How to open the customer flood gates using just the basic human psychology, analytics, and a shockingly effective design. Explore with us the fascinating space of online marketing.
So you have a small business or are planning on launching one, but have little to zero clue on how to reach and engage your customers?
But don’t sweat it. That’s what we’re here for. Let's talk digital marketing.
One of the most crucial aspects of running a business is setting up a fool-proof strategy for converting users into loyal customers.
Table of content
1. What is online marketing?
All this talk about promoting your business online… but most of the techniques seem made for experts… “What if I don’t know much about this online marketing?!”
Worry no more! This guide is custom-made to serve that need! Let’s begin with a basic definition.
Online Marketing is “a set of tools and methodologies used for promoting products and services through the internet. Online marketing includes a wider range of marketing elements than traditional business marketing due to the extra channels and marketing mechanisms available on the Internet.”
2. What’s the difference between online and traditional marketing?
So you have a small business or are planning on launching one, but have little to zero clue how to reach and engage your customers?
One of the most crucial aspects of running a business is setting up a fool-proof strategy for converting users into loyal customers.
Traditionally, you could do that by looking at your marketing budget and placing a few ads in the local newspaper, letting everybody know about your offering. A waiting game with little ability to track your progress.
That’s what most traditional advertising entails, which can also largely be called outbound marketing:
- TV/radio advertisements.
- Trade shows.
- Newspaper advertising.
- Press releases.
- Direct mail (brochures, postcards, catalogues)
Here are some online forms of marketing:
- Digital Ads
- Email marketing
- Websites, blogging, and social media (which can be considered inbound or outbound, but we’ll get to that later.)
Most businesses relied on (and some still do!) on word-of-mouth: offer a good enough service to get people talking and then wait for new clients to come to you.
This is now known as “if you build it, they will come.”
At one point, some marketers had enough of this waiting game and thought of ways to draw clients towards them. Catch their interest, make them trust and like you, and they’ll do business with you.
We use the same logic when we want to make friends or have people like us. We present ourselves in the best way possible. We give before we ask. We stand out! Lots more about this in the next section!
Back to business.
How you spend your marketing budget will impact all other areas of your company. So getting it right is paramount. Investing in the right type of advertising is one of those smart, strategic moves all seasoned entrepreneurs are talking about.
Traditional marketing - The monologue
Back in the day, whenever you wanted to spread the word about your company, you relied on “rented land”. Devising a media plan where you scouted the best offline mediums to place your announcements was the way to go. The tried and true path.
The only path.
The audiences you could prospect were limited to your local area, not to mention your available budget.
Relying mostly on the audiences in mediums like TV, radio or newspaper was putting you in the position of having a monologue with prospective clients.
We’re not saying that traditional advertising was bad. Truth is that the methods businesses use to make their presence known has grown exponentially in the past 10-15 years and that is mainly because of online opportunities and better tracking and refining of what works and what doesn’t.
Online marketing - The dialogue
With the rise of our digital society, advertising went from being a monologue to becoming a conversation. And with the help of social media (read this article), a GLOBAL conversation.
We went from merely reaching the people on a national level, to talking with clients two continents away. These changes opened even more opportunities, but also gave us lots more to think about in terms of strategic advertising for our businesses.
The good part of all of this transformation?
We can now pick and choose, customize where, when, how and what we’re going to tell our prospective clients, depending on what our objectives are. We can now communicate our vision with ease.
Well, this is all great news but it still involves a budget and it also involves quite a bit of choice and hence complexity.
The amazing thing is that once you learn to make better choices and customize your marketing based on real customer feedback and analytics… your budget is far more effective than traditional advertising could ever be.
Back in the days of traditional advertising, people were shown ads simply because they watched a certain TV show with the whole family.
Not exactly targeted.
In the digital space and time where anyone can block ads with a simple click. Outbound advertising gets blocked even more often, and thus it can get more expensive over time. The more it gets shut down, the more you’ll have to buy in order to get seen.
Paid ads need to be used strategically, to bring people to your website.
There you have ideally built a true oasis of expertise by sharing what you know, how you’ve learned it and how it can help your clients reach their goals, too.
Building trust by educating your users, is super effective and creates a win-win for everyone. So, what is this oasis of knowledge we’re speaking of? Well, many call this type of strategy “Inbound Marketing”.
By using clever and helpful content creation, you establish a dialogue with your clients. Businesses are more and more becoming true helpers for their clients’ problems. And the way you stand out from the noise is by telling a compelling brand story.
