This is a guest post by Dan Taylor, Director of Search at SEOwned Limited. Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily State of Search. Like this post? Let us know!
In big business, integrated marketing campaigns are the norm. A TV advertisement will be launched alongside billboard advertising, generating radio airtime and other traditional media coverage. However, smaller business owners cannot stretch to a full integrated marketing campaign… but they can still compete with the big boys by taking their advertising online.
The internet gives businesses, big and small, an almost-level playing field where the user can decide the campaign based on their own motivations. That could be price, brand, delivery or something else. So, what is the best way to compete with big brands online?
Holistic Online Marketing
Whilst this term sounds like the winning term in a game of ‘bullshit bingo’, it actually describes the winning formula for online marketing. No more is it enough to engage in PPC, or SEO or Social Media as separate entitles. The key to long-term success is by excelling at all methods of online advertising and maximizing the return on investment of each.
PPC Supports SEO, Supports Social, Supports PR
Each segment of the online marketing pie is meant to support the next. PPC supports SEO and picks up the long-tail that SEO cannot always reach. SEO supports Social Media in that if people are searching for your brand, you want them to find your social presence where they can interact openly and freely with you. And Public Relations supports the whole operation, and gets your brand in the minds of customers in ways that none of the other specialties can (as well as getting some juicy links!).
When Holistic Online Marketing Goes Wrong
Whilst it’s important to support your SEO campaign with PPC, it’s also important to closely monitor the two campaigns to make sure that no traffic cannibalisation occurs. The CPC (Cost Per Click) of your PPC campaign on most terms will be significantly higher than your SEO CPC as SEO costs are fixed, whereas you pay for each and every click in PPC. Correctly monitored, the return on investment is much higher when using both SEO and PPC than using each independently, but it makes sense to always monitor which keywords you are targeting with both campaigns.
There are also issues to watch out for when using Social Media as part of your campaign. Social Media is not something that can be managed by any agency on a constant basis. It requires significant time resources from you as the client, too. If a Social Media campaign is run badly, it can quickly turn out to be a negative rather than the massive positive that it has the potential to be.
Getting Social Media Right
Many business owners still see Social Media as employees wasting time, but if you look at the brands that have embraced it such as O2, Sky and Virgin Media, these businesses have tens of thousands of people who have opted to receive their updates at any time of the day!
To build an email list of this size would take significantly longer and interaction would be much lower. Of the three companies listed, they receive a significant amount of public complaints via their social media channels, but quickly take the customer to an email conversation where they deal with the complaint or issue. The complainant then generally publicly praises them when the issue is resolved. Customer Service Wins all round!
PR Can Be The Key Player
I must admit to not really understanding PR before the start of 2011, but I met two amazing ladies called Claire Thompson and Nichola Stott. I have now fully bought into the fact that if an Online Marketer does not understand PR in the next year or so, they will struggle to reach the top. The same goes for business owners.
Many business owners believe that national or regional press coverage is beyond them, as their business is not ‘sexy’ enough. Now this may be true to some extent, but if you have a new, free, best or even worst-on-the-market product, you can get the coverage you deserve with some positive spin – even if you sell grey widgets! And all of this press coverage is repeated online, generally with a link back to your business. Working with a clued-up PR person during your campaign can be the difference between a good campaign and a great campaign.
Use All The Tools in the Toolbox
As a business owner or Online Marketer, you have a number of tools at your disposal. A plumber wouldn’t turn up to a job with just a screwdriver, ignoring the plethora of tools at their disposal so why would you? The key to success, and indeed surviving through the global recession, is to invest wisely in a Holistic Marketing campaign and making it work for you.