If you’re anything like most contemporary business owners, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of marketing tips and tricks being thrown your way day in and day out. Who wouldn’t be? Gone are the days of coming up with a catchy jingle or creative ad campaign and smearing it across a whopping three marketing channels — television, radio, and print — you know, the Mad Men glory days. With the advent of digital marketing, there are hundreds of potential resources available to savvy entrepreneurs, but only the savviest will learn to consolidate their efforts and channel their energy into mastering these three marketing channels in the new year.
1. Content Marketing
Content marketing is one of those tricky little catch-all phrases that encompasses a wide variety of marketing tools and strategies. The Content Marketing Institute defines the terms as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
While it’s true that content marketing can mean a lot of different things (everything from blogging to microsites), the most important thing to note about this marketing channel is that it works. Content marketing can generate up to 7.8 times more site traffic, heighten brand recall, boost customer engagement, and drive conversion rates. As if that weren’t enough to get you on board, content marketing can also be one of the most cost-effective marketing channels available to businesses today; in fact, content marketing can cost up to 62% less than other forms of advertising, while generating up to three times as many leads.
To master the content marketing channel, get to know your audience intimately. This will help you customize your content to suit your customers’ tastes, minimizing the time, effort, and financial investment you put into content production that misses your mark. Most entrepreneurs use at least 13 different content marketing tactics, since content marketing is most effective when distributed in various formats and across multiple platforms, so if you want to truly master the content marketing game, make sure you know exactly what each piece of content is doing to drive your business. You can’t afford to waste time and money spinning your wheels and developing content that isn’t ramping results.
2. Organic Search/SEO
Fun fact: 72% of research for a future business purchase starts on Google. If you’re new to SEO, recall that the acronym stands for “search engine optimization” and that it is the process by which businesses get traffic from the “organic” (read: free) search results on search engines, like Google. Marketing masters understand that SEO is the lifeblood of a thriving, effective marketing campaign.
SEO and content marketing go hand in hand, working in tandem to drive traffic to your business. Using SEO in the content you’re developing will dramatically improve your search rank, making it that much easier for customers to find you and all that valuable, relevant content you’ve produced for them, helping to keep your brand in your customer’s brain as they consider purchasing. Besides increasing the value of the content you’re producing, though, it’s important to remember that 80-90% of customers now check online reviews prior to making a purchase. Practically everyone uses a search engine to explore products and services before buying, so if you want them to see your business, you have to show up in the search.
SEO is another cost-effective marketing strategy that can drive serious results. To master this strategy, you’re going to have to study up. Know your keywords and incorporate them into high-quality, engaging content. It’s also of the utmost importance that you work with your tech team to ensure your website (and especially your landing page) is high-functioning, fast-loading, and delivers the kind of quality content your customers are seeking.
3. Affiliate Marketing
Yes, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: affiliate marketing “involves your business working with another website or affiliate… have others place ads for your business in exchange for a percentage of the profit you make.” We most often see this marketing channel manifested in pay-per-click (PPC) or pay-per-sale (PPS) systems.
I know what you’re thinking: “Pay per click? This sounds expensive! And I want to market my business, not someone else’s!” Slow down; I hear you, and I’ve got you covered. If you’re just dipping your toes into the marketing waters and don’t have deep pockets to pay hand over fist for others to promote you, think about affiliate marketing more like a partnership. Look for businesses that can establish a mutually beneficial affiliate marketing campaign with you; they’ll promote your product on their platforms, and you can promote theirs in return. This can offset costs or even eliminate them altogether.
Better yet, affiliate marketing can leave the door open for your business to begin generating passive or residual income. If you can find a business partner or product you like and earn a piece of their profit just by incorporating their marketing into your content, why wouldn’t you want to invest? Not only could incorporating their brand into your content bring a wider audience and traffic you may not have seen otherwise, but you could make serious money in the process with almost no additional legwork. Talk about a win-win.
When it comes to becoming a marketing master, perhaps the most important thing you can do to drive results is to focus your effort on becoming an expert in one marketing channel at a time. Take the time to learn the in’s and out’s of the strategy you have chosen to engage with to maximize its potential to drive sales and grow your business. There are just too many different strategies available to try to dabble in each and every one; don’t fall victim to spreading yourself too thin, working on overdrive only to wind up limiting your results. Energize your business by honing in on the details of the marketing channel that best suits your business model.
This article was taken from Forbes.com. Click here to read the original version.