, but well qualified prospects. And provide them with useful, compelling information about your products, services and value proposition. So make sure your website is be logically and intuitively organized, so visitors can easily find the information they want.
Website visitors can arrive in several ways.
- Direct Traffic – key in the URL (or select a bookmark) in web browser
- Search Engines – Google, YouTube, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, etc.
- Organic Search – click a link in the organic search engine results pages (SERPs)..
- Paid Search – click on a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ad on the results page.
- Referring Sites – click hyperlink on social media site, business directory, blog, etc.
- Email or e-newsletter – click embedded link.
Depending on the characteristics of your business and target audience, some of these methods will prove to be more effective than others. Most businesses and online marketing services organizations pursue traffic from all these sources. And periodically adjust resource allocation to favor the ones that are most successful and cost-effective.
SEO – Key to Online Marketing Success
Needless to say, businesses benefit from appearing prominently in the SERPs. Search Engine Optimization – SEO – refers to the methods used to make this happen. The search engines have web crawlers that continuously scour the Internet to evaluate websites and their pages. They analyze and calculate statistical metrics for each page.
Then the search engine’s ranking algorithm calculates the page’s rank for keyword phrases it has found on the page. And stores these rankings in a computerized index, so the page characteristics can be retrieved quickly. Whenever someone searches for a particular query phrase, the search engine checks its index for the best match keyword phrase. And displays the SERPs in decreasing order of the pages’ ranking for that keyword.
The highest ranking web page appears first in the list, and generally the top ten ranked pages appear on Page One of the search results. Search engines are pretty good at this. Most users find what they’re looking for on Page One or Two of the search results.
So to be successful online, your website pages need high rankings in the SERPs. Especially for the keywords corresponding to your business. So we evaluate your competition to see what keywords your website can use for maximum effect. And we put a lot of effort into choosing the keywords your site can ‘win’. Then we create pages optimized for those keywords.
Web Advertising with Search Engine Marketing SEM
The SERPs also contain a set of paid ads at the top and bottom. Business advertisers employ search engine marketing – SEM to place these ads in the search results. Each search engine has it’s own ad mechanisms and methodologies; but they have a lot in common.
Advertisers choose which keywords they want to trigger their ads, and how much they are willing to bid for someone clicking on the ad. Then they write the ad copy (Headline, body and call-to-action). And designate the URL of the website landing page the clicks will go to.
The search engine determines the placement of the ads on the SERPs with a proprietary auction process. Basically, they compute the product of the bid and the page’s Quality Score for the keyword. The pre-calculated Quality Score depend on the page’s SEO for that keyword, as well as any previous advertising history, Click-Thru-Rate (CTR).
So an ad-landing page combination with a $5 bid and 9 Quality Score would get a product of 45. This would receive a higher placement than an ad-landing page with a $5.25 bid and a Quality Score of 7.
Payment Models for Online Marketing – CPC vs CPM
Search engines offer two methods of paying for SEM ads. You can elect to pay by the click or by the number of impressions (the number of times the ad is displayed). Depending on which method you choose, the search engine will charge you a Cost Per Click (CPC), or a Cost Per Mille (CPM) for every thousand ad impressions.
In either case you can set a maximum daily or monthly budget to manage your advertising expenses. Most advertisers begin with PPC and monitor the number of clicks per impression to see if CPM would be more cost-effective. Search engine marketing produces a more immediate effect than SEO. And it does not require widespread modifications to your website. On the other hand, SEO enhancements persist longer than search engine marketing. When the SEM ads stop, so does the website traffic.
Display Advertising – Facebook – Google Display Network
Online advertisements appear in many forms. Online marketing professionals call those containing graphics, videos or images display ads. In contrast, text ads only use words.
Advertisers can place display ads by contacting website owners and negotiating an online marketing agreement. Or more commonly, by dealing with an advertising broker that manages ad placement across a multitude of websites. The major search engine companies act as ad brokers in this capacity through the Google Ads, Microsoft adCenter and Yahoo! Search Marketing programs.
The search engines and ad brokers have online applications for choosing target keywords, creating and editing ads, and managing the ad campaigns. As with search advertising, advertisers can purchase display ads on either a CPC or CPM basis.
Social Media Marketing – Facebook – Twitter – LinkedIn – Pinterest
After initial reluctance to use social media, corporations and small businesses have now embraced Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks. Companies use social media to create an online community of customers, prospects and business partners. In many cases, prospective customers prefer these social sites over search engines to find information about desired products and services.
The popularity of social media has spurred the growth of ratings-reviews sites. These specialized business directories host consumer-supplied ratings and reviews. And they enable users to select by geographical area and sort by review grade.
This began with Epinions.com (and reviews on Amazon.com), and has now expanded to Angie’s List, BBB.org, Glassdoor, Yelp and others. Social marketing reviews are especially important in the restaurant business, with numerous city-specific sites and national coverage by ChowHound, DineSite, Zomato, Yelp and Zagat.
In addition to the inherent benefits of social marketing, using social media also enhances SEO and SEM by creating links to your website. These links provide a path for visitors to your site. And the number and quality of these links constitute a major factor in the calculation search engine rankings.
Online Marketing – Email Solicitations – Offers – Customer Surveys
Email marketing began in the ’70s; so it doesn’t possess the avante garde appeal of dynamic keyword replacement or face-morphing smartphone apps. But it’s hard to beat the cost-effectiveness email marketing can provide. Although the average open rate for online marketing emails is very small – typically below 2% — the low cost of emailing makes this a high ROI form of online marketing.
Most businesses elect to do email marketing through online services like Constant Contact, Exact Target, MailChimp and Vertical Response. For a small fee, these companies provide tools for creating professional emails with embedded graphics and links. They send emails to your distributions lists and track the number of bounces, opens, forwards and unsubscribes. Email marketing can also be managed in-house through customer relationship management (CRM) or special purpose emailing applications like Act!, Eloqua, Manticore, NetSuite or Salesforce.com.
Professional email marketing companies generally require opt-in mailing lists. So each addressee has given your business permission to sent them email. As a result, these companies are trusted by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), so even a large emailing will get through their spam filters. And from the emailer’s standpoint, this also increases open rates.
Conclusions About Online Marketing Services
Online marketing services can help your business secure new customers and increase sales. Web marketing programs reach thousands of prospects. They offer businesses a cost-effective way to develop your brand, generate qualified sales leads — and sell your products and services online.
Semantic Advantage specializes in digital online marketing services including website development and optimization, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and search engine marketing (SEM). By combining these in an integrated online marketing program, we can allocate your marketing budget across all these disciplines to obtain the best results and maximize your ROI. For more information about our Austin online marketing services, contact Semantic Advantage.