The Best Way to Start Marketing Online in 2021

by Ricardo Culverwell

Online Marketing has grown in leaps and bounds over the last decade. With that said, if your business is not marketing online in 2021, it’s at a serious disadvantage. You don’t want to be losing out, do you? Well, in this article we will outline how to start marketing your business online this year.

Online marketing can very easily feel overwhelming when you are just starting out, but it’s only as complicated as you make it to be. As with many things in life, it’s often best to start small and learn as you go. We are going to show you the steps you need to follow to take you from radio silence, to front and center of your target audience.

Before we begin, it’s important to make a clear distinction about marketing. Often the word marketing and sales are used interchangeably, but marketing is not sales. Although marketing can be an avenue to sales, it is much broader than that. Marketing is the exercise of communicating with your external market, be it existing or prospective customers and other interested parties. The act of marketing is intended to paint a picture of what your business represents and offers in the minds of your external audience.

Now that we know what marketing is, let’s show you how to start marketing your business online in 2021.

Start marketing from the beginning – Objectives

Man who is about to start marketing by writing down objectives in a notebook with a black pen

With marketing, as with most things, failing to plan equates to planning to fail. Without clear objectives defining what you are trying to achieve by marketing, you’re likely going to spend lots time and money and not achieve the results you intend to.

Start by identifying the largest pain point in your business that’s related to your external audience. It’s important to get specific here and not target a vague metric like “increase sales”. Spend time analyzing what is causing unwanted behaviors from your external audience. For example:

  1. Is it clear what your business represents in terms of values?
  2. Do your customers know about the real benefits your products or services have to offer?
  3. What are the common misconceptions about your business?
  4. Are your customers aware of your full business offering?
  5. Do customers know about your track record and how you’ve helped previous customers?

With your pain points identified, you can now begin to create meaningful marketing objectives to address these. We recommend using the S.M.A.R.T. method for creating marketing objectives. Here are some examples of marketing objectives for you to get an idea of what to target.

How to translate objectives into a plan

Man with blue shirt and brown beanie writing down marketing plan on whiteboard with black marker pen

A marketing plan is comprised of various components. When you start marketing, it’s important not to over complicate the process by trying to focus on too many elements. With that in mind we suggest focusing on these 3 elements:

  • What actions will achieve the results of your objectives?
  • What messaging or signals could you use to entice your audience to take those actions?
  • Where will you deliver your messaging?

With your objectives defined,  you now know are trying to achieve and can start to formulate your plan on how to achieve it. Start by assessing what actions you need your external audience to take in order to start realising the results of your objectives. For example, if your objective is to increase leads in your business, you may want your external audience to contact your business more.

With the desired actions identified, you can then begin to formulate the communications you could deploy to your audience in order to entice them to take action. Focus on the core message. Using the above example, your core message could be: “Get a free 30min consultation with a detailed action plan”.

Now that you know what your core message is, you’ll need to define how you will deliver that message to your audience. You need to specify your communication channel/s. This could be any social media platform or search engine. Its important to keep your messaging relevant, by considering your audience’s context whilst engaging with a particular channel.

Consider trying to hard sell on Facebook, where individuals are less likely to be shopping for a specific solution. Chances are, this is less likely to generate as much interest as it would if you delivered the same content on a search engine or on a platform like LinkedIn.

Remember, you need to deliver value for your prospective customers more than trying to receive value from them.

The 3 C’s – Create compelling content

Woman holding phone next to computer screen looking at content she created

The backbone of successful online marketing is content. Content is what captures your audiences attention, delivers your key messages and makes them feel good about engaging in the actions that benefit both you and them. In order to achieve your desired results, you need to create compelling content that can be easily understood by your intended audience.

Compelling content targets emotion first. Humans tend to act more on emotion than they do from pure logic. Have you ever felt yourself doing something that you could only explain the reason for doing it as, “I just had to”. This is the power of emotion. When marketing online use the power of story telling and create situations your audience can identify with and relate to on an emotional level.

