Online Marketing: Definition, Areas, Tips + Guide

Online marketing offers opportunities that go beyond traditional marketing. Find out which instruments belong to e-marketing, to what extent key figures, tools and agencies can help and how you can set up your own strategy. Also get to know some of the legal specifics in this area.

Definition, goals and benefits of web marketing

Online marketing is a collective term for all measures with which a company positions itself in the market with the help of the Internet. Given that most people regularly use online offers and obtain information in this way, appropriate marketing measures are essential for the success of almost all companies. It is important to consider online marketing as part of the overall marketing strategy.

The selection and combination of instruments must be based on what the company specifically wants to achieve with them. The focus is on the following goals :

  • New customer acquisition
  • Customer loyalty
  • Sales promotion
  • Branding

The extent to which a company should rely on online marketing depends primarily on the extent to which its own target group is active online. The complete replacement of classic marketing measures is not recommended in most cases, although online marketing has the following advantages over them :

  • very long range
  • better perception of the messages in certain forms of online marketing
  • good opportunities for target group-oriented alignment
  • Targeted influencing of the entire customer journey possible (from the emergence of needs to the purchase)
  • more opportunities for optimization through the measurability of marketing success

These advantages result from the interaction of various online marketing tools, which you will get to know better in the following section.

Read the following article for better understanding of the topic:

Content Marketing for Founders

What areas does online marketing include?

Web marketing involves several and sometimes very different measures. Find out what characterizes them and what they are mainly suitable for.

Your own website as the basis

Your own web presence, whether as an online shop or a company website, is the basis for your online marketing. Because anyone who has become aware of your offers through marketing measures needs a contact point to take advantage of them or to be able to obtain further information. How extensive the website should be depends on the nature of your company.

Most entrepreneurs use one of the following options to build and maintain their own web presence for their online marketing:

  • Homepage builder
  • Content management system
  • Commissioning an agency

With a website builder you can create your own website without any prior knowledge . You regularly pay a fee of between € 10 and € 50 per month, which also includes hosting and support. A content management system like WordPress offers more technical options, but makes somewhat higher demands on operation and you are also responsible for hosting and maintenance. Expect monthly costs from around $ 40.

If you hire professionals, you must expect a higher initial investment, but you can agree on the scope of services individually. The costs are correspondingly different. They can be a few hundred, but also several thousand euros.

Display advertising

Display advertising is the classic form of advertising on websites. Advertisements in different variants are intended to draw the Internet users’ attention to advertised and mostly also linked offers. Whether with text, images, animations or short video sequences, the design options are diverse. However, the increased use of ad blockers and general advertising blindness are weakening the importance of this form of advertising for online marketing.

An ad server can be used to control where and when which advertisements are shown, which enables advertising to be tailored to target groups . The success can also be controlled, which in turn is the basis for the billing between the advertising company and the website operator. There are different billing models, fixed prices per click or per 1,000 impressions (thousand-contact price), which can be in the cent range, but also over 100 €. Companies can operate their own ad servers, which is only worthwhile from a certain size, or they can use external offers.

Display advertising can be used effectively in the context of retargeting controlled by cookies . Internet users see advertisements on various websites for offers that they have viewed recently, which is intended to promote purchase intent. In addition, ad advertising is primarily useful for branding purposes .

The following article might help you:

33 Formats for Content Marketing

Social media marketing

Social media plays an important role in many people’s everyday lives. It therefore makes sense to use these channels for marketing as well. Every company should concentrate on the networks that their own target group uses the most. The most interesting platforms for social media marketing are:

Social media marketing is suitable for both the Customer acquisition and customer loyalty . With a fan page or a channel for your company, you can keep in contact with your customers, but also address many new prospects due to the high reach. Please note, however, that maintaining these channels takes time, as you not only have to post regularly, but also react to comments. If you commission an agency with social media marketing, you must expect monthly costs in at least three-digit amounts.

