Gartners Marketing for Leaders is a web service devoted to online marketing professionals. This past July (2014), they published the results of a survey asking marketers about online marketing strategies, where they spent their budgets and what generated actual results.
Google or Directory Ads: We all know what Google Adwords are, but ‘directory’ advertising is when you pay annually or monthly to list your business in a directory that can be local, or industry-specific. For acupuncturists, for instance, a directory like this would be acufinders.com. For a lawyer, findlaw.com.
Content Creation: This aspect of marketing strategies is about adding new fresh content to your website in the form of blog posts or pages that are relevant to the keywords you want to rank for. Can you do this yourself? Sure. Can you actually get it to rank in the search engines? If you use WordPress and the Yoast SEO plugin, probably. Otherwise, hire a pro or get staff to add new content to your site. This is also known as ‘content marketing’.
Website Updating: Updating your website is not just about the platform, it’s about freshening your look, making sure that your site is technically up-to-date and provides a good user experience (UX). As the browsers get more sophisticated, people expect your site to function like other up-to-date sites. Those ‘hamburger’ menus on mobile devices? Yep, you need those, as well as a mobile-friendly responsive theme.
Email Marketing: Set yourself up with a free Mailchimp account and start emailing your list once a month, providing tips, product reviews, a newsletter specific to your industry. Newsletters that are opt-in are the most heavily-read email campaigns. They take a lot of work to put together but its a great way to maintain contact with your user base.
Analytics & Stats: These are included in the marketing budget because marketers need a way to analyze responses.
Social Network Ads: This would be ads on Facebook, mobile Twitter ads, Pinterest (how much more specific could your audience get?) as well as Yelp.
Mobile Ads: For mobile viewers, these ads take up valuable screen space and get kind of obnoxious. But this market will grow considerably over the next few years.
Giveaways: yep, t-shirts, but also your services or product offerings, gift certificates, free passes and rewards programs. Discounts and coupon deals also weigh in here.
Video Production: Can include those people-walking-onto-the-screen infomercials, introductory videos about your business, demo videos, tutorials.
Company News Blog: This is different from content marketing. A company news blog basically focuses on upcoming events and product releases.
What the marketing strategies survey results show
Overall, we could expect that the more money you dump into something, the more it will pay off. But surprisingly, some marketing strategies didn’t pan out that way.
If you’ve done any online marketing, you discover pretty quickly that Google and directory ads are pretty powerful. They will drive a steady stream of business to your door if you use them consistently.
What’s amazing is that keeping your website updated came in second in internet market strategies. A younger market, and a low-tech older clientele, doesn’t waste a lot of time on a site that doesn’t offer a good UX. They simply move on to the next site.
You know that giveaways will drive business to you; you also know that your pricing is not only market-driven but has to be able to keep you in business. So special offers should be kept to your most profitable service or product. One business I know offers a free one-hour ‘introduction’ for their services once a month, populated by a week of Google ads right before the intro. This consistently brings in new clients each month. Clients get to try out the service and the business owner gets to meet new clients face-to-face.
Email marketing and content creation are two extremely powerful internet market strategies that can be very cost-effective. If you are not a writer, your employees or family members can certainly crank out a few paragraphs monthly for you. Tell stories about your products and services, and creative ways your customers use them. Share tips and news about your industry. Sign up for competitor’s emails and scope out what they are doing. You can do it, too.
Most social network ads have not proven to be very effective internet market strategies for small businesses. They don’t work that well for large brands, either. Money is better invested in search engine ads. But if you have someone on staff who is a ‘social butterfly’, then let them run with your social marketing strategies to keep your followers engaged.