Given the vast array of digital ad tools, you can now get started with any budget that feels comfortable. There are no extra production, delivery or analysis costs if you don’t want to.
Creating content that shares your knowledge, positions yourself as an expert, and choosing the right paid ads will set up that much needed dialogue.
Paid advertising makes them aware of your presence faster, and the amazing content you present through your newly founded branded voice makes them stick around.
3. What are the different types of online marketing?
SEM (Search engine marketing)
The Internet is full of acronyms, techniques, methods… and we agree! It can get a bit overwhelming sometimes. Especially if you’re already juggling a hundred tasks at once.
That’s why we’re only sticking to the important basics.
SEM is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages, primarily through paid advertising.
Know those days when you can’t quite get out of bed and need a little nudge of caffeine to get you through the day?
Well, in the world of online advertising, that boost is called SEM. And your business’ message can break through the daily clutter.
Here’s how it can help…
SEM is the type of digital marketing that includes Pay Per Click advertisements, or PPC ads. These types of tools allow you to create customized advertisements, set customized budgets and see results as soon as your ads are running online.
By their nature, they are mostly text-based ads, leveraging the giant capabilities Google has. When you decide to use this as your advertising tool, you’ll have to bid for certain keywords, and you’re in competition with other businesses targeting the same keywords in a specific location.
Choosing and tracking your keywords thoroughly is paramount. After all, in most cases, you want to make more money from selling your goods & services than you are spending to generate traffic to your site.
PPC (Pay per Click)
PPC are ads that can be run using the power of search engines like Google. They are a form of paid digital marketing where advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked. Going into further detail, they are divided into Search and Display ads.
Display Ads are the ones that appear on other websites, either targeting a direct search from customers or simply by appearing on the designated space for ads on a website.
Given that they’re not so conversion-driven compared to its PPC cousins, Display Ads are more well-suited for business goals like raising brand awareness on a larger scale, leveraging exposure.
Of course, that site needs to accept display ads, and the algorithm you customized for the ad does the job by displaying your ad in front of carefully targeted groups to raise awareness and generate leads.
Given the many sizes and places on a website you can position your ads into, we advise doing some split testing to see which one performs better, bringing in more leads. As for using both types of ads to meet customer’s searches from both angles… Not so much!
Given that Google provides all these services to its clients, means that the more ads you buy, the more they gain. And it’s only natural! They’re in business for that reason. But that’s not necessarily good for YOUR business.
In the world of paid advertising, it is wise to precisely target your customers, and thus optimize spending. What use it is to your small business being all over the place, diluting your message with all these techniques and tools?
You can make the smart choice of only deciding for the ones that will bring you the best return on your investment (ROI).
But more about costs a bit later! Now let’s focus a bit on the star of the digital advertising world…
4. SMM social media marketing
Social Media’s main function is to help a “non-searcher” platform user realize they need your product or service.
“Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms to connect with your audience to build your brand, increase sales, and drive website traffic. This involves publishing great content on your social media profiles, listening to and engaging your followers, analyzing your results, and running social media advertisements.”
Being specifically visual platforms, the overall branding and content needs to stand out. Visual ads are one of the best solutions and is where the true power of design techniques discussed in chapter three of this material truly gets to shine.
Let’s dive deeper!
Advertising on Social Media comes with market segmentation and building specific brand personas that reflect parts of your clientele.
Basically, all you have to do is look at your clients or prospective clients, and divide them on criteria like age, gender, profession, interests, income, lifestyle, etc…
Shaping a portrait of sorts, describing who they are, or can be.
- Set your Objectives
- Target your Audience
- Set a budget
- Design on a look
5. Social media advertising. Which platform is best for your business?
In 2017, the image-sharing app reached a fabulous amount of 2 million advertisers. Instagram is THE PLACE for small businesses to promote their products and services, especially if the offering is visually attractive.
But! About how to create clickable visual ads, further along in the text!
Let’s look at a third criteria: demographics! Age affects user behaviour, especially on social media. There are countless online discussions about how Facebook is for the “older people” and Insta caters to the younger generation. True, but not SO true! Here’s why!
A study done by Pew Research points out that Facebook appeals to users of all age groups, with the largest number of them being female (77%). It being “old” only proves its durability and longevity, and…
Let’s be real! We’ve all had our Facebook profiles for more than a decade now! And so do brands!
For the sheer amount of posts we do daily, the engagement an average user has, this proves to be impactful for any business that attracts, converts and delights them as clients.
