There are many new trends in online marketing and lots of options for where to allocate your marketing money and time. In some businesses, social media and online marketing now accounts for as much as 10 to 15 percent of their total marketing budget.
But with so many social media platforms now selling marketing tools and several firms devoted solely to online marketing for new companies, how can you ensure that you get the most out of your marketing dollars?
Here are seven tips that can help:
1. Set goals. Establish attainable goals, but don't jump in head first. Instead, take baby steps when you’re experimenting with your brand on social media. In the early stages, by testing the waters, you'll narrow down what works and what doesn't by trial and error. Selecting short-term goals along the way that you can measure will provide valuable feedback and promote long-term growth.
Common goals that any business should include in its online marketing strategy are:
- Increasing traffic. Focus on targeted traffic to increase the likelihood that users who come to your site already have an interest in your brand and want to be there.
- Boosting audience and brand awareness. Online tools measure this by gathering data on social networks about your audience's interaction with your company or commentary about it.
- Becoming an expert. Blogging about relevant information in a direct and compelling manner, both on your own site and on others, can build your reputation and trust among consumers.
- Increasing sales. Keep in mind the optimization factors that can raise a site’s performance. Having a Web host with a solid support and uptime history can boost your site's speed.
2. Budget accordingly for online marketing. Managing your online marketing efforts can be more costly than you anticipate. An all-too-common assumption, especially among startups, is that your efforts on most social sites constitute free marketing. Realistically, a successful online marketing campaign can cost a fair amount of money.
For instance, while email marketing platforms are usually available via contract and often offer social media monitoring capabilities, depending on the needs of your firm, the budget for your online marketing ventures may turn out to be a large percentage of your overall expenses. To stay within your online marketing budget, get quotes from several social media management companies.
3. Find strategic partners that can help you and that you can help in return. Using your network to assist others can help you in the online world. Guest blogging can build reputation. Interaction on social media sites, even with competitors, can boost brand awareness and spark a broader online conversation about product preferences. In the past year or so, well-known competitive brands have been using this strategy on Twitter to entertain consumers and promote products.
And keep in mind, other companies will be more willing to return the favor if you offer first to cross-sell their services. Supporting another business is way to show the multifaceted personality of your business rather than being a mere revenue-generating entity.
4. Don’t try to do it all yourself. You can’t, so hire out peripheral work. Outsourcing and insourcing marketing is a great way to receive the content you need without straining employees who are already juggling various assignments. A company that specializes in marketing will understand the trends and can work to create and promote your brand with content that will be recognizable and increase loyalty and trust. Having a different set of eyes on a campaign can also bring more ideas to the table about effective ways to market your brand and drive traffic to your site.
5. Opt-outs are just as important as opt-ins. For email marketing campaigns, offering a functional opt-out feature will allow any users who opt in to feel in control of the information they receive. If the opt-out feature is listed but doesn’t work, users will become irritated with the brand: After all, spam is just plain obnoxious. If you don’t have a properly working opt-out feature, you run the risk of being blacklisted, which will certainly make future email marketing campaigns harder to promote.
6. Social media policies are important. An effective social media policy should lay out the distinct style, voice and content that are appropriate to relay on behalf of your company. This will serve as a road map for your employees and marketers, whether inside and outside the company. Without that, one post by an unthinking employee can wreak havoc on your company’s online and offline reputation. According to Jen Merry, a content marketing blogger from Web hosting company FatCow, “Preventing inappropriate content from being online in the first place is the best strategy.”
7. Don’t get stuck on one social media platform. "Putting all your eggs in one basket" is the cliché phrase for it. Overusing one platform and ignoring others is a waste of your opportunities. There may be certain platforms that require more time and effort to provide relevant information, but a marketing campaign should never depend on a single platform.
The big social-media contenders all fill a niche in the marketplace, and using them effectively—and within your budget—will enable your company to reach more potential consumers organically.
Read more articles on online marketing.
Photo: Getty Images