Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
A new year, a new budget, a new marketing plan. You’ve got a fresh start and if you’re anything like most of the world, you feel invigorated to try something different. Why not start with your marketing strategy? It can be an overwhelming pool to dive into. Every option you come across is likely being sold to you by a company that is trying to lock down a contract. Trusting that those guys know what’s best for you isn’t easy.
Well we can help narrow it down for you to decide which options might work best for your business, budget, and clients. And we aren’t doing it to try and sell you a service.
The Perfect Solution
There isn’t one. Sorry; we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but it’s true. There isn’t a single perfect marketing option. There is no magic bean that will grow you a marketing beanstalk and lead you to your golden egg.
There is, however, a combination that will work better for you than others. Before you can pick the winning solution, you need to determine who your customer is, then consider the pros and cons of each marketing channel.
Who is Your Customer?
Their age, gender, and geographical demographics may make a difference in which direction you head for your marketing. Or it may not. If you have a very specific, niche product, or if you sell to a very specific audience, then you need to go where they go.
Consider the Pros & Cons
Each branch on the marketing tree has its own pros and cons. We’ve compiled a list of 7 marketing methods and why they may or may not work for your needs.
Search engine optimization is absolutely critical for a successful site. If you want your online store to present as a search result, it comes down to your SEO practices.
- Easy to learn: There are countless guides out there to get you going on learning about SEO. The resources are plentiful and often free. Look for guides on content marketing, social media, and link building to start.
- Free to do yourself: While you absolutely can hire a third-party to do your SEO management for you, with a little elbow grease, you can tackle it yourself.
- Powerful results: Managing your SEO well can be extremely successful is moving your site to the top of the ranks, and getting the word out about your brand.
- The rules change: SEO is an ever-changing beast. As the search engine algorithms change, so do the rules for SEO. If you plan to manage it yourself, prepare to keep up on the latest SEO news.
- Time-consuming: There is a lot that goes into search engine optimization. While it may be easy to implement, it can be very time-consuming.
- Can get very complicated: I know we just said it’s easy to learn, but like most things, the deeper you dive into SEO, the more complicated and technical it can get. While the average user can manage some types like social media and content creation, technical SEO integration can get overwhelming. If you find yourself in that situation, it’s time to consult an expert.
Getting it wrong may hurt you: If you don’t keep up on the aforementioned rule changes, then your outdated SEO can be very detrimental. Take Keyword stuffing for instance. While it used to be common practice to get your keywords in as frequently as possible, Google now frowns upon it and will down-vote your site as spammy.
Paid social media advertising is a given. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become front-runners in the marketing game, and for a good reason. 90% of social media users follow or interact with brands across various platforms.
- Easy to use: Social media marketing is made to be simple for the most basic user to operate. There isn’t much of a learning curve to get started with ads on social media.
- Very DIY-friendly: You don’t need to worry about hiring an agency to set up your advertising campaigns.
- Relatively inexpensive: Paying for ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is fairly inexpensive, and you can choose how much you’d like to spend from one campaign to the next.
- Broadest market available: A projected 2.96 billion people worldwide use social media. With that kind of reach, you’re able to reach any demographic.
- Flooded market: Because it’s so easy, inexpensive, and far-reaching, it’s no surprise that the market would be flooded. Everyone advertises on social media, so it can be a struggle to be heard. If you choose this method, do your homework and invest some real time in doing it right.
Google Ads is a pay-per-click advertising service. It’s one of the oldest web-based advertising methods around (about as old as Google) and works as well as you’d expect a Google service to work.
- Very powerful if used correctly: Google gets approximately 5.6 billion searches a day. That’s 63,000 times per second that your ad could show up, depending on the search query. If your SEO is in good shape, it will make your Google Ads even more successful.
- Competitive: Google is a household name, so of course, it’s going to be a trusted go-to for most retailers. It’s a competitive space to advertise in.
- Expensive: With that many opportunities for views, and the power of Google behind the tool, AdWords can get very expensive, very fast. If you’re looking for a serious effort, then working an aggressive Google Ads plan into your budget can be worth it.
Content creation can cover a pretty broad scope. Blogs, infographics, videos, podcasts, DIY instructions, webinars, the list goes on. There are countless ways to create content to suit your brand and leverage as a marketing tool.
- Long-term impact: Having content up and attracting visitors is an ongoing marketing option that doesn’t continuously cost you money. The longer you have the content available, the more visitors you’ll attract. Consider it a slow burn.
- DIY: It’s free (or at least inexpensive) to create the content. Who knows your product better than you? Whether you or your employees do the work, getting some blogs, videos, or tutorials up can take nothing more than a few hours at a time.
- Develops your brand value: Keeping content available, up-to-date, and relevant is an excellent way to add value not only to your marketing pan, but to your brand in general. Customers will begin viewing you as an authority and a resource in your market.
- Time consuming: To create actual quality content that will be of any use or interest to anyone will take time. If you’re considering a blog, for instance, do some research and decide if you have the time to dedicate to it.
- Takes real effort: Going hand-in-hand with the previous point, you have to take the time to create real, quality content. And it can be a lot of work. If you don’t have an interest in creative ventures like video and article creation, your work will fall flat and end up a waste of everyone’s time, including your customer.
