Online marketing is something that every business owner knows they should be doing. But let's be honest, you’re probably busy running a company and being the expert in your own field. It’s still a key part of online business success and there are ways you can make nailing your digital marketing strategy a breeze – we’re here to tell you exactly how!

What is online marketing?

First off, what is online marketing? Online marketing (also referred to as digital marketing) is the practice of marketing your brand across the internet to connect with potential customers. Essentially it’s any effort you make to raise brand awareness and grab people’s attention, using the web to reach them. This includes everything from paid ads and social media to search engine optimisation and customer reviews.

Why is online marketing important?

The biggest reason online marketing is so important is it helps to drive more traffic to your website and increase sales. Imagine buying a physical store and not advertising it, then you’d just be reliant on passers by. It’s exactly the same with having an online presence. It’s all well and good having the most amazing website ever built, but if you don’t shout about it and make sure people know you’re there, you’re relying on customers finding you by chance.

Online marketing makes sure that you’re putting your brand not only in front of more people, but also the right people who are interested in what you have to offer.

How can you nail your online marketing strategy?

It’s a practice that moves at the speed of light and, with the long list of things involved in it, it can be hard to keep up with. As with many business-related activities, a solid plan can help such as creating a marketing strategy. But what should you be focusing on when it comes to your digital marketing? Let’s take a look at brand monitoring, SEO, paid advertising and online listings.

1. What is brand monitoring?

Brand monitoring is all about tracking references to your brand across the web and seeing what people are saying about you. And it’s not just about checking up on your own brand. Brand monitoring is also about keeping an eye on your competitors. Knowing what they’re up to means you can adjust your marketing strategy if you need to and stay ahead of the curve.

This info plays a huge part in your online marketing strategy – you invest a lot into your digital marketing so you probably want to check if it’s all been worth it. Brand monitoring gives you a better idea of how your audience is responding to you and how events within your industry may be impacting your business. This means you can see what is and isn’t working and optimise your digital marketing strategy better.

2. Becoming an SEO expert

You may have heard of search engine optimisation (SEO) already, but if you’re not familiar with what it is or how it works it might seem overwhelming. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be.

Put simply, SEO is all about making your website content relevant to things that people search for. This is so that search engines see you as a valuable source of information and put you at the top of search results – being at the top of search results means more traffic, more potential customers and more sales. But it’s about more than just chucking a load of information at a page and hoping it’s seen as useful. It’s also about targeting the right keywords and having a site that performs well and is technically well-structured (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!).

There can be a lot involved in search engine optimisation but it’s worth the extra effort. Where paid advertising can be expensive, organic traffic is free and if you increase your site traffic you increase your pool of potential customers. We cover more about what’s involved in our beginner’s guide to SEO.

3. How to master PPC

Pay-per-click advertising (more commonly referred to as PPC) is a type of paid advertising where ads are placed on search results pages. You’ve probably noticed them at the top of Google search results, right at the top with “ad” next to them. To get there, businesses and brands bid for an ad spot. If your ad gets featured you pay for the clicks you get.

PPC is similar to SEO in that it aims to direct more traffic to your website. But the way they each do this is where they differ. Unlike SEO (organic traffic you don't pay for), PPC is paid for and offers more control over which audiences you target. Plus you get access to detailed reporting and helpful insights to help you improve your ad campaigns.

PPC can be hard to master, so how do you use PPC for your business? We’ve created a beginners guide to PPC if you want a more in-depth look at what it involves.

4. Getting found online

As you’ve probably gathered, in this day and age having a strong online presence is key. But what about focusing on your local audience? A lot of people will search for things based on where they live like “buy domains uk” or “best web designers bristol”. Yes you could use SEO and PPC to target geographical keywords but you should also utilise online business listings.

Online business listings aren’t the first thing many people think of when talking about online marketing, but they do have a lot to offer. They spread your brand across the web, putting you in front of people looking for businesses like yours. Having these listings also means that when a customer does find you, they have all the information they need about you right in front of them (phone number, address, opening hours etc.) – and we all know how important convenience is nowadays.

We talked about SEO in step 2 and listing your business online can help with this too. Search engines will scan websites that mention your brand and having multiple listings with consistent, comprehensive and accurate information will make your business seem more valuable. And the more valuable search engines view you as being, the higher you’ll be ranked in search results.

They’re also a great way of collecting reviews from customers and word of mouth is one of the strongest tools in your marketing toolbox. You can use these to boast about your services and find ways to improve customer experience.

Use an online marketing toolkit

If you follow these 4 steps you’ll be well on your way to nailing your digital marketing strategy. It can be a lot to get your head around, especially if you’re a business owner or freelancer trying to manage all your day-to-day tasks. The good news is that there are loads of tools available online that can help you master brand monitoring, SEO, PPC and listings. These include keyword research tools, ad analytics tools and social listening tools.

At Fasthosts we have our own suite of online marketing tools to help you improve your online presence, get more site visitors and increase sales. Get a live brand monitoring feed and weekly reports with Marketing Radar, keyword suggestions and a library of step-by-step tutorials with SEO Manager and auto-generated ad ideas and easy budget management with Ads Manager. Plus with Listing Manager you can manage listings across 34+ directories and track customer reviews all from one central location –  take a load off, our online marketing tools can do all the hard work for you.

The best bit is that you can use all these with your Web Hosting packages to give your online presence a boost. If you need a hand or have any questions, our expert support team is on hand 24/7. If you’re not sure which product is the right one for you, why not speak to our sales team?