What is online marketing?

Combining search engine marketing (SEM)–which includes search engine optimization (SEO), local SEO,  and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising–with social media and email marketing, online marketing is a dynamic strategy that, if implemented properly, will provide an exceptional return on investment (ROI).

Toronto Business SEO
There are more than 89,000 businesses in Toronto. How do you make yours stand out?

There are now more than 89,000 businesses in Toronto. A business must market itself to stay relevant, but today traditional marketing (print, radio, television, etc.) is expensive, particularly for small businesses. These marketing channels no longer reach the wide audience they once did. The top television providers in Canada lost 7 times more subscribers in 2015 than in the previous year due to cord cutting, and newspaper circulation fell in 2014. Furthermore, traditional advertising is limited because it is difficult to measure its performance in regard to ROI.

Traditional, outbound marketing has a long reach, meaning that the advertising message reaches a broad spectrum of consumers. However, because the audience is so wide, many of these consumers are not likely to engage with the product or service. This can lead to a wasted advertising spend.

Online Marketing–which can also be referred to as Internet Marketing–is an effective alternative. It is both cost-effective and efficient in communicating the advertising message to the target audience directly. Business owners in Toronto will benefit from integrating an internet marketing strategy into their overall marketing communications plan.

Search Engine Marketing.

SEM leverages SEO, local SEO and paid search advertising (PSA) to help a business receive a high rank on the search engine rankings pages (SERPs). This is significant because the top 3 links on the SERPs receive 60% of the clicks. Rank is determined by a number of different criteria but can be improved considerably with a dynamic SEO and PSA strategy, including a fully optimized website.

Search Engine Optimization.

SEO is the process of optimizing a website to provide a search engine with the information it needs to locate the site when it is relevant to a consumer’s search query. This is often referred to as an “organic search”, meaning that the results are found naturally–earned by efficient SEO–rather than being advertisements.

Much of this is executed through targeted keywords built into the content on the site itself. For example, if the consumer searches “vintage record stores in Toronto”, the website is more likely to receive a high rank on the SERPs if those keywords appear in the copy on the page. When building content, it is useful to write with keywords in mind.

How does one select effective and relevant keywords? Consider trying to reverse-engineer the keywords from a consumer’s point of view. If a consumer was trying to find specific products, services, or information, what would they likely type into Google?

Keywords can always be updated or replaced. Monitor which keywords are consistently driving website traffic and which are underperforming. Those that are not producing the desired results can be reworked or omitted. Google Analytics is a free tool that can assist with this exercise–as well as provide a host of other useful analytic information. Once a website is registered with the service, the Analytics platform will begin tracking and analyzing keyword success rate, which will help to alleviate the guesswork.

SEO isn’t entirely about keywords, however. A wealth of other factors contribute to a high ranking on the SERPs. These can include:

Local SEO.

Local search engine optimization is based in traditional SEO. But it’s augmented to help users find local businesses. A business can leverage a local SEO program to improve its visibility to local consumers.

Learn more about local SEO by speaking with a digital marketing specialist HERE.

For local businesses in Toronto, attracting customers into the brick-and-mortar location is essential. For the consumer, finding results in the area is the goal of 50% of all mobile searches, 61% of which translate into conversions (purchases, subscriptions, etc.).

Moreover, 59% of consumers Google local businesses on a monthly basis.  These statistics prove the benefits that a local SEO strategy can provide for a business.

Local SEO SERP factors

There are a variety of factors that impact SERPs ranking when leveraging a local SEO program. Optimizing the website with local-targeted keywords and content. This signals the business location to Google.

The search engine will then provide a link, as well as a map, directions, and business hours to local consumers. Websites also need to be mobile optimized. 88% of consumers use smartphones for local search. Since Google’s 2015 algorithms update mobile-friendliness is a requirement. Not having a mobile-friendly site negatively impacts SERPs ranking on mobile searches.

A business can index its information on local citation sites like Yelp or Yellow Pages. Citation platforms help Google to verify business information. The key information is NAP – name, address, and phone number.

Increasing citations across the internet will improve SERPs rank. Additionally, many citation sites invite consumers to review a business. Positive reviews will improve Google visibility even further.