Email marketing goes beyond newsletters and sending sale notices. With the introduction of segmentation and customer retention, emails can be tailored and personalized to specific shoppers, and specific actions (like abandoned carts).
- Extremely high ROI: Your return on investment (ROI) is estimated to be $32 for every $1 you spend. That’s a pretty great payoff.
- Find a solution tailored to your needs/scale: Because email marketing is such a powerful tool, there are a ton of companies available to choose from. That means you can take your pick, depending on how much work you want to do, how detailed you want to get, and how broad your reach is.
- Can be low cost: As mentioned above, there are a plethora of options. That means if you’re just starting out and want to test the waters with minimal investment, you can find a very low-cost option.
- Global reach: You aren’t limited by geographical location or social media usage. The only thing you’re limited by is whether people sign up for your email list.
- Ability to segment & track: You’ve got the ability to track how many people open your emails, click your links, and depending on the email service you use, what they do after they arrive on your site. This can be valuable information in creating personalized shopping experiences for your visitors.
- Can backfire if not executed well: If you get any sort of bad taste in your mouth when you think about email advertising, you’re probably remembering the companies who did not do it well. Sending too many, poorly crafted, or irrelevant emails will only serve to annoy and alienate your shoppers, causing them to hit that “spam” button.
- Requires integration to your site: Depending on the service you go with, there may be a higher initial investment. You are likely going to need to set up a newsletter signup form on your site. This could mean developer time. You aren’t able to pick and go like some of the other DIY marketing methods on this list.
- Can be expensive: The same way it can be low-cost, email marketing can also get out of hand, depending on the service you sign up with. Do your research before signing on any dotted lines.
Don’t roll your eyes just yet. While the more traditional advertising methods may seem outdated, there is still a place for them. And with their decrease in popularity, you may be able to find reasonable pricing.
- Niche targeting: If you sell a niche product – something very specific, to a very specific customer base – then advertising in print may work very well for you. You can reach consumers who are already looking for information about the products you sell. Do you sell sports equipment and supplies? Then advertising in a basketball magazine is a slam dunk.
- Local reach: Radio advertising is perfect for local reach; if you also have a brick-and-mortar store, you can appeal to your local shoppers with radio ads. If you’re having a flash sale or will be selling at markets, let your local consumers know where to find you with radio ads.
- Can be expensive: Specifically, depending on the reach you’re looking for, print and radio advertising may seem expensive. That said, if used appropriately, the reach you do achieve may be more applicable to your intended target.
- Small/Specific audience: Tying into the previous point, the audience you reach with print and/or radio advertising is usually small and specific. This has its own set of pros and cons. While the ads will apply specifically to the people that see them, others that might benefit from your ad won’t see it unless they subscribe to the publication or tune into that radio station regularly.
Making connections in your field is an effective way to get the word out, not only about your product and store, but about yourself as a business owner. Do you have an interesting story, or an innovative production method? People like to know the story behind the product, and it helps make a personal connection in the process.
- On and offline: Networking used to only be something that you did over cocktails and finger sandwiches during events in hotel lobbies. While those types of networking events do still exist (check your local community calendar!) and are successful for local reach, you can go global with your networking on sites like LinkedIn.
- Free: The local face-to-face events are typically free to attend (or very low-cost, depending on your area). Social media sites (LinkedIn, Facebook groups, etc.) are of course free as well. All it’ll cost you is the time you dedicate to getting in there and meeting people.
- Word of mouth is highly effective: More than 80% of Americans say that positive word-of-mouth makes them more likely to buy a product or trust a brand. If you can make a good impression on the people you meet, people will remember you and think positively about your brand.
- Find resources as well as customers: Hopefully, you can find yourself some good leads that will convert into purchases. But you have the opportunity to find resources as well, like product sourcing, shipping services, or manufacturers.
- Best for B2B: If you’re a B2B wholesaler, then you can move this one into the “pros” column. But if you’re looking to advertise as a way to gain new customers from the general public, then networking may not be as fruitful for you.
- Can be draining: Ask anyone that has ever done a trade show or a networking event. They can be draining affairs, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Add in that you typically need to attend these events outside of business hours, you can easily find yourself needing downtime to recoup. If you have family or other responsibilities outside of your business, it may be tough fitting these types of events into your schedule.
- Takes people skills: Not everyone has the interpersonal skills needed to form meaningful professional connections. Take a very honest look at your skill-set. If you don’t have great people skills, you might do more harm than good by putting yourself out there.
You may have found that while going through that list, you were checking multiple boxes. And you should be. There are a couple of methods that everyone should employ while working on building their marketing plan. SEO, for example, should always have a place in your budget. Whether you do it yourself or hire an outside team, your site SEO needs to be addressed. Social Media is another one. While you may not want to venture into paid advertising, you DO need to have a social media presence. If you’re not sure which platform suits your business style, check out our guide on finding the right fit.
Use the pros and cons detailed above to help you narrow down the right solution for your marketing plan this new year, so you can move forward with confidence. If you decide you’d like a hand with your SEO, or you aren’t sure what other options may work for you, contact us and we can help find the right fit for you.