Digital marketing is essential for almost any business with an online presence. We all know that. The problem comes with choosing the right channels on which to spend your marketing bucks. Rather than wasting your money on techniques that don’t work, here are 25 of the best online marketing strategies that you can use today to get great results.
Your blog is where it all begins. There are few excuses these days for not having a blog. It’s simple, free, and one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site in the long term.
Your blog is the hub of your marketing efforts. The place where you post your best content, where you keep your audience engaged on your website, where you show the personality behind your brand. No wonder it’s the most important content strategy for 45% of marketers. But forget about posting quick low-quality content. I’ve written about this before, and it’s one of my great frustrations.
A blog is only worth doing if you do it right. If you don’t put the time and effort into producing high-value content, you’ll be doing worse than wasting your time: You could be hurting your brand. Get serious about your blogging. Create an editorial schedule and use a tool like Basecamp or Trello to help you plan, write, edit, and publish your blogs. Communicate with your team on a regular basis, and keep your content at the forefront of all your marketing efforts. According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, 61% of the best B2B content marketers meet daily or weekly with their content team.
Stick to about one post a week or however many you can reasonably create without sacrificing quality, then stick to it. You can write blogs yourself, get someone in your team to write them, or outsource them (or all three if you prefer). Add images, videos, infographics, facts and figures, and anything else to bring your posts to life and add value. Aim to make yours the best damn blog in your niche, and it will pay off over time.
- Build an Email List
Next up, build an email list. It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: Your email list is one of your best assets. It is something you can start on your first day in business and continue to grow consistently. Just like blogging, there is no excuse for not doing this. It’s affordable when you use a service like Mailchimp, it doesn’t take long, and it’s easy to set up. An effective way to grow your list is to create a lead magnet to tempt people to sign up (you can read about this in our blog: How to Grow Your Email Subscriber List Using the Power of an Effective Lead Magnet).
You can also use content upgrades (we wrote about these here, and also see Point 20) to build your leads from people reading your blog posts. And you may want to use a lead-building tool like SumoMe—this has a number of excellent functions to help you build your list, including customizable popups.
Once you are starting to build your list of targeted subscribers, keep in touch with them by sending them valuable content on a regular basis. Start by sending an autoresponder series to get them in the habit of receiving your emails, then send them useful information, tips, promotions, unique content, and more. You should also experiment with segmenting your list to target subscribers more accurately. Once you are sending emails regularly, you’ll stay top-of-mind, encourage more visits to your website, and ultimately increase your sales.
- Social Media
There is absolutely no reason not to have a social media presence these days. It’s completely free (unless you use advertising—more on that later), and it’s easy for anyone to get started. Social media has evolved over the last decade, and businesses are only hurting themselves by not having a presence on at least one or two social networking sites these days. If you have not yet got involved, start by choosing a few sites. If you sell visually attractive products, consider Instagram and Pinterest. If not, Facebook and Twitter remain the default platforms because of their size. Brand your channels by using your logo and colors, and start getting involved by sending updates, answering questions, seeking out conversations, and sharing content.
Use a tool like Buffer to schedule your updates for the day or week ahead and that way you won’t find yourself wasting time every day. After you have built up a strong presence, you will want to track your data using a tool like Hootsuite. You can use such tools to search for brand and product mentions and react to them—the conversation will go on with or without you, so it’s best to get involved. You can also use these tools to find out which content and updates gets the most shares, helping you to manage your updates more effectively in the future.
You can also track visitors from each of your social sites back to your website to find out where the best traffic comes from. Which visitors convert on your website more? This will allow you to focus on certain networks more than others.
Social media marketing is a topic for a whole book, and we’re only touching on it here … and we haven’t even got onto paid social. Social advertising is becoming one of the most important ways for businesses to amplify their reach on social channels and connect with new people, with Facebook leading the way. With ads, you get to reach out to your target audience without having to be found organically, speeding up the process and allowing you to reach out to exactly who you want to. You can target your audience not just by age, gender, and location, but also by recent life events like getting married, whether they have visited your website, products they’ve shown an interest in, and much more. Or you can target people who are similar to your best existing customers so you can reach out to the people who are more likely to become your customers. This feature is called Lookalike Audiences, and you can find out more about it here. It takes some experimentation—but get it right, and you’ll see just how powerful it can be.
AdWords is one of our specialist areas at LeapGo, and we know it inside out. We also know how effective it can be as a marketing strategy for medium to large businesses. And while we always recommend having an SEO strategy in place, PPC can complement it perfectly.
