The Complete Guide to Marketing Your Business Online
With the ability to leave long-lasting impressions with consumers, marketing is one business function you don’t want to overlook. For small businesses, marketing can be the catalyst that propels your organisation into the spotlight, and for large companies, it can provide a voice in a crowded market.
In our complete guide to marketing, we’ll look at everything from the types of marketing and how they differ to marketing strategies and the channels you can use to market your business effectively.
What is marketing?
As a top-level overview, marketing is defined as promoting a brand, products or services, including market research and advertising. But it’s so much more than that. Marketing is fundamental for delivering additional value to prospects and customers through content, reinforcing brand messaging and illustrating value at every opportunity.
Marketing is also about understanding the needs of prospects and customers, before delivering insightful and relevant content that addresses these needs.
How can you classify different types of marketing?
- There are two types of marketing; above the line (ATL), which has a broad and untargeted approach, and below the line (BTL), which is more targeted. If you’re looking for more information on the difference between ATL and BTL, this in-depth guide from the Digital Agency Network is worth a read.
- Marketing can also be divided into ‘inbound’ and ‘outbound’ marketing. The difference between the two can be likened to ‘pushing’ and ‘pulling’. Inbound marketing aims to pull customers in to interact with the brand, while outbound marketing pushes messages out to an audience. Need more information? Read the InTechnic Guide to the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing.
- You can also classify marketing activities as online or offline. Online marketing is also known as digital marketing and comprises all marketing activities that would be carried out on the internet such as social media or SEO. Offline marketing considers more traditional approaches to marketing like TV, print advertising or direct mail. This guide to online vs offline marketing is comprehensive and can give you more information.
Marketing strategies are key to the success of any business, providing a strong framework for you to work to and ensuring your teams can be accountable. There are several types of marketing strategy that an organisation might use depending on the needs of the business and there are several elements that will be included in every strategy.
The following guides and resources will give you all the information you need to create your own marketing strategy from start to finish.
- If you’re looking to create a marketing strategy read the Brandwatch 7 Steps to Creating a Marketing Strategy guide.
- When it comes to devising your marketing strategy, it’s essential to consider the ‘4Ps of marketing’.
- It might be a good idea to do a SWOT analysis of your business before you start marketing planning. If you don’t know how to do a SWOT, we’ve got a full guide on how to do a SWOT analysis here.
- Once you’ve got a strategy in place, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to measure your success in terms of ROI.
- As with measuring your marketing efforts, you’ll likely need to report on them too. Learn more about how to report on marketing here.
Once you have your strategy in place, it's time to think about how you will execute it and what marketing channels you will use to do this.
The concept of marketing has been around for hundreds of years, but with the beginning of the digital age in the 1980s, it has picked up pace significantly and introduced several different types of marketing.
Businesses now have multiple options when it comes to determining which marketing channel/s are going to work best for their organisation, with each channel offering their own advantages and ideal target audience. Continue reading to find out more about each type of marketing channel.
What is TV advertising?
TV advertising is an AtL marketing technique that uses video marketing on television to advertise a brand, product or service. The average person watches 39 adverts on TV every day, and 94% of the population watch TV every week. These are huge numbers that enable brands to reach a large audience in one go and reach their objectives to elicit a response or action.
Brands can choose from several different types of TV advertising when marketing their product or service. The type chosen will depend on the target audience, type of product and brand voice. Some types of TV advertising include:
The product is the hero with this style of advert. The product will usually be accompanied by a voice-over explaining the product and its benefits. Car manufacturers often use product shots in their TV advertising, such as this ad from Jaguar.
Brands use animation to convey a story and provoke an emotional reaction. This type of video marketing is great for brand building, focusing less on a specific product and more on the brand’s values. A good example of animated TV advertising is McDonald’s’ 2020 Christmas advert.
Real-life people and products are used in live-action commercials, often showing people using the product. Live-action adverts can also be combined with animation to create a hybrid advertisement. For example, John Lewis regularly creates hybrids with their Christmas adverts, like this one.
Some brands will enlist celebrities that resonate with their brand and target audience for their TV advertising which tells the consumer that the brand is reputable and trustworthy. Good examples are Ant and Dec with Santander or Brut with Vinnie Jones.
The success of a TV advert will depend on the tactics used within the advert. Businesses need to ensure their selected tactics resonate with their target audience and are relevant to their product. This list of the ‘13 most commonly used advertising techniques’ by Management Study Guide gives you a more detailed overview of each method.
