Online Marketing Strategy: The Human Element

If you’ve long since made a foray into the world of Internet marketing, you’ve probably found search engine marketing (SEM) to be the idol everyone dutifully bows down to. There are innumerable bloggers and industry insiders touting the wonders of SEM. And with due reason.

The promotional methods entailed by search engine marketing ensure, usually, that your website or blog will get more visibility.  And of course, it follows that the more people see your website and visit it, the more opportunity you have to make money.  The strength of SEM lies in skewing the probability of increased visits your way.  I contend, however, that SEM in of itself is not a guarantor of your success.

You’ve probably also heard that “content is king.”

That’s true as well. You’d better have something worth reading on your website or blog, something that visitors will like and share with their friends, if you want to generate organic traffic. A garbage-laden website will turn off visitors, no matter how “optimized” it is.

So content does matter. But it’s still not the ultimate indicator of your success.

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The key to success in your online marketing strategy is the heart and the passion you have for your niche. It’s from the heart that you’ll produce great, traffic-generating content on a regular basis—because you’ll want to do so. It’s your passion for your subject that will infuse your writing and marketing with sincerity, and will allow people to viscerally relate to you. It’s your hunger for deeper knowledge that will make the research process fun and engaging for you, and will keep you in the game.

Your site has to have a heart and soul—the human element—in order to really shine. How can you demonstrate that human element through your online presence? There are a number of simple ways.

The best online marketing strategies incorporate a focus on interacting with customers and discovering their desires on deeper levels.
The best online marketing strategies incorporate a focus on interacting with customers and discovering their desires on deeper levels. | Source

Develop relationships with people online.

Relationship marketing works. After a while, if you’ve been providing valuable content and services and doing some very basic promotion through social networks and blogs, you should begin to find a steady stream of visitors. Sometimes you'll find a few returning, loyal visitors who habitually leave nice comments. Never let an insightful comment go unnoticed. Make sure you reply in a way that expresses your appreciation, and do so in a timely manner. This shows that you appreciate the time the person took to express his or her thoughts, and expressing that appreciation garners trust.

Also, you should be networking with non-competitors in the same line of business. Follow a few blogs in your niche regularly, making sure to leave thoughtful, valuable comments. The secret to doing this consistently lies in being honest with yourself. Follow blogs that truly get your gears turning—sites that really excite, inspire, provoke or motivate you.

(By the way, it’s not a bad idea to make sure the blogs you follow are high-ranking and popular, either.)

Consistent, earnest participation in relevant blogs and discussions not only affords you some high-quality backlinks, but opens the door to possible affiliations with site owners and businesses. Networking opportunities like these are not to be ignored.

Be responsive to people's online needs.

How can you do this? Yet again, our friend introspection saves the day. Take stock of what you want out of your web-browsing experience:

  • Interesting, intellectually-stimulating and well-written content
  • Bloggers and online marketers who take a personal interest in visitors and customers
  • Websites that are attractive, intuitive and user-friendly
  • Interactivity through forums, comments, the ability to leave ideas or suggestions, polls, etc.

Then, do your best to implement those things and bring that human element into your online marketing strategy. Make your internet presence a positive force, a place people know they can come to satisfy their needs and curiosities. For example, if you write a baseball blog, make sure it's regularly updated with the latest stats and opinion columns, and encourage friendly discussion about the players, the tactics and the philosophy behind the game. If you're a hairstylist maintaining your salon's website, keep a blog in which you talk about such things as trendy hairstyles, celebrity haircuts, and the connection between well-being and an established personal style. Again, your passion about the subject is what will fuel consistent, powerful content.

Find new ways to reach out.

Who says you have to do things the old-fashioned way? Keeping in touch with potential customers through social networks and blogs is a reliable and time-tested tradition, but that shouldn't keep you from using those resources in innovative ways. Combine that with a willingness to hear what people have to say, and you've got a winning internet marketing strategy. Some examples are:

  • Organizing community events that promote your business and support good causes
  • Organizing contests for customers in which winners receive discounts, prizes, and other special offers
  • Challenging visitors to engage with their social networks in different ways (e.g., using Facebook groups and Twitter hashtags to start discussions or stories that others can add on to)
  • Letting customers influence the design of your Internet “façade”—i.e., the front page of your website—by submitting their most creative artistic ideas (à la Google)
  • Inviting local bloggers in your niche to a real world meet-and-greet or brainstorming session
  • Using games and interactive graphical elements on your website

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When your readers or visitors become personally invested in something you’ve created, it brings out the human element in them, which can only mean good things for your blog or business.  Continue to brainstorm new ways of reaching out to web surfers that are not only eye-catching, but substantial and infused with a personal appeal. 

