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This my beginner’s guide to online marketing. If you are a business and you have realized how important having an online presence is, this is the right place to be.

Here I will guide you through how to grow your business or brand online.

Whether you have a large company or a small business there are some important things to understand to ensure you are promoting your service or product to the best of your ability.

Online marketing done well is absolutely crucial to being successful online. You need to know who your audience is. Then you can use the right methods to reach out to them.

It can be hard though knowing where to start. Or how to be effective at it. Marketing online is quite different to the traditional methods. If this all sounds familiar, I have put together here an outline of what I think are the seven key ways you should be marketing online effectively.

  1. SEO or Search Engine Optimization
  2. SEM or Search Engine Marketing
  3. Content Marketing
  4. SMM or Social Media Marketing
  5. PPC or Pay-per-click Advertising
  6. AM or Affiliate Marketing
  7. Email Marketing

Here is a closer look at what each of these mean and how they are employed.

1. Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is something written about a lot on websites, blogs and almost everywhere else online. It stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is basically how visible your site and its pages are in an unpaid search engine’s result.

These may also be called organic, earned or natural results. It is not just Google, it is with any of the search engines people use online such as Yahoo, Bing or DuckDuckGo.

Essentially when someone does a search for something in their search engine, they are most likely to click on something from that first page of results. That is because they are going to be the ones that answer their question or take them to what they need.

Having a website come up in those results means you are ranked highly. That gets you the best possible traffic or visitors and more potential readers or buyers.

There are different types of searches that SEO can target such as;

  • Video searches
  • News searches
  • Academic searches
  • Image searches

There is local search engine optimization as well which is a little different. That optimizes your web page display when a person does a local search or query for services or products. SEO is on an international and national focus.

How to use SEO as an internet marketing strategy

In order to get your site to be optimized to come up strong in a search there are some things you can do to when you understand,

  • How the algorithms work
  • Which search engines people prefer
  • What people are looking for
  • The keywords and terms people use in their searches

With those in mind you can edit the page and site and add content, links, key words, HTML, headings and such. Key to remaining a highly ranked site is to keep the content up to date and make sure it is of great quality.

That is where understanding your customers comes in. Have answers they need. Solve their problems. It is worth noting here that in 2015 mobile internet searches took over desktop searches. It is important to have a strategy for both kinds of searches.

If SEO is still not something you are completely confident with you could do what a lot of other places do. Hire someone to take care of for you. Remember this is not a onetime thing though. That content needs to be kept up to date and relevant.

2.  Search engine marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing or SEM is the broader discipline under which SEO falls. In some cases though, especially with companies more focused on this form of advertising, they may mean specifically pay per click advertising.

There are tools like Bings Ads and Google Adwords that pay for search results and then there are the above SEO unpaid organic results. So falling under SEM are:

  • Organic searches and SEO
  • Paid searches (good for local businesses)
  • Pay per click advertising
  • Advertising
  • Article submissions
  • Keyword analysis
  • SMM (social media marketing)

As with just SEO, in order to make sure you are fully optimizing your SEM you need to monitor and keep everything up to date. In order to get the best results it is important that teams working on the SEO also sync up with other teams working on the different areas of SEM such as PPC (pay per click). Set mutual goals and co-ordinate efforts.

To optimize websites SEM uses a number of metrics and methods. Keyword research looks for keywords as well as meta tags, titles and site indexing. It also looks at search perception impact the results have on users.

It also considers how popular a website seems to be as well as the backlinks and number of pages a site has. It also looks at data about the visitors to the website as well as about the owner of the site. It will also test URLs and judge whether the page is mobile compatible.

3.  Content marketing

Content marking is also often shortened to CM. It is where the online marketing focuses on writing, publishing and the distribution of content aimed at their target customers.

Using content marketing well a business can,

  • Generate more interest and traffic to their site
  • Increase the number of customers they have
  • As a result make more sales online
  • Expand their online presence, credibility and awareness of their brand
  • Create a group of users they can engage with, a community of sorts

Content marketing should be excellent quality and be informative for your readers and customers. It is not about direct sales. It is more building a connection with your visitors and a trust.

