Our comprehensive guide is designed to help you find answers to all the burning questions about a successful online marketing strategy. In the coming months, we will be adding a new article every other week, which you should not miss!
In the following article we will show you which online marketing channels you should rely on to achieve the greatest possible success.
Which online marketing channels should you rely on?
Hand on heart: How many online marketing channels do you actually use? Your own website? Certainly. Search engine marketing, e-mail newsletters or social media platforms? Probably also. But what about affiliate marketing or online PR? If you have already worked intensively with the latter methods as a responsible person in a small or medium-sized company, you are an absolute exception. However, if you consider that a successful marketing campaign should definitely rely on cross-media use of a wide variety of marketing channels, too much restriction of the methods used can prove to be extremely critical. Frequent causes for this include a lack of awareness of the instruments or a lack of belief in their success.
For these reasons, the following overview should help you to gain a basic knowledge of the most common online marketing methods and their suitability for specific objectives.
The most important online marketing methods for your business
The aim of online marketing is no different from “classic” offline advertising: The largest possible number of people relevant to the target group should actively perceive their own company positively with the most effective cost-benefit ratio (the maximum number of leads at a minimum price) – either for specific search queries or as branding. Accordingly, measures such as the appropriate selection of channels, the comprehensive evaluation of the successes (tracking), a subsequent evaluation of the results, the optimisation of the campaign and its scaling are central tasks. This is exactly where a professional agency can help to ensure the success of the advertising projects.
Classic online advertising relies on display advertising in the form of banner ads, text and graphic insertions, sponsored content or video ads on third-party websites in exchange for payment. The ads placed are either intended to attract visitors to the company’s own offerings or to increase brand awareness. In order to avoid negative associations which reverse the desired effect, however, all too intrusive advertising such as page-filling pop-ups should be avoided. If this is taken to heart, paid advertising is primarily suitable for all those who want to increase their brand awareness. In addition to the established model of cost-per-click (CPC), a remuneration based on a fixed amount per 1000 insertions has increasingly proven its worth for this purpose (cost-per-mille; CPM). The largest providers include Google AdWords (with other platforms such as Youtube), Facebook, Twitter and many others.
E-mail advertising, another absolute classic of online marketing, continues to enjoy great popularity thanks to significant successes. The most common method is the regular sending of e-mail newsletters with interesting, informative or entertaining company news, for which all potential customers can register simply by entering their e-mail address. Addressing the relevant target group in a targeted manner gives your customers the feeling that they are always kept up to date and can have a lasting positive influence on their view of your company. The offer of e-mail newsletters should be used accordingly by every company: at an extremely low cost, e-mail newsletters support both user loyalty (Customer Relationship Management; CRM) and the associated long-term customer value, insofar as information on new products or offers can encourage old existing customers to repeat purchase transactions (Customer Lifetime Value; CLV).
Since you are most likely in constant contact with your key customers, newsletters probably make less sense for them. But what about the old leads that you wanted to call again for years but simply didn’t have the time to do so? E-mail marketing is an effective solution here. So who is e-mail marketing interesting for? For everybody! If you are growth-oriented, you should definitely use e-mail marketing. If you rely on a “holistic marketing strategy”, an agency can also advise you on all aspects of e-mail marketing.
Search Engine Advertising (SEA)
Search Engine Advertising, Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC) or simply Sponsored Search includes the placement of advertisements in search engines such as Google with the associated advertising systems (Google AdWords & Co.). SEA is to be regarded as a subcategory of paid advertising. In order to attract visitors to their own offer, the advertisements of the participating companies appear above and below the organic search – we refer here specifically to Google Search, as this is by far the largest search engine with a market share of 90%. The position of the advertisement is determined by the previously defined maximum amount that the service providers concerned, such as “Google AdWords”, receive per click on the advertisement. The cost per click depends, among other things, on the quality factor of the keyword used and ranges from a few cents to just under 60 euros for the currently most expensive term “outplacement”. Search engine advertising enables the methodical addressing of potential customers on specific topics with absolute control and insight into the successes and should be used accordingly by companies that want to win new customers in a targeted manner with a variable budget.
Affiliate marketing describes a form of cooperation between two companies, in which a salesperson (merchant) promotes his products via various advertising elements such as banners on the website of the so-called “Publisher“, “Affiliates” or “Mediator“. The seller profits accordingly from the web presence provided by the publisher, which is in line with the target group, whereas the latter receives a previously agreed commission if the sale is successfully concluded within a certain time frame. Affiliate marketing can be useful for you if you want to increase your target group reach, but flat-rate fees seem unattractive and you only want to pay a contribution in case of successful sales. In this case, so-called “affiliate networks” such as Zanox or affili are the right address.
A modern version of affiliate marketing, however, is the cooperation with bloggers: Bloggers enjoy a particularly high reputation and a high degree of trust among their readers. A recommendation of your products or services by a blogger who writes about suitable topics is particularly promising for these reasons. However, many bloggers have not yet considered monetization. It could therefore be very worthwhile to contact exactly this person and negotiate a potential collaboration.
