There is no single magic wand when it comes to defining the best online marketing strategies, tips, or guidelines for small businesses. Creating the perfect digital strategy only happens after research, trial & error, and knowing how to optimize your campaigns for the best results. It’s a combination of tools & tactics, tailored for your business, that will work.
Sure, there are a few basics of digital marketing that you need to understand before you can employ the best online marketing tactics. But trust us, it’s not rocket science. And if you are passionate to see your business grow online, you won’t take long to realize its true value. Through this article, we want to touch on some of the best online marketing ideas & tactics that will help you define the best online marketing plan for your business. And we won’t disappoint you!
We deem this topic of online marketing one of the most important pieces of knowledge that a business owner needs to adopt. And the global statistics below prove why you should too.
Internet usage in the U.S. has more than doubled in the last five years alone. Close to two decades after the dot-com boom of the late 90’s and the crash in early 2000. The bubble burst made people wary of internet usage moving forward.
But it came back with a vengeance and shifted the dynamics of marketing as a whole.
We are seeing a shift in how people consume media & entertainment, moving over from traditional magazines and TV networks to the much more digitized smartphones and apps. This changed the game of how business owners need to market their businesses. In came the search for the best online marketing strategies. And we are going to show you just that with the help of some noteworthy industry examples.
Even before you start thinking about this being just another channel to boost your sales, let us tell you – it is so much more.
At its core, it is important to understand the purpose of having the best online marketing strategy. You want to not only grow sales but also to connect with customers in a way that is more popular than all other traditional channels.
Just like in the case of Airbnb. Some of their best online marketing efforts go towards user experience & improvements. It took me some research and a few personal experiences to realize that they invest a substantial amount of their resources in first understanding what the customer needs to make for an unforgettable vacation. This followed by brand-centric elements (think best tips, transportation routes, things to do nearby, etc.) betters that experience. They have also mastered the art of using some of the best online marketing techniques to find chatter about people’s experiences online and solve any customer complaints before it starts hurting their brand.
Business owners can literally break down the term online marketing and catch it from its roots – by marketing your business online. There are several popular social media channels, all serving a different purpose for their audience that you can use effectively to market your business in different ways.
In simple terms, your online business goals will majorly help define the best online marketing tactics in your marketing arsenal.
Now that we have covered some of the basic understanding behind online marketing, let’s dig deeper into what are some of the best online marketing strategies out there and how brands use them according to their business models.
Lululemon used social media marketing to evolve its brand
When thinking about the best online marketing ideas that brands can use, Lululemon presents another perfect example. Using social media marketing, the brand evolved from a business with just yoga attire at its center to offering everyday comfort wear in line with the requirement of its users, all using the online marketing space. As their go-to online marketing plan, they use Facebook creatively to connect with their audience. Time and again to remind customers of the comfort they offer through their products.
Over the years and after countless interactions with their customers, they have made a household name for themselves with working women who are also into fitness and wellbeing – A market made up of 75 million targets in the U.S. They have understood well that to stay popular among their audience, they will need to connect with them in a way that is relevant to the what their customers are asking for. Research shows that customers no longer want comfortable yoga attire only during fitness sessions. They rather continue to feel this comfort even as a casual attire. Lululemon capitalized on this new found information.
Using the platform’s ad targeting algorithms, they started showing their new products to consumers who engaged with competing brands layered with fitness (a category Lululemon was already famous in). This built brand recognition beyond just fitness attire and this in itself became a case study in using the best online marketing strategies for an evolving a brand.
On the other hand, YouTube is a digital platform where people come to see videos. It is one of the best online marketing channels if you use it wisely. Your brand can use this online channel to promote how-to videos to potential customers and make it easy for them to use your product, resulting in an excellent user experience. That right there is your first best online marketing tactic by using social media marketing.
Local business use Google Search for their online marketing presence
Google Maps, Google Reviews, and Google Ads are all part of Google’s search and display advertising tools for business owners. These three services dominate about 33% of all online advertising done by local business around the world. They account for the highest online advertising revenue generated with no apparent competitor other than Facebook.