In 2016, Google made a big change to AdWords with the introduction of Expanded Text Ads (read all about this here). As a result, text ads now take up more space in the SERPs, which is great for your CTR. You can also use a wide range of extensions to get more clicks, and AdWords provides you with the perfect platform to test and optimize to ensure you’re getting the most out of your advertising spend. A good AdWords campaign involves creating and optimizing the ads as well as the landing pages, using an effective bidding system, choosing the right keywords in the first place, and much more.
Start by setting a small budget and go from there. You can soon expand your ad budget based on your results, and as your campaign grows, you could even make use of PPC management software to save yourself time.
Retargeting has been around for a number of years, but it’s still one of the newer tactics on the list. The process is simple enough. Just sign up with a retargeting company like AdRoll or ReTargeter and follow the instructions. When visitors land on your website, cookies are loaded onto their browsers, and you can then target them with your ads on different websites, including social media sites and even on AdWords.
Because the people you are targeting will already be familiar with your brand, they are more likely to recognize you and take note of your ads. That could lead to the ads being more effective than standard PPC or banner ads. You could even provide discounts in your ads to tempt your targets back. Get your targeting right, and you could find this an effective way to make more sales.
- Cart Abandonment Emails
Cart abandonment emails are a fantastic way to encourage shoppers to complete their purchases after they have abandoned items in their baskets.
There are two stages involved in this:
- Minimizing the chances of the shopper abandoning the cart in the first place.
- Getting them back after they have abandoned it.
The first part involves conversion rate optimization best practices (see Point 15 for more on CRO).
This means creating the optimal shopping experience by:
- having fast page loading speeds
- using a simple purchase process
- including a progress bar
- clarifying shipping fees
- offering multiple payment options
See more details of this in our blog post: 7 Reasons I Won’t Buy From Your Online Store
The second stage involves sending an email to the shopper once the cart has been abandoned. There are a number of best practices here:
- Include an image of the product
- Keep it short and sweet
- Possibly provide a discount
- Send the email soon after the cart is abandoned
Read more about how to send effective cart-abandonment emails here: Cart Abandonment: Top Strategies for Getting Your Customers Back
You have the option to set up these emails to send automatically using various platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify, or you can use a third-party product like Mailchimp. Experiment with your e-commerce store and your emails. It’s easy to set up, it runs almost on auto, and the increase in your sales can be significant.
- Guest Posting
A lot has been written on guest blogging (including here, here, and here), so you’re probably familiar with it already. Guest posting can be a fantastic marketing technique when done properly. There are three main reasons for doing it:
- Build links from authoritative websites and blogs
- Direct traffic back to your site
- Increase your visibility and authority
Guest posting purely for SEO is not a great tactic—it has been abused too much over the years. If you can get a high-quality blog post published on an authority site, this won’t hurt your SEO at all. But if you spew out dozens of low-quality blogs to publish on low-quality sites, the benefits to you will be negligible. It’s the same as with blogging: You get out what you put in.
Guest posting is popular with new companies, and it is an effective way to get your name out there. The guest blog is likely to rank higher in the search results than it would on your own website, and it’s a great way to demonstrate your expertise. It is also an effective way to build up relationships with influencers. By writing for other bloggers, you will get to know the people behind the websites and blogs—the same people who will link back to your blog posts and share your content with their networks. So in short, guest blogging just for cheap backlinks is not a great idea. But guest blogging for quality backlinks, networking, brand visibility, and to increase authority is well worth doing.
A biggie, this one. SEO ties into many other techniques on this list (guest posting, social media marketing, content marketing, etc), but it has to be mentioned separately. So what does it involve? At its simplest, SEO involves optimizing your web pages to rank highly in the search engines for relevant keyword searches. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, but this is what it essentially comes down to.
A strong SEO strategy starts with your website—not the content, but the actual design. Then comes the content and on-page optimization (titles, meta descriptions, alt tags, keywords, etc). These are just the basics of SEO, and every business should be doing these. After you’ve set everything up properly, good SEO mainly comes down to various other techniques included in this list, starting with blogging.
Having your own blog and publishing regular high-quality posts is the foundation of your SEO strategy. The better the content, and the better you promote it, the more chance you have of getting backlinks and social shares. Long-form evergreen content should also play a role in this, as discussed in Point 16.
