If you’ve ever started a company or worked in an entrepreneurial organization, you’ve probably experienced what I like to call the black hole of online marketing.

In a mad rush to get the word out about an upcoming event or launch, or to announce the existence of your venture to the world, you take to every online channel and platform imaginable: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube.

There are few activities in the entrepreneurial world that suck up more time, energy, and money without anything to show for it than online marketing. Tweet This Quote

You spend weeks and weeks to craft and perfect your vision statement, your company values, and your beautiful logo. You pull late nights emailing your newsletter lists, friends, colleagues and anyone else who just might know someone who would be interested. Then, when the frenzy is over, you suddenly snap out of it and wonder to yourself, “Did any of that actually do something productive for my business?”

There are few activities in the entrepreneurial world that suck up more time, energy, and money without anything to show for it than online marketing. Why does this happen? In my experience, the problem stems from the fact that most organizations fail to hold their marketing activities accountable with measurable results. They use vague rationales like, “We need to get our name out there,” and “We’re promoting thought leadership,” to justify spending inordinate amounts of time on social media without ever taking a minute to critically analyze the return on investment of those activities.

Most organizations fail to hold their marketing activities accountable with measurable results. Tweet This Quote

Here is my advice to entrepreneurs and leaders who want to leverage the full power of online marketing to create real business results—attracting more customers who will pay you to make their lives better.

1. Set a specific intention with your online marketing—let that goal dictate the tools and channels

The overwhelming number of tools, channels, platforms, and strategies available gives many of us the impression that online marketing is incredibly complex; but it’s actually very simple. Here’s how it works:

  1. You have a website.
  2. You get people to come to that website.
  3. Your website (hopefully) educates visitors so that they believe you’re the right company to solve their problem—then they either contact you, come into your store, or buy from you online.

That’s all there is to it. Put into a formula, online marketing looks like this:

Traffic x Conversion = Customers

For example, if you get 100 people to visit your website (traffic) and two percent of them decide to buy from you (conversion), you get two customers. These two pieces of online marketing serve to create bottom-line results: getting more traffic, and converting traffic into customers. If you want to hold your online marketing activities accountable, measure your outcomes with this framework in mind. Is your most important objective right now to generate more traffic to your website? Or are you trying to convert more of your traffic into customers? If the answer is both, be mindful that each goal requires a different approach.

2. Pick the Right Tools

Once you are clear on what you are trying to accomplish, you’ll be in a much better place to choose the right tools for your situation. Here is a brief overview of the most effective tools and strategies used in online marketing today to, first, get more traffic, and, second, increase conversion (let me know in the comments section if you want me to go more in-depth with a particular tool in future posts).

Getting more traffic:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the practice of improving your website’s rankings on search engines, such as Google, so that people who are searching with keywords that are relevant to your business are attracted to your website.

When you should use it:

  1. You have a product or service that people actively seek out by searching online, and keywords can be used to effectively target potential customers.
  2. You believe that improving your rankings on Google (being listed closer to page one of the search results or being at the top of page one) for a set of keywords would bring a significant number of qualified visitors to your website.
  3. You see the long-term value in consistently growing the number of people who don’t know your brand but discover you online using a search engine.

While there are many variables to play with in improving SEO, an effective and reliable approach is to consistently add things to your website that make it an increasingly useful destination for people who are searching for the keywords you want to rank for—in other words, publishing high-quality content on your website domain.

You won’t see results overnight. SEO is a long-term approach that requires consistent effort over months with a focused keyword strategy. Begin by using a tool such as Google’s Keyword Planner to get a sense of what relevant keywords get significant search volumes and how competitive they are to rank for.

Paid Advertising
This can take a number of forms, but the most commonly used and effective methods today include Google AdWords, Facebook advertising, and display ads on other websites.

When You Should Use It:

  1. You are willing to invest in a monthly budget for driving traffic to your website.
  2. Your ideal customers can be targeted by keywords (Google ads), demographics and preferences (Facebook ads), or other factors.
  3. You have access to a numbers-oriented person who can consistently monitor campaigns to optimize the performance of ads over time.

This is a short-term approach that can ramp up traffic to your website literally overnight—but it must be used with great care and planning, as each click or impression will cost you money.

Be mindful of what you’re doing with that traffic: if your website isn’t designed to intentionally convert visitors into sales or leads, all you get from paid traffic is a chart of anonymous views and clicks on your dashboard—in exchange for a big negative number on your bank statement.