Online PR comprises (in a narrow understanding) above all the issuing of digital press releases on suitable press portals, distribution lists and directories. But also the placement of articles in relevant online media with high reach as well as direct contact with journalists can prove to be worthwhile for you. The great advantage of reports about your company in specialist or popular magazines is above all the perceived independence of the reporting: readers will perceive exciting reports about product news or events in your company less as advertising and consequently have more confidence in what is written. A report in a major trade magazine or daily newspaper is therefore worth its weight in gold for any company. In addition, synergies are created, which have a positive effect on your organic search engine results – here too you can do a lot right and a lot wrong – so that a consultation in advance is recommended.
Listing on external websites
An indirect advertising method is the listing of your company on a website relevant to the industry. By listing your company on the pages of associations, interest groups or industry portals, you receive a valuable backlink and at the same time the opportunity to be found by potential interested parties on the relevant pages. The offers and the scope of information vary according to the provider and range from simple free mentions of your company to detailed descriptions with costs.
Viral marketing campaigns
Viral marketing actions aim at spreading the awareness of the product independently and rapidly via word-of-mouth propaganda like a virus through particularly creative, controversial and partly interactive web content. Ideally, you and your offer will receive the unlimited public and mass media attention with which you and your product can be permanently engraved in the cultural memory of society. It should be mentioned, however, that passive viral marketing campaigns are only successful if their content is also continuously distributed by a large number of people via social networks. Active viral marketing campaigns, on the other hand, in which the author actively disseminates the content himself, can be particularly costly. Furthermore, they are often associated with a high risk and can have a negative effect on your company if they are not successful.
search engine optimization
Search engine optimization or Search-Engine-Optimization (SEO) is probably one of the most important online marketing measures and for every company unavoidable from the beginning. Because only those who are found via organic search on Google, Yahoo, Bing & Co. can generate the traffic they deserve. Therefore, search engine optimization includes all measures with which you will be listed as high as possible in the search engines for certain keywords.
social media marketing
Even though Germany can still be regarded as an absolute developing country in terms of the use of social networks according to a current study, a large proportion of the younger generations in particular use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Co. These can be used by you to communicate directly and immediately with all interested parties at eye level, to answer questions, to react to complaints and to inform about interesting news at low cost. In this way, social media marketing can increase awareness of your company, improve your image, ensure long-term customer loyalty, promote visibility in search engines and, most importantly, increase the conversion rate.
In addition, you increasingly have the opportunity to actively advertise on social platforms such as Facebook. In addition to the almost classic communication channels in Web 2.0, YouTube in particular is becoming increasingly important: Videos such as the current image film can be uploaded via your own corporate channel and viewed by billions of users. In the B2B sector, networking on well-known platforms such as Xing or LinkedIn is also a good way to establish valuable contacts with potential business partners.
The saying “content is king” is already an old hat in online marketing. Nevertheless, its topicality has not changed until today. Delivering content via platforms such as your own blog that is interesting, informative, instructive, exciting or simply amusing is not only for search engines a central factor in ranking your company highly. Although potential customers cannot be directly motivated to buy, high-quality content helps to attract as many people as possible from the desired target group to your offer and to arouse their interest. By providing information on relevant topics, you prove yourself to be an experienced expert in the field and gain trust and the opportunity to build a long-term customer relationship. In combination with a Call to Action such as a newsletter subscription, you can massively increase the probability of a successful sales transaction.
A high quality website is the basic requirement for the success of any business in the digitalized world. The heart of your online marketing should be accordingly optimally designed for your target group. The relevant criteria include design, technical implementation or maintenance. Your own website can inspire new customers for your product as well as keep existing customers loyal to your company. However, new customers can only be acquired if your website can be found on the Internet. A combination of different marketing methods such as search engine optimization, search engine advertising and online PR is therefore unavoidable to make your website known.
Whitepaper marketing refers to the production of high-quality content in the form of white papers or comparable text sources such as eBooks, which can be downloaded by providing your own e-mail address and subsequent confirmation. This provides you with the addresses of highly qualified interested parties, which you can include in your e-mail marketing activities. The offer of whitepapers is particularly interesting for B2B service providers who would like to receive contact data of active users who are interested in the offered area and are therefore particularly receptive to their own services.
Influencers are opinion leaders who, because of their reputation and fame, have a decisive influence on the decisions of their “followers”. Typical influencers are well-known people on platforms such as Youtube (so-called Youtuber), Twitter, Facebook or their own blogs.
As brand ambassadors and multipliers, influencers offer the opportunity to optimally address younger target groups in particular in times of the advance of social media channels. Many influencers are already listed for this purpose in specialised agencies. Further influencers can be found via tools such as socialmention. However, you should always make sure that the thematic focus of the influencer selected is in line with what you offer. Advertising for a new piece of sports equipment makes little sense on a channel that specializes in fashion.