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Discover Your Web Market From the Inside Out

For you to see web marketing in a different light I first need to introduce a new picture of the web, and then a different understanding of web marketing can emerge. Following that introduction this article can then talk about what is important about social media, along with beliefs and values, as they pertain to search engines and web marketing.

In the mid 90’s a lot of media pundits were trying to say what the Internet, and more specifically the web, was all about – but no one really knew. Some compared it to television and some compared it to newspapers and others said it was most like the telephone because it behaved like a one-to- one communication media.

It looked like television because of the screen similarity, and it looked like newspapers because of the text content, and it acted like a phone conversation in how it behaved as a one-to- one communication media.

All of these different metaphors missed the primary difference that the web brought into being and that was the search engine. Without a search engine the web would be as useless as a library without index cards. It would be a tangled mess of invisible and unsorted web sites, and the great pool of information would largely be invisible.

Search engines ground the web into a usable reality through the written word when a search is conducted, and then search engines became the eyes of web users for finding their way around in the depths and darkness of billions of web pages.

Search engines give us social media

In the same way that you and I search for information others search for other people and find their groups to belong to. Just as the search engines make finding specific information a reality they also make it possible for groups to form and for people to find the group they have affinity with.

How do people find their groups? How do they search? And why do we need to know how this works in order to develop a web marketing strategy?

Deep Pockets

If your business has deep pockets then you can use contemporary marketing research methods by conducting expensive testing with market research firms. But what if you don’t have deep pockets? And what if your market is anonymous like the web market is? What options do you have?

As you are probably aware, a web market does not provide you with demographic data to help you target a market. Until a visitor to your web site has decided to contact you they remain anonymous and you do not know a thing about them in terms of marketing information. How could you even conduct a proper test if you do not have any boundaries to work within?

Your web market is an intangible, yet very real market. Your web site is simply on a fishing expedition with your keyword signals that you are using for bait. What does your market feed on and what should your keywords be?

Who is your market and where are they?

Are you going to throw your line into the big pond with all your competition and fish with popular keywords for bait? You have to wonder if your market is really in the big pond, especially if you are looking for a niche market. How can you possibly find your market without very deep pockets? And what if you are fishing in the wrong pond with the wrong bait?

I suppose, with enough time and experience, you will find out which pond to fish in and what keywords your market feeds on, but this could take years of gathering information and hours of analysis. And even then you may still be guessing.

Turn the focus inward

So far I have asked external questions and the answers you would get back are not the answers you want to hear. What keywords to use? Where to find your market? Who are they and where are they? The answers are all the same… more testing and keyword research.

What if you turned the questions inward instead? What if you asked questions you already have the answers for? Suppose you asked yourself what you value the most about your business? What is your attitude toward your market? What gives you the greatest sense of reward in running your business?

Answer those questions and you’ve got the beginnings of a marketing strategy to send signals to your market – and let them find you.

On the web, this makes finding your market easier than by using demographics because the search engines do the work for you. For those that have difficulty leaving factual data behind they could use demographic keywords and try to signal income levels, for example, but your business values will cover more ground and work better.

Why do values work on the web?

On the web people find their groups. News Groups were one of the first social networks long before they were called social networks, and people found their groups by the values they shared. The same is true for Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. Add to this list other web connections like blogs and article sources and you see that the web is a unique media for sharing values.

If you prefer to market yourself in true fashion to who you are then you would need to look on the inside of who you are and the values you hold. This sounds easier than it is, and yet it is all about integrity in marketing. In either method you need to play with psychological values, or you need to hire a marketing shrink to sort it out for you.

You can see why most web marketers are sticking to the demographic style of marketing because it feels more tangible even though the web as a medium is anything but tangible.

We’ve discussed briefly why demographic marketing has difficulty dealing with anonymous web users, and why looking inward can provide a marketing strategy to target anonymous market segments.

Finding Internet Marketing Services Right for Your Business

The Internet is huge. No one will deny that, and the role it plays in business is becoming more and more important as well. It is no longer sufficient to do business offline, if you want to succeed in this technology driven new age, then you will have to do a bit of Internet marketing.

There are a number of Internet marketing services available to you, whether it is in the form of companies that specialise in it, or various standalone apps or tools that, if you have the time and knowledge to do so, can provide information on number of visitors, clicks, purchases and such forth.

If you are looking for Internet marketing services for your business then, what aspects of it should you particularly focus on?

Design will be more important than ever this year. It could be a wise idea therefore, to look for companies specialising in internet marketing services that also offer web development and design as part of the service.

Not only will they be able to offer typical SEO and PPC services, a vital part of any strategy, but they will also be able to offer services above and beyond others, by specifically tailoring your site for the purpose of attracting customers.

With a site tailored to not only your needs, but to attracting customers and getting them to make that all important purchase, you could soon start to see an increase in revenue from the online side of your business.

