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James Parnwell

James Parnwell

How Does Online Marketing Work? A Comprehensive Guide

The world we live and work in is truly ‘The Digital Age’. According to Statista Research Department, the average person will be on social media for up to 145 minutes every day.

This is a significant amount of time spent online!

“So?” we hear you say… how does online marketing work to get my business functioning at its ultimate best? What is the point of online marketing for my business in the 21st Century? How do online marketing strategies work?

We’re so glad you asked!

Marketing at its core is all about reaching a customer exactly where they are at, with the exact product they need at exactly the right time. With most of the world spending a large amount of their discretionary time online – THAT is where we need to find our customers!

Now, no-one is going to get it right 100% of the time but with digital marketing we now have the capacity AND the data to try things and if they don’t work, there is less time and money wasted to fix it.

Asking yourself, ‘how does online marketing work?’
We’d love to help!

What is Online Marketing?

Simply put, online marketing is marketing on the web.

The same way that businesses have used billboards, newspapers, leaflets, or National TV ad campaigns in the past is how we use online based tools today. As mentioned earlier, there are huge benefits of an online campaign. Data and Metrics can be easily collated to measure brand awareness. Goals can be set digitally and monitored in order to tweak the campaign and move it in the direction needed with little time wasted. In the past, much time was needed to create focus groups and run polls which may or may not show true figures in the end results.

What is Online Marketing?

We’re often asked, ‘how do online marketing strategies work?’ Our response is simple: the main objective in any marketing campaign is to reach our potential customers where they spend their time, including online. Whether they are reading, shopping, socialising or simply searching for something, if our business is there, they’ll find us.

Digital strategies can include:

Website Marketing

Email Marketing

Content Marketing

Because there are so many options when it comes to advertising online, knowing what works for your industry is very important. The best part about how online marketing works is that it’s usually not difficult to figure out what isn’t working and even less difficult to change direction.

Asking yourself, ‘how does online marketing work?’
We’d love to help!

How Do Online Marketing Strategies Work?

How Do Online Marketing Strategies Work?

You could think about online marketing the same way you discovered how your body works in high school biology.

Essentially there are several different systems in your body (nervous system, muscular system, digestive system to name a few) with one system joining them all together to get them to function for one purpose (the circulatory system comes to mind). Our bodies cannot function without all the parts working together to keep us functioning. It’s the same with digital marketing.

Online marketing works best when we are using various strategies to achieve the same key goal. When each strategy does its job, they work together to generate traffic, create brand awareness, generate leads, and turn those leads into loyal customers.

What are the Benefits of Online Marketing?

As we mentioned earlier, one of the key benefits to online marketing is the capacity it gives any business to measure the impact of its marketing strategy.

You can discover:

The achievement of individual channels of marketing
Number of users
Interactions of users
Conversions (how many of those users become paying customers)
Which channels have been the most successful at attracting paying customers

By using analysis to acquire this data you will then be able to create an ongoing strategy to work all the channels to your common goal. Email marketing works best when you have this data so that you can focus on specific customers for repeat purchases. Our comprehensive guide on measuring the success of your digital marketing campaign may be helpful!

What are the Benefits of Online Marketing?

Asking yourself, ‘how does online marketing work?’
We’d love to help!

Here are some of the major benefits to digital marketing:

Knowing your target market in a digital marketing campaign is one of the first things we investigate for our clients. Historically, when using billboard marketing or a national ad campaign it’s obvious that there will never be an indication whether that advertising is working for you. It’s potentially a big output for little benefit.

With digital marketing, we now have the capability to discover and target a very specific audience. And when we decide who that target market is we can create a personalised, targeted strategy for high conversion rates. (A conversion rate is simply whether the goals you set at the start of your campaign are being reached. That could be a click through to your website, a purchase, a phone call or booking a chat with a consultant.)

You could use social media to target specific users based on location and then be even more specific through age, gender, interests, or networks. If you’re moving into the paid advertising stage of digital marketing, you may be utilising PPC or SEM to show users Ads when they’ve shown prior interest in your products or services or who have searched keywords related to your industry.

The biggest drawcard for Digital marketing is that you can easily research all the data needed to find your ‘perfect’ customer (although who knows they don’t really exist?) and through strategic design work out the very best way to interact with that customer. The best part is that online marketing strategies work the very best with consistent updates which gives you the best possible opportunity to be making tweaks whenever necessary to be sure you are reaching your ideal client.

We’re going back to that billboard example again… Look, it’s big and bold but not necessarily what your brand needs! It’s a huge investment and you have to move forward with a billboard without really knowing if it’s going to gain you any customers.

One of our favourite things about online marketing is you can follow the data and stop spending money any time you discover that a particular channel is no longer converting for you. It’s all about that ‘p’ word that became so popular in 2020: ‘pivot’. When it comes to your online marketing, it’s simple and easy to pivot, and can be effective within a short space of time.

Even though you may still be asking yourself, ‘how do online marketing strategies even work?’ the one thing you can be assured of is that you will have complete control, and you don’t need a huge upfront outlay in order to be effective.

