Most Effective Online Marketing Strategies
Branding is quickly becoming the most important aspect of marketing. It’s no longer enough to rely on paid ads or stuffing your website with keywords. The older methods of simply getting yourself in front of people and saying, “Hey look at me! Buy my widgets!” no longer work. Showing people that you have real values and aren’t just trying to make profit is what separates successful businesses from failures.
You have to establish an emotional bond with your customers and leave them with positive memories associated with your brand. The best way to bond with your customers is to create a positive storyline associated with your brand that resonates with people and that they feel like they can be a part of. Stories have been used to teach lessons and concepts for centuries and they can be a powerful marketing tool to help connect to your customers. The basic element you want to include in your story is how you helped solve a problem.
As an example, if you work in real estate you might want to tell a story about how you participated in an association like Habitat for Humanity or how you helped someone struggling with homelessness. Regardless of what industry you’re in, there are many ways you can create a storyline that will help people resonate with your message.
Visuals tend to be the most powerful form of communication, so creating a video or photo album of your experiences helping others will enable people to actually see the story instead you just talking about it. This technique is commonly referred to as social proof and it is a very powerful way to connect with other people. By giving people social proof, you establish trust and create a foundation for a long term relationship. Once you lay that foundation, doing business with you will become automatic and you won’t need to do any more convincing that you’re the best brand in your field.
Pay attention to the “look” of your business as well. First impressions are important and sadly they may judge you on how you present your business before they even hear what you have to say. If you’re not the artsy type, hiring a good graphic designer will go a long way towards establishing a positive image that will make people want to listen to what you have to say. One way to help represent your marketing message effectively is by creating a persona.
Create a Persona
One of best ways to find and appeal to your target audience is to create a persona that represents your business and another persona that represents your primary customer. Start off by defining as many specific characteristics as you can think of that will help you picture your ideal customer. For example:
•Is the person male or female?
•What age, income, and education level?
•Do they have a family?
•What types of media are they most likely to view or listen to?
•What type of places do they normally go to?
•What type of values would they have that you will share with them?
•And the most important question of all…how will you solve their problems
and create value in their lives? Once you have a clear and specific idea of who your primary customer is then you’ll be able to create a specific persona that will represent your business and connect with your customers.
Who would your ideal customer identify with the most? What sort of characteristics do they have in common? Think of some of the company mascots you’ve seen in advertising. Which ones appealed to you and which ones didn’t? You don’t have to create a character or spokesperson to deliver your message if you don’t think that method will represent you in the best way. Interview some employees and show some behind the scenes footage to show the talent behind hard work that goes in to what you do.
Seeing real people representing your business will help your audience will benefit your corporate image by letting them inside. Whichever method you choose, finding the right company persona will help you match your customer’s persona and help you craft an effective marketing message.
Crafting your Message
Now that you’ve got your businesses persona and your customer’s persona, you’re ready to build your marketing message.
The voice you create to present to your audience should be carefully planned out if you want to build a loyal following. Your marketing message needs to be crafted to not only to create sales but to establish trust and rapport with those who are listening or reading it. Be as creative as you want to be with your message but make sure it’s focused enough to resonate with your customers. In order to craft a compelling story, you’ll need to figure out a few key elements.
Begin by establishing what goals you will want to achieve with your message. Are you trying to show how your product or service solved a problem for one of your customers? If so, describe the problem your customer is likely dealing with and how your plan to fix it. People face problems every day and showing them how you can overcome them is a great way to get people’s attention.
By showing your customers that you understand them and what they are going through you demonstrate your empathy. By putting yourself in their situation and showing your customer that what they are going through, they will see you more as a friend than business and will introduce you to their friends which will extend your reach to be able to help even more people. Make it your mission to be your customer’s partner in life rather than just their partner in business.
After you’ve established that initial contact and made a sale, stay in contact with your customers so they know you haven’t forgotten about them. Don’t you hate it someone gets what they want from you and you never hear from them again? Then don’t do it! Set up follow up emails, answer questions on twitter, and even make calls to see if everything is going ok with the implementation of your product or service. When you care about others they tend to return the favor.
Now that you’ve crafted your message, you have to find the most effective ways to deliver it. Creating fresh and frequent content is the best way to gain a strong following and keep them coming back for more. Content generation is also a great way to start conversations and create a buzz about what you do. You don’t have to utilize every type of content available. Only focus on the types of content that are most likely to appeal to your ideal audience. So what types of content are there?
Blog post are usually in text format and about 300–500 words for each post. However, it’s a good idea to mix things up now and again. You can create longer or shorter posts and even create some of your posts video or audio format. Your blog posts can highlight anything related to your field that your customers will find interesting and are usually written in a less formal tone. Be sure to include important keywords that are relevant to your subject but be careful not to overload your post with keywords.
Search engines will actually penalize you for loading your content with too many keywords which is known as keyword stuffing. Your primary keyword should be placed strategically so that it will be easier for the search engines to categorize and rank your post. For example, you should place you primary keyword for a post in the front of you post title and also in one of the headings within the post. If you’re writing a text post, include pictures in the post and add your keyword to the picture’s caption area.
Don’t forget to include a meta-description (this is written in the backend of your website management system and won’t be seen by visitors) of the image and tags to your photos and posts; these are other ways you can add your keywords to a post without them actually being in the post itself. If you’re not the one actually writing the post, make sure that whoever is will utilize these tools to help your site get the highest ranking. The most important thing to remember for blog posts is that they should be engaging and spark conversation so they will entice your audience to share them on their social media profiles.
Create a publishing schedule that outlines what type of posts you will make and when you will post them. A good guideline to follow is one or two longer and informative posts a month in addition to six to eight shorter posts to maintain audience engagement. The most successful blogs tend to put out content consistently on specific days so their audience will know when to expect new content.
