What is ‘Online Marketing’?

25Digital or online marketing is the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium, according to Wikipedia

All business people today need to have an appreciation of online marketing, or digital marketing, as it is now more commonly known, if only so that they can effectively brief and communicate with the in-house department or external agency that undertakes this activity for them.

There can be few businesses operating that do not need to be involved with this rapidly developing science –or is it an art?

It is a fast-evolving activity and new aspects are launched almost daily. Consequently, everything written here could be out of date before you even read it, and I am not a digital marketing expert. So, I will restrict myself to enplaning some terms and discussing online marketing in fairly general terms, so that you will have at least an understanding of the concepts involved.

If you want an in depth, up to date, cutting edge course on Online or Digital Marketing, you need to look elsewhere!! This is a general introduction to the topic, for the layman and business person who wants to be able to communicate with professionals in the field.

The first port of call for almost all consumers searching for a product or information now is the internet. It has almost completely replaced all hard copy reference books in many countries.

Websites now must be mobile enabled, to allow them to be accessed from tablets and smartphones, and must be continuously updated and optimised to be relevant.

Your website is probably your clients’ first point of contact with your company, so should be curated as you would have look after your shop window in the past.

What does Online marketing mean for your advertising budget?

The term online or digital marketing covers online advertising, internet marketing, content marketing, email-marketing, and social media marketing.

Although organic search and social media are great for getting traffic online and increasing visibility for brands without high expenditure, they are not targeted, and the space is fiercely competitive.

And the big-players – Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube are looking to monetise their platforms, so to maximize results on those platforms it is now becoming necessary to buy their space using paid media options.

Numerous Digital agencies are on hand to create integrated digital marketing campaigns to enable you to create maximum revenue for your digital advertising spend. They offer to integrate several online communications techniques to grow your company using a structured campaign planning process.

Although advertising Investment in traditional channels- TV, Print and Radio- is declining, it may remain an essential part of the integrated campaigns for many businesses, especially if their client base has an older demographic. But there is also a bewildering and ever-changing choice of interactive devices, platforms and channels that potential customers can access from their smartphones, tablets, social networks and search engines.

What is the market size for online marketing?

Let’s have a look at some statistics, to help us understand the importance of online advertising in today’s world.

ZenithOptimedia estimated In 2015 that internet advertising spend overtook the combined newspaper and magazine ad spend globally, reflecting the appetite of marketers and advertisers to reach the online audience of over 1 billion internet users worldwide, as it was at that point in 2015.

There are almost 3.8 billion internet users in the world in 2017, 50% of the world’s population. The penetration of internet users by population varies from 28.3% in Africa, to 88% in North America

The US retail industry digital advertising spend was almost £16 billion USD in 2016 and is forecast to reach £23 billion USD by 2020.


Digital in 2017: Global overview

These facts are taken from the report and webpage below, which marks these milestones, only 25 years after Tim Berners-Lee made the World Wide Web available to the public.

  • More than half the world now uses a smartphone
  • Almost two-thirds of the world’s population now has a mobile phone
  • More than half of the world’s web traffic now comes from mobile phones
  • More than half of all mobile connections around the world are now ‘broadband’
  • More than one in five of the world’s population shopped online in the past 30 days

The digital world has experienced spectacular growth, with the pace of change accelerating across almost all key indicators

  • 3.77 billion global internet users in 2017, equaling 50% penetration;
  • 2.80 billion global social media users in 2017, equaling 37% penetration;
  • 4.92 billion global mobile users in 2017, equaling 66% penetration;
  • 2.56 billion global mobile social media users in 2017, equaling 34% penetration;
  • 1.61 billion global e-commerce users in 2017, equaling 22% penetration;


New Developments

One of the most interesting developments is the roll-out of new advertising formats for mobile platforms. There are also advances of technologies which give businesses better tools for online targeting, as well as the introduction of ‘rich media’ and interactive adverts which are effective in attracting higher levels of engagement from consumers.

Types of online advertisements

Online advertising is widely used on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. They include banner, and keyword advertising, contextual ads on search engine results pages, blogs, social network advertising, online classified advertising, advertising networks, dynamic banner ads, cross-platform ads and e-mail marketing, including e-mail spam.

Competitive advantages

The Competitive advantages of online advertising over traditional advertising are immediacy, efficiency, and customization as well as their reach.

Information and content that is not limited by geography or time can be published immediately. The emerging area of interactive advertising presents fresh challenges for advertisers.

The advertiser’s investment can be targeted and therefore be efficient.

Advertisements can be customized. This allows for effective targeting of clients by interest or geography for example. Ads can be delivered to a person’s phone, promoting restaurants, shops and cinemas in close proximity to them.