Consistency pays off with SEO. This is a long-term strategy that requires constant effort and regular tweaking. While you can start ranking fairly quickly with the right practices, success will involve working on your SEO every week and every month to see long-term results. This is a big topic, so it’s worth reading some of our blogs that go into more depth. Check out the following:
- Local SEO
Yes, local SEO is a part of SEO, but it deserves its own category. Local SEO is all about getting your local business to rank for local keywords (e.g. “Dentist Los Angeles” or “Lawyer Chicago”) Just before we wrote this guide, Google made a major change to local SEO with the release of the Possum update, so it’s worth reading about this before you start. Part of local SEO involves listing your business in Google My Business. This provides you with a listing that people can find in Search and Maps. You can also add your address, telephone number, etc, and even include photos and videos of your office, products, and more.
Doing this will increase your chances of ranking in the local pack listings (the “Three Pack” that shows in the search results). It also involves listing your business in other sites. Your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) must be consistent across all sites where you have a listing to boost your local SEO.
Another big part of local SEO involves getting local reviews on Yelp and other directories (more on this in Point 23). You can start by asking your existing customers for reviews. You will also want to optimize your pages for your location, and then you will want to ensure you build links from local websites back to your site. SearchEngineLand has a detailed guide to building local links, which you can read about here.
Webinars are incredibly popular, and hosting them yourself can bring many benefits including building your authority. If you use a webinar to spread knowledge, this demonstrates your authority on a specific topic, and you can also provide genuine value. Lead generation is another key reason for holding webinars. Create a landing page and direct your target audience to it, then ask for their email address in exchange for free access.
Because webinars provide great value, they are an effective way to get more people into your sales funnel. You should also record your webinars, and this will allow you to upload them to your website and even YouTube so that people can view them in the future. Because they provide a lot of value, you could create a library of them and turn this into gated content that requires an email signup for access. Of course, for it to be successful at all, the webinars themselves have to provide genuine value. So spend time planning your webinar and try to get the right balance between education and entertainment.
Then market them (use this resource from Hubspot to help you). From choosing an enticing topic to choosing the right day and time, writing a thank-you email and reminder emails, and blogging about it, there’s a lot that you can do to ensure you get more people showing up at your webinars.
- Video Marketing
Video marketing is already big, and it is only going to become more important over the coming years. We recently wrote on the topic of which video host to choose between YouTube and Vimeo. (Quick summary: YouTube is the biggest and has by far the biggest audience, but Vimeo has more customization options and the videos are higher quality.)
Why are videos so popular? Firstly, they are easy to access. With 4G internet now commonplace, you can watch videos on a mobile device wherever you are. They are also easier to view on mobiles compared to reading text content. Unsurprisingly, Millennials love videos, so videos should absolutely be on your list of marketing tactics if you are targeting young people.
Live video is really seeing a boom right now. Part of the attraction with live video is that it provides a genuine and honest view of you and your business. They help to connect on a more human level, and they are great for brand storytelling. Facebook Live is just one of the channels where you can post live videos, so this is something to experiment with. (Read this post at Convince & Convert for more on using live video successfully.)
For a few ideas, try:
- Live Q&As
- Live customer support
- Live events
- New announcements
Don’t forget to optimize videos for search and also to aid discovery within sites like YouTube. Use CTAs, experiment with interactive elements, keep them short and engaging—and, as with all content, provide genuine value.
Infographics have been around for a long time now. They burst onto the scene a few years back, and they have remained popular ever since. The reason is that they comprise everything that makes content compelling: Interesting facts and statistics, valuable information, visually attractive, bite-sized chunks of info, etc. Visual content is powerful, and infographics are the perfect format for consuming and sharing.
They don’t take long to create, but because they have been done a lot, you need to put effort into making them original. Think of an interesting topic around your niche, something that hasn’t been done before. Then gather some facts and figures from around the web, and put something together. You can easily find good designers who can do this for you. Alternatively, use a tool like Piktochart that makes it easy to create infographics yourself.
As with any form of content, you get out what you put in. Bad infographics won’t do well just because they are infographics. Always go for quality and don’t just try to create hundreds of quick infographics. And as with all content, you will also need to have a good promotion strategy in place to increase the reach of your infographics.
- Content Advertising
Content advertising causes a lot of confusion, but actually, it’s very simple. Whereas content marketing typically involves making your content discoverable on social media and in search, content advertising involves using paid promotion to get your content in front of the right people. We wrote a blog on this here: Content Advertising: Does Paid Content Distribution Pay Off?
It usually involves creating something of high quality like a white paper or report, then using social media ads and PPC to promote that content and get it in front of your target audience. Despite the fact that you are not relying on shares and backlinks to increase the visibility of the content, you still need to ensure that it provides real value. Content simply does not work unless it provides value to your audience.
