Regardless of whether your intended destination for traffic is a sales page, a lead page, or simply a piece of content, the potential internet marketing methods are manifold. We’ll cover the most common ones here.
Email marketing is unique on this list for a very obvious reason: you already have their email address. In other words, the main goal of email marketing is sales, whereas the other methods in this list can have both sales and lead generation as a goal. Email marketing basically consists of sending promotional email messages to a list of leads, typically using an autoresponder service like GetResponse or Aweber. Email marketing can be done on a completely manual basis, in which a business sends out newsletters or offers at their respective times, or on an automatic basis, in which a list of leads are put through a sequence of pre-planned auto-responder messages.
More recently, the concept of marketing automation has become popular. This is where leads are put through a unique series of autoresponder sequences that change and adapt based on the actions of the lead and various “if this then that” (IFTTT) conditions established by the marketer. For example, if a lead does not open an email, they might be automatically sent a follow-up email asking why they hadn’t opened the previous one, or if a lead clicks on a certain link in an email which indicates they have a particular interest, they might be segmented into a separate list or new sequence that caters to that specific interest.
Search Engine Marketing consists of leveraging a search engine’s paid advertising platform to position your business as a “sponsored” search result in a prominent, visible place on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The most popular search engines for SEM at the moment are Google and Bing. A business can set up their ad to target a group of keywords that they’d like to “rank” for, as well as selecting other variables such as demographics and location. These ads will then appear at the top or bottom of the SERPs (depending on various factors such as budget and bidding) and will have the appearance of a typical search result, with the one exception of a small word like “ad” or “sponsored” somewhere on it (this varies among search engines).
Search Engine Optimization is the use of various on-site and off-site practices and factors to make your web properties rank higher in search results. These practices include methods like keyword usage, original content, frequent updating/posting, backlinking, social sharing, bounce rates (how many people leave after viewing just one page), visitors’ average time on site, and the use of images and videos. Until around 2012, SEO was arguably considered the most vital internet marketing method around and, depending on your industry, it might still be.
However, in recent years the growing number of competing web properties in the online space have made ranking very difficult and expensive for many businesses. This, along with constant changes to some of the top search engines’ algorithms have led many businesses to conclude that paid SEM is more cost-effective than SEO. SEO still maintains its importance in many cases, however, such as in the case of local “brick and mortar” businesses whose search rankings are positively affected by the use of nearby city names in the search terms as well as the various search engines’ use of locational data.
Ad networks are an excellent way to get your brand or offer in front of your target audience on a broad range of web properties. The most commonly discussed ad network is Google’s AdWords network but there are several other out there. Using these networks will allow you to place banner image ads, video ads, or simple textual ads in front of web traffic on a variety of websites. This approach can be especially powerful when combined with retargeting. This entails placing retargeting pixels on your web properties and then specifically targeting your site visitors via ad networks so that the offer they initially looked at (and are presumably interested in) starts following them around the internet wherever they go. This may sound creepy, but statistics indicate that people who are retargeted are 70% more likely to convert!
Some marketers might prefer to do their advertising on a case-by-case basis by personally approaching individual, relevant websites, forums, or blogs in their niche or industry. When using this manual method, marketers should be sure to research the metrics of the given site, blog, or forum. Naturally you’ll want to display your ad in places with a reasonable level of traffic and a positive reputation to ensure your advertising dollars are spent well. You can learn a lot about websites by researching them on Alexa. That said, the majority of businesses tend to find the use of ad networks to be a more cost-effective way of advertising.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing has come a long way in the last several years and has changed the way many businesses think about marketing in general. For some marketers, social followers have replaced email addresses, posts and tweets have replaced promotional emails, and likes have replaced email opens. Virtually every successful business today has not only a social media presence but a clearly defined social media strategy. Most of these strategies revolve around posting consistent content.