In addition to the fan pages, advertising in social networks is an important aspect of social media marketing. The individual platforms offer different options for this. However, they all have the advantage that they allow particularly targeted advertising based on the large amount of available data. For each click on one of your ads, you pay on Facebook an average of 50 cents.

Read more about this topic in the following article:

3 Tips for Successful Social Media Marketing for the Self-employed and Small Business Owners

Inbound marketing

The basic idea of ​​inbound marketing is that Internet users discover what your company has to offer on their own in search of problem solving. In contrast to advertisements, Telephone acquisition and similar classic measures, also known as outbound marketing, are not directly confronted by people in their everyday lives. Therefore, inbound marketing offers the following advantages :

  • suits today’s habits of people who use the Internet to obtain thorough information
  • is not perceived as annoying
  • In addition to acquiring new customers, it also contributes to increasing the company’s profile
  • appeals to real prospects

An inbound marketing strategy consists of several measures that are combined with one another . The aim is to first attract attention in order to then maintain interest and bring about a deal. The main tools are:

  • Publication of target group-specific content (articles, videos, etc.)
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) to increase the visibility of the content
  • Dissemination of the content via social media
  • Lead generation (interested parties can leave contact details)
  • Maintaining contacts, e.g. B. with personalized mails

The advantages of inbound marketing are particularly evident in the B2B area. Because this is often about larger investments that are well prepared by the customer through extensive research. The costs of inbound marketing depend on the combination of the individual measures. Count on several thousand euros per month.

Read more about this topic in the following article:

What Is Inbound Marketing? – Definition, Guidelines, Strategy + Tools

Search engine marketing

Search engine marketing, also known as (SEM), aims to increase the visibility of a website for search queries . This includes two different instruments that can also be combined with one another: SEO and SEA. Search engine marketing is important for any business that benefits from good positions on the search results pages.

SEO stands for search engine optimization. The associated measures are aimed at ensuring that a website is displayed as far ahead as possible in the organic search results for suitable search queries. Organic is the term given to the results whose position is not influenced by payment. Rather, several factors play a role that can be assigned to three areas:

  • Technology (e.g. clear page structure, no security problems)
  • Content (e.g. unique content with added value, keyword optimization)
  • Backlinks (e.g. links from high-quality pages, natural link growth)

SEO only leads to better visibility in the medium to long term, but in the long run it usually shows more impact than SEA. For external SEO services, budget around € 1,500 start-up costs and running costs of € 500 per month or more.

SEA means Search Engine Advertising and includes the ads bought on the search results pages . These match the respective search term, but their good position is influenced by the payment. Advertisers only incur costs when users click on the ad. The price depends on the respective keyword. SEA is usually more successful than SEO in the short term, but less sustainable.

Read more about this topic in the following article:

What is SEA? What You Should Know about Search Engine Advertising!

Content marketing

If a company regularly publishes interesting content such as advice articles, videos, online tools for the target group for marketing purposes, it is called content marketing. On the one hand, it gains expert status, which also contributes to branding and customer loyalty.

On the other hand, and this is usually the main purpose, the published content is the basis for inbound marketing . Content marketing therefore makes a significant contribution to the acquisition of new customers. In this context, it is particularly suitable for companies with products or services that require explanation, which is why it is particularly worthwhile in the B2B area.

The regular publication of high-quality content also influences the visibility of a website in search results and is therefore one of the most important SEO measures. On the other hand, the content must also be optimized for search engines, so that they reach a good position on the search results pages for corresponding inquiries.

In content marketing it is important that the published content does not ostensibly advertise the products, but that the focus is on solutions to specific problems of the target group. Depending on the size of your company, you or your employees can create the content yourself, or you can outsource this task to external service providers. The monthly costs depend on the individual scope of services, whereby you have to reckon with a three to five-digit sum.

Read more about this topic in the following article.