Ease the decision making process for your audience by justifying their actions with logic. Emotion alone is often not enough to get your audience to take action. Their decisions often need to be checked against logic, so include some factual information in your messaging that supports the emotions it seeks to evoke. Facts and statistics are useful in this respect, but use it sparingly as a report is not very often categorized as engaging.

It is useful to think of the way your audience engages in content as a journey. You are taking them from a place of unfamiliarity, and by informing and entertaining them through your content, you are taking them to a place of certainty. The way that journey takes place is vital to the quality of results you experience. Make your content interesting first, and then informative, people generally don’t want to engage in something only for someone else’s benefit.

With a better understanding of how you should structure your content, you can now consider the best way to package your message. More often than not, engaging visual media will capture your audiences attention long enough for them to receive and understand the message. However, depending on your message you could package it in any variety of the below:

  • Videos
  • Images
  • Articles
  • Webinars
  • Emails
  • Podcasts

When you start marketing online, it is often best to start at the top of your marketing funnel by creating awareness about your business and how it adds value to your client’s lives. One of the best ways to do this is to create a business explainer video. These entertaining story driven videos showcase the value your business has to offer, as well as how it does this, in a way that your audience can enjoy. Here is an example of one such explainer video:

Go online, engage your audience

Hand cursor hovering over blue text with the word comments on a dark navy background

Your content is now ready to go and you need to get it in front of your intended audience. Depending on which channel you have decided to use, you will a variety of options to chose from. We will outline some of the popular channels and choices you can take below.

Facebook is a powerful communication channel and a cost effective option for you to start marketing with. It is a great platform in the sense that they have a powerful paid advertising tool-set for businesses to reach a very targeted audience. This channel is suitable for images, videos, or posting links to written articles. You have either the option to focus on organic engagement or paid engagement.

Organic engagement refers to those individuals who have already liked a business page or group and will be fed your content because of that very reason. If you already have a large community this option will provide you with the best return on investment as it will cost you nothing to post to your page or group and have your intended audience have access to your content. As you are at the point where you looking to start marketing, it’s safe to assume you might not have a large captive audience. Perhaps look at making use of paid engagement.

Paid engagement or otherwise referred as paid advertising, is an option to reach an audience that has not followed or liked your business page. Simply put, when you post on your Facebook page, you have the option to “boost” that post to feed your content to audience who would otherwise never see that content. Here is a guide on how to boost your post on Facebook.

Google is a part of our daily lives with millions of searches happening every day. This channel is a powerful option to push content in the form of web pages or written articles. It’s important to do detailed keyword research when looking to go the google search route. Google has a lot of documentation on how to create, run and manage a paid ad campaign.

LinkedIn is considered to be the de facto social networking platform for professionals. This makes it an incredibly powerful channel to deploy b2b messaging and marketing. It is similar to Facebook in the sense that it caters to similar content types in the form of posts, videos, images and articles. LinkedIn has a powerful marketing tool however, that allows you to get in contact with specific individuals directly, empowering a rich 1 to 1 relationship. Here is a useful guide on how to market online using LinkedIn as a platform.

It’s important to note, LinkedIn is considered quite an expensive channel for online marketing and would probably not be the first choice to start marketing with. However it is a powerful option if your main line of business caters to b2b marketing.

Own 2021 – Ascend to new heights

Skyline of the top of buildings piercing through a bed of clouds

With the above steps complete, you’re well on your way to becoming a recognized and known brand. It’s vital to remember that although you are only at the beginning of your journey to start marketing your business, consistency is key.

Try to set a schedule on creating content and communication pieces on a regular basis, even if this is just an article a week to start with. The more you market online and get feedback from your audience, the more direction you will have on what to communicate about.

Online marketing is a long term process, and the rewards from it probably won’t be immediate, but with perseverance and dedication, it can take your business to heights you would never have imagined in the first place. If none of the above has illuminated a way forward for you, we encourage you to use the quote below to guide your actions:

“Focus on the core problem your business solves and put out lots of content and enthusiasm and ideas about how to solve that problem.”

Laura Fitton

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