In the small-medium business sector there aren’t too many ways you can even hope to compete with those large corporate types. But there are a few ways that the world of digital marketing has helped to level the playing field when it comes to business.

Using solid strategies to design the best possible digital marketing campaign for your business can help put you among the most well-known companies around, even without a big budget.

For example, you might find some amazing keywords that relate to your product or service and optimise certain pages on your website to get your ranking up on your favourite Search Engine. The best way to optimise is through high-quality content (intent is extremely important here – make sure your keywords fit the intent of the whole page). A search engine can’t see how big your business is, if your content is what you audience is looking for (answers their question or gives the most relevant information about a topic) your content will be the one prioritized in the search results.

Influencer marketing also becomes an option when you use social media to your advantage. This is when you find someone with a large following and ask them to use and review your product or service. This can be so helpful in small-medium businesses as it will continue to xpand your reach and all it cost you was a sample of your product. It might be worth the investment!

Look, we know we’ve already talked about this, but it is what it is. The most appealing thing about online marketing is that you can measure exactly where your dollar is going along with what’s working and what isn’t.

You can measure any number of things including impressions, clicks, time on page, views and shares. AND you can see them in real time. Part of the data collected is not only what the user does on your page but exactly when. This comes in very handy when you’re making decisions about paid online marketing. You can know exactly your ROI (return on investment) for each specific paid action you make and this means you’re never wasting money on advertising that’s not working for you.

You might want to measure your website traffic, your content performance or whether/where you’re gaining leads. You might want to trace all your sales back to your customer’s original point of contact. These things are all possible with online marketing, compared with traditional marketing, which is based on guess-work!

Using digital analytics software such as Google Analytics, it’s a simple case of typing in your URL and receiving a flood of information. You may need to spend some time working out exactly which information is most relevant to your business but once you’ve done that, figuring out where your dollar is most effective is a simple task.

Being able to identify what your potential customer has viewed, what device they’re using and where they come from can help you decide what type of paid advertising works best for your business. Putting money into paid advertising on TV shows when most of your users are on their mobile devices may not be the best idea. Social Media is most often viewed on a mobile device rather than a desktop – so ads to Instagram or Facebook are probably going to gain you more visitors to your website.

Another example could be your organic search volume. If you are only getting a small number of users finding your site organically you may need to put more of the budget into getting some focussed SEO work done. The better SEO you have on your site, the higher your pages will be ranked and the more opportunities to be FOUND.

In online marketing, this is often spoken about using a fancy term called attribution modelling. All this means is you want to know where your customers are entering your sales funnel.

Doing this will help you know exactly how people search for and find your product/service which will then allow you to make educated choices about what elements of your marketing strategy need more attention and which might need tweaking, refining and relaunching.

Finding how your marketing effects your sales, whether positively or negatively, can make or break a business. If you can create the best possible user experience from discovery through to purchase, you’re very likely to see a change in your bottom line.

In this day and age, you’re going to need an online presence for your business, at the very least. Most businesses have a website and if they don’t, they will have a strong social media platform or ads strategy. Online marketing has become so normal that most consumers expect to be able to find what they need online and purchase it. If you want people to know more about your brand – they need to be able to find you online.

One of the challenges with digital or online marketing is there are A LOT of different strategies – but as we said before – they all work together to create a balanced marketing strategy to get you the best results possible. You can choose a few or go all out – and then with the right data supporting your choices, you can move forward with the ones that are working or pivot to try something new for the ones that aren’t.

When you have your online marketing working for you, your content is optimised and keyword happy and you know your analytics is working the very best it can for you, then you’ll have all the information at your fingertips to be able to create special events for any user coming to your site. Creating a brochure online rather than a physical, delivered mailout means you can add downloadable content that can be measured. You can also embed fillable forms which can create measurable leads. A paper brochure can’t do that for you, and just think how many trees you’re saving!

Asking yourself, ‘how does online marketing work?’
We’d love to help!

What Are the Best Online Marketing Tools?

When we’re talking about a marketing strategy here at TheOnlineCo., we’re talking about the complete design of your marketing as a business. The tools we’re going to talk about here are the different elements of online marketing (sometimes called strategies or techniques) that come together to create an online marketing strategy designed to move your business forward in every way possible in the digital sphere.

There are a wide variety of tools you can use to build and maintain your online/digital presence.

  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • Display Advertising
  • SEM (Search Engine Marketing) {Paid} [eg: Google ads]
  • Virtual Events and Webinars
  • Website Optimisation
  • Affiliate Marketing (Brand Influencers or Ambassadors)
  • Content Marketing
  • Video Marketing
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Marketing Automation
  • PPC (Pay-per-click) Advertising
  • LinkedIn Ads

…and even more than we’ve listed here. Now let’s discuss some of these in more detail.

Put simply – SEO is the process of making your website easily found by your prospective customer. Most often, a web user will only scroll to the first few results on a search page. They assume that the search engine has done the job of confirming authority on any given topic for them. This is where SEO comes in and there are a few ways this is done. It can be a little complicated to do for yourself so, don’t forget there are professionals only a call away.