But it’s more than just posting promotions and offers. A successful social strategy will include various types of non-promotional content for various types of goals. Posting about a charitable cause associates your brand with feelings of goodwill. Posting about trendy topics makes your brand seem relevant. Posting useful tips without a sales pitch makes your business come off as genuinely helpful. Posting humorous or “feel-good” content associates your business with positive emotions, and so on. But more importantly, these types of non-promotional posts are accomplishing two other goals. First, they’re encouraging social sharing, which grows your following even more. Secondly, they’re creating top-of-mind awareness for your brand. People will get used to seeing your content and your business name, logo, and USP. As a result, when they have a problem that your business fixes, they’ll be more likely to think of you first.
All of those social media concepts revolve around organic activity. However, the major social media platforms today have also developed robust paid advertising systems. The most game-changing of these has been the concept of social “native advertising”. Native advertising refers to advertisements that have the appearance of organic content with the exception of a tiny one-word disclaimer somewhere designating it as “sponsored” or an “advertisement”. This new form of paid social media advertising has proven to be remarkably effective because social media consumers are already in the habit of looking at, consuming, and engaging with anything that looks like an organic post in their social feeds. In addition to this, the line between organic posts and paid native ads have become increasingly blurred as these native ads act and function just like organic content (they can be shared, liked, etc.) and businesses now have the ability to pay to promote an organic post to give it further reach.
If there’s one thing that has been well established in marketing today, it’s the tremendous power of video. Nothing else compares. Understandably then, marketers have seized on video and are leveraging it in numerous ways. Video marketing is often executed as social media marketing. Businesses are publishing video content on multiple video sites such as YouTube, DailyMotion, and Vimeo just as they would publish non-video content to Facebook or Twitter.
As with the social media strategy described earlier, a successful video content strategy includes a good mix of useful, helpful, trending, humorous, and “feel-good” video content, with “sales” videos being in the minority. Once published, video content should be cross-promoted on other social media platforms to increase exposure. Another recent development is that major social networks like Facebook and Twitter have added their own video uploading and streaming functions, increasing the overlap between video marketing and social media marketing.
One further angle on video marketing is paid video advertising. Presently, the most popular version of this is YouTube/AdWords video ads which appear at the beginning of videos on both YouTube as well as other video-playing properties around the web. These video ads can typically be skipped after several seconds. In addition to the YouTube/AdWords video ad network, businesses also often pay for video ads on an individual basis on other websites, news sites, and so on.
Content marketing is largely included in the other marketing methods mentioned thus far, but it’s also worth discussing by
itself. The most common forms of content marketing are blog posts, news articles, and social posting, but content marketing can also include video and image publishing. The goals of content marketing are manifold. Firstly, it builds goodwill with followers who associate your brand with helpful content. Secondly, content marketing provides an opportunity to hide a “soft pitch” within “non-salesy” content which can lead to sales while at the same time providing useful content. Thirdly, content marketing can be an excellent way to “pixel” an audience for later retargeting which has proven to be a devastatingly effective tactic. Finally, content is the primary driver in most search engines’ algorithms which can result in higher rankings. There are many benefits beyond these four, but these can be considered the most relevant and directly impactful ones.
Old School Methods
The following methods have largely become less common, if not altogether abandoned, because of negative connotations or even penalties that have been attached to them in the past. But since it’s theoretically possible to engage in these in a non-spammy manner, it’s worth mentioning them briefly. Blog commenting and video commenting can often be an effective way to get your brand in front of relevant audiences. Just make sure that your comments are relevant, useful, and not spammy and definitely do not mass-post comments for the sake of backlinking as that will likely kill your SEO thanks to recent search engine algorithms designed to penalize abusers of this tactic.
Forum posting is another marketing method that has become less popular today. However, this was less due to abuses (although there certainly were some) and more towards a drifting away towards social media platforms. It simply becomes more cost-effective and fruitful to focus on social media. However, it is often the case that most of the serious devotees of a certain niche may be more likely to be found on niche-related forums, which means it can still be beneficial to market your brand in the signature section of your posts and interact on relevant forums periodically. Just make sure you’re making genuine and sincere contributions to the conversation.