Tools to help you get more from online marketing

Often businesses are disappointed by the lack of a return, in terms of measurable actions by viewers, resulting from their activities on social media, email marketing and other online promotion initiatives.

There are many tools to choose from to help a business stand out online but using them is both science and art requiring a lot of detailed experience to get your money’s worth.

Online tools include Google Adwords, Facebook Boost, Facebook Adverts or Twitter Adverts which can be used to promote messages on social media. Others might be using online databases to send out e-newsletters or posting blogs on a website or LinkedIn.

the key elements of using online marketing tools successfullyThe key challenge is to define objectives and know what is the required response to a specific campaign. These can then be measured.

It is therefore important to consider the target audience and their preferred platforms, behaviours and needs and this is where the analytics and insights available on the various platforms which are mainly Google, Facebook and Twitter as the ones being used by SMEs for promotion.

Arguably the most important element is to set the parameters for any campaign which is where social media and databases can be powerful. Like a database, most platforms all allow targeting such as using specific key words or phrases, or excluding certain words, or by defining the target audience for the message and by locating it geographically.

Targeting is particularly crucial when you pay for every click the ad gets. You don’t want someone in York looking at ads for a restaurant in Reading, or in my case job seekers or consultants clicking expensive ads when promoting turnaround services.

Imagine trying to use a keyword like “insurance”. It might get lots of people clicking on the ad and viewing it, but it is such a general word that it is a safe bet that a high percentage will then go elsewhere for something specific to their needs.  At prices between 10p and £10 per click it can be an expensive and useless investment if the targeting isn’t right.

It may be a better investment to get expert help to run a targeted ad campaign.

Are there other, more affordable online options?

For a small business operating within a defined geographic area an example of a more effective and affordable option on Facebook is the post boost. For a defined amount of time, such as two weeks, and minimal cost, around £10, a post from the business page will be shown regularly in more viewers’ news feeds.

This can have a significant impact in terms of the numbers (reach) and on the actions then taken, such as visits to the business page or to its website, or comments or messages to the business. Again, it is important to choose the post to boost wisely.

For example, if there is a new blog or significant piece of news on the company website, it may help to attract more visitors to the site and once there, the business will have an opportunity to encourage viewers to stay if the website is enticing enough.

Another online marketing option is e-newsletters.

These work best if they engage with those receiving them, giving people up to date or extra information or latest news on a product or service.  Again, a snippet with a link to a blog post on a website can encourage visits. Using humour, fascinating facts or other short, extras that engage and amuse people is always helpful.

They can also be used to keep in touch with customers and ask for feedback, perhaps to run a survey.  What they should not do is to blatantly sell, nor blatantly promote the business – avoid “We can …” and above all they should be short and sweet – no more than 450 words – and visually appealing.

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