It’s difficult to know for sure if Internet Marketing will work for your business, since there are many factors involved. The techniques you use, your marketing strategy and the way you execute said strategy, all influence the degree of success of your marketing strategy. And let’s not forget about your audience: The best marketing campaign won’t give any measurable result if it targets the wrong audience, or doesn’t have an audience in the first place.
Many small business owners jump into the online marketing bandwagon without looking at whether their audience is actually using the Internet. In fact, you want to make sure that your target audience uses the Internet to research and purchase the items and services you provide. If your audience is not receptive to online marketing, your marketing budget may better be spent elsewhere.
DIY Market Research: Testing the Waters
If you are unsure whether your audience would be receptive to online marketing, but you already have a website, the easiest way of testing the waters is by conducting a bit of market research by yourself, using Google Analytics (or an equivalent package), Google Webmaster Tools and potentially some AdWords advertising.
Market Research With Google Analytics
You should learn how to use web analytics before even thinking of an online marketing campaign, since you’ll get a lot of useful information from even the most basic analytics package. Now, once you have at least a couple weeks to a month of traffic take a look at your Traffic sources. You should look at the keywords that are bringing people to your site, and how much of that traffic actually converts. You can also do a similar exercise looking at Google Webmaster Tools ‘Search Queries’ from your dashboard. Since you haven’t optimized your site yet, the clicks may be low, but at least you can see if there’s an interest.
Still unsure? AdWords and Competitive Intelligence
You can test a small PPC campaign with a limited budget with some of those keywords if you want to confirm that people are indeed researching and buying the products or services you offer online. Another option is going to your competitor’s websites and using some sort of competitive intelligence tool, such as iSpionage, seeing where are they advertising and how much effort are they putting online. However, don’t let the fact that your competition is ignoring online marketing stop you from trying. They may be just wasting a great sales opportunity, to your advantage.
Evaluate the ROI Once you know how many people you can reach online, and what are the chances of them actually becoming customers, it’s time to analyse the ROI of your marketing strategy and compare it with your offline efforts. Online marketing may be cheaper, but generate much less money than your existing offline campaigns. In most cases, you’ll want to use your online marketing campaign to support your offline efforts, provided those are bringing in sales. Keep in mind that online and offline marketing aren’t exclusive and you can get very good results by using them as support for each other.
Creating a Marketing Strategy If the data supports it, now it’s time to design the best online marketing strategy to suit your needs, otherwise you’ll be overwhelmed and spread yourself too thin with the myriad available possibilities. There are many ways of advertising yourself online, from free ones such as SEO or Social Media to traditional advertising with PPC platforms. However, in most cases it all starts with making sure your website is good at generating sales and creating interest. Advertisement will just bring people to your website, but you need to make sure your e-commerce site design converts.
Advice For A Successful Marketing Campaign Take a step by step approach to marketing online, making sure each piece of your marketing strategy supports the others, and don’t worry about being everywhere at the same time. Being organized and following an online marketing checklist will pay off, even if it requires taking some time to plan. Starting small, reviewing your results often and adapting your strategy is often much better in the long run to guarantee that online marketing brings you sales.