When it comes to promoting your products and services online, knowing where to invest your marketing spend can be something of a digital minefield.
The mediums of pay-per-click (PPC), search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM) each boast individual merits that, when executed correctly, can boost your bottom line and generate healthy ROI’s, but how should you split your efforts?
Analytics programmes can pinpoint where web traffic comes from and what visitors do once they land on your page, providing valuable insight and giving you an idea of what works.
But before you even consider launching a new marketing campaign, getting your website up to scratch should be priority number one, which means following the principles of SEO.
Clarity starts at home
To give yourself the best chance of appearing on page one of organic search results, you need to make your website as user-friendly and visible as possible. Most people associate SEO with keywords, and while this is an important aspect of the process, it’s certainly not the only factor.
Essentially, you want to make sure that your web pages contain all the relevant words and phrases that prospective customers will be searching for, including as many variations as possible.
It’s also crucial that you don’t overdo it; you can’t trick your way to the top of the rankings and if you’re too repetitive it’s likely that you’ll be penalised for ‘keyword stuffing’.
There are many free tools that can assess the keyword density of your content to ensure you stay on the straight and narrow. Aside from keywords, there are a number of other ways to boost your SEO. Here are just a few:
- Headers: Taking time to ensure that page titles are formatted in H1, initial subheadings in H2 and subsequent subs in H3, breaks the text up nicely for readers – improving user experience – and also helps search engine bots better understand the content. Inserting a keyword into your headers will further aid rankings
- alt tags – These help search engines understand images, and writing a description with a focus keyword will again give you a boost. If you have an image of a ‘buy now’ button, for example, you could write ‘buy [product name] for [price]’ – telling the bots exactly what they need to know
- Inbound links – Building up a portfolio of backlinks from authoritative sites will help give you a leg-up, as search engine algorithms read these as a sort of recommendation, indicating that your content/service/product is respected and valued
So it’s vital that your site is optimised in the right way, or else your target audience won’t know you exist. SEO is often an afterthought, but it should be central to web design from the very beginning, and an ongoing process that requires care and attention.
Over time, it will deliver results, but there is a quicker route to the top.
Paid search (PPC)
When it comes to online advertising, search reigns supreme. And for good reason. It is an incredibly powerful tool with many tested and trackable methods for increasing traffic and determining conversions and ROI.
You can use the power of social to give real world examples of how you treat your customers
Essentially, users bid on the keywords and phrases that their target market will be searching for and compete to top the rankings.
There are many advantages to employing Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) as part of your overall online marketing strategy. If you want instant results that lead to quick conversions, then PPC is for you.
It also delivers in the long-term by working alongside your SEO strategy and working to boost it – increasing your wins further down the line.
One of its biggest strengths is that the majority of consumers who encounter your brand or online business through a search engine are there with the intent to buy. This increases the ease of the conversion and allows for targeted marketing.
While bidding for popular keywords can be expensive, in the right hands PPC marketing can be a very cost effective. You only get charged when people click on your ad and are sent to your site, so as long as your ads up to scratch and landing pages are optimised, your investment is almost guaranteed to pay dividends.
Social Media Marketing
71% of consumers are more likely to make buying decisions based on what they learn about brands on social media, so it is vital that your social channels are engaging and the very best representation of your business.
Through your social networks, you can not only tell your followers about your product, but show them why they need it. You can make it part of a bigger story and inspire your audience while making your brand relatable.
You can use the power of social to give real world examples of how you treat your customers. If you get a complaint or enquiry, you can show your audience exactly how you handle it – giving them a chance to experience your excellent customer service while building confidence and trust in your brand.
Most platforms also offer sponsored posts, allowing you to hit very targeted audiences and vastly extend your reach, which could prove to be invaluable.
The million-dollar question
So how should you split your online marketing budget?
The truth is, the only way to really determine your best strategy is to get on with it, conduct a little trial and error and then analyse results. After all, any marketing manager worth their salt will appreciate the necessity for measuring success and continually looking for improvements.
SEO is essential, and once you’ve put the foundations in place it should remain part of your ongoing strategy. SMM is great for reaching out and having direct contact with customers, but it takes time and dedication to build up an audience.
When it comes to eCommerce, PPC seems to be the natural choice – if you’ve got something to sell, it gives you a platform to sell it, and you can A/B test and refine ads until they deliver the very best results.
To be truly successful, all three will need to work in unison, but in short: SEO will get you off the ground, PPC will quickly elevate you to new heights, and SMM will help you build a brand and win consumer trust.