What Is Content Marketing: Definition, Guide, Strategy + Examples

Email Marketing

Email marketing is understood to mean sending newsletters in particular. It is mainly used for customer loyalty and lead support . Leads do not yet belong to the existing customers, but have already left contact details and thus signaled interest.

The requirement for email marketing is not just that you have email addresses. Private individuals must have expressly consented to the receipt of the newsletter and in the B2B area one must at least be able to assume an interest in your offers. The option to unsubscribe via a link in the newsletter is also mandatory.

Nevertheless, many newsletters are deleted unread. To prevent this, you should not send too many emails and make sure that the layout is appealing and clear.

Even more important are personalization , which not only includes addressing personally by name, but also aligning the content with the individual interests of the recipient. These can be derived from the order history. There are tools to assist you with this task. Their scope of services also essentially influences the costs of email marketing.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing includes collaborations between website operators, also known as publishers, and advertisers. The publishers integrate affiliate links into their content, as text links or advertisements. The links lead to the advertiser’s page. Often these are online shops or landing pages for lead generation.

The publisher receives commissions when Internet users perform certain actions via these links, buy a product or leave your contact details. The remuneration model and the amount of the commission are agreed individually. For the technical implementation, which also includes tracking and billing, the advertising company either uses affiliate software itself or the services of an affiliate network .

These networks also help to find suitable publishers. Because for successful affiliate marketing it is important to place the links on pages that are interesting for your own target group. This targeted approach is a great advantage of affiliate marketing. Because interested parties look for solutions to their concerns on the Internet, find the publisher’s content and interact with your suitable offers.

A commission is usually only paid if the click of the user on the link for the advertiser was successful. Hence, affiliate marketing is relatively inexpensive for advertisers. The usual commissions depend on the industry and are in technology sales between 3 and 10 percent.

Read more about this topic in the following article:

Affiliate Marketing – Current Trends

Viral Marketing

If a post is distributed at high speed on social networks, it is said to be viral. Often these are videos or memes that:

  • are original
  • Address trending topics
  • trigger emotions in particular

If a company succeeds in conveying its messages with viral posts, it can suddenly increase its reach . Costs are only incurred for the contribution itself, because the distribution is done by the users of the social networks. Viral marketing makes targeted use of this effect, whereby you can never predict with certainty whether a post will actually go viral. That is why it is difficult to plan as an online marketing strategy.

If successful, viral marketing is mostly good for brand strengthening, although this should only be mentioned in passing. Content that is too promotional is shared less often. Correct seeding of the content is also important, i.e. targeted distribution in social networks at the right time, possibly with the help of influencers.

Measuring success in e-marketing: important key figures

A major advantage of online marketing compared to traditional methods is that success can be better measured using logged processes and stored data. Various key figures are used for this, each of which is suitable for different purposes. Here are a few examples:

  • Number of visitors :
    How often your pages are called up and how many visitors repeatedly land on you provides information on your SEO success and the effect of other measures to generate traffic. Analyze where visitors are from (Google, social media, ads, etc.).
  • Length of stay :
    How long do visitors stay on your website on average? A long dwell time is an indication of content with high relevance for the user.
  • Reach :
    Reach shows how many people have seen a particular post or ad. In order to evaluate the success, you can set the range in relation to the orders generated by it or other targeted actions.
  • Number of impressions :
    This number is mainly relevant for branding campaigns. It tells you how often a certain ad was displayed in a social network.
  • Clickthrough rate :
    This is also known as the click-through rate (CTR) and indicates the percentage of visitors to a website who click on a specific link. It can refer to advertisements as well as search results, links in social media posts or the like.
  • Conversion rate :
    This describes the percentage of visitors to a website who carry out a desired action. This can be a purchase, but also the specification of the contact details, a download or another reaction.
  • Cost per Click (CPC) :
    The key figure is used to compare different advertising campaigns with regard to their costs. You divide the total costs of the campaign by the generated clicks and thus calculate the price that the advertiser paid for each click.
  • Cost per lead (CPL) :
    The costs of a campaign are divided by the number of leads generated, also for comparison purposes. What counts as a lead is defined in advance (e.g. subscription to a newsletter, making an appointment for a meeting).
  • Cost per Order (CPO) :
    This number indicates which advertising costs were incurred per order as part of a campaign. You divide the total advertising costs by the number of orders.
  • E-mail open rate :
    With certain tools you can determine what proportion of the recipients of your e-mails actually open them. If the rate is very low, you need to change something in your e-mails or clean up your address database.
  • Number of fans on social media :
    This is the absolute number of subscribers, followers or how the fans are called in the various networks. This number affects the reach of your posts.
  • Engagement rate :
    This social media key figure is the ratio of interactions (likes, shares, comments) to the number of fans and thus describes the extent to which fans are interested in your content.

