The first, and main thing you need to know about online marketing is that it is still marketing. You don’t need to throw out everything you know about marketing just because you enter the online space. Speaking of space, if some day we should find ourselves in space, marketing will be the same there as well.
But just because you can utilize your offline competency online, does not mean that you have nothing new to learn about this brave, new world. On the contrary, there is plenty to learn about online marketing. Here are seven things you need to know if you are going to be successful in the .com world.
Don’t Forget to Advertise
You don’t want to confuse advertising with marketing. Advertising is just one of the many aspects of marketing. Advertising is just the simple act of letting people know that you are there, and that you have a product to sell. When you begin the process of learning about online marketing, you may encounter a number of bewildering definitions. One successful marketing guru put it this way:
Online marketing is any effort to spread the word about your company, which uses the internet to reach people.
Marketing is the holistic plan and process of reaching people. Advertising is just the first step. But it is still a necessary step. You can’t just assume that everybody who might want to buy your product already knows about it. You must constantly tell new people, and remind the ones you’ve already told.
Create Desire and Incentive to Buy
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make at this point is assuming that the product will sell itself. That is simply never true. If products did sell themselves, then companies wouldn’t have to spend the $80,000 a year and up, on commissions to competent sales people. What people really mean when they say that a product sells itself is that it creates desire within people who see it. Therefore, all you have to do is show it to people.
There are some products that do tend to draw people in without much prompting from anyone else. Gold and diamond jewelry are examples. And yet, sellers of gold and diamond jewelry still have to work very hard and spend a lot of money convincing people to buy. A part of creating desire is creating incentive. A product may be desirable. But people still may not be incentivized to buy. You can’t just show it to them, as in advertising. You have to make them want it, and incentivize them to take the next step.
Online marketing has to be faster than the IRL counterpart. People hardly have time to internalize events, and process the emotions they invoke. The terrorist attacks on Paris are already fading from the headlines. Out of sight, out of mind has never been more true than it is with the internet culture.
If you wanted to maximize your chances to raise money for relief efforts to victims of violence around the world, you needed to be ready with a campaign the first day of the news cycle. Traditional media can’t move that fast. Online, not only can you move that fast, you have to. Online marketing requires you to take advantage of the moment before it fades. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools that can help you launch your campaign at Net speed.
If social media is not an integral part of your online marketing campaign, then you are doing it wrong. It is just as important that people know your twitter handle as your business name, hashtag, “Duh!” It is not just about Twitter. Your business also needs a Facebook page, and a plan to drive traffic to it.
Still think Snapchat is just a way for teens to engage in unsupervised sexting? Then you are missing one of the most important social media opportunities the world has ever known. When is the last time your company posted on Instagram? If any of these words sound unfamiliar to you, then you need to hire someone to handle social media for you until you get a handle on the situation.
Deal with Negativity
One of the most devastating decisions Microsoft made was to let Apple bash them unopposed for so long. One bit of marketing wisdom is to never respond to your competitors negative ads, as it only gives them more credibility. But ignoring your competitors only works when they are insignificant, and don’t control the conversation or public perception.
Apple’s “Get a Mac” campaign was not insignificant. It remains one of the cultural touchstones of our time. Microsoft let Apple define the PC for a generation of computer users. By the time they started a me-too response campaign, the damage was already done. Never underestimate the competition.
Never ignore negativity about your product or service whether it is a negative ad, negative press, or negative product reviews. On the internet, it reaches more people, faster. It lives forever. And it can make or break your product without you ever knowing what happened. In the real world, you might can get away with ignoring a negative ad that only three people will ever see. Online, you have to have a plan of attack, and defense.
No man is an island, especially on the internet. Believe it or not, people log onto the internet for more reasons than to visit your site. They have other things to do, and other priorities. When it comes to marketing on the internet, none of that matters. What you need are partners. It is surprisingly similar to what it is like in the physical world.
A laundromat owner forms a partnership with a tailor down the street. One allows the other to advertise in their space. It is a symbiotic relationship that works well. And it is not the only partnership that can work for a laundromat. Online, that kind of partnership is called link sharing. There are multiple ways of doing it.
One of the more interesting types of partnerships is an affiliate program. You encourage partners to link to your business. You pay a small commission to the partner for every person who makes a purchase through that link. That is a good deal for you because you don’t have to pay for the acquisition cost of that new customer, and your partners are incentivized to send traffic to your site. It is a win-win for everybody.
Did I mention attention spans are short? I don’t remember. It was several paragraphs ago. It’s already out of mind. Your biggest challenge in online marketing is keeping your service at top-of-mind. That is why you can never, ever stop. The success of your business is not determined by a single, successful marketing campaign. Marketing has to be a regular budget category, not a one-time deal. Naturally, you will have to change things up to keep it fresh. But the one thing you can never do is stop. Someone else will come in and fill the attention void faster than you can catch your breath.
At the end of the day, what you need to know about online marketing is that it is marketing. Most of the old rules apply, only with more intensity. Online is smarter, faster, more cut-throat, but potentially, much more rewarding.