Survival Depends on Marketing Online
How to learn online marketing is a question entrepreneurs and business owners are asking themselves more and more frequently every day because consumers are consistently turning to the internet to make purchasing decisions.
It is almost a necessity for companies, big or small, to have an online presence accompanied by digital marketing campaigns to survive into the future. Every day, we hear of businesses folding due to their lack of knowledge or implementation of modern marketing techniques.
Why, just recently, shocking news was released about “Toys R Us” going into bankruptcy and closing all of their US stores. Toys R Us found it difficult to compete with Amazon’s online model. I can assure you this is happening to other businesses all over the country.
The good news is everyone – solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, work from home mom or dads, small retail businesses and large corporations can all survive and make money online if they learn how to do online marketing.
Now, concerning the “smart way” of going about learning, it will differ depending on the size and priorities of your establishment. For example, large corporations with cash to spend will want to hire young professionals who have studied digital marketing at school or outsource it to another player.
I am writing for the “little guy” who is on a tight budget and wants to learn how to market their own website or small business online at a reasonable cost.
What’s Online Marketing?
Online or digital marketing is referred to by different names including online, internet or web advertising. Basically, it involves a variety of methods to advertise on the internet. These promotional messages target specific consumers based on information gathered on internet users habits.
That means the websites you visit, ads you click on, what you read, buy and search for. I find it quite irritating from a customer’s point of view. For example, once I bought a program called Inbox Blue Print which instructs folks on how to set up an email marketing business.
Well, to this day I still get advertisements recommending I buy the product and lots of times the ad has absolutely nothing to do with what I am looking for on the net. It’s very frustrating and I think not a good marketing strategy. I guess for the persons who have not bought it yet it may be a good way to target them.
However, not all advertising involves paid for promotional materials. There are free marketing techniques available. I do advise caution, though, because in most cases spending money is much more efficient in terms of time and return on investment.
According to Wikipedia advertising revenues are increasing steadily. In 2017, they totaled 83 billion dollars which was a 14 % increase over the year before. So there is money to be made online and you should be a part of it. Now let’s take a look at some of the different ways to advertise your business online.
What Kind of Online Marketing Do You Want to Learn?
This question is more significant than you may imagine because there are many ways to market a product or business online. Although, in theory, all of the methods could be used for all businesses, it is not really necessary to use every technique for each company.
Especially the audience I am speaking to and I can’t emphasize this enough. Focus on one technique and after you have mastered the skill then move on to a second one. This is working smart because you become an expert at something you can leverage for money at a later date and you may not need another technique if you are successful.
The various kinds of online marketing include:
- Email Marketing
- Search Engine Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Display Advertising
- Mobile Advertising
In addition, there are a number of specific delivery methods which are related to or used within these categories. For example, let’s take a look at web banner advertising which is a type of display advertising. It would include:
- Frame ads
- Pop-ups/ Pop-unders
- Floating ads
- Expanding ads
- Trick Banners
- News Feed Ads
Social media marketing would involve learning how to market on the platform in question each one being slightly different with differing rules and regulations. Marketers today are using:
- Facebook Messenger
- Google Plus
- and many more …
There are “free” ways to use social platforms to market a start-up biz and of course, as you know corporations spend big money to connect with consumers here.
Other specific ways to reach audiences are:
- search engine optimization
- referral marketing
- content marketing
- native advertising
- search analytics
- web analytics
- cost per action
- revenue sharing
- video advertising
This is a topic that we could write whole books on. You can see now why it is not so important to master all the online marketing strategies. Just the ones you need to succeed.
Where Can I Learn Online Marketing Skills?
There are lots of places offering online marketing courses both offline and online. The key is to find a trustworthy individual or company to provide instruction at a reasonable price. Novice marketers would be best to avoid paying exorbitant prices to “gurus”.
Before, I continue it is possible to learn with free materials. Receiving ebooks and even physical books at no charge is common if you exchange an email address. You can also find educational blogs such as this one or videos on YouTube that will provide some very good information.
