Why online marketing is so amazing

Online marketing is exciting, amazing, intriguing and above all, it is powerful for building business.

For many managers and traditional marketers, online marketing seems to be just a bunch of keywords, silly tweets and Facebook likes, with the occasional YouTube video going “viral”. How can you do serious sales with that?

The truth is that online marketing is so much deeper than the fluffy social persona that it puts out there. Because it is online, things are measurable and trackable, really measurable and trackable. And this enables Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and the rest (including all those widget developers in Russia) to keep on developing some really amazing tools to keep the people who spend the money – that’s us marketers – happy with our results.

But do you even know about these tools? Does your “s/he’s-young-therefore-they-must-know-about-social-media” social media executive even know about these tools? You should ask.

1. Facebook advertising

A lot of people are cross with Facebook at the moment because when they do post, usually only 20% or so of their hard-earned audience get to see their posts. And, adding insult to injury, if you do decide to promote a post you can get some really spammy “likes”.

Did you know that on Facebook you can create a “look alike” advertising audience, based on your uploaded email marketing list?

However, if you explore the Ads Manager (see small tab on left of your newsfeed) and the Power Editor hidden within, you open up a whole world of advertising power. Did you know that you can:

  • upload a list of emails, for example your current email marketing list, and ask Facebook to find these contacts on Facebook and create a “custom audience” for your advertising? Remember it usually takes 6+ “touches” for a contact to turn into a client, if you are lucky/strategic,  targeted Facebook advertising provides just that.
  • ask Facebook to create a “look alike” audience based on your custom audience? The look alike is based on your custom audience’s demographics and interests so this usually yields pretty good responses (i.e. little spam assuming your original list is good). You can choose between the closeness of the match versus the number of contacts you want. There is a compromise.
  • ask Facebook to create a “look alike” audience based on your own fans? This can be very effective and targeted if you have true fans so certainly, cull any spammy fans including, perhaps, your own family after a decent period.
  • put a “pixel” (a bit of code) on your website so that after people visit your site and go hang out on Facebook, you can “remarket” or “retarget” them with very specific advertising because  you can set rules to track exactly which page they visited? For example, say they visited the page about red cars, you can automate that they see adverts about your red cars on Facebook. Very big brother, but effective.

That’s pretty exciting, isn’t it?

2. Google Adwords

I think a lot of people dismiss Google Adwords because it really is the ugly cousin of Facebook, but oh my, how powerful it is (and you can use images and videos these days).

First of all you need to realise that a Google Adwords campaign is fun, perhaps a bit like playing poker:

  • you set up some keywords, you set up a series of adverts based around those keywords, and you have a landing/target page on your website
  • Google’s algorithms give you a “quality score”  based around how they assess searchers will respond to your advert and landing page (remember Google wants searchers to find why they are looking for otherwise Google is dead in the water), and it starts showing your adverts based around their initial assessment
  • Google’s assessment may wrong (often is). But perhaps you feel you know your audience better.  So you watch. Google watches. And you see what people do do. If people respond well, Google rewards you by lowering your per click charge and showing your advert more often and higher up the page. You respond by honing in on your keywords and dumping the junk. On the other hand, if Google is right, you can assess which keywords/adverts are showing better and try again.

Did you know Adwords allows you to see what keywords used to search before clicking your advert? Sometimes you’ll be surprised.

There are many other tools and analytics you can use, including what people actually typed in before clicking your advert (for example, for one of my clients I saw they type in Shamrock hotel and then click an advert for Shamrock catering – what?!). Sometimes there is such a mismatch you can only wonder at humanity’s success on this planet. So you use negative keywords and other strategies to stop that.

Google Adwords also helps you understand and test subject lines or phrases to see which gets more clicks/appeals to your audience more. I am testing the headline of this story in Adwords. Adwords can also, like Facebook ads, be retargeted at people who have previously visited your website.