Being a platform known for its fiery debates but also for die-hard fandom support, we deeply encourage you to consider Facebook as one of your first-line choices for paid advertising.
With more than a decade since it’s been around, Facebook has skyrocketed in terms of usability, tools, and benefits it provides its users. Especially brands!
The social media giant is actually an advertising platform true and true. No matter if you are an individual, a small business or a global brand like Apple… it has some tools to boost your visibility and posts engagement.
Plus! If you’re that small business that aims big and strongly believes in their mission, lives and breathes their craft… well, Facebook has you covered with all you’ll possibly need!
Once you click on their Business website, you’ll find everything from Marketing Tips on their main hubs (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, to online classes that aim to transform you into the best social media marketer and advertiser to date.
Just take a look at what they welcome you with, by clicking this link! For more information on the Ad Manager and how to use it to create campaigns that attract and delight your audience, for both Facebook and Instagram, go to this link!
For creating outstanding visuals for your Facebook campaigns check out NewGlue.
With its high popularity among young adults, Insta aims to be the best place to promote your small business, as this age group is more open to early adoption. Not to mention the support and engagement you’ll get if you start a conversation that helps them with one of their needs…
…for which your offering is the solution! The conversions you’ll get!
But it all depends on what brand identity you position your business with. It all starts with how they remember you. And image plays a key role in this!
“Instagram for Business? But didn’t you say Facebook has that on their Business page? Why do I need another website to lose my time with?”
We hear you! But think of it this way…
Someone has always wanted to open their own coffee shop. Being so passionate about all things coffee, the future business owner already decided which blends and roasts they will prefer versus another.
Looking at the competition and, even more so, to their tight budget, they choose to specialize in order to differentiate. Likewise, with the tools they’ll use. The decor, the colors, the… branding.
You narrow things down!
That’s why Instagram have their own Business hub. To provide more in-depth tips and tricks, techniques… to not only make you the best at ALL the Facebook “umbrella brands”, but…
… SPECIFICALLY to Instagram!
By clicking the following link, you’ll enter a space where the focus is mostly on visual marketing, storytelling and engaging your desired audience with stunning imagery.
Let us know if you need help with branding!
LinkedIn is the place where professionals and business entities come to play. A social media hub for the experts, employees and industry mavens, it also welcomes freelancers, solopreneurs and small businesses.
Its focus is on creating connections between professionals and increasing B2B networking and collaboration.
Lately, LinkedIn has seen an increase in visually-related content, and even video, which shows that what draws peoples’ attention even in this formal scenario is brand image.
“Now, it’s become more of a content platform. People share status updates, articles, and interact with each other within a business or professional context. And because the platform is still relatively early, they’ve made the organic reach insanely high.”
(Gary Vaynerchuk – CEO and Co-Founder of VaynerMedia)
Their Campaign Manager provides you with all the necessary tools for you to “set up accounts, run campaigns, and control your budget”. In order to be able to advertise on the platform, you’ll need a business page, customized to reflect what your business is all about.
And… because professional environments demand you to look professional, don’t even think about going for it without having a polished, high-quality visual brand!
Well… you could… but…
It’s like showing up at a business meeting wearing shorts. Do you want to be taken seriously? That’s what we thought also!
But more on how to look your best, no matter the platform, further in this material!
Twitter is the social platform that thrives with dialogue. You could call it a direct descendant of the old-school SMS. Short and to the point, Twitter posts make you shape your message in a concise manner while keeping it relevant to the discussion or theme.
“Unleash the power of Twitter Ads. Launch something new, connect with what’s happening, and reach your most valuable audience when it matters most.” (quote via Twitter Business)
Hashtags are directing the conversation threads, and although we’ve seen it mostly in the political and journalistic areas, it is also a valuable tool that puts your business in front of a relevant public.
It houses more relaxed conversations than you would find on LinkedIn, yet professional and like-minded connections can still happen with great success.
Being a place where conversations start with ease, amplifying your message with paid advertising seems like a great idea. It’s like growing your voice from Mario to Super Mario, with only consuming the guidelines Twitter has on their Twitter Ads page.
6. Examples of the most successful social media campaigns
How to transform a nation’s biggest failure into a social media campaign success? Johnnie Walker targeted Facebook users in Lebanon, encouraging them to post positive messages, as opposed to what was happening in their country then.
“There is a flame that lives within all of us that can weather any storm. This is the story of the Lebanese spirit. It is determined, resilient, and defiant against all odds. Keep Walking Lebanon. “ (Keep Walking Lebanon, YouTube dedicated page)
They used the hashtag #KeepWalkingLebanon to track all the posts, then repurposed them to create a video titled Keep the Flame Alive, in which a fire calligrapher recreated their messages. Social media posts transformed into art with a social message.