Content Marketing
You can increase traffic to your site by publishing helpful content, such as blog posts, podcasts, infographics, videos, ebooks, and other resources that your target audience will find useful.

When You Should Use It:

  1. Your product or service requires some level of education for your customers to see the full value in it, or for a relationship to be developed for them to trust your solution.
  2. Your product or service can be tied to a topic that people want to learn more about.
  3. You don’t have a budget for paid ads or you want to stay in touch after the first impression and stay on top of your prospects’ minds.

The key to content marketing is quality and consistency. Your content has to be valuable enough for people to spend time consuming (not to be underestimated), and you have to stay on top of your customers’ minds long enough for them to believe in your credibility and become ready to make a purchase.

You can publish content on your own website, or you can build relationships with editors of other websites and blogs to get in front of their audiences and attract them to your site. Start by asking yourself: what do my ideal customers want to learn more about that I can add a unique perspective on?

Social Media
Building an audience on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram can help to drive more traffic to your site—but know that getting someone to “like” your page does not necessarily translate to higher website traffic or increased sales.

When You Should Use It:

  1. Your ideal customers are active on social media.
  2. You have a strategy for converting your followers to customers—whether by making offers, running ads, or driving clicks to your website.

If your intention is to use social media for bottom-line results, make sure the person managing your channels is aware of this. Social media is most often used for less tangible outcomes such as building brand awareness and growing a following (for no apparent reason); it’s up to you to co-create a strategy with your social media manager to make sure there is a clear ROI in their time invested.

Improving Conversion

The process of converting online traffic into customers varies significantly by business—it can be as simple as a visitor clicking the “Buy now” button on an e-commerce site, or it could require months of back and forth with your sales rep.

In any case, here are the most common tools available to an online marketer for improving conversion:

Website Copy, Design, and Functionality
Your website is the centerpiece of your conversion strategy. It’s generally the first place people go when they hear your name, and it’s often the only chance you have to persuade potential customers that your company is a good fit to solve their problem.

Understand that in order to create a website that consistently produces bottom-line results, you need a completely different mindset than with a standard website. A typical website designer or developer will tell you how to style and structure a site based on their professional training—which is grounded in principles of aesthetics and design, or programming—NOT based on what helps people make a buying decision. Don’t expect them to tell you how to create a website that sells.

The good news is that creating a website that sells effectively is no mystery. Many smart people have crunched the data on what works and what doesn’t, and there are clear best practices that are proven to work, whether for writing copy, designing a layout, or deciding what functionality to include. Reevaluating your website with an intention to optimize conversion, together with someone who knows these best practices is typically the best place to start for a business to improve its results online.

Email Marketing
As a conversion strategy, email marketing works together with your website as a one-two punch.
Even with a perfectly optimized website, out of every 100 people that visit, only a handful will be ready to buy at that instant—so what about the rest?

Just because they’re not ready to buy right then doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be a happy customer of yours 30, 60, or 180 days from now; but you’ll never know if you don’t extend an offer to start building a relationship. Unfortunately, engagement with email marketing have continued to plunge in recent years. If you’re wondering why, look no further than your own clogged inbox.
That’s why it’s critical to have a sharp copywriter on deck to craft your emails. A well-crafted headline, compelling language, and a strong call to action can make the difference between someone clicking the “unsubscribe” link and clicking “learn more.”

Of course, you also need to convince people to give you their contact info in the first place. A great strategy to do so is to offer an incentive: a free download or helpful resource that visitors would find useful, in exchange for their permission to follow up with them.

Direct Sales
You might think this strange coming from a guy who makes a living as an online marketer, but here’s the truth: websites, emails, and social media simply aren’t enough for most businesses to make a sale. No amount of emails, tweets, or blog posts are going to change the fact that people need to feel that they can trust you before making a buying decision.

No amount of emails, tweets, or blog posts are going to change the fact that people need to feel that they can trust you before making a buying decision. Tweet This Quote

If you sell a product or service that costs more than a few hundred dollars or involves high risk for the buyer (ex. asset management, recruiting, legal services), your clients are going to want to talk to someone before they sign a deal. In cases like these, conversion is achieved by turning a visitor into an inquiry for your sales rep to follow up with.

Even if it’s not responsible for closing deals, online marketing can still serve to make a great first impression; educate visitors on what makes your company the best choice; qualify good leads from bad leads; and equip your sales team with helpful data about each prospect before they get on the phone with them.

