October 20, 2014

Is Your Online Marketing Strategy Up to Date?

online marketing strategy

The Internet is a volatile place, with new platforms launching more frequently than most of us do laundry and a constant shifting in the ways that users use the Web. Small business marketers are playing a constant game of catch-up as the online world marches steadily onward. It’s a game that can be very easy to lose when you don’t have a full-time marketing staff to keep tabs on things 24/7.

Think your online marketing strategy might be living in the past? Not even sure what an up-to-date online marketing strategy looks like?

These four signs indicate that it might be time to stir things up a bit and trade those proverbial bell bottoms for app development, Pinterest and Vine.

Your Online Marketing Strategy Might Need an Update If:

You’re Using Somebody Else’s Platform Exclusively

Now, I’m not saying that uploading photos to Facebook is a bad thing. But using big, corporate-owned platforms and not hosting any of your own content on your own website, for example – not such a great idea.

There are two big reasons for this:

  • One is the phenomenon of digital sharecropping, in which sites like Instagram and Facebook wind up owning your content and potentially profiting from it.
  • Second is that in this day and age, you’re just not going to look like a legitimate business without your own website full of relevant and interesting content.

Not sure how to get started? It might be time to hire a web designer to get you set up.

You’re Four Social Networks Behind

Does MySpace ring a bell? Xanga? LiveJournal? These early social networking sites all had their day, to be sure, but that day is long gone. In fact, many of them are totally shifting gears to appeal to different audiences, or simply aren’t used or functional in any useful capacity anymore.

I know it can be tough for small businesses to keep up with every single new social network, and it’s not always worth it to be an early adopter when you don’t know what’s going to fly – but it is important to find the networks that are thriving and right for your business.

You’re Ignoring ROI (Return on Investment) and Analytics

This more technical side of online marketing can be intimidating and just a little bit bewildering. You’re already running a marketing campaign – now you need to analyze it, too.

True, it takes a little bit more work, but tracking data can go a long way in ensuring that the effort you put into marketing is well-placed. And the good news is, you don’t need to be a math or programming whiz to measure the success of your online marketing strategy.

You’re Trying to Appeal to Everyone

The days when you could churn out content and try to reach everyone with it are over. Now, market segmentation is a necessity. There’s simply so much of the Web to reach that you need to strategize and produce content accordingly.

Even more, you need to post that segmented content in the right places. What you post on Pinterest, for example, is going to be very different from what you post on LinkedIn.

The Magic Word is Strategy

The key to online marketing success is right there in the title of this post: Strategy. The biggest sign that your online marketing strategy is outdated might be the fact that you have no strategy.

If this is the case, it’s time to put your nose to the grindstone, figure out your audience, create an editorial calendar and start writing content that adds up to a greater whole.

And of course, don’t forget to measure the results of your online marketing strategy.

Up-to-Date Strategy Photo via Shutterstock

37 Comments ▼

Amie Marse


Amie Marse Amie Marse is the founder of Content Equals Money, a small content generation firm based in Lexington, KY. She’s been a passionate freelance writer turned business owner for over 7 years. Her philosophy is that the essentials of content marketing do not change from the small business to the Fortune 500 level, and that creativity trumps budget every time.

37 Reactions

  1. Thanks Amie for bringing up this topic; makes sense. Now that you have mentioned it, I’m curious what the difference is between a marketing strategy and a marketing tactic. Just read a few posts about it. I have a feeling that a strategy is for the long term.. I may be wrong.

  2. Yes on the fourth one. Too many online businesses are desperate for leads that they are willing to get any sale that they can squeeze out of the Internet. It is like pulling the teeth of the Internet for any sale not knowing that with a good following, you will inevitably make it big.

    • Oh good gravy! What an absolute waste of money. There is a sixth sense to entrepreneurship and that is all about when to keep with it or move unto something else. We have all known the guy with ideas and no profit. Or worse, the guy who is still milking the concept that hasn’t made him cash in ages.

  3. I read some years ago that if you are going to publish online, you must have your own site. At the same time people were talking about article marketing which as you know, giving your info to someone else though you do get links back. But I thought even then, what if all that content was on my site? So I started shying away from the posting of my stuff on other sites. I will post the occasional Facebook or Twitter bits but for the most part, I keep it at home.

    • There is definitely a balance to be made. I mean…I’m posting to SmallBizTrends and our company blog is syndicated all over the place. This expands our collective presence and increases our authority online. It’s just about not putting all your eggs in one basket…especially if you don’t actually own the basket :)

  4. Thanks for the advice! Yes, over the past few years, the marketing industry has been constantly changing and that includes online. One example I can cite is the use of keywords for your SEO. Before this was a big thing, using words and phrases that will reach out to potential leads. But because of Google updating its search engine algorithm, backlinks and content are now more important than before. That means you need to reassess your strategy accordingly to what meets the standards now.