You can use the results of the success measurement to identify potential for improvement in your online marketing. The next section shows you how to build this up one by one.

Practical tips for founders: How to proceed in online marketing

You haven’t done online marketing yet and want to change that? This is how you can get started step by step:

  1. Develop a strategy :
    What potential do you see in online marketing compared to your current situation? What do you mainly want to achieve? Derive from this which measures must form the focus of your strategy.
  2. Create a website:
    Online marketing without your own website is hard to imagine. So prioritize this task.
  3. Search engine marketing :
    Increase the visibility of your website through SEO measures. For certain business models. Occasional advertising campaigns with Google Ads are recommended, for example online shops. Regionally active companies should also deal with local SEO.
  4. Social media marketing:
    Running a fan page is initially a relatively cheap way to maintain contact with customers. First, focus on a network that is also relevant to your target audience. Gradually expand your activities.
  5. Email marketing :
    Occasional informative newsletters can help build customer loyalty.

These are the essential measures of a concept for online marketing. What else can be useful for your company depends on the specific business model. A regional craft enterprise benefits when its social media posts go viral. And extensive content marketing is only worthwhile for companies whose target customers do research on the Internet.

Read more about content marketing for founders in the following article:

Content Marketing for Founders

Online Marketing Tools That Really Help

Online marketing works more efficiently. The more tasks are done automatically and the better the data can be analyzed for the purpose of decision-making. For almost all sub-areas there are tools that support professional work. Get to know some of them.

Jimdo (website builder):

Jimdo is a website builder that enables even beginners without specialist knowledge to create their own website. There are several tariffs with different scope of services and corresponding prices to choose from, so that both small and medium-sized companies and online shops can create an Internet presence that meets their requirements. The pages are automatically optimized for mobile devices.

There are many customizable templates and royalty-free photos to choose from for the design. Your own domain is also included, which is important for the professional impression of a company website. Legal requirements such as Privacy policy was also thought. SEO and statistics functions help to optimize the website.

Google Analytics (tracking software)

Google Analytics is a free tool with which you can analyze the use of your website and identify potential for optimization. Among other things, it enables the following data to be collected:

  • Where do the visitors come from (Google, other website, etc.)?
  • How long do they stay on the page?
  • What content did you watch?
  • With which devices was the page accessed?
  • Have the previously defined goals of the website been achieved?

Google Analytics can also be used for efficient display advertising in conjunction with retargeting. Because you can use it to define target groups more precisely than with Google Ads. These form the basis for controlling the retargeting so that the advertising can be displayed in a more targeted manner. The evaluation of advertising campaigns is also possible with Google Analytics.

MailChimp (newsletter software)

MailChimp is a tool for email marketing. This allows mails to be sent automatically at specified times or when certain events occur, as a greeting email after a new registration. To do this, you define e-mail lists for various target groups, with data transfers from common CRM systems are possible.

Templates with placeholders for variable information allow you to easily design newsletters with a personalized address. Analysis functions are also provided so that you can monitor the success of your email campaigns. A free version limits the mailing to 2,000 recipients and up to 12,000 mails per month.