Online marketing doesn’t have to be a black hole of time and energy. Tweet This Quote

A solid website, a few well-crafted follow-up emails, and perhaps a helpful sales rep are often all a business needs to reach respectable numbers for conversion. Sure, there are plenty of other advanced techniques to play with: retargeting, webinars, sales videos, automated nurturing emails, and so on. But remember, there is no need to overcomplicate things. Online marketing is simply a tool—it should serve you, not the other way around.

Online marketing doesn’t have to be a black hole of time and energy. If approached correctly, it can be a results-driving engine in your business that allows you to reach your ideal customers and help them to understand the value you can bring to their lives. Each time you want to improve your results, start by setting a specific intention. Know your desired outcomes in measurable terms. Consider the strategies and tools available to you, and follow best practices.

Now, I have an ask for you: comment below with your biggest challenge or frustration when it comes to online marketing. What’s holding you back from attracting more customers online and making a greater impact?

About the author

Shane Rasnak

Shane Rasnak

Shane Rasnak is an Unreasonable alumni and consults with leaders of impact-driven companies, helping them acquire customers by improving their websites and online marketing. Learn more about his work at www.shanerasnak.com.

  • storres001

    I really found this post useful, as the social media editor for my job I know the struggles of getting people to not only be reached, but to say something about it. It is incredibly frustrating when you’re trying to get something out there to viewers or consumers and no one sees it or takes the time to go to the website. Here, he makes really good points for people like me who’s entire job is built on online marketing. Thanks!

  • Abbusse11

    This was a fantastic post. I am at this part of my business where I am looking at what is the best form of advertising for me. I am a Realtor and I seem to have tried everything to direct traffic and when I say everything “I have hired lots of the wrong people.” I have just paid my dues to a program that is going to help me learn how this is done. They talked about a lot of the similar items you brought up in your post. Such as Google Key Words, Blogs, email drip campaigns, and more. I am certain that my biggest frustration is that I have spent lots of money with no results. I would be so happy if I had any results “especially if I can get 2 clients out of 100.” I would be so happy to have paid for something that equals a result in sales. I am printing this post now so I can read it again after my I calm my excitement how relevant this post was to me this morning .. OMG this was the best post to wake up too.

    “Online marketing doesn’t have to be a black hole of time and energy.” worth quoting..

    Thank you Shane… Have a great day!!!

  • Thanks guys! Looking forward to hearing the questions and insights that come out of this article. Let me know if it’d be helpful for me to dive deeper into a particular strategy or tool in future posts.

  • Gaby Perez

    Thank you for sharing this post! Earlier this week I had an interview with a nonprofit organization looking for a markeitng/comm internship opportunity. When the interviewer asked me about my interests within marketing I told him “Social media and online marketing,” he like many other people do not believe in the power of online marketing, but he did believe it could be improved. I think your suggestion could turn online marketing from a black hole to something better!

  • Halea McAteer

    This was a great read. As someone who has taken part in a couple different internships that involved online marketing and social media, the things discussed here seemed to hit it all right on the head. Most recently, I did an internship with a company that sold high end cookware, and they were running into issues of being negatively portrayed on a simple Google search of their company name. I think if they had really taken some of these ideas and applied them properly it really could have helped them.

  • Katie Larson

    Like many of the posts we have read these past weeks, this article notes the importance of knowing and understanding your goals before you attempt to accomplish them. This post is helpful in defining how each aspect of online marketing can be used effectively to achieve varying goals.

  • karnold001

    Really good point. It is important to understand what customers you are trying to reach, and to figure out the best way to reach them, before jumping into every form of online marketing available.

  • malopez93

    This was a great article about when starting a business you
    really have to be conscious and aware on how and where you put your time in to
    try and grow your business. If you don’t have a specific plan or goal you could
    just try a whole lot of something that really doesn’t help achieve what you
    originally wanted to. I think that marketing and online marketing is something that can potentially make or break a start up business. Yet it is something I’m afraid not a lot of people take into consideration. Thanks for sharing this article I will surely hold on to these points and tips to hopefully succeed down the road with business.

  • amandaclaire94

    I can definitely relate to this post. I am a portrait photographer and just by word of mouth is how I get all my business. After doing it for 6 months I finally got a website. I completely agree that online marking can help, but it isn’t everything. What really sparked an idea for me is this quote: “If you sell a product or service that costs more than a few hundred dollars or involves high risk for the buyer, your clients are going to want to talk to someone before they sign a deal.” This is actually really great for me because people refer my name to their friends so they already know what to expect when they come to me for portraits. I think it would be great to even include testimonials on my website so that new clients can feel more confident in choosing me as their photographer. I have never taken and business or marketing classes so I know that I can really struggle in marketing myself and my business but I just need to do more research and I can be more successful!

