Studies have shown that 89% of Americans now have access to the Internet. From a social and cultural perspective, that represents a big shift in the way people are accessing everything from news to entertainment – and also in the ways that they choose to connect with each other. But from a commercial perspective, it brings other issues into play.
Businesses now need to be able to make sense online as well as in person. Gone are the days when all that mattered for a brand was to have some printed-out visuals: now, it’s vital for everyone from small local businesses to giant corporations to get themselves out there online and access consumers where they are on their smartphones, tablets and laptops. This article will delve into the different ways in which brands are using the Internet to grow – and how you too can benefit from this change.
The arrival of new digitalized platforms has had a profound effect on the way businesses operate. One such way is the rise in paid-for advertising online. Originally, the most widely-recognized manifestation of this was the banner advert: much-loathed by many Internet users, they have now gone out of fashion among digital marketers.
But the principle of paying for adverts online has not changed. Now, it’s providers like Google AdWords and Facebook which are able to command large market shares. These services are great ways to grow your brand through the Internet because they rely on the vast swathes of data which the providers collect.By selling access to this data to you as the advertiser, these services let you target highly specific and precise demographics, interest groups and more – at what often turns out to be a cost-effective price.
But there’s no requirement to opt for the paid-for method of brand growth. Organic growth, as it is known, often does not require any payments – although it may take longer to achieve. One such form of growth is content marketing: by creating unique, relevant and high-quality text or video content and publishing it on your website, you’ll be able to increase the chances that Google will find your site and rank it higher next time it crawls the Internet.
If you’re going to pursue the organic growth method, it may well be worth scouring the web for tips and tricks on how to make a campaign go as far as it possibly can. An Amazon seller blog full of news on the changing industry is ideal if you’re looking for e-commerce tips, while Internet forums often attract fellow marketers looking to share their plans and ideas.
Word of mouth
In some ways, the Internet holds huge potential for word of mouth to transform your brand. In an age where consumers are now public reviewers as a result of the rise in sites like Trip Advisor, every brand – large or small – can benefit immensely from positive reviews and other trustworthy statements. That’s because buyers tend to value the reviews of peers, especially in an age where marketing is everywhere, and trust is generally quite low – so if you can get ahead of the curve on that one and secure some positive reviews, you’ll be well on your way to Internet success.
But before you move ahead with a word of mouth oriented approach, you do have to be careful that you don’t go about it the wrong way – and that you don’t attract the wrong sort of users. Some consumers choose to use social media and other digital marketing platforms as ways to criticize or complain about brands rather than praise them – and while that should always be allowed within respectful bounds, the risk of unnecessarily intense reputational damage can sometimes spring up. As a result, if you’re a customer-facing organization you should always ensure that there’s an appropriate policy in place for your staff to follow in the event that a complaint comes in.
The Internet, then, is a powerful tool for brands to use. Whether you plan to pay for advertising through a service like Google AdWords or you intend to follow an organic growth strategy designed to build brand awareness without any paid-for spend, there are lots of options open to you. The key is to fend off any potential problems – such as difficult customers – before they arise, and to think strategically about what you want to get out of your brand new digital marketing campaign.