Hootsuite (social media management)

With Hootsuite you can manage, monitor and control your social media marketing on multiple platforms at the same time without having to log in to each one individually. Contributions can be set in advance and automatically published at specified times. In contrast to manual postings, this saves you time.

Analyses show you where social media marketing is bringing the desired success and where there is still room for improvement. Among other things, you can see how often links have been clicked and how many interactions the individual posts have triggered.  You can also filter social networks by hashtags or keywords and thus find out how much your company is talking about. Hootsuite comes in several versions, so this tool is basically suitable for businesses of all sizes.

Hubspot (tool for inbound marketing)

Hubspot supports your inbound marketing, but also the management of customer relationships. The software consists of a free customer relationship management system and the three modules Marketing Hub, Sales Hub and Service Hub, which you can also purchase individually and in different versions.

The organization, administration and optimization of the content management takes place via the Marketing Hub, where you can plan complete campaigns to generate traffic and leads. The Sales Hub builds on this by offering solutions for efficient and automated lead management, e-mail automation, chat functions and lead analysis. The Service Hub no longer relates directly to inbound marketing, but is dedicated to customer service.

Sistrix (SEO tool)

Sistrix is ​​primarily designed for search engine optimization and, due to the relatively high costs of € 100 per module and month, is mainly suitable for business models that operate SEO professionally. The toolbox contains several modules that can be booked individually. The focus is on the SEO tool, which allows you to monitor the visibility of your own website as well as any other website in Google search results. Individual keywords can also be analyzed.

The optimizer module supports you in on-page optimization because it finds technical errors such as broken links, and content-related improvement potential. Use the link module for off-page optimization, which analyzes backlinks referring to your page. Ads, social and marketplace modules offer additional functions for online marketing, but are not directly related to search engine optimization.

Post Affiliate Pro (Affiliate Software)

This is software for companies that want to run their own affiliate program, independent of a network. It is one of the most widely used affiliate tracking tools worldwide, which can be used to plan advertising campaigns individually. Among other things, you can:

  • choose from various compensation models
  • Set commissions for the publishers
  • Define advertising material (e.g. banner, text link)
  • work with discount codes

With the help of various reporting options, you can monitor impressions, clicks, commissions and sales and identify trends. Fraud protection is also integrated.

Buzzsumo (content marketing tool)

With Buzzsumo you optimize your content marketing. The tool analyzes existing content and also offers functions that can be helpful when creating content. For example, you can gain ideas for new content from the analysis of search queries. With the help of the tool, you will discover new trends and find suitable authors or influencers for your company.

All your own published content, and also that of your competitors, can be analyzed with Buzzsumo. Among other things, you can see how Internet users have reacted to your content. 

This is an articles about the tools used in content marketing:

Content Marketing Tools 2021: What Are Some Content Marketing Tools

The most important success factors in online marketing

Online marketing is a broad field and must always be adapted to the specific situation of a company. However, there are a few points that you should be aware of in any case:

  • Keep an eye on a specific goal: 
    whether branding, new customer acquisition or customer loyalty, you can achieve each of these goals with different measures. Therefore, when planning a campaign, think carefully about the purpose of the campaign.
  • Accompany the entire customer journey : Customers complete several steps from the creation of a need to the purchase. Support every phase of this process with appropriate measures.
  • Avoid wastage with precise targeting :
    Online marketing offers excellent opportunities to target specific groups of people based on existing data. Use this advantage and avoid unnecessary costs.
  • Show patience and perseverance :
    Some online marketing measures only show the desired effect after a long time. This mainly applies to SEO and social media marketing.
  • Plan campaigns holistically :
    If you want to convey a message effectively, it is best to use several communication channels and various measures. Plan your campaigns accordingly.
  • Use resources appropriately :
    Online marketing should ultimately increase profits, but initially it costs money. Therefore, analyze which measures or tools are really worthwhile for your company.
  • Online marketing as part of the whole marketing strategy :
    Combine the online measures effectively with classic offline marketing. The importance of both areas for you also depends on your business model.