  • amandaclaire94

    Hi! I also think this is a great post because I am in the same boat! I love all the techniques and ideas this post brings up because it can totally help market your business online. I am also going to bookmark this page when I get stuck on my website or other social media sites.

  • Jeremy Rhone

    Thanks for this thorough post, Shane. I’m in the process of building a website that will offer services. This will be my first site that has the potential to generate income. I’m definitely going to be coming back to this article before my site goes live, and after it’s up and running. I think this will help me stay on track and hit my target market. My site will utilize “Buy now” buttons for every service, but the customers will still be able to contact me at any point, before or after the sale. My concern is being found via search engines, and I’ll review what was mentioned here to ensure that I’m doing what is needed.

  • JuanFonseca1995

    Online marketing is the heartbeat to a start-up succeeding or failing. Young entrepreneurs must have a target market for their product. For example they can use Instagram to promote their product and they can post videos on Youtube and share them to many other platforms. In doing so, they will bypass the procedure of investing lots of money for advertisements on Facebook, Google, and other powerhouse websites. They can have beta testers and gather results to see if their product worked and if their beta testers were happy using their product. Social media is dominating college campuses so young entrepreneurs can visit major universities to promote their product, from there you expand to other universities and major cities as well. Online marketing is the key ingredient to make your business a hot success. Take advantage of social media and other platforms that can easily get the message of your product out to the rest of the world quicker.

  • danphaw

    Regardless of what kind of marketing you do the main goal is to get customers. A lot of people forget this and they believe having a slick website and a huge social media presence are what makes a business succeed. There are some companies that don’t have to do social network marketing but have online presence to support their already popular products or service.

    For a start up business I believe old fashioned marketing is still the best. But it’s not as sexy to talk about cold calling hundreds of people as it is to have a fancy website. In the end a popular website is usually the byproduct of a good business and not the other way around.

  • Thanks @shanerasnak:disqus ! I am a huge fan of this post! Apologies in advance for the amount of questions for your consideration and future posts =) . This topic is such a critical skill for business and movement building success and thank you again for sharing

    -What do you anticipate to be the “next big thing” in online marketing? How can you predict this type of tech or evolution or Ice Bucket Challenge?
    -How do you best stay on top of new online marketing technology and trends? And overcome changes in the online marketing scene? (i.e. when Facebook pages updated their algorithms for businesses and making a certain reach require payment, it really hurt a lot of business marketing efforts.)
    – Personally, I am strongly opposed to online ads though seems to be the ringleader in how to gain revenue and exposure as a company, what are other ways you can make money digitally without compromising your values?
    – From the perspective of an online marketing platform (like Facebook or Google search), other than if a person pays to promote content, what characteristics of content incentivizes companies to promote it or have a farther reach? (i.e. more tags, shares, originality, etc.). If you are not going to pay for promoting content, what do you think are the top 5 characteristics you should focus on your content so it will have the most spread?
    – When it comes to effective online marketing – hashtags: love or hate?
    – What are your thoughts on when impact or social good is the “product”? What advice do you have for best practices online marketing for social enterprises?

  • Teresa Joyce

    Great information in this post! Understanding online marketing can be tricky, and it’s nice to know how to accomplish such goals. Thank you for the key points, as someone who hasn’t had much experience with online marketing it is definitely a post I will bookmark for future use.

  • Matthew Montoya

    I think this post is awesome and definitely came at an appropriate time for me! I am currently managing the online marketing for a non-profit that I am deeply invested in. I have just completed a full market plan for the organization, but have concerns that some of the marketing will not be as effective as I would like. Do you have any suggestions or resources that measure Social Media connections/Clicks to ROI? I really want the content marketing to be effective, and not simply a nice addition to the organization.

  • kschwein

    This article, just like the time management one is a great asset for businesses and individuals to use. This is a great way to improve marketing and make it far more efficient. I really enjoyed this article and found out quite a few things that I hadn’t previously known.

  • dannyjoseph14

    Great post. As a marketing major, I really wish there was a larger emphasis on online marketing in my courses, or even online marketing specific courses. Online marketing is such a major aspect of business nowadays and an essential skill for any marketing major looking to enter the workforce. In my experience, social media marketing is simple and inexpensive to do, but very difficult to do effectively. This article touched on some very important strategies for turning click-throughs into sales. I hope to see more posts like this on Unreasonable!