Their online advertising business has grown more than 50% in the last 5 years alone. Google’s parent company Alphabet has understood well that the market has shifted from a physical location to a digital presence first. Thus, introducing an array of tools that smooth out the entire consumer process right from search to desire to action. This is called PPC Marketing or Google Ads.
And this online journey has become an opportunity for advertisers to get in front of their customers. This is further explored and presented by Google as a combination of some of the best online marketing practices available to business owners today.
Google Search is used by consumers solely as a search engine. People search for your business- specific keywords and already have high purchase intent. During this time, if you show them ads promoting your product and highlighting why your product is superior, it can well be your best online marketing platform that boosts sales.
Imagine your own online behavior as someone who is craving some good dessert in your neighborhood. In a flash, you will pick up your smartphone and search for a popular dessert shop nearby through Google Search. You will then see Google reviews about that place to see if the place is worth a visit and let Google Maps’ navigation take you right to it.
In this entire process, you will see numerous sponsored ads from both Google and third-party partners. You also leave behind something known as digital footprints that will then be used by marketers to retarget you based on your clicks and website opens.
It is difficult not to think of Google when talking about the best online marketing strategies that brands use and trust us they are just getting started. With newer technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality, it’s anyone’s guess what avenues will it open up for online marketing.
Uber’s Email Segmentation Tactics
First off, let’s talk about Uber which has time and again used email marketing to get in front of customers and promote their business. Uber’s case study is one of the best in email marketing tactics.
In our previous blog, we examined how Uber uses effective email marketing & segmentation tactics to reach its customers online. They have taken a page right out of the best online marketing techniques playbook. To summarize, they understand the power online marketing can bring their business and employ email marketing as a tactic to grow their business. First, using geographical data from their customers, they segment email lists based on geographies and then hit customers with promotional emails right before or during a busy event in that town. This is not only a great email targeting tactic but also an applaud-able localized communication strategy.
They also segment their customer emails based on app usage. More loyal customers get more rewards. This is one of the best online marketing methods companies use to create repeat business and keep long-term customers
Southwest’s Customer Retention Strategy
Being just a brand that advertises online is not enough to stay ahead of the competition. Retaining your customers’ attention & loyalty too is key to long-term success. Southwest Airlines has understood that well and goes after not just customer attention but also their loyalty. They use all their online marketing channels (email or social media channels) to listen to what customers are saying about them online, popularly called social listening.
By listening on social media and other sites, Southwest turns what customers are saying (positive or negative) into an opportunity to surpass user expectations. This is something they have mastered well. And a feat for which they have earned many positive mentions again and again. This is customer loyalty 101. No matter which marketing tactic you use, keeping customers at the center of your business model and improving customer retention is one of the best online marketing tactics you could employ as a growing business.
Influencer marketing is Nike’s best online marketing strategy
Nike – a prime example of creating a well-defined online marketing strategy. They have found their niche in influencer marketing and use it as their best online marketing tactic. The traditional approach of doing things would be to create ads or release press announcements to promote their new line of products. Even hiring a popular celebrity to mass advertise a new pair of sneakers wouldn’t be unheard of.
But, Nike conducts a hefty online research to first identify trendsetters in the entertainment industry who have millions if not billions of followers. They then openly commission them to design their own line of Nike branded products and popularize among only their followers. This not only gives them a huge market advantage (as these influencers have a strong fan base anyway) but it also helps to keep their brand feel exclusive rather than mass marketed.
This is what we like to call a perfect example of reverse engineering a product’s marketing cycle. Generally brands design and produce a product first and then use different advertising tactics to promote it. But Nike chooses to make a product famous by associating it with a popular figure before producing it in a way to meet the surging demand.
One such line of products was Nike’s Air Jordan. The line is popular even long after the sports legend’s distinguished playing career seized and is one of the company’s best-selling lines of footwear.
Bonus Example – Marriott Hotels is a first mover when it comes to using new technological advancements like augmented and virtual reality to up their brand experience. They now use both these technologies to lure customers who are not even in their target geography. Imagine travelers who are far away yet use augmented reality to view Marriott’s beach-facing hotel rooms, even before booking. Innovation at this scale creates a brand value that is difficult to replicate anytime soon.