Complete Guide to Online Marketing

More people are online than ever before. Search engines and social media have become part of consumers’ daily lives.

But online marketing is a vast and ever-changing landscape, and it can be tough to keep up with the latest trends and techniques. With so many different platforms and options available for implementing online marketing, marketers need to decide which strategies are best for their businesses.

In this online marketing guide, we’ll look at some of the most important aspects of your digital marketing strategy, from paid search to social media and SEO. We’ll also explore the latest content marketing, influencer marketing, and digital PR trends.

In this online marketing guide, you’ll discover:

What is online marketing?

In basic terms, online marketing is promoting a business or brand through digital channels.

It can include paid search, social media channels, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, influencer marketing, display and video advertising, and digital PR.

Online marketing brings a lot of benefits that businesses can take advantage of. Some of the main benefits of online marketing include global reach, effective targeting, quick and easy testing, and inexpensive advertising channels. Additionally, online marketing provides businesses with instant analytics, making it easier than traditional marketing to see what’s working.

Overall, digital marketing is a great way for businesses to reach a large audience quickly and easily, while also measuring the effectiveness of their campaigns.

What to consider when creating your online marketing strategy.

Define your proposition.

Before you begin developing an online marketing strategy, it’s important to have a clear sense of your online value proposition.

The importance of defining your online proposition cannot be understated. It is the foundation upon which your entire strategy will be built. Without a clear and concise message, potential customers will be confused about what you offer and why they should choose you over the competition.

A well-defined online proposition will help set your business apart from the rest and motivate customers to visit your website and act, whether that be making a purchase or signing up for a mailing list.

Understand your audience.

Once you have a clear understanding of your proposition, you need to make sure you clearly define your audience.

If you’re trying to talk to everybody, you aren’t talking to anybody. When you get a clear understanding of your target audience, you can understand their problems, how you can best solve their problems, the language you need to speak with them, and which channels are most likely to be effective to engage with them.

Consider creating buyer personas to help visualize the target audience groups you’re addressing. Visualizing the audience you’re addressing can help you optimize your marketing communications for maximum impact.

Once you have your value proposition and buyer personas confirmed, you can move on to the next step of crafting your digital marketing campaign.

Review your current and historic marketing activity.

Before trialing anything new, it’s important to try to understand and rationalize the activity that is running currently and has been running before.

Reviewing past campaigns and understanding why they were discontinued will most likely prevent you from making previous mistakes or prompt inspiration to approach things slightly differently.

It’s also important to look at what is currently running and see if there are any learnings to take from it.

Ensure your site is set up to convert.

The performance of your app or website can heavily impact the success of your online marketing efforts for converting traffic into leads or customers.

Another thing to review before you begin planning your new marketing approach is whether the website is as optimized as it can be for conversion success. A/B testing can help you review and measure whether changes to the website can impact your conversion rate.

One of the biggest factors that can impact conversion is personalization — providing your customers with tailored 1-1 content. Solutions such as the Marketo Engage platform can make personalization easy and scalable.

Define how you’ll measure success.

Before launching any new additions to your online strategy, consider how they’ll be measured to gauge their success.

At a macro level, it’s easy to look at blended Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) across all channels (Total Revenue / Total Marketing Expenditure).

But within this macro figure, how do you know which channels work for you and which channels don’t?

You can review performance in each of your marketing channels’ dashboards, but this will likely lead to inaccuracies in measurement, as one sale might have had a ‘touchpoint’ on multiple marketing channels.

As your marketing activity scales, it is worth considering a revenue attribution solution that uses multi-touch attribution across every marketing touchpoint to give you a truer indication of which marketing channels are performing best for you.

See below for details on each marketing channel, their pros and cons, and what to remember when setting up a strategy for each.

PPC advertising is frequently regarded as one of the essential online marketing channels because of its flexibility and ability to target visitors with a specific intent in mind.

Using paid search, a business can choose to have their ad appear in the search results when somebody searches for a certain term or product on the internet — but only pay if someone clicks on the ad.

While it might seem simplistic on the face of things, there are complicated ‘real time’ algorithms at play behind the scenes on Google Ads and Bing Ads every time a user search query is processed. Both solutions operate on an auction-based system, which looks at an advertiser’s bid and their relevancy for a particular query, which determines the ordering of the search results.

From a business’s perspective, there are decisions to be made around:

What is PPC most useful for?

Paid search is great for making sure your brand gets seen by your target audience when they are making a relevant search. This is incredibly powerful.

It’s often useful to plan your paid search campaigns while reviewing your positions in organic search. It may be possible to spread your budget further by strategically not bidding on keywords that you rank well for organically.

What are the pros and cons?

✓ There is no better way of reaching your audience with the right message at a moment of intent. This is a major positive for pay-per-click advertising.

x The main drawback of paid search for businesses is often the cost. The costs can soon mount up, especially if you’re bidding on ‘mid funnel’ generic keywords with high volume but high CPC bids.

x At the other end of the scale, it is also possible to be limited by a finite search volume for niche industries. You can only show as many times as your target keywords are searched for.