  • rschneider2800

    We had a guy come into a class and tell us about digital market, so I loved reading the article and seeing so much affirmation of everything I heard today. I have always been interested in SEO and all the different ways to market your business free or with money so this was incredibly insightful.

  • Jenny Lynn Shaver

    Perfect post explaining what I have been using over the past two years with our small business, breeding pedigreed hedgehogs. Luckily, I have to do minimal SEO because there are literally two hedgehog breeders (including me) in a 500 sq. mile area. So if you’re looking for hedgehogs in Austin, it’s me or them. Lucky for me, I have spent more time on the areas listed in this article then my next competitor so we always have a plenty of customers. Hooray, internet!

  • aburns002

    When I go online I usually have some purpose for doing it, so I block out or quickly close out any unwanted information. Though I don’t use it often, social-media is one outlet where online marketing has potential.

  • Katie

    I think this was a very helpful post for all starting businesses trying to get their name out in the market. This post relays important messages that can be very useful. One point I thought was interesting is that there are different approaches between trying to bring individuals to your website, and bringing them to your website and turning them into customers. I think many businesses have good intentions when using social media but don’t necessarily use it in the most efficient way.

  • kbell003

    I agree with Matt. I am doing a lot of online marketing for my job currently and I think that there are a lot of useful tips in here of how to make it better and what to avoid. I also agree with Matt in how marketing should be useful, rather than just something pretty to look at or grab someones attention.

  • John Mulhern

    This article really shows the power of online! Whether it is strictly advertisements, or just marketing in general, online activity seems to hold the key to awareness and success in today’s everchanging business world. Thank you for your insight and guidance.

  • Lynn Kraus

    Great article Shane & very educational. Lots to think about & consider here, but the info is presented in a clear concise way. I will read again and again.

  • Love these questions Cat George! Will definitely keep these in mind for future posts. Let me share two quick points for now:

    1. Re: the next big thing, I think the question reflects the kind of mindset that lures a lot of people into the “black hole” I talked about. Yes, it’s good to be aware of changes in technology and new trends, but your time is much better invested in making sure you’ve really done a solid job on the 80/20 of what’s been proven to work, and what actually creates results (i.e. what I covered in this post). I’m not a big fan of trying to predict the future, but I think Search marketing (SEO, Adwords) will only become more important as each industry/niche gets more competitive, and whoever can dominate their key search terms early on by investing in SEO and an optimized paid ad funnel will take and hold on to the lion’s share of traffic. Facebook PPC is also a remarkable tool that allows for more precise targeting than anything that’s ever existed – so learning to use that effectively will be a huge opportunity for many businesses in the coming years.

    2. Re: making money digitally without compromising your values… Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with online ads as long as you’re selling a product/service that legitimately helps people, and your ads are targeted to people who are likely to have a need for it. Where online ads go wrong (both for the audience and for the business) is when ads are not targeted well (i.e. trying to reach EVERYONE, which never works) – and they come across as just bothersome noise. Making money by advertising online is no different from making money by advertising offline – create a product that serves a real need/desire, capture the attention of people who need it in whatever medium/channel will allow you to reach them cost-effectively, and help them to understand the value it can bring to their lives.

  • Social media is probably the most difficult thing to track and measure ROI on. High-end automation tools like Hubspot allow you to do this (if your organization can afford it); in any case you need a solid analytics setup in place to track traffic sources. Here’s a good article on how to get started: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/lead-conversion-with-social-media/

  • gmurillo86

    This article is Great for those who want to/ or already use online marketing for their endeavors. Though this article didn’t mention Angie’s List, which my parents’ company uses, and we generate a great deal of business from it, so it is definitely worth the cost. But it is very smart that if you are making a website to keep updating it to get the most use out of it. We have a website, which I made(not the best I might add, I’m still learning) but it’s good experience for when I start my own company.

  • Abbusse11

    Shane, ???

    I thank you again for your post. I am so excited to read all the information that you have to offer. I have a question regarding branding and not branding. I have joined a group of people in the real estate world that say that not being branded is better and that I will have more success in lead generation.
    What is your take on this concept for internet marketing?

    What I have done is created a generic site that allows my future leads to get what they want without seeing a sales person, less intrusive approach. I sent out post cards that direct them to the site for a specific reason. IE do you want to know what your home is worth? They will go to the website and input their information so that I may send them a property evaluation.