On-page SEO is where the focus is on all the content that exists “on the page” on your website. SEO specialists will research relevant keywords for your content and optimise each page for the best possible result or ‘ranking’ when that keyword is keyed into the Search Engine.

Off page SEO is obviously the opposite – it’s the “off page” stuff. In SEO speak this off page content focusses on backlinks. Links from other reputable pages that link back to your website which then gives your page more ‘authority’ making it more likely that search engines will consider your on-page content the best answer for the user’s search.

Then there is Technical SEO. This is all about the backend of your website, how your pages are coded, alt tags and meta descriptions, how large the images are and other technical coding techniques. When the technical side of your website is optimised, it will load faster which is an important ranking factor in the eyes of those search engines.

This is the term Digital Marketers use to explain what can be “the really fun stuff”. This is where you find those creative people in your team – or if you’re an entrepreneur put your ‘creative’ hat on and find out what your ideal customer wants to see/hear/know in their interactions with you.

Content is everything from a blog post or article (like this one) all the way through ebooks and whitepapers to a simple social media post or video.

This is the way to create interest in your brand, products or services and the perfect way to allow your customer to ‘get to know’ you. For small to medium business owners this is often the perfect way to attract new business. You are much more likely to attract and keep a return customer if they feel they ‘know’ you.

Here at TheOnlineCo., we have a client we work with who just happens to be a ‘numbers guy’. When we first started working with our client, the content was sitting between 100-170 views a week. With ONE funny post we managed to boost that engagement to 1,360 views! Success! With over a 1,000 views on their post so many more potential customers have had a touch point with our client.

If you build awareness through strong content marketing and then help the customer build a relationship with you through that content, you’re well on the way to finding out how online marketing strategies work.

Pay-per-click advertising is often shortened to PPC for convenience. It simply means that every time a user clicks on your ad, you pay for the number of clicks. It’s an easy and quick way to encourage traffic to your website. Traffic that comes to your website through PPC is not considered organic, but it can be very important to use it as a part of your digital marketing strategy as a short-term method to boost traffic. SEO is a much longer-term strategy and brings long term results.

PPC can be a tricky tool to use correctly so getting some expert advice on the best way to spend your paid advertising budget is always a good thing to do.

Here’s how PPC can boost your online marketing when done to best practice:

Here’s how PPC can boost your online marketing
(Infographic with Photo Sentinel Data)

We all know social media is trending all around the world. What you may not know is how much exposure you can really achieve by utilising it properly. A solid presence on a number of Social Media platforms is best, to appeal to the largest possible audience.

Platforms to be aware of include:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter

The challenge for any business is to work out which to use and which to leave alone, and that comes back to what we talked about earlier – knowing your customer.

There are numerous ways to make social posting a breeze, but don’t forget, the content people most often want to see is personable, informative, and entertaining. Videos are often the most engaged with on social media so that’s definitely something to keep in mind.

Your website is often one of the first touchpoints for a potential customer. This is where a user will often make the final decision about whether to purchase from your company. Creating an excellent user experience on your website is vital to keeping your potential customer on your website long enough to decide to purchase.

Things to remember:

  • Brand
  • Graphics
  • Design
  • Overall Layout
  • Mobile Friendly – most users will start on their mobile device first, don’t forget to create your website (or re-design) with this in mind.

This tool can be used most effectively when a potential customer signs up for a newsletter, brochure or online webinar. This means it is often not the first contact you will have with a potential customer but is often the best way to encourage repeat business or communicate effectively with a loyal customer.

If used effectively you can create a loyal customer base who will keep coming back to your business. This is also a great way to let your customers know about news, promotional offers and update them on any products or services.

Brand ambassadors are not a new way to get your brand noticed by more potential customers. Celebrities and Sport Stars have been lending their name to different products for many years.

Today we’ve also gained ‘Influencers’ in that arena. It’s a marketing tool worth thinking about. The trick is to make sure you find the right ‘ambassador/influencer’ for YOUR brand.

The very first thing you need to do to make online marketing start working for you is to work out your goals. Is it about click through? Leads? An email subscriber base? Make sure your goals are measurable and realistic.

After that, depending on your goals, you’ll need to analyse which tools will be the most effective in achieving those goals. The best way to really know without doubt what works best for you is to START.

When you’ve started and you know how to read an analytics page such as Google Analytics (it’s free and online) you will then be able to work out what’s working and what’s not and KNOW where to put your time, effort and money.

And when you’re ready for a more in-depth strategy – reach out to the experts – here at TheOnlineCo., we love to chat about how we can help you and your business continue to move forward!

Asking yourself, ‘how does online marketing work?’
We’d love to help!

James Parnwell
James Parnwell

James is the Managing Director and resident strategist at TheOnlineCo. He is clever and creative with a flair for making complex things sound simple. He has been in the marketing game for over 2 decades and has watched the landscape slowly shift. James has his finger on the pulse of every aspect within TheOnlineCo, meeting with all clients as well as every core team member and strategising a specific plan tailored to each client.

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