Beginner's guide to online marketing

Karlis Blumentals

So you have launched your brand new website or online store. One problem - you have no visitors. Don't worry, this is how everybody else started.

The good news is that there are hundreds of things you can do to make your website popular. And while online marketing is not exactly a walk in the park, it is no rocket science either. As long as you are ready to invest time and some money, you should be good.

So where do you begin?

Online marketing is a vast topic that can not be covered in a single blog post or even in a single book, however 80% of the main principles can be mastered in 20% of time necessary to master it all. So lets get cracking.

Overview of marketing opportunities

Here is a list of basic marketing channels:

  • Search engines (mainly Google, also Bing)
  • Paid advertising on search engines (mainly Google AdWords)
  • Social networks (Facebook, Twitter etc.)
  • E-mail marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Online directories and catalogs
  • Offline marketing

While it is not possible to cover all these topics thoroughly in a single blog post, let's just touch each of them. And then you can go into more detail by browsing our other topics.

Appearing on search engines

Getting listed by search engines

For your website to show up on search engines, it must be found by search engines. This can be done in two ways:

  • Have your website link posted on a website that is already listed on search engine. Next time search engine re-visits that page for changes it will discover your link and pick up your website.
  • Tell search engines about your website directly. Google, Bing and Yandex all have website submission forms.

Making your website appear between top search results

Being listed on search engines is easy, but initially your page will appear way down below top search results. It could be page 3, page 9 or even much worse for some keywords.

To get your page appear between the top results, it must be perceived by search engines as better than other websites competing for the same keyword. Here is what you should do:

  • Write valuable and original content (no copying from other sites!)
  • Add an occasional keyword here and there in your content, preferably in your title and close to the top of page
  • Get links from popular high-quality websites
  • Post fresh content on a regular basis

Pros of SEO

  • Very effective. Customers themselves are searching for you.
  • No direct costs. After you have gained high ranking, it costs nothing to run.

Cons of SEO

  • Difficult to master and measure results
  • No guarantees that anything will work
  • Takes a lot of time to gain results

For more info and instructions, see our article How to rank high on search engines? Beginner's guide to SEO.

Paid ads on search engines. AdWords basics.

While it is fairly difficult to land top search result positions, especially for new websites and for competitive keywords, you can always pay Google or Bing some money for showing you at the top.

It works like this:

  1. Choose keywords
  2. Choose how much are you willing to pay per visitors
  3. Create ad text
  4. Search engine will show your add for the chosen keywords and you will have to pay each time somebody clicks on your ad and visits your site

What are the costs?

The cost depends on keywords, your target area, language and competition. The minimum bid is 5 cents. The maximum bids can be as high as $5 or even $100 for some very competitive keywords. Generally, the higher competition the higher the costs.

You find more info on Google AdWords website. Running a successful AdWords camaign requires some experience and skills, so you may want to consider hiring an online marketing agency that specializes in AdWords. Click here to find a partner near you.

While AdWords is single most popular program of this type, you may also consider another search engine, Bing, which offers similar program.

Pros of paid search engine advertising

  • Keyword-based PPC advertising lets you appear at the top search results fast. Remember, reaching top position using SEO is slow and may take months or years.
  • You can target precise keywords of interest.
  • You can target any country, region or language.

Cons of paid search engine advertising

  • Relatively expensive, may not pay off
  • Takes time to master

Social networks

Social networks are one of the most important marketing channels for modern online businesses. Successful social network marketing strategy may not only make you look cool, but also get you a lot of followers and potential customers.

While there are many social networks, Facebook is by far the most important. You may also consider using Twitter and other networks. I will talk mostly about Facebook.

Here are the basic steps:

1. Create company profile

On Facebook you create a Facebook Page for your business. Make sure your Facebook Page looks professional and visually pleasing and be sure to enter as much information about your business as possible. Do not forget your website address.

2. Attract followers

You begin attracting followers by inviting all your friends, customers and partners. Then you widen your follower base by posting interesting content on a regular basis.

3. Post engaging content on a regular basis

The posts you make and content you share must be of the type that people are likely to Share and Like. Your posts must be interesting and engaging, or else your social network marketing efforts will fail. Facebook automatically hides boring posts and pure advertising from most of your followers. People do not want to see product ads, they want interesting or funny pictures, articles, quotes etc. Give them what they want and only then you are allowed to post ad or two between all your cool posts that do not actually advertise your products directly.

4. Post regularly

For your Facebook page not to look dead, you should post at least once a week.

5. Use boosted posts and paid campaigns

No matter how many followers you have, your posts will be seen by only some of your followers. To increase this, you have to pay Facebook. The easiest way to do this is to use Boosted Posts. Here is some info on how to get started.

6. Consider outsourcing your Facebook advertising

To save time and get better results, you may want to consider hiring a Facebook advertising specialist. This will cost you some money, but it will save you a lot of time. On the other hand, many business owners have mastered Facebook marketing themselves.