    Let me know your thoughts or comments. Happy to learn!

  • Arnthor Kristinsson

    This was a great post. I recently came from a lecture about online marketing, which was really similar to this article. Both are very helpful because there is so much you need to know in the online marketing that is not taught in school and the online market changes so rapidly. Thank you for this post.

    Another thing I learned which is great for keeping track of your site is google analytics. There are many things that I still need to learn but this is helpful. Thanks again

  • Carter

    Solid post. Agree with the notion of understanding the concepts of online marketing
    as well as the breakdown of when/how to use the various tools available. Will be
    tapping into this in future ventures

  • l2yza

    Great information! A more in depth article about SEO would be fabulous as well!

  • James Callahan

    Thanks for posting this Shane. You have some very practical and helpful advice! I think a lot of businesses don’t optimize their marketing and end up just taking a “shotgun” approach and do some of everything out there and hope it hits the target.

  • ali Alamri

    I absolutely agree with your points

  • Lindsey Kessler

    Coming from the customer/audience’s point of view, I enjoyed your post on marketing. When marketing techniques for businesses become too complicated, customers begin to feel overwhelmed by the company. Less is more, and refreshing, for a business. Customers can sometimes sense desperation in companies who invest so much time and money in their marketing strategies.

  • jsims001

    Shane, I strongly agree with what you have to say in terms of getting more traffic to your website via social media marketing. I couldn’t count how many times I have “liked” or “followed” a businesses Facebook or Instagram page but never actually visited the companies website or made a purchase after learning more about the product/service. Also, many of my friends, college students in Denver, Colorado and various parts of California, aren’t as active on Facebook anymore with the coming of newer forms of communication and smart phone applications (Ex: SnapChat, Skype, FaceTime, etc.). It is important for companies to be up to speed with the changes in the viral trends of their target market and reevaluate social media marketing goals accordingly.

  • sadeakindele

    I really liked this post because I feel that it is so applicable to people of our generation. A lot of the opportunities I have been seeing for the younger audience is for social media marketing and the like, so these will be key ideas to keep in mind if ever I were to accept such a position, or even start a business of my own.

  • Alex Marski

    I agree with you, I really enjoyed this article and think its a great way to improve marketing skills with media. Definitely makes these types of things more efficient and a better chance for success with the upcoming generations with technology.

  • mpierson19

    What would be more beneficial to entrepreneurs, paid advertising or free advertising? Looking into the pros and cons to each engine of advertising.

  • sking4air

    I really enjoyed the simplicity of this post describing marketing and the internet. The standard logic and common since described here is amazingly simple. The implementation of doing such is the complicated part but as long as you focus on these specifics you are a step ahead.

  • silena_eve

    This was great! Thanks for this informational post! I don’t have a website yet, or even a business, I am simply soaking up all the information I can before I actually launch a business. But this was definitely the most educational post I’ve read yet! Media is such a big part of our society today, its so important that we learn to market efficiently using it! I visited a website-based businesses last year, and was very impressed with their convincing advertising. I learned of the company through instagram, and it lead me to their official site. They were selling an organic skin care and hair product line. They definitely playing to the targeted age group, which would be younger woman and teens. That day I bought something from them. This article you posted definitely helped explain part of their strategy and the reason it caught my attention (and my money). Part of the reason they were so convincing was probably due to their front page. They use pictures from instagram, from the people that have bought their product. They target your trust with a bunch of testimonies right from the start! This is just one example, but now that I’ve read this post I can be more analytical when visiting websites, and figure out exactly what catches my eye. Thank you so much for this post! I learned a lot from it.

  • pouls29

    I am quite shocked he said he didn’t believe in online marketing. Without any context into the type of organization he is with, I still can’t believe someone in this day and age would make such a statement. I can’t think of any organization, for-profit or not that would not benefit immensely from online marketing. All of the points in this article are things I have been living for the past 10 years. I am constantly blown away how many sophisticated businesses and people fail to practice even the most basic online marketing practices. Not having clear goals for your marketing should be grounds for immediate dismissal. 🙂 Perhaps you could get away with that in 2000, but it’s 2015. If you don’t know what the end result should be, or even hypothesize what it should be, you shouldn’t be doing it, or perhaps even hold that position.

  • pouls29

    I’ve seen many comments about SEO. One thing to consider: SEO is not free. You have to consider the time it will take to generate the content to keep relevancy. Another thing is that you are at the mercy of the search engines. They are constantly evaluating their algorithms to improve their results. While this is great for the general internet users, it can sometimes have a negative effect on your business. My advice is to use SEO to build your audience, then incorporate levers that will allow them to come back directly or through other channels. This will lower your dependence on the search engine to provide that traffic.