Businesses can also leverage the Google My Business platform. GMB Google My Business) is a free tool. It allows a company to list its information to display on Google searches, Google+, and Google Maps. The advantage of a listing on Maps is that the results page will display the location of the business to the user.

Implementing a local SEO strategy is an essential measure for a brick-and-mortar. it allows a business to grow its client base, and to establish itself as part of the community.

Paid search advertising.

Paid search advertising is an online marketing strategy. It uses a PPC advertising model wherein a business will buy ads that appear on a Google results page.

When searching on Google, a user will often see links at the top of the SERPs, with a small green “ad” icon. Aside from the icon, they are identical to an organic search result–title, URL, and a short description. These appear because the owners of those businesses sponsored the ads with Google AdWords.

This model gives businesses an opportunity to appear higher on the results page. Which correlates to a stronger likelihood of consumers clicking the link.

Unlike traditional advertising pay-per-click guarantees ROI. Businesses are only charged for the ad when it drives traffic to the site.

How Google AdWords works

AdWords strategy starts with keywords. An advertiser will select the keywords he or she would like to rank for and will have to make a CPC bid for each. They consider where on the SERPs it is that they want to rank before bidding against competitors. Daily maximums may be set at any time.

The advantage of this is that ad spending can be kept manageable. PSA audience targeting is very accurate and thus, very low risk. AdWords can target consumers based on demographics, interests, location, language, devices used, and other targeting factors.

For every dollar spent on Google AdWords, advertisers make an average of two dollars in return on investment.

social media advertising

Social Media Marketing.

In 2016, Facebook reached 1.55 billion active users. It is projected that there will be 2.44 billion social media users by 2018. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest are amongst the most popular social media platforms.

Marketing on social media presents numerous benefits to a business. They increase brand awareness, decrease advertising costs, and grow conversion rates. All while improving customer loyalty, and collecting consumer research & insights.

Social media platforms allow users to publish and share content their community. Businesses aim to create shareable content that engages users and convinces them to share it. This can generate an exponential number of impressions, increasing brand awareness very quickly.

Loyalty and trust are essential to keep consumers returning to a business. It also drives word-of-mouth traffic. An active social media presence establishes a dialogue with customers.

A Facebook fan page, or a Twitter account allows a business to interact with its customers in real time. If a consumer has experienced a problem with a product or service, they are able to inform the business. This provides the company with information about problems with their products or services. It also gives them the opportunity to make it right in the eyes of the customer. The company can take responsibility, and solve the problem. Accountability breeds trust.

Mine social media channels for consumer data and insights. Use this information to discover growth opportunities and audience data. Businesses monitor social media. This is a process known as social listening. They follow discussions about their products or services.

Social media users share their interests and personal information on their profiles. Mining social media supplies businesses with extremely accurate demographic, psychographic and targeting information.

Marketing on social media provides a broad reach, while drastically reducing advertising costs. Facebook pages and Twitter feeds function as a free customer relationship management (CRM) platform at no cost to a business. Advertising on social media channels is cost-effective. Unlike traditional advertising, if a campaign is not providing a desirable ROI, it can be altered, suspended or canceled without incurring extra costs.

Social Media Marketing can also increase conversion rates in a variety of ways. Most e-commerce websites require a user to create an account. Many of these sites require registration very early in the engagement process. Consumers find this time consuming and intrusive, and may decide to navigate away from the site. Inviting consumers to sign in through their social media accounts requires only one click. Furthermore, allowing customers to review products or services on social media will help to convert other users. 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Email Marketing.

This marketing strategy involves emailing current or potential customers with offers or information. However, unlike sending physical brochures or ads in the mail, email marketing costs nothing to produce and nothing to ship. Additionally, an e-blast can be targeted to different segments of the consumer base and can be personalized so that it does not read as spam. It is essential for any business that integrates email marketing into their overall strategy to always offer an opt-out option to consumers. Failing to do so can leave the customer feeling spammed.

Online marketing is a dynamic advertising strategy that can produce a highly impactful and cost-effective ROI for local businesses in Toronto.

Leveraging an online marketing strategy that implements all, or a combination of the above platforms is an effective approach to growing a local business in Toronto. Whether the intention is to cultivate clientele, increase sales, or improve brand recognition and loyalty, implementing an online marketing strategy will generate growth for a business in 2016.