For independent business owners, having an effective online marketing strategy is an absolute necessity if you want to grow and stay ahead of the competition. The Internet has changed the way we build relationships with potential clients. It’s now possible for SMBs to advertise on a global scale – something that was once only financially possible for large businesses and corporations.
According to eMarketer, as of 2012, money spent on online advertising pushed ahead of total spending on print newspapers and magazines.
Growth has been consistent, and by 2016 it’s projected that online spending will be double that of print.
But unless your business is Internet Marketing, developing a comprehensive online marketing strategy can be a complex and time consuming task because there are a LOT of moving pieces.
Learning how to use online marketing techniques successfully can be a double-edged sword. You will need to balance how much time you spend perfecting your craft (advancing skills and staying up on industry trends) and performing actual business projects with how much time you spend learning about online marketing and doing all the things that are involved with it. The reality is that unless you want to be an “Internet Marketer” – you don’t have the time to learn (or do) everything. This is where systems and tools that will help you manage your time and tasks become critical.
If you have been following my articles, you know that I am not a big fan of “Here-Are-The-Best” lists. Not everyone has the same needs, likes, budgets, etc. What is important for one person may not be the same for another. When it comes to having total control of your online marketing, I believe you need to start with knowing what things need to be controlled.
You need to know how much time and effort you are spending on your online marketing campaigns and whether you are spending it wisely. Is the money you are spending bringing you a good ROI? This can’t be a guessing game if you are going to use online marketing effectively. Tools & analytics are essential. You need to know whether what you are doing is working and if not, what you can do to improve it. Here are a few articles to get you started:
As I already mentioned, there is a TON to learn when it comes to online marketing. You need to develop a training plan that doesn’t take too much time away from your business. Make a decision about what parts of online marketing you want to “master” and what parts for which you only require a basic understanding. My recommendation is to start with one sub-category of online marketing that is a “best fit” for your business model and personality style.
When it comes to online marketing there is an abundance of websites that provide information that is both valuable and free. When you find one you like, sign up for the newsletter so that you can “learn from the experts” at a pace that fits your schedule. (I recommend setting up a separate email for “educational” stuff so that it is easier to balance your work and training time).
Here is a sampling of just a few of my favorites:
Since you will definitely be including social media in your online marketing strategy, you will need something to simplify the process. You want a tool will enable you to post on multiple social media sites AND be able to “listen to” relevant conversations. You want something that connects ALL of your social media accounts, that lets you to make posts (including advance scheduling) and follow conversations from a single dashboard. You also need to get social media analytics so that you can determine what kind of posts draw the best engagement from your audience and when you should post to achieve the best reach.
Here’s some social media management tools that are worth checking out:
The very thing that makes online marketing (especially social media) so powerful for a freelancer or small business owner is the very same thing that makes it dangerous for us! There is so much information on the internet that it’s easy to get lost in the process of learning, researching and engaging. You need to develop a system that works to keep your tasks organized and a schedule doesn’t take away from the time required for your business.
Seven Tools to Take Control of Your Online Marketing
Once you know what needs to be controlled, it will be easier for you to find tools to help you get the job done efficiently and productively. Here are some of my “less obvious” favorites.
What are some of your favorite tips, tools and resources for taking control of your online marketing? Share them with us!