  • chadvallen

    As a person whose life is heavily based online and with technology, I can say that I see how social media and online marketing can be challenging. Overall, the idea of marketing online is all based on the audience, and most online users happen to be teenagers and young adults. I definitely, however, believe that online marketing works, it just all depends on the sites ads are put on, and who is the person moving the mouse around.

  • JakeEllis7

    I could not have come across this post at a more perfect time. Thank you so much for your advice and knowledge. I am currently starting up an online service and I was concerned about how I should go about marketing it. You made some valid points I had yet to think about or consider. I truly appreciate your post. Thanks again!

  • Thy Q

    Nowadays with social media, it is super easy to market products. As long as you post something that will captures the audience’s attention. The posts has to be different, interesting, and artistic. Many small makeup brands that I follow always have interesting posts that really sells their products. It always make me want to buy their products

  • ZakFritz

    I like this post. I like that it is a topic that most people struggle with and most people can use. I also like that it shows how to become better at the task in a step by step basis.

  • Jessica Andrew

    Thank you for sharing this article! Within this day and age, I think online marketing is very important. A majority of the people in the world use the internet for multiple uses. These are some great tips to people who use online marketing as a way of getting their business known. To me, the businesses who do online marketing are more popular than the ones who don’t use it. Like I said before, a majority of the people in the world use the internet and the internet would be a great way to get the word out about someones business.

  • january26throwaway

    Good article. The only thing I saw missing was analytics. To be fair, I’m an analytics fool, but, particularly when it comes to website related things, I did not see an analytics component. Doesn’t have to be some insane report with a million things on it…but a basic understanding of things like shopping cart abandon rates, click maps, and so on, can also help to see which marketing attempts are working.

  • conner_faulkner

    I’m glad I found this article! This is definitely going to help me in the future! Thank you!

  • sterling96

    Very insightful article. It ties along really well with everything I’ve been learning in classes, yet it sort of elaborates on all of the points. I very much enjoyed reading through this article.

  • Ashley Gardner

    I really enjoyed this article because being a business major we learn a lot about this topic. The things in the article were the same things I have been learning about. I think paid adverstising is a great idea and very helpful. However, I think at the most helpful way to market your product at this time in age would be through social media. Not every reads advertisements on the side of a webpage, but everyone is constantly checking their social media. Advertising through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is huge right now. If it is popular on those sites people will be more attracted to check it out. Another new social media app is snap chat. Snap chat has now started putting trending snaps on the “my stories” and also putting links to MSN and other magazine articles. Social media is an inexpensive way to market your product.

  • Bgreenwell686

    Thank you for the post Shane. I’m actually part owner in a construction/ contracting company, and my business partner and I are always discussing new ways to market the business that can actual lead back to real results, or “Free Estimates” in our instance. I’ve always been a bit weary about marketing on websites like Facebook, because while you do get some good visibility, you always take the risk of becoming the friend or associate who constantly tries to “sell” his friends or family, which I feel can ruin relationships if done too frequently. I also like the part where you spoke about designing your website with the end result in mind. All too often we get caught up in making things look flashy, or modern, or pretty. While all of those things are important, the focus should always be to make it easy for the customer to understand what you do, and to make coordinating next steps or actions as easy as possible. Thank you for the great read!

  • SGustin

    Hi Shane – Thank you so much for this informative article. There are a lot of suggestions in this article that I had not previously considered. The past few weeks, I’ve been working with a band using ReverbNation. This website is very good for bands. The company provides a lot of services and many are inexpensive. I’ve been able to get the band from a local rank of 47 to a local rank of 10 in just a few short weeks. I find that opening up songs for free downloads for a specific period of time, provides that “got to get it now while it’s free” buzz. I think the band’s biggest challenge, is making sure that they are coming up with new music recordings all the time in order to stay “fresh”. My biggest challenge is making sure that I’m updating their status timely to reflect new songs or videos posted as well as making sure that we follow up with any questions from customers. Since this isn’t my full-time job, sometimes I get behind in their postings.

  • Thanks for this comment @bgreenwell686 ! @ShaneRasnack , that prompts (yet another 😉 question I’d love to hear your insight on. What tips and/or best practices do you have for not becoming the constant person who “sells” if you’re a professional online content marketer? Would love to hear your experience and lessons you have maintaining this balance.

