Technology moves amazingly fast. Some of us can probably remember having to research school projects without the help of Google; and those who are a little older can still remember the introduction of the cell phone, and may have even owned one of the first models- complete with the suitcase sized battery that was needed to operate it.
Children nowadays are growing up with Skype as a normal fact of life, and their children will grow up with 3D holographic communication devices or something that seems equally outlandish when thought of nowadays. When working in marketing, the pre-internet times must have seemed like the dark ages; since how could a company possibly get their message across without the all the marketing opportunities found online, both overt and obscure. Online marketing is the cornerstone to any contemporary marketing strategy, and all your competitors realize this too, so differentiation is vital. So which aspects of online marketing deserve an investment? Where do you get the biggest bang for your buck?
Social Media; Integral Part of Online Marketing
Some commentators have put forward the idea that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is essentially dying, giving inaccurate results, and that the way for a company to truly connect with potential clients and customers is via targeted social media. Online connection with customers is still the way forward, but engaging with them via social media may well prove to be more successful an approach than by simply being searched for online.
Social media is a part of any online marketing strategy, and it’s important to have people within your company who understand how to use it as a platform of engagement. It’s not a simple case of having someone update your company’s Facebook or Twitter, but using these (and other social media tools) to drive web traffic that results in actual conversions. It’s worthwhile having a team member whose sole goal this is, and can use these tools to achieve results.
Content is Still a King
Traditional advertising is still of great use if you’re Coca Cola or a Hollywood executive with a new Tom Cruise film being released on 3000 screens that needs $200 million to break even, but it’s becoming less important for a vast array of industries. Having unique content via your social media exploits and blogs separates you from the pack. This really isn’t as easy as it sounds, but an investment in great content is well worth it. You need to walk a line between being informative and being entertaining, and if you don’t have someone in your team who can objectively write this way, then consider outsourcing to a freelance writer.
Free Stuff Has Its Own Attraction
Unsurprisingly, consumers love receiving something for free. Your web traffic can be increased by actually offering something, whether it’s a discount on your product, or perhaps a discount from a company that compliments your own (perhaps by a reciprocal affiliate program). Offering something along these lines, and the subsequent word of mouth which can be amplified via social media, can be an investment on your part, but the results can be gratifying. Don’t simply give something for free- you should only offer the “freebie” in exchange for usable customer data which you can use to expand your mailing list.
Customers are wary about releasing their personal information, so be mindful to include a disclaimer that said information won’t be released to other companies, since those who give their information to an online marketing firm might be less than impressed to receive a flurry of communication from an online pharmaceutical firm.
Revamp and Present a Fresh Look
This might seem like an easy way out, but revamping your online presence is an effective way of staying fresh. This is something that requires the services of a top notch web developer, and you need to be careful not to alienate existing users of your website by decreasing its ease of usability.
This is not the same as rebranding, which requires a complete aesthetic overhaul of your entire company, and with all the costs and labor that such a move entails. A semi regular update of your website can be a great idea- since you may have launched with less features and facilities than your current online presence caters to, meaning that your website might not be as streamlined as it could be. A revamp, which improves functionality in some areas and simplifies others, is a great way to stay ahead of the game.
Go Mobile to Go with the World
A few short years ago, none of us had heard of an app, and now they’re everywhere. It’s not like laserdiscs or betamax- it’s not something that’s going to be obsolete in a few short years, but given our increasing dependence on cell phones and mobile devices, apps are here to stay, although they’re likely to become more and more sophisticated.
This feeds into revamping your online presence, but you should view your website on a Smartphone and a tablet computer. Is it frustratingly slow or impossible to decipher? If yes, then it might be time to create a specific version for mobile devices. You can also invest in a specialist app, but be wary of this- don’t have an app just for the sake of it: it needs to actually do something, offer some kind of interface with your products and services; otherwise the design fees are a waste of money.