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Online Marketing and Dispelling The Confusion

Posted on January 01, 2014

For many small businesses, marketing budgets are tight and money needs to be spent wisely.  There are lots of ways (and acronyms) to market online, from paid advertising to SEO, SMM, PPC, PR, EDM... Very confusing!  Let's dispel some of the confusion and focus briefly on why SEO is the best form of marketing online for your business.

An Acronym Wonderland

Here are some of the basics about the different types of online marketing:

Paid Advertising: This is all the banner ads that you find littering the web, and is the oldest form of online marketing. They are somewhat effective, but having been around the longest also means we have built up a natural immunity now.

  • Cost: Medium-High
  • Targetability: Low-Medium
  • Measurability: Low-Medium

SEO: Search Engine Optimisation is by far the most effective form of online marketing. It isn't really marketing in the traditional sense of pushing out a message to the market, rather it is a strategic way to get your content in front of the most relevant parties.

  • Cost: Low-High
  • Targetability: High
  • Measurability: High

SMM: Social Media Marketing is the newest form of online marketing, focussing on maintaining a strong online presence on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc.

  • Cost: Low-High
  • Targetability: Medium-High
  • Measurability: Medium-High

PPC: Pay Per Click are the text ads you see at the top and down the side of search results that are highly targetable and measurable and have a variable cost attached.

  • Cost: Low-High
  • Targetability: High
  • Measurability: High

PR: Public Relations is much the same as real-world PR, with editorials, exposés and writeups about businesses, products and people being used to build credibility and provide avenues in to websites.

  • Cost: High
  • Targetability: Low
  • Measurability: Low

EDM: Email Marketing or Email Direct Marketing is about reaching people via email (duh!) who have signed up to hear from you or have heard from you before. Typically this is in the form of a newsletter with promotions or the latest blog articles.

  • Cost: Medium
  • Targetability: Medium-High
  • Measurability: Medium-High

"I thought I was doing SEO when I post on Twitter?"

Yes and no.  Yes maintaining a presence on social media networks is part of what contributes to an effective SEO strategy, but no it isn't all that contributes and certainly isn't all you should be doing!  SEO is excellent because (when done right) it is the most effective marketing you can do to build your brand online, and the associated credibility and thus visibility.  Search engines are the primary way that websites get found, so putting in effort to making it as easy as possible for people to find out through search is obviously the smartest way to do business online.  Search engines love valuable content, and valuable content is fresh, unique and relevant (not keyword-laden etc).

Easy peasy douzy

So many people think about online marketing strategies and want to take the easiest approach to try and gain momentum.  The core reason behind this 'easy approach' is because they do not hold value in the intangible process of online marketing - Mainly because there are no real-world articles appearing in newspapers, or pamphlets being dropped in letterboxes.  Take a moment to think about your business and the work that goes into the many facets; valuable products, loyal customer base, effective marketing, leveraging costs etc.  The same thought should be applied to how you get found and engaged with online; maintain a valuable website, keep content fresh, stay relevant to searchers, have a strong your social exposure, expand online visibility with locational and other related information.  Much like you have a sound business when your books are kept up to date, you can have a sound online marketing strategy when you keep the contributing factors to how you get found up to date.

Elementary my dear Watson

The real secret behind effective SEO is this: don't game the system, just give up.  That's it, just give up!  It's all done for keyword stuffing and buying inbound links.  You may as well throw away all those books teaching you to do such heinous things...  It's not all doom and gloom though! There are more mathematical formulas behind search engine ranking algorithms than we have a lifetime to figure out, so scrapping that, you now have more energy to focus on the (rather elementary) real skill: be natural.  Write naturally, write for your customers, actually write for your grandma.  Search engines have becomes very sophisticated tools that help humans find content written by other humans, and the last several years of SEO have focussed people on tricking the tool to aim searchers at their not-so-relevant content.  Let's put it this way, that old mantra of "the product sells itself" applies here now that the tools are getting smarter.  Write good content, and you will get found.

About the Author

James Richardson

Sales Director

James Richardson started his online career by running online Sports Fan sites (luckily none are still online today), with the pinnacle of the site being a write up in the Sunday Herald Sun 'Wired' column.

His professional career began at a ASX listed company, Melbourne IT, where he held various senior roles across the Sales and Marketing teams, before deciding to venture out on his own.

Running several successful online websites and businesses himself, he is well placed at understanding your business needs.

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