Social media.

Social media can also be an incredibly effective online marketing channel for businesses looking to maximize their reach, engage customers and convert sales.

It’s important to have a solid organic social strategy and keep your brand profile pages up to date. This can help provide a sense of credibility to prospects and customers, and also provides a platform for you to engage with your audience.

Paid social is perhaps a stronger channel for raising awareness and driving site traffic and sales. Many social media platforms have a range of ad objectives and targeting capabilities available to advertisers to make them suitable for all businesses.

The most common social media platforms are:

What is social media most useful for?

The versatility of the paid offerings on social platforms is one thing that makes them so popular.

If you want to run a top-of-funnel awareness campaign you can upload a video to the Facebook Ads manager and serve ads across most Meta properties on a CPM basis.

If you want a tailored campaign for previous site visitors optimized for conversions at the bottom of the marketing funnel, add the Facebook/Twitter pixel to your site and set up a campaign focused on that objective.

It’s about understanding your proposition, understanding your audience, and determining which channels and messages are appropriate.

What are the pros and cons?

✓ The major positive for social media marketing as part of your strategy is the sheer global reach that is available to you — it is a great channel for customer acquisition and reaching new customers.

✓ The fact that you can quite specifically target your audience is also a big positive point.

x It can be challenging to make your ad creative stand out in such a busy environment on social media, so it’s important to always be testing.

Search engine optimization (SEO).

The objective of search engine optimization (SEO) is to increase a website’s position in search engines, with the idea that the higher your website’s ranking, the more people will see it and click through, and the more organic traffic and sales you’ll get.

The process for SEO optimization is generally considered to have three main areas:

1. Technical. Site structure, crawlability, page speed, etc.

2. Site content. Authority content, regular content, relevant content.

3. Off-page SEO. Links through to valuable content.

It’s common to find a specialist (or specialists) to manage an SEO strategy’s technical and off-page aspects. There’s potentially a lot that can go wrong if the technical optimization or off-page work ends up in the hands of someone who isn't sufficiently experienced.

What is SEO most useful for?

Having a strong organic search presence has various useful benefits for a business. It’s possible to receive a high volume of zero-cost traffic for keywords and search queries that are relevant to your brand.

What are the pros and cons?

✓ The main positive for ranking well organically is that you receive relevant traffic for free. You can align the keywords you rank well for organically with PPC and look to make your budget stretch further by working strategically.

x However, SEO is a long-term part of your online market strategy. It can take months to see evidence of positive improvement from changes that are made.

x It is also important to make sure you bring in the right expertise with the right SEO skills to manage the technical aspects of SEO.

Content marketing.

Content marketing is quite a broad term. But at its core, it’s all about developing and promoting content that answers any questions your audience has and helps your target audience make informed decisions.

Managed correctly, an effective content marketing strategy can help attract consumers at the top of the funnel or help them with their decision-making ‘mid-funnel’.

Content marketing is more educational in nature than other digital campaigns like PPC or social media ads. Doing well can help position your brand as an authority in a particular space.

Some content marketing examples might include blog posts, whitepapers, eBooks, or infographics.

What is content marketing most useful for?

If your business is attempting to solve a difficult issue, enter a new market, or validate an idea, establishing a strong content marketing plan is the way to go.

What are the pros and cons?

✓ Understanding your audience’s questions and answering them in an engaging way is a great opportunity to position your brand as an expert in the space.

✓ Answering your audience’s queries is also a great way to progress them along the buying cycle.

x Unless you’re using a multi-touch attribution solution offered on systems like Marketo Engage, it might be tough to calculate an exact ROI from content marketing.

Influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing is an online marketing strategy that uses the power of experts in a particular niche to reach potential customers with your brand message.

People often think of celebrities with a huge following on Instagram when ‘influencer’ is used. However, this is not technically the case. Anyone who is seen as an expert in a particular niche and publishes on a public channel (blogs, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube) can be an influencer.

It’s suggested that nano-influencers (someone with between 1,000 and 5,000 followers) and micro-influencers (someone with under 10,000 followers) can actually come across as more authentic and deliver better returns for a brand.

As with anything, the concept seems quite simple and straightforward — but it can take a lot of planning and coordination to get the best results out of influencer marketing.

The most important thing is to make sure that whatever you do comes across as authentic and aligns with your brand values, the influencer’s values, and the audience’s values.

What is influencer marketing most useful for?

Influencer marketing can be incredibly valuable for providing credibility for your product or service among a certain audience.

Complementing influencer marketing with retargeting strategies can be a very effective way to convert customers.

What are the pros and cons?

✓ Partnering with influencers in similar niches to their product or service can drive a lot of awareness, engagement, and qualified leads or sales.

x However, despite influencer marketing appearing like a simple concept, there is a lot to manage behind the scenes to ensure that partnerships with influencers go well.

Display and video advertising.

Display advertising is one of the most popular forms of digital advertising and is included in the online marketing strategies of most businesses.