Over time you can create super-targeted campaigns that drive pure quality visitors to your website. And then, once they trigger that Facebook retargeting “pixel”, they are in your funnel and before they know it, they’ll start seeing your advert on Facebook as well. Do you see how this works?

3. SEO

SEO stands for search engine (Google, Yahoo, etc) optimisation and everyone wants “SEO” as if it were a product off a shelf. It’s a bit more tricky than that, and above all requires patience.

The core concept is that search engines want the people who search to be happy with the results the search engine chucks up when we search. So Google (and other search engines) try and assess a page for quality. If you have been “playing poker” with Google (see Adwords above), you will have a pretty good idea of how it works and in fact, I think Adwords is an excellent place to get an understanding of SEO.

As with Adwords, Google’s initial assessment can be quite cool, but over time Google may adjust its assessment depending on how people interact with your page, “the social proof”. Social proof would include social media sharing, inbound links but also how long people stay around on your page after landing there. 

Google is a machine and you can give it pointers to help yourself:

  • put relevant words into your content. Generally Google understands synonyms or “broad match” (ref Adwords) so you don’t have to bore your readers to death using the same word over and over again
  • use keywords to describe  photos (alt text),  pages (page titles) and URLs (pretty URLs) well
  • social sharing, especially Google+, can help provide “social proof” of the quality and relevance of your content
  • quality inbound links from other sources give the search engine a social clue of a story’s quality
  • and Google likes speed so that visitors don’t lose patience.

It’s not rocket science but by being aware of, and responding to what search engines (thus your potential clients) are looking for can really bring in the quality results. However, it takes time and now more so than ever before. Because people have cottoned on to the importance of quality content the bar is being raised ever higher. For this reason, don’t turn up your nose at advertising to bring in the traffic. Once on your site, visitors will hopefully get the ball rolling by providing social proof with some sharing and revisits. And Google will like that.

With more and more good content being put online, the bar is being raised ever higher to stand out and get noticed by Google.

4. Email marketing

“Email marketing is dead”. Are you kidding? Email marketing is the scoop that takes the cream off the top. Assuming visitors didn’t jump to and call you to place that huge order the minute they first saw your advert, the goal of all the strategies listed above is to get email addresses so that you can nurture them, educate them, build trust – and close the deal.

Whatever the medium – your website, social media – your goal is to drive people to a landing page where they pay the price of their email address for some goody that you will give them (eg, a downloadable tip sheet, voucher, how to video view).  Other times they may sign up for a seminar, or webinar, or even buy something, but your goal is to get their email address. Period.

Armed with an email address you can start engaging, communicating, offering – anything – to bring these prospects closer to a sale.

And email marketing is evolving. Some providers offer automatic A/B testing around a subject line (you can also use Google Adwords for A/B testing) and you can certainly tell who has opened your emails, and which links they clicked on. This empowers you to make sub lists of targeted audiences which you can upload onto Facebook (and then you create a custom audience and etc, etc). These people will think the world is all about your product, and that is good!

Email marketing is the scoop that takes the cream off the top

5. Google, or any analytics

Google analytics is the free tool that every marketing person should check. It tells you:

  • your web traffic sources (keyword searches, referring sites, social, Adwords, from email newsletters and more) so that you know which marketing campaign is working, and which is not
  • whether visitors stick around for long or “bounce” out  within seconds, which tells you (and Google) that either the audience is wrong, so perhaps a marketing medium is sending you the wrong kind of traffic, or perhaps your site just doesn’t give visitors the answers they are looking for. But at least you can react to these numbers
  • the keywords that you are being found for, although Google hides most of that these days. A source of much annoyance to marketers. However, you can determine the most popular landing pages and work backwards from that
  • easily compare this year vs. last year or any other period.

Google analytics is not only useful for helping you determine how to make your online and offline marketing more effective, but it provides you with the data to show your senior management exactly how amazing online marketing is.

Armed with data you can prove to the budget masters how amazing online marketing is.

 

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