When a visitor feels like you are listening to them, answer their questions and connecting with them, they are more likely to spend, and just as important, to return and recommend.

You will need to anticipate what kind of information will draw people in. You need to update that information or content often and also put in new content often. You can present your content in a range of different ways.

This keeps things interesting and you reach different kinds of people. Some prefer emails, some articles, some photos for example. Other formats might include newsletters, video content, podcasts, e-books, blogs and even something like how to help guides.

4.  Social Media Marketing (SMM)

SMM or social media marketing is when a business uses websites and social media to advertise and promote their service or product. Social media platforms include places like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. It is sometimes also referred to as digital marketing.

The reason social media marketing is becoming so popular is that most of those platforms already have data analytic tools built in to them. This means companies can track how successful their advertisements have been among other things.

Social media marketing can also target not just previous and potential customers, it can be to journalists, employees, bloggers and other groups they want to reach out to.

Part of that marketing is to set the kind of tone you want to have with the public. The interaction a business has on social networking sites is more personal than through other channels. Yet the numbers you can reach are in the billions all around the world.

The options of following, retweeting or re-posting means people are recommending you to a whole lot of other people. You can use social networking websites to reward loyalty too.

5. Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)

PPC or pay per click advertising is also known as CPC, cost per click. It is a form of advertising online used by companies and others to drive traffic online to their sites. An advertiser will have an advert on a number of websites and when a visitor clicks on the ad, the website owner is paid. That click takes the visitor to whatever service or product the advertiser is selling.

This is most commonly found on first tier search engines, the larger and more well-known ones like Google and Yahoo. Second tier search engine examples would include the likes of 7search.com and AdMarketplace or Advertise.com. Advertisers will bid on those first tier engines on keywords and phrases that are relevant to them and their target consumers.

On websites themselves though a fixed price per click is charged rather than bidding taking place. A lot of social networks like Twitter and Facebook have pay per click advertising on their pages.

There is a problem with click fraud but Google and the others have responded to that with automated systems they have implemented. Pay per click is a useful means of bringing in traffic, but it is also a way to see how effective your online marketing is.

There are two main models of pay per click, flat-rate and bid-based.

PPC flat-rate – Both the website publisher and the advertiser agree on a certain amount to be paid for each click that happens. Often the owner of the website or network will have a rate card and different areas of their sites have different rates they charge. Where they get more visitors, they can ask for a higher fixed rate payment per click. On the other hand the advertiser will try to lower rates by offering a long term contract for example.

PPC bid-based – A private auction is held where advertisers bid against each other to be hosted on a network. They give their top bid to the owner or host for a spot usually based on a keyword or phrase. Every time that spot gets a visitor and click there is an automated bid. The highest bidder wins and on it goes.

6.  Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is when the publisher or website owner also called the affiliate is rewarded by a business when it gets a new visitor thanks to the affiliate’s efforts. There are overlaps between affiliate marketing and other online marketing types.

Affiliates are rewarded for their efforts in advertising, so they might use content marketing, SEO, display advertising, PPC, emails and so on. There are also fewer common methods used by some affiliates such as writing reviews of the products.

It is similar in some ways to referral marketing as both use a third party affiliate to push sales to the company. But how they bring in those sales does differ, affiliate marketing is based on being paid to do it, referral marketing is more about building relationships and trust and then referring them.

Often affiliate marketing is not as focused on as the other methods of internet marketing but it should play a key role as it can have a big impact.

There are a large range of sources affiliates can be found such as;

  • Retail sites
  • Gaming sites
  • Educational sites
  • Travel sites
  • Personal finance sites
  • Publishing sites
  • Blogs
  • Dating sites

Traditionally twenty years ago the most commonly used affiliates were with retail, gambling and file sharing sites. Those that have had the most growth since then though are the mobile phone, travel and finance sectors then the entertainment and broadband sectors.

In terms of how affiliates are compensated for their efforts, over three quarters are paid via pay per sale or revenue sharing means. Then just under a quarter use cost per action means. The last few have a variety of means such as cost per mille and cost per click.