    • Exactly! My company works almost exclusively with SEO and internet marketing companies…so I know all about the gazillion strategies out there. The thing to remember about keywords is the reason Google used them in the first place. If you completely 100% ignore keywords than you are doing your site visitors a disservice.

  5. You’ve raised some valuable points here. It’s for these reasons we’re seeing progressive companies hire online marketing and social media pros separate from their SEO and web content departments. Online marketing and social media are skill sets that shouldn’t be combined with other departments in may cases.

    • I totally agree Emily! Each type of company needs the budget and time to specialize and keep on top of trends. Otherwise, you aren’t provided as much value to your end client as you could :)

  6. At present internet has become the most important tool for the success of any organisation.
    We provide important lessons and techniques so that you become more effective online and can come in the eyes of everyone…

    Craig Stephens
    Business Coach

  7. For a small business not to have its own site where it hosts its own content – it’s a pretty vulnerable place to be. It’s like giving one’s power away. Every small business should run a blog/site independently and perhaps then use other platforms, but to its own advantage, as a funnel to its own website.

  8. You bring up some very valid points. I have an e-commerce fundraising store called ShopForStudents.com, since 2008. Most of our sales are our affordable ink and toner sales. We save individuals and businesses up to 75% off what they currently pay, provide free shipping on this product line and donate 15% of the total gross sales amount to the school, non profit, youth team, group or charity of our customer s choice. I have been promoting our service on Facebook which takes up alot of time. Is there a service where I can manage several of these social media outlets in one place?

    • Absolutely Laura. I would check out Compete to see what your competition is up to :) Don’t just grab any random platforms, you need to know which are the best for your audience.

      Once you have your collection of platforms use a service like Sprout Social, Hootsuite, etc to keep them all updated.

      And of course once you have the profit margin for it – hire a professional Social Media Manager. Our SMM has been a total blessing. She manages all our feeds and keeps me posted when I need to interact with someone.

  9. I like the magic word strategy. It will stop your brand from being directionless, you’ll measure performance and then be able to see changes in the market as they happen.

  10. “Even more, you need to post that segmented content in the right places. What you post on Pinterest, for example, is going to be very different from what you post on LinkedIn.”

    Amie,

    Perhaps in a future post you can elaborate on this a little bit, with suggestions as to the types of content best suited for the different social media platforms.

    • Happy to :)

      Each platform has its own evolution. For example, when any new social platform launches they usually give follow back links. This entices a horde of SEO minded people to flood their platform. After they have gained momentum they switch to no-follow.

      My company blog recently posted about how Facebook has moved away from teenagers to middle aged people. The reason is that kids are tired of hanging out with their older family members online.

      Google + is a hotbed for internet marketing, blogging, tech, early adopter types because most the general population is still on facebook.

      So you have to think about the actual demographic on the platform.

      Then you have to look at the type of content that does well on that platform. You can post 400 word posts on G+ but the chances are it won’t go very far.

      I hope that helps! At the end of the day you should always, always, always look at the general demographics and then narrow down by industry. If younger people are on Pinterest but they use it mostly for shopping… you shouldn’t marketing your new Apple App there. On the other hand if older people are using Houzz for decorating tips don’t waste your time marketing life insurance.

      Sorry that this ran a little long…looks like I should have followed your advice and wrote a post. lol

  11. Amie: A smart thing to do if you don’t want to be stuck in a gardened platform, is to have your own hub, preferable a blog.

  12. Great post. In order to be successful in business today and increase revenues, it’s imperative that businesses match the way they market their products to the way people are learn about and purchase those products. Today, more than ever, this is via social engagement. If your business is not actively participating socially you’re leaving huge revenues on the table. Actively engaging online doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and you don’t have to go it alone in order to generate high ROI. Make this position your next hiring move. Online brand management, including solid web design, the latest in social media, blogging and video content is as necessary for a businesses long term success as your brick & mortar location. Perhaps even more necessary. If you have great online presence, people will find you!

  13. The best practice would be to understand when your customers or readers spend their time online and based on that hit the ball. If you know their engagement timing then you can put your update right in front of them which will not only increase visibility of your updates but will also keep your online marketing strategy up to date.

  14. @Amie, I strongly agree with you that people must understand the market segmentation, you can’t reach everyone at a time, so you must target a particular segment(group, region or market).
    Secondly you must have a strong call of action (use of magic word) to attract visitors.

  15. Well, smaller businesses have a penchant for not really knowing their market. When publishing ads in newspapers there originally wasn’t much targeting. All that you could influence was the section your page appeared on. Seeing ever more sites for example that collect the opening hours from all kinds of local businesses I think next we see guys with their cameras taking pictures of a baker’s cakes and like with the opening hours do their marketing for them for free – and getting cash through the keyword-rich localized pages they thus produce.

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