Online marketing tactics are the specific efforts undertaken to market a service or product. These tactics might be part of a plan, a thought out marketing and advertising strategy, but they don’t have to be linked to a strategy. They’re simply the things that can be done, either planned or unplanned, to promote a brand, products or services. Tactics are the specific steps taken. They’re where the rubber hits the road and results are gained.
This is a collection of today’s Top Ten Most Useful Online Marketing Tactics. They’re what professional marketers have in their toolbox, ready to assemble into plans for successful marketing strategies. Almost every effort in online marketing today falls under one of these generalized definitions of the top ten online marketing tactics. There’s lots of dimension of tactical approaches and subtactics underneath each of these. These represent only the tips of the icebergs, the general descriptions of groups of tactics with lots of depth underneath. Half of them are specifically about general marketing tactics and the other half are about the pay-to-play, advanced side of marketing: media buying and advertising.
The Online Marketing Tactics that Work
If you’re going to promote a brand, or plan a marketing strategy for a business, here’s what works:
Creating a unique website, hosted on a branded domain, is essential. All online audiences expect a credible brand to have it’s own website with professional looking design and content. It has to look great for both desktop and mobile visitors. The website needs to be an extension of the business in order to fulfill today’s visitor expectations – it can’t just be a calling card or brochure site any more. A website is the foundation of all other online marketing tactics.
A website allows a brand to control its message and funnel its prospects and leads into sales. A website is a means to focus awareness and divert attention from competition, even for businesses relying exclusively on brick and mortar sales. Search engines can provide some of the most valuable traffic, so the practices of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and content marketing allow brands to get direct traffic without investing in advertising. If you want to convert leads and prospects into customers, it’s possible to get results without a website, landing pages or credible domain presence. Serious brands know, however, that having even a basic a website is a less expensive more directly managed approach than trying to convert leads without one.
ESTABLISHING BRAND PRESENCES
Presences are branded content established on other people’s domains. Social Media Pages, like a Facebook Page, LinkedIn Company Page, or Branded Twitter Accounts are great examples of off-site presences that marketers can control. But it’s someone else’s publication, not the brand’s website, so the presences aren’t controlled completely. Anywhere an account can be established in a brand’s name it counts as a presence. A big benefit to creating presences, beyond exposure to external audiences, is the ability to add inbound links, pointing back to a brand’s website.
Audiences expect companies to have strong presences, to be able to find a brand in relevant directories. At a minimum, today’s audiences like to see that a brand’s Facebook Page is active. Without an established brand presence, a potential customer might be more attracted to your competitor who is more active on in the places the customer is familiar with. For a serious brand that intends to survive long term, having strong social presences is at the top of the list of required online marketing tactics. It’s hard to compete without strong presences.
One of the most effective types of presences today is a YouTube channel. Video is super-powerful at telling stories, establishing confidence with the brand and creating demand. This presence can be integrated with many other online marketing tactics, for example sending a video link to an email list or using hosted videos as paid ads shown as commercials to YouTube audiences.
Email is still a necessary part of engaging with customers. It can be an effective means to reach out to new customers if done correctly. Done incorrectly it quickly becomes more trouble than it’s worth. There are many laws and limits, but if these restrictions are navigated properly a brand can get big results using email campaigns. Having a good list of email addresses is critical, but often many businesses don’t create or possess their own lists.
When a brand doesn’t have their own list, Email can be leveraged as a kind of advertising with other publishers, sponsoring sends to their lists, often leveraging display or native advertising techniques. Email has gotten a sort of negative reputation compared to other online marketing tactics, because of spam, but it’s still essential to use.
Email is expected by customers in transaction situations, when they ask for information or purchase something. Customer’s also expect something else that’s too often neglected at the expense of revenue: at each point in a customer’s lifecycle there are opportunities to connect, to upsell and to re-affirm brand loyalty and improve retention.
PR AND INBOUND LINK CAMPAIGNS
Public relations goes beyond press releases and intelligent external media. It is an important tool for digital marketers to create brand awareness while at the same time creating relevant, valuable inbound links (aka backlinks) from authoritative sources. Search engine ranking depends on having a greater quality and quantity of inbound links than competition.
Public relations extends into networking and creating branded presences at events, smartly leveraging the digital exposure that comes from participating. Synergies between a brand and other brands that are marketing to overlapping audiences can create some powerful link opportunities if they also provide a benefit to the audience. Growth occurs when a brand’s identity is widely known, matching its digital identity of record.
Getting people to represent your brand online is powerful. Anyone can help, as long as they’re empowered to do it correctly. Some of the best digital ambassadors are your most loyal customers. If you give them the tools to promote and advocate for your brand they will. Today’s digital publications like websites and social media presences need to include the features and messaging that make promoting it easy.
Digital ambassadors can be employees, paid influencers, vendors and partners. If they’re empowered with the tools to promote brands, incentives can motivate. By using smart automation, like we’ve developed at our South Florida online marketing company, large workforces can opt-in to broadcast a unified corporate message, or uniquely select subjects and topics specific to each individual.