The campaign results were a 20% increase in market share and $766,000 in free media exposure for the drinks company.
People pouring buckets of ice-cold water on their heads, aiming to fundraise and raise awareness of ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a type of neurodegenerative condition that affects the motor neurons in the brain, leading to disability and even death.
This is one campaign that we are not allowed to omit, as it had amazing results, all done with an initial investment of… $0! How was this possible?
The association created a competition in which people had to post videos that showed them pouring ice water over their heads, and challenging their friends and family to do the same. A social media tag, if you will! #IceBucketChallenge
And it caught fire! Here are some of the results:
- 17 million videos from 159 countries uploaded and 70 million views generated
- Will Smith, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and many more celebrities got involved
- $220 million raised to be used in research or correlated
- 440 million people saw the campaign
- Millions of memes and parodies!
The campaign started as an expense, a part of the larger brand strategy to communicate their values and beliefs, having as starting point their Instagram audience at the time.
People were asked to post a barefoot picture of them, use the campaign dedicated hashtag, #WithoutShoes, and as a result, a brand new pair of shoes went to a child in need. Company ethos translated on social media.
The campaign was a real success, with a total of 296,243 shoes donated to people in need. Social causes do go viral, as they appeal to human emotions, and therefore are prone to have a considerable impact.
But you know what makes the difference between success or failure?
Design & imagery! The way you express your brand visually captures people’s hearts. Not the technicalities of digital paid ads, but the emotion.
Another great example that made use of feelings and experiences is the Red Bull sponsorship for the Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee, USA.
The event gathers almost 80.000 people annually, AND it is streamed to approximately 5 million homes. The results achieved brand exposure for over 480.000 followers, plus the streaming public.
Large groups of people provide a double advantage: massive exposure AND generating positive emotion that can then be associated with the brand.
You guessed it! Design makes it stand out. Like it did Red Bull:
Moving into the more professional side of social media campaigns, we find the example set by the tech giant Adobe.
The campaign goal was to increase their thought leadership authority and capture the attention of marketers using sponsored content. They were in the search for a relevant channel, and this is why they chose to use LinkedIn.
Results stated that after being exposed to the sponsored content, the audience was more likely to see Adobe as a company shaping the future of digital marketing, and a real help in optimizing how they spent buying media.
Another company that chose LinkedIn as its ad platform of choice is the Inbound Marketing maven, HubSpot.
One of the campaign goals were to increase the quality of their professional leads, aiming for specific industries and companies, and also ensure a more engaged audience, as well as more downloads on their courses and ebooks.
Because of how specific is LinkedIn in the way they target ads, HubSpot have managed to attract superior quality leads and more clicks towards their site.
Let’s face it! The expression “Netflix and Chill” is already popular culture. So much so, that when you binge-watch your favorite series WITHOUT your spouse… it can be called cheating. Netflix Cheating!
The campaign aimed to create a branded experience on their Twitter channel, approaching Valentine’s Day. A large percentage of couples admitted to having cheated while watching a series on their own. Capitalizing on an existing phenomenon and approaching the 14th of February, it met its purpose.
Although the overall results were quite interesting, the main goal, of creating a brand experience for their audience managed to engage their Twitter following, creating a buzz around the company and their binge-able product.
By providing meal ideas, and choosing more user-generated content, they managed to engage their audience around real food, partner restaurants and achieve their goal of providing meals for less fortunate kids.
7. What is affiliate marketing?
..an advertising model in which a company compensates third-party publishers to generate traffic or leads to the company’s products and services. The third-party publishers are affiliates, and the commission fee incentivizes them to find ways to promote the company.”
Why can this be important for your small business?
You can create an Affiliate Programme for your brand, giving others the opportunity of earning a small income while promoting your products and services.
How’s this for (almost) effortless digital marketing!?
8. Email marketing
We all receive emails from publications or brands that we’ve subscribed to in the past. These are the product of a brand’s investment in a technique called Email Marketing.
“a form of direct marketing that uses email to promote your business’s products or services. It can help make your customers aware of your latest items or offers. It can also play a pivotal role in teaching folks about your brand or keeping them engaged between purchases.”
Basically, it’s the use of the classic tool we all use daily to send personalized messages to people who have already agreed to receive commercial or content notifications specifically from your brand.