Display uses a variety of visual media, such as images and video, to catch people’s attention and get a brand message across.

Display and video are commonly priced on a CPM (Cost Per Mille) basis, which means that advertisers pay a predetermined sum for every 1,000 impressions provided.

Display and video advertising can be useful for brand awareness and retargeting strategies.

Retargeting is a form of online advertising where specific advertisements are shown to people who have visited your website without making a purchase or signing up for anything. This type of targeted marketing brings back visitors that may not have converted during their first visit to your website and gives you another chance to entice them into purchasing something from the site.

What is display and video advertising most useful for?

If you have a creative, engaging advertisement, display and video advertising provides a great opportunity to reach your target customers at scale to build awareness.

Remember, if you’re running video ads, they need to make sense without audio.

What are the pros and cons?

✓ The main benefits of online display and video marketing are the broad reach that is available, and the comparatively cheap CPM figures compared with other online activities.

x However, it is important to ensure that your advertisements are sufficiently engaging to capture users’ attention while browsing.

x It is also worth noting that measuring the ROI of prospecting activity from display and video advertising can be challenging unless you use a solution such as multi-touch attribution from Adobe’s Marketo Engage platform.

Digital PR.

Digital PR is a form of marketing that uses online tactics to get content seen by a large audience. This could be through getting articles featured on high-traffic websites or creating viral content.

There is often confusion about the differentiation between content marketing and digital PR.

The best way to explain the difference is that content marketing often has more tangible business objectives in mind — answering customers’ questions to help them through their purchase journey. Digital PR is more brand-focused, and the promotion is dedicated to increasing brand awareness.

What is digital PR most useful for?

Digital PR is most useful for raising awareness of updates, changes, and a brand’s thought leadership in major publications.

What are the pros and cons?

✓ Gaining syndicated coverage of an online press release can be relatively straightforward.

x However, making sure you gain inclusion in premium titles with tighter editorial control often relies on developing good relationships.

x The bottom-line business benefit of digital PR can also be challenging to measure.

Affiliate marketing.

Businesses use affiliate marketing when they want other websites to promote their products or services in exchange for a cut of the money they make when those products or services are sold.

It can be a simple way to reach more people and get more users to visit your website.

When you use an affiliate marketing channel for your business, you only pay when someone buys something after clicking on a link from one of your partner publishers.

People often think of voucher code websites when affiliate marketing is mentioned. But it’s also possible to work with high-quality content and comparison websites to reach customers at all stages of their purchase journey.

An advertiser will require a network to get started with affiliate marketing.

Affiliate networks serve as ‘middlemen’ between advertisers and publishers, ensuring that everything is recorded and paid properly by all parties.

What is affiliate marketing most useful for?

Affiliate marketing is most useful as part of your online marketing strategy when you need a low-risk method of generating sales, as you only pay when there is a conversion.

What are the pros and cons?

✓ Because advertisers only pay affiliates when a transaction is made, affiliate marketing is a low-risk online marketing channel.

x Because of this ‘pay for results’ paradigm, it may be difficult for smaller or less well-known firms to get exposure. Affiliates will favor safer bets from well-known companies.

Email marketing.

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways for businesses and organizations to communicate directly with their customers. Email marketing does take time and effort, but it can prove very lucrative if done well.

Email marketing can be done in a variety of different ways:

What is email marketing most useful for?

Email marketing can be a great online marketing channel for reaching customers at all stages of the funnel. It can help acquire new customers, recover abandoned baskets, or promote brand loyalty.

What are the pros and cons?

✓ Email is a low-cost, high-return channel for many online businesses. If you can find a way to grow a high-quality list, email will likely be one of your best-performing channels.

x However, it’s important to have a solid list management strategy for email and segment your audience carefully. Solutions such as Adobe’s Marketo Engage platform can help you with your audience segmentation and personalize the content of your emails to help deliver the strongest ROI.

Frequently asked questions about online marketing.

How can I connect my digital marketing and my traditional marketing tactics?

Connecting your online and offline marketing activity is notoriously difficult. Marketo Engage can assist marketing and sales teams in measuring the value of each touchpoint in the user journey — both online and offline — and determine which channels are effective.

How can Marketo Engage help us understand our customers better?

Marketo Engage helps businesses understand their customers better by tracking customer engagement through cross-channel analytics. It helps them maintain personalization at scale using AI. Find out more about Marketo Engage.

How do I get my business on the first page of Google?

It takes a variety of different factors to ensure your website ranks in the first 10 results for your chosen keyword on Google. Keyword research, a strong content strategy and a well-built website are important, as is a local business presence and an open, honest approach to your communications.

Making online marketing easier.

Online marketing is critical for the success of your digital business.

However, managing marketing campaigns across multiple online platforms at scale can be challenging.

Marketo Engage provides all the tools necessary to manage your different online marketing channels and track and analyze customer behavior across them.

Learn how Marketo Engage can help your business grow with online marketing.

See Marketo Engage in Action!

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