Publishing videos has become an increasingly popular way to create content because it allows you to present your message visually and often in more entertaining ways. Videos also have started to outrank websites which makes them a very powerful way to have your message seen by a lot of people.
According to a recent Gartner report, videos are 50 times more likely to show up on the front page of search engine results than text! The best part about creating videos now is that you no longer need steep pockets to make great videos. What used to require thousands of dollars to create and distribute can now be done with a cell phone.
One aspect of videos that makes them so popular is that they can relay information in a shorter time frame. Some people may not have the time to sit down and read an entire whitepaper but they will happy to watch a three minute video, while will watch your videos because they simply hate reading. Videos also enable you to add a more personal touch than writing because they can include voice and facial expressions which help people to relate to the information. People often feel much more comfortable when they can see and hear the person they are dealing with. Be sure to create a title for your video that is relevant to what the video is about but also rich in keywords so you’ll rank higher in searches.
Keywords are also important in your video description and it’s even a good idea to add the video transcription to this section to help search engines to a better understanding of what your video is about. Similar to blog posts, there are sections in the video management dashboard section that allow you to add relevant keywords and phrases that will help boost your search rankings.
Whitepapers are longer written documents that tend to be more technical than other forms of content and can position you as a thought leader in your field by educating your readers. The tone should be one that tells your reader that you understand their problems and offer solutions to them. While it’s important to educate, be careful not to come across as if you’re talking down to your reader.
Don’t forget to include your sales message with the technical data and have a good call to action at the end. In addition to the text itself, you should include several charts, graphs, etc. to help your reader visualize the data you’re presenting. Offering whitepapers in exchange for contact information can be a great way to generate leads because it makes people feel like they’ve gotten something of value in exchange for their email or phone number and that you are someone that they want to hear more from in the future. If you’re launching a new product or service, offering a whitepaper to educate potential customers will allow them to have a better understanding of what you have to offer which will make their purchase decision a lot easier.
Pictures are one of the most likely pieces of content to be shared and also one of the easiest to produce. Whether you’re sharing behind-the-scenes photos or a funny meme, people love looking at pictures so you should definitely add them to your content list.
They allow you to add personality to your company like videos but require much less time and effort to produce. While some types of social media focus only on pictures, pictures can be shared on any platform you’re using which makes them highly versatile. Using pictures can also be a great way to tell your company’s story visually or show off your latest products.
Infographics have really taken off as a way to compile a lot of information in an appealing visual format.
Not only do they make information like statistics or percentages more entertaining, but they also help make them easier to follow and understand. Infographics also make great content for social media because they are so easy to share and allow you to compress a story in to a bite sized format that’s easier to digest. If you have the money to spend, it’s best to hire a graphic designer who can create your infographic with a program like Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop.
You can also use several tools like Piktochart, Infogram, or Visual.ly that offer Infographic production services or templates to help you create your own.
Hosting virtual classroom lectures and meetings can be a great way to distribute information to your audience because you can invite many more people to attend at a much lower cost. Webinars make it possible to have several people from different locations attending the same live event without having to travel anywhere! For those who were unable to attend, you can elect to record the webinars and send them out on your social media profiles so they can be seen by even more people at any time.
Put as much useful information in these lectures rather than simply filling them with hype and only trying to generate more leads. The more information you provide the more people will recognize you as an expert and want to listen to more of what you have to say. Some social media agencies organised programs you can use to create webinars are Adobe Connect, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, Cisco Webex, ClickMeeting, and MegaMeeting.
SEO and Keywords
While Branding should be your top priority, don’t overlook your SEO campaign and the use of keywords in your marketing materials. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and refers to the use of targeted keywords that help web search engines like Google or Yahoo categorize websites.
Search engines use mathematical formulas to find various websites for content and when someone types in a certain word or phrase, helps to match websites with them. Keywords are also used within social media but instead of websites, the keywords help you find other people and it also helps them find you.
Some types of social media like Facebook or Twitter allow you to place Hashtags before keywords you want to mark in you posts (ex: #RealEstate, #trucks, #etc.) which then categorizes your post that will show up when someone searches for the keywords you hashtagged. In other platforms like Tumblr and YouTube, there will be designated sections where you can add
Tags that will serve the same function. You can perform keyword research individually within each social media platform by typing in your desired keyword in the search section. Depending on the social media platform, you will get results that will lead to individuals, fan pages, products, or other companies that have used the keywords you’re looking for.
You can also gauge the popularity of the keyword by the amount of results you get which may help if you’re going to capitalize on a current trend. Want to start your own trend? Feel free to make your own unique searchable term with a hashtag in front of it and then watch it spread!
Test and Test Some More
Even with the very best planning in the world, you are going to fail at least some of the time. Don’t look at failure as a bad thing though. When you start to see failure as an opportunity to learn something new you will begin to make tremendous progress. If at first you don’t succeed, try again…and then some more until you find what works best for you. Don’t get discouraged if your first marketing campaign doesn’t get the results you were hoping for. Figuring out what engages your audience will take some time and will require tweaking your strategy in different areas to find what works best for you. You may want to monitor and change things like:
•The types of content you post
•The times you make your posts
•The keywords you use
•The tone of your content
•The types of social media you use
Always keep track of the changes you implement and how your audience responded to them. It’s generally a good idea to wait at least three months before you make any major changes from your previous strategy. It may be tempting to make changes if you don’t see immediate results, but give your strategy some time to work its magic because it may take a while to catch on and cause a spark. If time goes by and your strategy isn’t working at all then don’t take that as a sign you should just close up shop for good.
Remember what the famous inventor Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Many people quit right before they achieve success, so keep trying because you never know if you’re about to strike gold.