And you may be thinking… “OK! But how will mostly a text medium help with my brand visibility?”
Glad you asked!
Given the development of tools that you can use to customize this “digital letters”, visuals form a large part in the process of creating an appealing promotional email, or even a Newsletter…
Before it reaches your customer… And with the right imagery that will entice them to click on your offering!
We highly advise you to use this tool, as it still is THE best way to creating your own loyal client base, have their direct and already agreed attention, as well as being able to delight them over and over again.
9. Content marketing
We’ve touched on content marketing briefly before. But let’s refine our learning’s with a definition first:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Remember the stories you listened to as a child? Or the amount of attention all your favorite comic books got from you and your friends?
Storytelling has been with us since the beginning of time, and it still captures our attention. From legends to folktales, to books and movies, a good story gets our attention.
As a marketing form, content marketing is the technique that brands need to use in order to tell compelling stories that catch their customer’s attention, and most of all…
Generate an emotion. Make them feel something.
A story well-told is the perfect vehicle to transmit a message, idea, or encourage a sale. Not to mention that being a long-span method, people can become loyal to your journey, to your growth story.
Content marketing is not only about the text.
In the age of social media, images, graphics, video or a mix of each can tell your brand story. Depending on the platform you choose to use for your content marketing efforts, the story’s form may change.
For example, you choose Instagram to show-off your deliciously looking (and tasty!) cupcakes. Mix that with a blog where you write your “pastry saga” or journey to build your dream business. Add some video tutorials, and you now have a pretty decent content strategy.
But you know what will bring you EVEN MORE great results? Using great quality visuals and… AND!
Branding all that content with your professionally-designed logo! And by now, we hope you know that we will gladly help you with all of this.
10. Online marketing and online advertising. What is the difference?
What should you choose?
First and foremost, no matter what choice you make, it still boils down to the basics. Having a stellar brand, built from the ground up with all its assets. It all starts with your business.
With your origin story. The reason that pushed you to start your own business in the first place. That gut feeling you had when finding out your idea can solve problems for people.
That’s what you’re marketing.
That’s what you’re buying ads for.
That’s why you are creating the best logo and visuals.
It all starts with your brand.
Promoting your company can really be easy. You can learn. After all, you are dealing with more complicated things like finances, suppliers, invoices… The daily grind of business ownership.
Marketing is the strategy you make to get ahead of your competitors and sell more.
Advertising is the tactic or set of tactics that allow you to achieve those sales.
When thinking about what to choose, the answer is: a mix. A customized mix of strategy and tactics that can evolve your brand to superhero status.
Pheew! So much information was jam-packed in a single chapter!
But if you want to be successful, you need to appreciate the power of constant learning. Growing your skills is crucial. The more you know, the more you can help your business grow and reach new audiences.
Here are the key learnings
- Online Marketing is the starting point, the strategy you trace to get from your current position to achieve your business objectives. Online Advertising is the set of techniques that derive from the strategy, actionable elements such as paid ads, social media ads, and the like. Marketing is the overarching plan, and Advertising represents the actions you take within it – and usually costs money.
- You now know that online paid ads need a focused strategy, understanding your customer, and managing a budget, as well as keeping a close eye on analytics and content optimization techniques. Not to mention, you can always adjust the budget!
a form of Internet marketing that increases website visibility in search engine results pages, aiming to achieve business goals and attract clients, primarily using paid advertising.
a form of paid digital marketing where advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked, wanting to reach their targeted market, using tools such as social media paid ads.
- Social Media Marketing
the use of social media platforms to connect with your audience to build your brand and increase sales by publishing great content and running social media advertisements.
- Affiliate Marketing
a form of compensation given to third-party publishers to generate traffic or leads to your company’s offer, incentivizing them to find ways to promote the brand and generate sales.
- Email Marketing
a form of direct marketing that uses email to promote your business’s products or services, aiming to help make your customers aware of the latest offers, while keeping them engaged
- Content Marketing
a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing consistent content to attract a clearly-defined audience, using valuable information to gain trust and leads
- At the beginning of the chapter, we promised you’ll learn how to attract clients by making use of online marketing and advertising. How to use different strategies and techniques to understand the way your audience thinks, see how crucial effective design is to capture their eyes, their hearts… and ultimately convert them into loyal clients.
Now the ball is firmly in your court! Build on what you’ve learned and showcase your new knowledge by leveraging digital marketing tools to attract, engage, and delight your audience.
And if in need of further advice, you can always come back to this post for reference. Or try NewGlue for free. Or both.