Your aim is still to build authority and trust, to generate leads, and to make people take action, and that only happens with high-quality content. Don’t confuse this with native advertising (See Point 21). Native advertising uses a piece of content (usually an article) as the actual ad, whereas content advertising uses a different form of advertising to get the content in front of people.While you probably won’t want content advertising to be your entire content strategy, it can be a great addition to the mix.
- Contests & Giveaways
Contests are a great way to market your business. Everyone likes a freebie, especially when they don’t have to do much work to get it. Contests are usually used for lead generation or for gathering information from your targets. For example, you could offer an appealing prize in exchange for signing up to your list, downloading a white paper, or filling out a short survey. A great prize is also a good way to build buzz and generate more brand awareness.
But there is one risk: Attracting the wrong kind of people.
If you provide a free iPad rather than a prize that would specifically appeal to your target audience, you might attract lots of people who would never be interested in your products otherwise. Therefore, it’s worth spending some time over coming up with a suitable prize. With any contest, always determine your goal. This shouldn’t just be more sales but could be more emails, user-generated content (like a photo competition), Facebook likes, etc. And make sure you promote your contest via your customers, your email list, press releases, ads, blogs, social media, blogger outreach, and more. Promote the winner as well. Don’t just email them to tell them they’ve won, but write a blog, do a video interview, and look for ways to get more out of the contest.
- Conversion Rate Optimization
While SEO and many other digital strategies are about getting more traffic to your site, conversion rate optimization (CRO) is all about getting the most out of that traffic. So rather than trying to get more traffic, you focus on getting more out of it. If you can increase your conversion rate for existing traffic by 1%, this could be worth more to you than generating a 10% increase in traffic volume. In addition, it is often quicker, easier, and cheaper to do.
This is a big topic, and there are two main areas to cover:
- Lead building
- Increasing sales
Lead building usually starts with landing pages, which are a big part of a CRO strategy. A landing page is a page dedicated exclusively to making conversions, where every element of the page is geared towards increasing conversions. You can read about them in the following blog posts:
Creating a high-converting landing page involves following a few best practices, including:
- Very few or no links
- A strong CTA
- A powerful headline
- The key benefits
- Social proof
- A simple form
You then drive traffic to your landing page using PPC, social media ads, emails, or anything else, and you see what happens. A big part of the optimization process involves measuring your conversions and then making changes to your control page to try and increase them. You could change the headline, copy, colors, design, images, CTA, or anything else on the page. After each change, carry out A/B tests to work out whether it makes an improvement. Then you simply keep on improving your landing page to maximize conversions.
Then there is the type of CRO that is focused on increasing your sales, which is important if you run an e-commerce store. Good CRO can give you a serious sales boost. For example, by optimizing the checkout process, you could find that more shoppers complete their orders rather than abandon their carts, which we looked at in Point 6. Or you can use CRO on the pricing page for your plans. If you sell a selection of monthly plans, you can test different copy, designs, fonts, colors, headlines, etc, on your pricing page to encourage more purchases. CRO is one of the most effective ways to boost leads and sales if you are already generating traffic, and it’s an essential way to ensure you are never missing out on sales and leads unnecessarily.
- Evergreen Content
There are many types of content that you can create as part of your content marketing strategy. News-based content, for example, is popular and helps to make a buzz. But it quickly becomes old news, and that’s the problem if you want it to continue generating traffic from it. Evergreen content, on the other hand, can generate traffic and leads for years to come.
We say it should only be part of your content marketing strategy rather than your whole strategy because news-based content also provides value for your audience. But with high-quality evergreen content, you are going to get more out of it in the long-term. This is often long-form content (like this piece) and it tends to go into depth on a topic and won’t go out of date anytime soon. The aim is that people will continue to read it, link to it, and share it over time. You can even add to it and update it as new information emerges rather than creating a whole new piece. It’s a very good idea to focus on creating at least some in-depth evergreen content as part of your overall content marketing strategy, so try to create it on a regular basis.
- Forum Marketing
Forum marketing is often overlooked, but it can actually be a powerful technique. One of the reasons it is overlooked is because it has been abused—like so many other digital marketing techniques. Marketers see it as a quick way to generate links, they spam comments on every forum they can find to add links to their websites thinking that this will see them surge in the SERPs, and then they fail miserably. That’s obviously not the way to do it.
The right way to do it is to choose a handful of relevant forums—where, crucially, your target market is hanging out—where conversations are always going on, and becoming an active member of the community. You should find at least one such forum in your niche, but maybe more. Once you become active, you can spend time answering questions, providing guidance, demonstrating your expertise, and, yes, sending traffic ba