Marketing online can seem confusing or even mystical and mysterious to those who don’t understand technology, marketing, or both. However, a few ideas will help clear up the confusion and may even make marketing seem simple…as it really is.
1. Think of Information Technology as Communications Technology
Programmers, tech-savvy individuals, and online marketers can often confuse people with technical terminology that sounds much like a foreign language to the outsider. There are loads of new terms that make internet marketing sound that much more esoteric, such as SEO, app monetization, affiliate marketing, social media marketing, and analytics.
But one of the essential functions of the internet and new technology remains the same: communication.
While we are certainly making advances in other areas of technology, the fact is that social media, the web, and many apps are simply new communications tools. Online marketing is just a way to improve and optimize your communications via technology, so you can reach more of the right customers at the right time – just like traditional marketing.
One of the biggest myths of online marketing is that technology is changing the way we market, advertise, and interact with one another.
For instance, social media marketers once proclaimed that social media would usher in a new era in which traditional advertising was obsolete. Brands would interact via social media and converse with their audience under a new paradigm of brand-audience relationships.
What happened instead? Social media became yet another outlet for paid advertising.
New technology is simply becoming a new way for people to communicate, market, and advertise, just like we always have.
2. Google is the New Yellow Pages
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), in its early days, was somewhat scary to many businesses. After all, SEO could make or break your business. If you got it right, you could rise to the top and rake in big bucks, but if the competition did, you could lose some serious market share.
But what is SEO, really? Nowadays, many people understand the basics of the concept, but to a non-tech-savvy individual, SEO, Google, and even the web itself seem like mystical concepts that only make online marketing more confusing.
The web may seem mysterious, but it’s really not. Google has become, for many people, the new Yellow Pages – it’s the resource you go to when searching for products, services, information, and entertainment.
Clearly the web and Google are much more than that, but that’s one primary function of the search engine. So if you are trying to figure out how to allocate your marketing resources, think of SEO and website improvements as improvements to your Yellow Pages listing (and, yes, we know that the Yellow Pages still exists, though not in quite the same format as it used to).
If you want your web “listing” to become more prominent, then you need to focus on SEO in order to get higher rankings.
If you want to make your “listing” more attractive to customers, then you’ll want to focus on website design, usability, and conversions.
3. The World is Not Shifting Under Our Feet
While ad publications and news blogs once proclaimed the end of advertising as we know it, and techno-utopians proclaim a new golden age for humanity, so far people’s behavior is still the same. While technology certainly changes the way we do things, business will always be business, advertising will always be advertising, and marketing will always be marketing.
The average American still watches lots of TV, listens to the radio, and plays video games; some people even watch DVDs. While online marketing has built up hype around the internet and communications technology, remember that human behavior still hasn’t changed and probably won’t change any time soon.
What this means for online marketing is that your overall strategy will still remain the same. Yes, you may have to outsource to new experts, use unfamiliar technology, and test advertising strategies that are foreign, but the essential goal of marketing will always remain the same: communicating value to the end customer.
Marketers are masters at building hype, which is one reason you see so many shocking headlines that make bombastic claims like, “traditional advertising is dead”, “B2B marketing is dead”, “print is dead”, “TV is dead”, and so on. A little research usually reveals that these claims aren’t based on solid data.
Advertising has certainly developed new monetization tools and promotional platforms to work with new technology, some of which looks pretty technical. But at the end of the day, marketing online still boils down to the basics: promotion, advertising, and selling.