However, if you are serious about having your business reap the benefits of online marketing it is best to buy a course or pay a mentor to instruct you or even join an online training program.
it is very common for local schools to hold courses about online marketing. I know our high school offers them to the public under continuing education. A nearby college also provides courses as part of a degree program to adults who are working. They usually cost around $300 each per semester.
Free Online Courses
I remembered that MIT offered free courses online. I wasn’t able to find a relevant course there so I did a Google search for free digital online marketing courses. I found a central site that offers classes from a number of universities.
The site is named www.edx.org which was founded by Havard and MIT in 2012. It is non-profit and open source. The courses are free to attend, however, if you wish to receive a verified certificate there is a cost.
The following three courses are available at the time of this writing:
- Digital Branding & Engagement
- Reputation Management in a Digital World
- Online Marketing Strategies
They are a part of a MicoMasters Program which is recognized by the industry. There are two additional courses for a total of five and the cost to receive an official certificate is around $700 dollars. I guess the point of having the piece of paper is to show employers. However, it is not necessary. You can learn for free.
This is just one example, I am sure if you did a more in-depth search you will come up with other possibilities.
Paid Online Courses
There are also companies that provide course online for a small charge. I am familiar with a few and have used two in the past. The ones I know best are Udemy and Lynda. The first is pay as you go while the second has a 30-day free trial followed by a monthly membership program.
These guys specialize in digital courses. Anyone can design and create a course on a topic and then sell it on this website. I already know there are many products about internet marketing. Many cost as little as $10 US. There are more expensive ones but I usually wait until the specials appear before making purchases.
The thing to watch out for here is the quality of the product. I would read reviews and do a quick search on the author or creator of the product. You can get some newbie materials here which are not top-notch.
This company is older than Udemy. It was recently sold to LinkedIn. The courses I received were of a high quality. The monthly membership gives you access to 100’s of courses. There are two memberships and I would go with the free trial followed by the basic package.
The good thing here is you can take a lot of courses in one month ($20) so it may be cheaper in the long run. You can always pause your membership if you are not active.
What is the Smart Way to Learn Online Marketing?
This advice is specifically for folks who want to start a business on a low budget. It is also excellent for those who have been struggling to find success with an online website. Executives of corporations or small businesses with sufficient funds should hire an online marketing professional.
For everyone else, I strongly recommend using a training program to learn how to properly market online. The reason is you can build a complete business in one place while receiving the necessary training and support in every aspect from hosting a website to getting traffic and making sales.
I know of a few such communities. I will briefly discuss the one I belong to and if you check out my review section you will find several more all with different business models. The community I am a member of is Wealthy Affiliate and the focus is on creating a passive income stream with a sustainable long-term business.
We use one of many online methods to make money named affiliate marketing and in order to ensure we attract visitors to our websites we use several of the above internet marketing techniques. Everything is taught within the community as action based tasks so by the time we finish the course we have an operable business.
The online marketing techniques we use vary but we start off with only one and once it is mastered proceed to add more thus increasing our reach, website visitors and sales. It is all based on building an authority website and therefore the first strategy used is content marketing.
This involves writing quality posts which appeal and help our readers. Writing is not as difficult as it sounds because we use conversational speak. It is also possible to outsource the work at very reasonable prices at places such as Fiverr or Upwork. Google likes quality so this naturally leads to increased rankings overtime.
Next, search engine optimization. We target long-tail keywords using a unique algorithm. We place it in the title and once in the content which seems to work for most people. This helps to attract visitors as many posts end up on page one of the search engines.
Thirdly, we use social media channels to share our work encouraging engagement and discussion. This is a free marketing method and also the links back to our websites is an SEO technique.
After a year or so, other strategies are implemented such as list building, pay-per-click and even offering our services to others needing help with online marketing.
The point I’d like to make is learning at a college is fine but we need to apply the skills learned to make money. Wealthy Affiliate and other programs offer that opportunity and the quality of education is just as good if not better because the people teaching have been there and done that. They have the practical experience.
The Final Wrap Up
There are many options open to the public when learning about marketing online. Do you know of any good courses or places to learn? We’d love to hear about them. Please share your comments below and if you have any questions we’d be more than happy to answer them as soon as possible.