The Online Advertising Tactics that Work
Smart marketing is critical, but often the heat needs to be turned up and online marketers must engage advertising tactics to meet goals. Attracting visitors, potential and future customers, to your online publications and presences involves paid tactics, not just one time expenses, but ongoing expenditures that can be turned on or off, scaled up or down. If a brand needs to rapidly play, this is where it must pay.
Display advertising is often referred to as “banner ads”, but the types of ads that are possible online today go way beyond simple banners. Publishers of high-volume websites create ad spaces that they sell out to ad buyers directly or as part of an ad network, for example the most common ad network: Google Adwords. Ad impressions are tracked and often the ad buy is based on impressions, or the number of times the ad is shown. Other times the ad’s run is priced based on how many clicks it gets. If the ad is attractive, the message compelling, the offer effective and the landing page optimized, display ad buys can deliver the best cost per click rates compared to all other tactics.
Targeting lets ad buyers selectively reach only those audience members that are valuable as customers. Local businesses can buy ads that are placed on websites all around the world, but are only shown when the visitor is local. Display ads are targeted at new audiences, and create awareness with impressions even if there’s no click. Once ad units are produced they may also be useful as retargeting ads, another tactic in this list.
Display ads can include video ads, pop-out ads, ads in sponsored emails, pop-over ads overlaid on other channel’s YouTube videos, or even YouTube videos shown as commercials between other channels videos. Videos can even be inserted into display ads that run all across the Web. The sky’s the limit as to what you can do with display ads. Once you’ve got an effective campaign it can be tweaked and adjusted, driving cost-per-click down and audience quality up.
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) don’t only show results from sites and pages that are Search Engine Optimized. The first results shown on results for popular terms are often ads. You can tell because they’re marked as an “ad” or as “sponsored” quite clearly. This is a pay-to-play means of getting links to your site exposed to search engine users. The exposure is sold by bidding on specific key terms. It can be quite complicated and expensive, but the quality of the clicks often justifies the effort and expense. Some clicks can be bought for pennies while the highest recorded bid on a term involved personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles and was over $600 for a single click.
Search advertising is often referred to as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Managing buys is not recommended for smaller businesses, but becomes more necessary as a brand’s awareness grows and competitors start buying clicks based on branded search terms.
Getting mentions of your brand, service or product on popular channels in a manner that doesn’t take up ad real-estate or ad time slots is called Native Advertising. This is also called, in some cases, product placement but if it’s done correctly it doesn’t have to just promote products – it can promote services too. The mention can be obvious and blatant, for example a brand can be thanked as a sponsor or their product demonstrated on air. Other times it can be subtle, without verbal mention or direct attention drawn to it.
Whether these mentions are online or offline, on TV, on YouTube, or in someone’s blog, it’s important to be ready for the traffic it generates with either landing pages or home page layouts optimized as conversion funnels. No native advertising pitch should be invested in without a strong funnel to catch the visitors it generates.
MOBILE & TEXT CAMPAIGNS
Getting people’s attention today means breaking into their phones. Not literally, but breaking their attention away from everything else on their phone isn’t easy. Text messaging, also called SMS messaging, is a powerful way to get someone’s attention on their phone and make them respond. It can also be costly and can backfire if done incorrectly. Loyal customers will opt-in to receive your messages and offers via text, but delivering on expectations is critical. You can’t legally mass-text to anyone who hasn’t opted-in, agreed to receive the texts.
This isn’t a tactic that a business owner can learn and leverage easily alone. Using an expert isn’t expensive and there are many different levels of commitment and investment business have to choose from. If you want to keep people coming back, either to a website or a brick-and-mortar location, texting can make it happen. Organizations where membership is voluntary can use email and texting more often than other businesses can use these online marketing tactics. This is because the audience opts-in to the programs widely when there’s a call to action. If businesses want their audience to opt-in to a substantial degree, the benefit of opting in must be clear and strong.
Retargeting is also referred to as remarketing. When a visitor comes to your website they become aware of your brand. You don’t have to speak to them like a cold prospect. Their brand awareness is valuable. Additional exposure to your brand, for an already aware audience, yields click performance better than cold audiences. Online, there are ways that ad networks, specifically Google Adwords and Facebook, can see that someone has visited a brand’s webpages already. Ad campaigns targeting previous website visitors, with a separate budget or separate set of ad units, are called Retargeting Campaigns.
Retargeting depends on having visitors already, so it’s the last of our Top Ten Online Marketing Tactics. First attend to the previous nine tactics, and get that traffic flowing, but don’t neglect retargeting, even from day one. Don’t forget about visitors if they didn’t convert the first time: they’re actually the hottest segment you can market and advertise to.
Putting these tactics to work for you is easy.
All of these tactics are best employed within a well thought out strategy that integrates their message and creative to maximize their effects. The easiest and most cost effective way for a brand to put these tactics to work is to engage digital marketing experts, professionals with a reputation for getting results. Our marketing company has experience with all these tactics, but more importantly has a track record and portfolio that demonstrates how it’s done. Some marketing companies specialize, and are experts at one or only a few of these tactics. Our team has marketing experience since before these tactics existed and have refined their practice since they first emerged.
If your brand needs a smart approach to marketing, a strategy that uses the best fitting tactics for your brand, we’ll create a strategy that will get the results needed.