  • Matthew Montoya

    Sorry for the late response! Thank you so much!

  • Tim Aton

    I think the very first thing you said was one of the most important parts. That is to know what you’re measuring. Without setting a goal and measuring the results, you’ll never know if a particular strategy worked or how it compared to other strategies. I think the next most important thing is to know your audience. Knowing who you want to reach will determine where you start marketing. Where do they hangout online? What will make them the most engaged. Those two things combined make for great marketing potential.

  • fkrutsky

    The amount of companies and start-ups I see on my social media networks amazes me sometimes. It is something I have accepted but also ignore as I pass through my daily browse. I have noticed the only advertisements that grab my attention are the ones obviously directed towards me because of my browse history. This article really makes you focus down to the necessities and cuts out that ignored work that people just find annoying. By directing your business and making deals for people that are actually interested in you makes perfect sense especially when you are running a small business and have little time to waste. This post can not only help a business run more efficiently but also cut out some of the “junk” that many people are so tired of! Great post!

  • JConklin805

    Great information! I once gave online marketing a shot for my dad’s business, but found it to be “complex” like you stated earlier. After reading this, I want to attempt online marketing again! Online marketing seemed to have many different forms, but with this nice consolidated article I feel more prepared.

  • Great question. It ties back to the main point of this article as well: what are you trying to achieve with your content marketing? Let that answer guide your approach. Content marketing is effective only when it educates its target audience in a way that a.) adds value, and b.) helps them to see the full value of the product or service, actively and authentically influencing them to become a customer. If your content does more selling than educating, your marketing will be ignored along with the thousands of other ads trying to catch their attention that day.

  • Persophine Reid Tiapula

    this is a great post! great points and ideas were made here for people who are starting up an online business! I am definitely saving this post for the future!

  • pouls29

    Hi Shane. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on personalization strategies. I noticed this wasn’t a focus in any of the strategies, but feel it’s one of the most important nowadays. Since consumers have so many choices these days in which sites to visit/shop, it would seem that optimizing their experience based on their behaviors would be paramount to success. Thoughts? Thanks!

  • Abplanalp916

    You have the greatest examples for using social media to their advantage. I have seen it too often when companies use social media to get the word out, but the likes don’t often show results. Too many posts have enormous amounts of likes, but no results stem from it. This is a great article to teach the new entrepreneurs how to take advantage of social media for advertisiting.

  • thanks for your comment! Why other reasons do you think there are that make people not believe in online marketing?

  • nbaker3

    I have a hard time seeing how marketing is really a subjective thing. It seems that if marketing is exposing the business to the outside world then there is a need to directly appeal to consumer needs and current desires. There is very little room to experiment in marketing but to know the audience really well.

  • Absolutely, the more personalized the messages and the more precise in who you reach with that message, the more relevant your marketing will be to them, and the more effective it will be to influence their behavior. That’s what makes tools like Google AdWords and Facebook advertising so powerful – you can tailor your ad to precisely what they care about. “Permission Marketing” by Seth Godin is a great read on this topic.

  • Kayla

    This was a super helpful article for me. I look at online marketing as a dirty word. As a business owner, I have lots of experience with marketing, but I fall into the hole of lack of return. This leads me to resent marketing, and to do it half assed, which leads to even less leads. It is a depressing cycle! I think I need to set measurable goals and figure out which medium of marketing will best reach my clients. My biggest hole in marketing is SEO, so I plan on putting more effort into learning how to use SEO properly so that it will support getting my ideal clients to my website. I also loved that you said online marketing can serve as a first impression. For some reason, I had never made that connection and it is super helpful to tailor my marketing.

  • joconne4

    I understand that there is a lot of research put into how to advertise online to capture a wide audience. However, I think that mentality is too easily considered an end goal. There are certainly ways to easily reach a dedicated and reliable niche, just like how different demographics in real life can be reached. Different sites or subsections of sites have distinct demographics and cultures attached to them that can be appealed to.

  • theboz827

    As a future entrepreneur who hopes to make a living at creating and selling, whether it will be art, graphic design/web design services, or something else, this article is very helpful to me. I enjoy reading articles like this even though I’m not set up to sell (yet). Great information. My mom is a published author, and she has mentioned time and time again that online marketing has been her biggest challenge. I’m anticipating it being a big challenge for myself as well, but I find it helpful to read articles like this one to get a feel for what I can do beforehand and what to prepare for to build an online presence.