If you’re new to Internet marketing, don’t worry too much — some of the old rules of traditional media still apply. The specific methods and tactics are still evolving, but many of the general theories and strategies have remained the same.
Although the medium is indeed sometimes the message, it is important not to become too overwhelmed with the Internet’s capacity to reach millions of people within minutes. If an online marketer broadcasts a message to the entire world through websites, social media, search-engine optimization (SEO), and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, the rate of return — or click-through ratio (CTR) in online-speak — will be extremely small. Such a tactic wastes time and money at best or leads to a reputation of being a spammer at worst.
Just as traditional marketers would research which television stations and newspapers have audiences that match their target demographics, so should online marketers determine which websites, search-engine keywords, and social-media networks would deliver the greatest number of relevant leads at the lowest-possible cost in both time and money.
“Taking the time to identify your target market, including breaking it down into appropriate segments, and then utilizing this information in your online marketing activities will save you a significant amount of time and money — and will bring much better results for your business. This is just the first step of a full marketing plan, but it is the most important and doing this alone will put you on the right track whether you are using SEO, Social Media, Pay Per Click, Email Marketing or any combination of these.”
If a pharmaceutical manfacturer would want to target senior citizens in a traditional manner, they would — and do — broadcast advertisements on the nightly news on ABC, CBS, and NBC. (Still, it is important to note that the number of retirees using social media is skyrocketing as well.) If brokers would want to pitch gold as a safe investment in tough economic times, they would — and do — target conservatives through the Fox News Channel. (And on right-wing websites as well.)
At the risk of repeating your old MBA textbooks, here are a few demographic considerations that also affect online-marketing decisions:
— Which leads are most profitable? Should you continue to target them, or is there another potential group that your company has not tried to reach? Are they men or women, teenage girls or middle-aged men, residents of Boston or California? How much do they earn? What is their typical level of education? And so on.
— Combine traditional-marketing research with online analytics. Standard demographic profiles are easily available for marketing professionals, but platforms like Google Analytics add even more data. The traditional methods identify who is likely buying — or would buy — your product or service and therefore whom should be targeted. Website-traffic analyses describe how those people are finding (or would find) your website.
— The key is to combine the two factors. Say that your business website sells digital music. Sales and marketing research may tell that most purchasers are (or would be) teenage girls. Online-metric research may reveal that people are finding (or would find) the website through social media generally and Facebook specifically. So, as a result, one important online-marketing tactic would be to target teenagers, specifically girls, in junior high and high school on Facebook through methods including a business page, sponsored advertisements, and a business group on the website. If your firm would try to reach the same audience on LinkedIn, I doubt that you would receive many leads from teenagers there.
The marketing profession has always been moving away from a mass audience towards segmented marketing since the arrival of niche newspapers, magazines, and cable channels that cater towards a specific portion of the population. The Internet has only greatly accelerated this trend.
Thus, the traditional principle of marketing segmentation also needs to be applied to social media. For example, Twitter — the other major social-media network in addition to Facebook — is not really one large community but rather a massive collection of individual ones.
Typically, a user will insert so-called hashtags like “#seo” or “#baseball” into tweets so that other users discussing that topic will see the messages and then talk back and forth. As a result, the key to marketing success in Twitter — just like in traditional marketing — is to identify, segment, and target.
Take the above example of digital music. It would be useless to send tweets into the Twitterverse and hope they will be seen. There are specific tactics to use.
Unless your company has an established brand, like Sony, you will want to include a keyword in your username — something like “SmithMusic.” That way, searches for “music” will return your profile. In addition, you will want to add hashtags to your tweets like #music, #mp3, or #[popularbandofthemoment]. If market research determines that Twitter is a good medium to target, it would be important to know what your target demographics on Twitter are saying, what keywords and hashtags they are using, and how you can incorporate the terms into your tweets.