In short—connect with who you are as an Internet entrepreneur, blogger, or marketer, and you’ll see clearly how to best relate to others like you. The secrets of successful online marketing strategies are understanding and communicating in terms of the desires, curiosities, and ideas of ordinary people. They’re out there. With a newfound empathy and sincerity, go get ‘em.

The popularity will follow.

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Comments 24 comments

vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California

I just left you a comment and my computer is acting up big time and it just disappeared!! Anywho, thanks for a simple and motivating article on marketing. Marketing is one of my limitations. I have started recently with baby steps. For example, I teach a class two days a week, and each class stands alone, so to speak, so there are new people each time. So I take copies of my book to class to sell. I have been doing that for about a month and have sold three books, not a lot, but three more than otherwise. It's not like it's an Amway pitch, nothing against Amway!!! Just "here's my book and I have copies you can buy and it is a GREAT book, easy to read, especially for men, very funny and informative......." Also tell them they can purchase it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble......

Your article here about online marketing is easy for me to put into practice. Some of the articles on hubpages about online marketing are filled with acronyms I think I should know but don't, so then I feel stupid and have a hard time after that getting anything out of the article!!!

So I saved your article to read and reread and little by little implement. Leaving comments IS extremely important. It is, besides marketing, the way we support each other in this community and VERY EXTREMELY important.

So thanks for one more article on on line marketing, but not just another article. An excellent one!

Happy Holiday

Vern


bruzzbuzz profile image

bruzzbuzz 6 years ago from Texas , USA

Thanks for the info. I will utilize it now.


pinkdaisy profile image

pinkdaisy 6 years ago from Canada

This is an excellent read! There are a lot of nice people writing on the Internet. Developing relationships with people online makes writing more enjoyable.

I agree with that "Content is King" and that the cream always rises to the top!

Thanks for the great hub :)


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Vern: Thanks so much for reading and bookmarking! Absolutely, what you mentioned about supporting other bloggers and content producers is vital to the success of all. I'm happy to be part of a community here at HubPages that fosters that kind of reciprocal encouragement! I sort of fell off the wagon a little bit due to life becoming hectic, but I'm glad to be back and support fellow Hubbers!

Best of luck with your book! Empathy and the human element is the key--keep plugging at it and you'll be A-OK :)

bruzzbuzz: Glad you found it helpful and encouraging! Best of luck; I'm sure these tips will serve you well.

pinkdaisy: You're absolutely right! It just plain "feels good" to know that people are enjoying your content, that it's touching them in special, personal ways, and that they feel empowered to take action because of you. I firmly believe that's the key to success in almost any commercial or marketing endeavor, not to mention life itself. Glad you liked!


6stringmethod profile image

6stringmethod 5 years ago

What a great article. Sometimes we (including myself) get so caught up into trying to sell someone something that we forget about other people.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 5 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Thanks 6stringmethod. It's all too easy to forget that there's a very "human" transaction taking place in any sale. It helps me to think of the life-enhancing value I'm providing, or can potentially provide, to someone--the money is a secondary benefit and a nice reward.


ed77burns 5 years ago

great hub.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 5 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Thanks ed77burns!


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

Wonderful Hub, I've got to say, it's my passion...writing is my passion...and I hope it always shines through. Thanks for becoming a follower of mine and after reading this Hub of yours, I'm joining you as well!


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 5 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Thanks for your kind words, b. Malin! The writing has it's ups and downs, but the passion for the medium will surely see you through--I believe that.


hubpageswriter 5 years ago

This is a great hub with lots of good information. Networking is one great aspect to a success online marketing.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 5 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Glad you enjoyed it, hubpageswriter. In online marketing, as in most other aspects of life, you simply can't go wrong with networking.


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Voted up and useful! This Hub provides great information on marketing articles. I also bookmarked to be sure I come back and learn everything! Thank you so much!


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 5 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Awesome, Scribenet! Thanks for rating up, and especially bookmarking--that makes me feel good :-)


Sophia Angelique 5 years ago

@ Benny. "Relationship marketing works." I doubt it. Do you honestly think Bill Gates spent time building up relationships with every single person who bought his microsoft computer. Building up relationships on line is so time consuming and energy draining, that one doesn't actually have time to run one's real business. This idea might have worked ten years ago when the majority of people weren't internet savvy. But when everybody is trying to do the same thing, it doesn't work anymore. There's too many leaders and not enough followers...


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 5 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Thanks for stopping by Sophia! You make an interesting point about relationship marketing being a time-consuming process that often doesn't seem to work. But I believe that having a relationship-building model as your foundation will lead to sustained profits and growth over time. You may not get an instant return, but you're laying the groundwork for your business to become a respected and trusted brand.