Social media will continue to offer internet marketing opportunities; however, it might be worth considering services that focus on the visual aspect of campaigns too. Photos, images and videos are a great way of drawing in customers to your site. Many studies suggest a picture or video is a lot more likely to stick in our memory than a bulk of text.

On the social media side of things, there are many tools and apps out there to best utilise social media platforms for your business. Whether it be Wildlife from Google or analytic programmes like SproutSocial. Do a little research into the advantages and disadvantages of these for your company.

You should also look for Internet marketing services that know a thing or two about the potential of mobile, if you find an Internet marketing firm which is not aware of mobiles potential, you definitely need to look elsewhere. Mobile is getting bigger than ever, with more people picking up smartphones, tablets and the like and surfing the web.

Many people will even surf the web on their phone or tablet whilst watching TV, so a product that generates an interest on the TV will quickly get them tapping away on their smart device to find it or similar products.

It is also important therefore to make sure that any marketing that you do online is cross transferable, whether it’s for desktop, tablet or smartphone. Look for Internet marketing services which offer you the best way of utilising all of them.

Content marketing is another vital component of a company offering top level Internet marketing services. Google is constantly punishing sites with substandard or copied content, so it is well worth your while to either invest in companies offering tailor made content services, or looking to do something yourself via company blogs and other such things.

Internet marketing services will be vital in anyone wanting to move or even consolidate themselves in the online world this year, so it is vital to get a grip on them.

Midsized Company Marketing Communications Budget Planning

This is the time of year when most companies, brands and nonprofits are involved with developing their marketing communications plans and budgets for next year. This is not an easy task in any year but, whether you’re already deeply involved in the process, or just starting, the task is even more challenging this year given the continuing global and economic uncertainties.

More than ever, increased accountability and scrutiny of the decision-making process is a necessity for improving marketing communications ROI. Customers, whether existing or new, have a multitude of choices for evaluating and selecting a product or service, so it’s extremely important to be on the same page with them.

What follows recommends a three-pronged approach to help you develop a budget and plan to profitably impact your marketplace.

Understand Your Customer Target Audience
Like most managers, you probably believe you fully understand the wants and needs of your customers, as well as their knowledge of your brand. But with so many new methods available to customers for comparing your brand to competition, are you really sure?

Is it smart to plan and commit your precious marketing communication dollars to what you think you know about customers? Maybe it would be a lot smarter to learn directly from them what they want, and how you stack up to their needs.

Ultimately, that means market research. Whether you’re a B2B, B2C or a nonprofit marketer, now is the time to learn from your customer.

  • What attributes or qualities are important to them in selecting a brand? Beyond price, what other factors influence their purchase decision?
  • How do they rate your brand versus competition? What are your strongest and weakest attributes, and what do you need to improve?

Wouldn’t you feel more secure in your decision making if you had concrete answers to these questions before you develop, much less commit to, budgets? And don’t forget about making sure you understand your employees or distributors. They’re your first line of brand advocacy. Their beliefs may not line up with your customers’ beliefs, and could lead to lost opportunities or lost sales. Look before you leap.

A Marketing Communications Audit Can Sharpen Your Message
Once you completely understand your customer, the next step is to focus on your message. The single greatest source of leverage you have is the quality of messaging, whether it’s a television commercial, a post on a Facebook page, your website, articles, blogs or whitepapers. When messaging fails to deliver, it’s usually not the platforms that fail, but rather the lack of integrated focused brand communications.

A marketing communications audit, conducted by outside consultants who don’t have a vested interest or an ax to grind, can – like a financial audit – be an enormous benefit. It will tell you whether all of the creative elements you employ – subject matter, graphics, copy, and tone and manner – are working together with one clear and meaningful message to your customers, as well as your employees.

An additional benefit of a marketing communications audit is its ability to help determine your communications mix and resulting budgets. For instance, based on customer needs, perhaps more should be spent in content marketing, with articles and blogs, and less in paid advertising, consumer promotions or coupons. Just make sure all of your messaging is saying the same thing to meet those customer needs. It’s a matter of reinforcing the image you want to convey and trust in your brand.

Consider Marketing Communications Consultants
No one is doubting that smart, dedicated people have been involved in developing your marketing communications budget and plan. But, if you’re like most midsized companies, your people are probably stretched to the limit.

Consider partnering with an established, senior level consultant to help your team develop, refine and, if appropriate, implement your programs. Above all, make sure a consultant has extensive experience across disciplines, industries and brands, and isn’t trapped by “this is the way we’ve always done it” thinking. An apolitical team, with a willingness to “tell it like it is”, with fresh eyes can be a major asset to your profitable growth.

In today’s unsettled environment, an upfront focus on developing budgets and plans can go a long way to improving marketing communications ROI.