Ad Words, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Google AdSense enable ads to be shown on relevant web pages or beside search results.

A surprising number of business executives don’t appreciate and exploit the internet’s usefulness. Many could benefit from learning the basics of Online marketing, how to use PPC ads, SEO, social media and blogs, to reach a wide audience for their products and services.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

1. How do I use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook?

You need to engage with people, ask questions, listen and respond to what they say, join discussions, and be yourself! With all social media, the secret is consistency.

On Twitter, use hash tags (#online marketing, for example) to track conversations on a particular topic and invite others to join.

On Facebook, post on relevant people’s and companies’ walls.

Build networks of relevant friends and offer promotional materials and useful content.
Be moderate!

2.How and when should I blog? What can I blog about?

This is a great chance to talk directly to your clients on a regular basis. Think of it as a short, frequent newsletter. It’s a good idea to keep posts short and to the point, to encourage people to read your blog – they won’t bother if you are boring!! Post often, maybe not every day, but be consistent. Blog about ideas relevant to your business, or issues that have arisen with customers that you think others may benefit from sharing, or a new product launch. Keep your content relevant to your target audience.

You can flag up anything else you think would be helpful to your followers, for example a news item, a website, or an industry event. Share the link to the resource.

Make an announcement

Run a regular contest –e.g. If you own a restaurant you can select a winner for a free meal and announce the names only on your blog.

Although the main focus should be your business, sharing something personal, like your birthday or holiday, or what you are doing at the weekend, makes you real, connects people to you and builds trust.

Canvass opinion – Use social media to crowd-source your research.

Offer a discount

Reply to a question a customer asked you.

Mention what you are doing now or tomorrow

Offer congratulations or thanks

Wish someone well or happy birthday

Don’t restrict yourself to pitching your products. Mix it up and pick topics that add value to your readers. If you do this well they will return to read future posts.

3. What about YouTube?

In today’s marketing world, Video is the king of content. There are many different online video platforms, but YouTube has the largest audience and is very popular.

Most people prefer to watch video rather than reading text on a page. The best length for a video is 2 or 3 minutes (the shorter the better). The video must be relevant and engaging, or people won’t watch through to the end.

If your video is effective, it will motivate potential clients to read your copy to learn more.

You can use YouTube analytics, to learn what’s most effective for you and then build on it.

You can create your own YouTube channel , customized it to include your branding.

The usual marketing principles apply. Videos should have a “call to action” and a link back to a relevant landing page on your site where people can learn more, and ideally buy your products or services.

Taking them to a landing page means that your link takes them straight to a page where they can buy the product, not to your home page.

4. How do I get listed on Google, and other search engines?

Ten years ago, companies would charge to submit your website to all the major search engines but that isn’t necessary now.

You don’t need to contact search engines to get your site “listed” in their results, it will happen automatically.

Google spiders crawl new websites within hours of their creation. The key to getting a good listing is to have great content, relevant to the topics your potential clients are searching for.

5. Do I need to buy links to improve my search engine ranking?

Opinion is divided. Some advocate them.

Others say No, because Google can tell which links are relevant to a specific topic, so paid links can be a waste of money, and may even negatively impact your online marketing as Google may penalise you by reducing rankings.

There are lots of ways to get links from relevant sites without purchasing them

Good content will bring people to your site. This can include articles, information, maps, blog posts, videos, white papers, etc.

Use social media to promote your site by inviting people to visit to see what you’ve created. Comment on other people’s blogs. As you produce and share relevant and useful content, people will link back to it.

6. What is the difference between Pay per Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Pay-per-click (PPC) ads show up above and to the right-hand side of organic search results. These ads search engine results are based on how much companies are willing to pay to put them there, and each time someone clicks their links, they pay the search engine a fee.

Search engine optimization (SEO) involves getting Web pages to rank high on search engines through links from other websites, quality content on those pages, and other factors that do not cost money, but do need an investment of time.

7. How do I measure my campaign’s success?

Many tools such as Google Analytics will help you track which pages are the most effective at turning visitors into leads, the keywords and links people use to find your site, and how they interact with your content and tools. Most businesses rely on Google Analytics to review the effectiveness of their online marketing. It is completely free to use, and has many tools and options, but is not easy for the layman to understand or use to its full potential. It can highlight trends by reporting visits, leads, sales, but you may need a professional marketing input to accurately assess and adjust your digital marketing investment to increase sales and profitability.

A key performance indicator is a page’s conversion rate. This is the percentage of visitors who turn into leads by taking whatever action you want them to while on that page–filling out a form, downloading a free trial, calling a phone number.

By tracking this number, you can test what works and what doesn’t to see how to engage visitors and inspire them to make a purchase