Internet marketing is a fickle and ever-changing enterprise. What worked last year is not necessary going to be the best choice this year, and the same can be said about next year. In order to market yourself or your organization effectively online, you must be willing and able to adapt to the latest hardware, software, and user preferences. Here are five current strategies that you should be implementing in your approach to Internet marketing.
Let the Videos Do the Talking
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million. While you should not replace your existing content solely with videos, you should be incorporating them into your website and social media pages. A well-made video engages your audience in ways that pictures or paragraphs simply can’t rival. It gives you the opportunity to really showcase what your product or service is all about while also letting your brand’s unique personality shine through. For a small investment, a high-quality video can reach thousands or even millions of viewers.
How to Create Quality Video Content
So how do you create engaging video content? The most successful videos are those that solve a problem, so start by asking yourself a few important questions:
- What is the primary obstacle that your audience is regularly trying to overcome?
- Who is your target demographic?
- What trigger words will immediately capture your audience’s attention?
If you find that these questions are not immediately answerable, you may need to do some research about your target market before you attempt to create video content.
Once you have established what type of video you are going to make, who your audience is, and what types of keywords you’ll use to grab their attention, it is time to start filming. Hiring a professional is recommended if you do not have the appropriate experience, equipment, and editing resources.
Within the first 10 seconds of your video, your audience should know exactly what the video is about and how it will benefit them. Be energetic, speak slightly louder than your normal speaking voice, and be a little more animated than usual. It may help to film a short take, watch it, try again, and repeat until you feel confident in your execution.
Once you have filmed a killer video, create an awesome headline and description using attention-grabbing keywords, and post it. Your website should have a user-friendly video resource center where all of your videos are congregated. If you have a substantial number of videos, you should also offer a search feature so your visitors can easily find exactly what they are looking for.
Dethrone the Desktop
In 2015, Google released an algorithm update that gives preference to websites that respond well on mobile devices. This sparked a huge growth in the adoption of responsive websites, as poor mobile performance could hurt SERP rankings while also alienating a huge number of potential customers and clients. This trend is only going to continue, as it is clear that mobile devices are not going anywhere. In keeping with the times, forward-looking organizations may wish to consider developing websites for wearable technology such as the Apple Watch.
One Website or Two?
In order to retain your mobile visitors, you must consider site design, structure, and page loading times. You can choose to rely on one dynamic and responsive website that successfully translates across all devices, or you could have separate sites for each. Advantages to using just one website include lower costs and less confusion, but having multiple sites may provide a better user experience.
The proper solution really depends on your niche. If your company is a food delivery or car pickup service, having unimpeded mobile access is more important than if your company sells industrial heaters. Think about your audience and the device they are most likely to use when browsing your site.
To make a more responsive website, you should avoid pop-ups, as they can be difficult to minimize or close on a mobile device. Because people browse and scroll websites on mobile devices using fingers, you should make sure that the buttons and links on your site are not too big or too small. When you create URLs, meta descriptions, and titles, try not to be too wordy. Mobile devices have less screen space, and therefore do not display as much information as desktops or laptops.
Get Rid of the Clutter
It may be tempting to make your website as flashy as possible, but your site will be better off if you value function over fashion. Today’s jaded Internet users are not as impressed by a fancy graphic or animation as they once were, so leave out the unnecessary junk. It only takes one minor glitch or crash for your visitors to move along to the next site, so go for a simple and effective design. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with a flashy website if it works for your brand, but you should never sacrifice usability for eye candy.
Clutter can also take the form of words. Your site’s content should be clear, concise, and easy to the read. If you don’t get directly to the point within the first paragraph, most of your readers are going to move along. Today’s Internet users have short attention spans, and they realize that there are plenty of other options out there if your website isn’t providing the experience they desire. Don’t compromise quality to boost your word count. Try to make every word count while still maintaining a tone that fits your brand.
Stay Active on Social Media
Think of your website as your home base where people can come and visit you when they feel so inclined. Your social media pages are your outlet for going out and meeting people. They provide your company with an ongoing personality.
If your online marketing campaign begins and ends with just your company website, you are going to have problems. At bare minimum, your company should be on major social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. In particular, Facebook offers opportunities to connect with a huge demographic. In fact, according to Coalition Technologies, Facebook saw double digit percentage growth in almost every age demographic in 2010, and those numbers have multiplied many times over since then.
Growing your social media audience is a process that takes time. Engage your followers by consistently posting your own in-house informative videos and articles, as well as helpful tips, general discussions, and open questions. You may also want to offer giveaways, contests, and other promotions to keep people coming back regularly. After posting content, include those who respond in the conversation by asking additional questions, seeking out opinions, providing further information, and so on. Make sure that you use a consistent voice to build trust and authority, which brings us to the final tip:
Know Your Brand and Your Audience
If your lawyer’s firm was constantly posting silly content, you might start to wonder if you should consider hiring someone else. Always keep in mind that how you portray yourself on the Internet is how people think of your organization. Just because you enjoyed a funny video or a clever meme does not mean that your audience will appreciate it. Always remember that your company’s online persona directly affects how your company is perceived. If you are not confident in your ability to separate your personal tastes from your brand, consider hiring an Internet marketing firm to handle your accounts.
Identifying Your Target Market and Finding Your Company Voice
Branding your company and finding your voice can be challenging. A good starting point is to take a look at your competition for some inspiration. If you’re not sure who your audience is, you may want to survey them. Key information like age, gender, location, marital status, and other defining attributes are going to play a vital role in determining your approach. Once you have established a basic customer identity, dig deeper by asking more in-depth questions:
- What does my typical customer look like?
- Where does my typical customer work?
- What kind of person does my typical customer spend time with?
- What else interests my typical customer?
- What are my typical customer’s passions and hobbies?
- What is my typical customer hoping to gain out of visiting my website?
Although you will not be able to answer these questions directly, trying to get inside your customer’s heads is a valuable exercise that will help you to define your target market and figure out how you should be speaking to them.
When in Doubt, Hire a Professional
There is no shame in inviting a reputable online marketing professional to take the reins. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a successful business that has a CEO in charge of online marketing. Just like programming, copywriting, web development, graphic design, and other computer fields, online marketing requires in-depth knowledge and experience. If your current strategies aren’t working out for your company, it may be time to look into other options. Never overlook the importance of Internet marketing – your company’s future could depend on it.
Carolyn Clarke is a freelance writer and digital marketing consultant from Portland, ME. She is working on publishing an e-book to help local businesses to understand the fine art of online marketing. When she is not in front of her laptop screen, she enjoys hiking and camping with her husband and two daughters.