Pros of social network marketing

  • An opportunity to show that you are a modern, connected business
  • An opportunity to get shared and talked about
  • A great opportunity to reach your target audience

Cons of social network marketing

  • You have to invest time on a regular basis
  • Involves costs
  • Takes time to master

Here are a few comprehensive articles that will help you master Facebook marketing:

E-mail marketing

E-mail marketing is undoubtedly one of the most effective types of marketing. It is also a vast subject and involves use of some specific tools and skills. The good news is that email marketing is no rocket science, so you can easily master it as long as you are willing to invest some time.

E-mail marketing consists of following steps:

1. Grow a quality list of e-mails

To go any e-mail marketing, you must first build a list of interested high-quality subscribers.

You can not just harvest e-mail addresses online or buy a list of prospect e-mail addresses, because it is a crime and you will eventually get reported as spammer and may even get banned from sending any e-mail at all.

Here are some ways to get e-mail addresses:

  • Place an opt-in form on your website
  • Ask permission to your existing customers
  • Offer something valuable to your subscribers (e.g. a discount, free e-book, free access to some video etc.)

To learn more, please read the following in-depth article:
How to grow your e-mail list[blog/how-to-grow-your-email-list]

2. Send only content that your subscribers want to receive

Make sure the e-mails you send are interesting and valuable to your subscribers, if you just invite them to buy your products, they will quickly unsubscribe.

3. Create beautiful and professional-looking campaign e-mails

Your e-mails should look beautiful and professional. If you do not have professional design skills, it is best to stick to less-is-more strategy.

We recommend to use a professional e-mail marketing software, such as GetResponse, CampaignMonitor, MailChimp or any other platform that offers e-mail templates created by professional designers.

4. Make it easy to unsubscribe

Every message that you send should contain a link or instructions for unsubscribing from your list. Not only this is a good and honorable practice, it is also required by law in some countries.

5. Send e-mail using modern and professional e-mail tools

While you can do basic e-mail marketing from your Inbox using Bcc field, this does not look very professional and any more serious e-mail marketing will not work this way, because regular e-mail software ha sits limitations.

This is where specalized tools come in. Here is a list of most popular platforms:

Pros of e-mail marketing

  • Works as an excellent attention grabber
  • Provides excellent engagement and conversion rates

Cons of social network marketing

  • Involves the use of paid software when done properly
  • Takes time and effort to build subscriber list

For more information, please see our Beginner’s guide to e-mail marketing

Content marketing

Content marketing is a new form of online marketing that allows you to get attention from your potential customers by offering them free, interesting and valuable content. It is almost impossible to be successful at social network marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) or e-mail marketing without a good content marketing strategy.

How content marketing works?

Content marketing works the following way:

  1. Produce great content
  2. Get your content published
  3. Potential customers consume, share and sign up to your content
  4. You get people's attention and can use this opportunity to let them know about your products and services

Here are some examples of great content marketing material:

  • Articles and blog posts published to your website
  • E-books and guides containing free professional advice
  • Infographics and photos
  • Podcasts and videos
  • Free software and tools

Key factors for making your content marketing successful

  • Target your content at visitors and followers that are your most likely customers
  • Focus on providing genuine value to your visitors (mentioning or promoting your products only occasionally), do not try to sell anything
  • Publish new content on a regular basis, so that when your audience is ready to buy, they have a clear memory of your company and website
  • Be willing to invest time and effort. Only high quality content will bring results, however producing high quality content takes time and effort.
  • Make your content easy to share.

Pros of content marketing

  • Gets your website shared more often
  • Makes your social networking efforts work much better
  • Improves your position on search engines (gives SEO advantage)
  • Can educate your customers into buying your product
  • Increases visitor trust and confidence
  • Makes your e-mail marketing work
  • Much cheaper and more effective than other marketing methods (when done right)

Cons of social network marketing

  • Takes a lot of time and effort when done right

Read more about content marketing in our Beginner's guide to content marketing.

Online communities, directories and catalogs

Often it makes sense to appear in industry-specific or country-specific catalogs, online communities or online trade directories. Not only this can bring some visitors to your website, this can also give you some SEO benefit, providing that the catalog or online directory allows you to add link to your website.

For example, if you are a designer or artist, it may do good if you register on deviantart.com which is the largest online art gallery and community. Do a research of what options are available for your industry or in your country.

Offline marketing

Offline marketing is a set of marketing efforts that are done offline. Here are some examples:

  • Putting your website address on your business cards
  • Putting your website address on physical ads and posters
  • Putting your website address on your vehicles
  • Hosting events and seminars
  • Putting your website address on clothing, souvenirs and other items
    etc.

While often not as effective as online marketing methods, offline marketing methods may provide additional contribution to making your website popular.

Summary

Online marketing is not exactly a walk in the park, but it is no rocket science either. Many business owners have already mastered and successfully used the marketing methods described here.

While this article has provided you with a quick overview of the most important online marketing techniques, there are many more articles available in our blog, covering each of the topics mentioned above in greater detail, to help you master the skills necessary to become successful online.

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a question or a comment below.