Sophia Angelique 5 years ago

@ Benny. I think perhaps my remark is misunderstood. What you seem to be advocating, as do many, is a one one one process. Yes, successful copanies do build relationships - through advertising. What I'm saying is that one-one-one relationshp building meansinesSs that the business will take too long to be profitable - unless, of course, one has sufficient capital to keep one going for 5 or 10 years. The relationship building has to be the same model that advertising is - building many relationships simultaneously.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 5 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

@Sophia: Well, one has to consider how much time to devote to each strategy. If you spend too much time on building relationships and not enough on broad marketing and advertising, your bottom line will obviously suffer. One should try find a happy balance there.

My main point in the hub is that, as long as that quick-response advertising comes from a sincere and genuine place (that is, "from the heart"), your marketing campaign is on the right track. You may not have all the time (or capital) in the world to go deep with those relationships, but a modicum of sincerity and responsiveness at the very least will build respect.


Sophia Angelique 5 years ago

@ Benny. Any successful business requires numbers. And one can be as sincere (coming from the heart) as one likes, it is still not sufficient to be a successful strategy. Why do you think that 95% of businesses fail within the first five years? Obviously, if people hate the owner of people involved in a business, they will take the business elsewhere if there are other options.

However, the main reason dusinesses are successful are listed below.

1) They have a kick ass product that is either needed or wanted by a sufficient number of people to make it profitable.

2) The product is geographically and financially easy to obtain.

3) The product is sufficinetly known about to make sufficient numbers known about. And this is where this 'relationship building' on the internet falls down. It just isn't possible using a one one one method using this method to make it sufficiently known to be profitable.

Just curious. Are you running a successful business that has been going for more than 5 years (the point at which one can say it's probably not going to fail)? And, if so, did you honestly build this business up on a one to one basis using the internet (I doubt it because this business strategy is less than 5 years old)?

My supposition is that you're merely echoing what everybody else is saying on the internet.

Bear in mind that the companies who are using this strategy successfully are already well established and everybody already knows who they are.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 5 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

@Sophia: Thanks again for sharing your comments and insights. I'll be giving it a lot of thought in terms of what I wrote in the hub, and perhaps even revise to include some of what you've said here.

I'll stick to my guns and say that some form of outreach can't hurt. Even if a business spends the majority of their time developing a superior product and implementing standard marketing principles (which they should), they should spend a "little" bit of time thinking about the best interests of their customers.

Personally, I'm not running a large business, but I've been working on online marketing for quite a while. Although I'm still in the process of learning, I'm seeing a nice and promising return on my relationship-building efforts.


MDAT profile image

MDAT 5 years ago from Garland, TX

Benny, Your article is fantastic!! I just caught the little back and forth between you and Sophia. I have to say that I agree with you Benny.

I think that the model that Sophia describes is the corporate model that we are all more than familiar with.

The reason why the large companies don't have to really take an interest in their customers and interact with them on a sincerely human level, is because they are so LARGE! Corporations suck all the resources away from any business that could have a pragmatic element to them.

Once we get tired of the Wally Marts and Concast of the world devouring our commons while we go along with it hoping to catch the crumbs for ourselves or oblivious all together.

Maybe then we'll have a shot at keeping them accountable and maybe laying the groundwork for a mutual respect of our shared resources and their profit margins.

Thank you again for a wonderful piece and having a passion to connect with readers. Your business will be sustainable and not a more profits at any cost drain to us all as some condone.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 5 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

MDAT, thanks for your comments! And for sticking up for me :-)

I agree that Sophia has a valid point: large corporations simply can't afford to spend the major portion of their time on one-to-one relationship building, or else marketing and development will suffer. I'm obviously advocating a balance, and saying that the relationship-building part shouldn't be neglected entirely, which so many businesses are unfortunately guilty of. I know how I feel when those big companies (OR small ones) don't really care about me as a customer/client and are solely focused on their bottom line.

In the hub I talk about much more than just relationship marketing. When the "human element" is utilized, everyone wins. Your brand earns a positive reputation, employees come to work with a positive attitude, customers enjoy interacting with you, they feel good about using your product, word of mouth spreads, new leads are gained, profits grow. (Not to neglect some healthy marginal analysis along the way, of course.) Honestly, I can't think of a better foundation, and in online marketing in particular, there's no excuse to ignore it.

Thanks again for your kind words and good wishes! Best of luck to you as well.


MDAT profile image

MDAT 5 years ago from Garland, TX

Thanks for the quick response Benny. Balance is definitely not a bad thing. Take care and I will be looking forward to more from you, as well, I will be referencing this article for an upcoming piece. YOU ROCK!!!


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 5 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

MDAT: Thanks for the kudos and the reference my friend! I will be following you as well. Take care!

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