Most website owners or affiliates can be approached by advertisers but those that get more traffic are more likely to get such interest.

7. Email marketing

My final offering in this beginner’s guide to online marketing is that of email marketing. Email marketing means sending emails with a commercial goal to a group of people.

Some consider all emails from a business to their past; present and potential customers could be included as email marketing.

The email sent would offer a deal or sale, ask for a donation, advertise merchandise or a service. Such emails develop brand trust and awareness. People grow to become familiar with the company and will click on links from it that takes them to the site.

When it first was used back in the 1970s it was not especially effective. Then spam and blocking programs were developed to prevent them. Businesses had to think of how to use email and get through the spam filters to reach their users. It has evolved hugely since then though and is now a very effective marketing tool when done right.

There are two different types of emails that can be sent:

  1. Transactional emails – these are triggered when a customer interacts with a business in a certain way. The main purpose of these emails are to complete, help with or confirm an action that has taken place already. This could be from a purchase, a password reset, order status, receipt, or dropped basket for example. These also offer some opportunity for cross or up selling, communicate in some way or offer a promotion.
  2. Direct emails – these are sent only to promote something like a sale or special offer. These are sent from mailing lists the companies have built up when you have signed up to their sites, or there are places that rent out email addresses.

There are both pros and cons to email marketing as opposed to traditional mail. The pros include it being less costly and a lot quicker, you can send a high volume easily, you can gather information from it, a lot of people have email and check it frequently throughout the day.

The cons include the spam filtering is still a problem to overcome, there are spam laws too that need to be understood and an email can get lost amongst a lot of others.

My beginner’s guide to online marketing in conclusion

These 7 ways to grow your brand and business will help you immensely if used well. Understanding all the terms and abbreviations can be tricky so below I have included a FAQ section for some of the more common terms and questions people have for your reference.

Online marketing is a complex thing and can be difficult for some. Others manage parts of it well but do not get a good balance. If you need help with it there are people with expert knowledge and skills that can help take you and your business forward into a more successful future.

Online Marketing FAQ

When it comes to online marketing, there are many questions that may arrise. Below, you will find the answer to the most frequent questions I get about online marketing:

What is digital marketing?

This is advertising or marketing to online users which could be on desktops, mobiles, tablets or any device that connects to the internet.

How do I know if my business needs online or digital marketing?

All businesses can benefit from it in some way. Some more than others, but everyone should be exploring it.

How important is it to update my businesses’ website?

When you are not updating old content and adding new, you are not going to perform well in things like SEO.

What is CM?

CM stands for Content Marketing, it is when the content of the site including articles, videos and so on are used to get more traffic to a site and lead to more sales or readers.

What content should I put on my website?

That is completely up to you but it should be relevant to the site and something your readers or customers are interested in. Think about having several formats to reach people and make sure it is quality not just filler.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engines optimization which is the means of getting your content prioritized when people do searches online.

What do you mean by keywords?

These are the words or phrase a person uses in a search engine like Google to look something up.

What is PPC?

PPC stands for Pay per click. It means an advertiser will pay and agreed upon fee each time someone on your website clicks on one of their ads there.

What data-driven marketing means what?

This is when companies or businesses have ways to get data and use it to understand their customers, how they use the internet and what they want.

How important is social media in online marketing really?

It is hugely important since most online users have a presence in at least one social media platform if not several. It is where a lot of your audience is so it is where you should be too.

Which social media platforms should get my attention first?

Focus on the main ones first of all, they are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Should I buy an email list for marketing?

No, in most cases these practices are not allowed anymore anyway but also most people will just send your email to their spam box if the filters didn’t already. You need to build up an emailing list from customers, even if it is small at first it is still more effective than using a bought one.

What main mistake should I avoid as a new digital marketer?

Starting something than forgetting or getting ‘too busy’. You need to stay consistent even if it is slow, just keep it steady.

Written by Mark Bynum

Mark Bynum is tech writer and WordPress enthusiast from Atlanta. He loves playing with latest tech gadgets and testing various products and services. When he is AFK, you can find him hiking somewhere in the woods.

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