You can see that there is a lot to consider when marketing online. Therefore, it can be useful to seek professional help.

Outsource internet marketing – hire an agency

If you or your employees do all the online marketing yourselves, it costs time and you may have to hire new staff. In addition, there are costs for further training and induction. Transferring certain tasks to a marketing agency is therefore often the more cost-effective solution. It is also advantageous that you can work with professionals and benefit from their experience.

How the cooperation with the online marketing agency should work and which tasks you outsource can be individually agreed. Make sure that you contractually regulate all services to be provided, remuneration and other organizational requirements, including the schedule. Some agencies charge at fixed prices, others at hourly rates. Your company should have someone responsible for online marketing and working with the agency.

There are agencies that cover the entire spectrum of online marketing with their services, others have specialized in individual areas. When looking for a service provider, also take a look at the references. It is beneficial if the agency already has experience with companies in your industry and size. For efficient communication, it is an advantage if you can turn to a permanent contact person with every concern.

Note the legal situation in online marketing

In connection with online marketing, violations of applicable law can quickly lead to warnings, fines and other unpleasant consequences. This area is complex, which is why there are lawyers who specialize in internet law. The following information is therefore only intended as a guide and is not a substitute for legal advice.

Competition law in online marketing

Competition law is mainly regulated in the Act against Unfair Competition (UWG) and generally plays a major role in marketing. Among other things, it is important that advertising must not unreasonably annoy the recipient. Typical use cases are the mandatory double opt-in procedure and the unsubscribe link when sending emails. Even large advertising banners and pop-ups must be easy to click away or disappear after a few seconds.

It is also important that advertising content is marked and does not give the appearance of editorial content. The regulations for the publication of the terms and conditions, the cancellation policy and the imprint can also be assigned to competition law. Dealing with the competition also plays a role. For example, it is generally not allowed to use company names of competitors as Google Ads keywords for your own website.

Copyright plays a major role in online marketing

Copyright plays a major role in online marketing, as images, texts and videos created by other people are used in the design of websites and newsletters as well as in content marketing . If you purchase these services, the author must grant you all necessary rights. Pay attention, in the case of stock photo exchanges, on what you are allowed to use the images for and under what conditions.

The copyright lies automatically with the creator of the work and does not have to be officially registered. The author can decide to what extent the work may be published or reproduced and whether his name must be mentioned when it is published. He can also prohibit changes.

Trademark protection in online marketing

In contrast to copyright law, the right to a trademark does not arise automatically, but rather through registration with the patent and trademark office. Depending on the design, a distinction is made between word, image and word-image trademarks.

Especially when designing your website, your logo and advertising, make sure that you do not unconsciously use third-party brands. Because even certain similarities or the use of protected colors (e.g. Nivea blue) can be considered a trademark infringement.

There are exceptions to these restrictions, especially for retailers who sell branded goods. However, you have to pay attention to the terms and conditions of the trademark owner.

Data protection in online marketing

Online marketing is based in many areas on the collection and analysis of data. However, not everything is allowed that is technically possible.

Data protection regulations affect online marketing in several areas. In particular, pay attention to the following points :

  • Storage and processing of personal data only with express consent (don’t forget the option for forms)
  • Mandatory deletion of personal data at the request of those affected
  • Data retrieval (contact forms) only via pages with a security certificate
  • Cookie banner with options to opt out
  • do not use social media plugins (links are permitted.)
  • correct privacy policy

Also keep an eye on the current developments in the area of ​​data protection law. The planned e-privacy regulation may still result in changes.

Conclusion: adapt online marketing to the individual situation

In many industries, Internet marketing is a prerequisite for being able to remain competitive at all. Even so, not all companies have to implement the full range of online marketing.

How and to what extent you set up your digital marketing strategy also depends on your existing resources. Smaller companies in particular should proceed step by step and weigh up which measures will bring the greatest benefit.

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