Learn more about TV advertising:
- Begin with Toast’s guide on ‘How To Advertise on TV’.
- Thinkbox can help you further with their TV ads explained guide.
- Learn about costs in this guide to TV Advertising Costs by Toast.
- Delve further into the ‘Benefits and Advantages of TV Advertising’ from Improve Marketing.
What is radio advertising?
Radio advertising is another form of ATL marketing, offering a means for brands to advertise their product or service to a broad audience through radio. Radio advertising can reach a large target audience, with 48.9 million individuals (73% of the UK population) listening to the radio at least once a week.
Advertising through the radio can be a cost-effective way of reaching a large audience, as it is often much cheaper than TV advertising. However, several factors can impact the cost, such as the radio station you choose, length of the ad, radio reach and frequency, and time slots selected for your advert.
Brands can choose from over 600 radio stations in the UK, including national and local broadcasters, depending on their target audience and message. For example, smaller businesses might choose to advertise a recruitment drive on their local radio station instead of a national campaign.
There are several types of radio advert that a brand can choose to use when marketing their product or service, as outlined below.
Jingles are short songs or tunes used in advertising to build familiarity with a brand by connecting music and memory. Webuyanycar.com has a particularly catchy jingle at the end of its radio and TV adverts that people remember and associate with the brand.
Live read radio adverts are simply commercials that talk about the product or service and its benefits. Brands will often use familiar voices such as radio presenters or celebrities to read their adverts, building brand trust and reliability through endorsement.
Like TV adverts, radio advertising can also use storytelling as a way to market a product or service. For example, businesses could use relatable characters and familiar conversations in a household to resonate with families. A memorable ad will strike similarities with the listener’s life and solve a problem.
Using real accounts of how a product or service has helped someone is a great way to gain listeners’ attention and build trust with a brand. Humans are more likely to buy based on someone else’s experience, so testimonials are ideal for selling indirectly.
Learn more about radio advertising:
- Start with Empire’s ‘Ultimate Guide to Radio Advertising’.
- If you’re looking for more tips, you can learn even more about Radio Advertising with Toast’s handy guide.
- Radio Centre can also help you discover how to grow your business with radio in their helpful blog.
What is print advertising?
Marketing via print advertising uses physically printed media to reach a large audience. This form of advertising can be classed as both ATL and BTL marketing, depending on the objective. Some brands might want to reach a broad audience through mainstream national newspapers, whereas others will be more targeted in their approach and advertise in specialist magazine titles.
There are many different forms of printed media that brands can use to advertise their products or services, including the following:
Although newspaper sales are declining, they are still a popular medium for brands to use when advertising. Businesses can advertise in both regional and national newspapers, depending on their audience and objective. A small business might advertise in their local newspaper, while a large organisation operating nationwide could choose to take out an advert in a national newspaper like KFC did when they ran out of chicken in 2018.
Magazine print advertising is similar to newspaper advertising but can be more targeted based on demographics. For example, a cosmetics company with a target audience of women in their twenties might advertise in Cosmopolitan, whereas a brand specialising in CRM systems might advertise in marketing magazine, The Drum.
Brochures can provide a good platform for brands looking to market their product or service in a particular industry to a targeted demographic. For example, a local leisure centre brochure might include adverts from businesses such as gyms or spas, which have a similar target audience.
With plenty of research, direct mail can be a highly targeted method of advertising your business. Printed media sent via direct mail can include leaflets, brochures or even letters. It’s a cost-effective method and can be more easily measured than some other forms of print advertising.
Brands can use print advertising to meet several objectives, from brand awareness and reputation building to promoting a new product or attracting new customers with an offer. Businesses can advertise in print by reaching out to publications on their own or through media companies like Creative Thinking Media who have expertise in advertising planning and media buying.
Learn more about print advertising:
- If you’d like to learn more about what print advertising is, this blog from Chron is a good place to start.
- We also recommend this blog from The Drum that addresses why print advertising still has a place in marketing today.
- To get started with a print advertising campaign, Instant Print can give you all the information you need to plan and launch a campaign here.
What is out of home advertising?
Out of home advertising, also known as outdoor advertising or OOH, is an ATL form of marketing that comprises any visual advertising media found outside the home. Out of home advertising is designed to reach a large audience and is a great choice for brands looking to extend their reach.
Building brand awareness and establishing an identity is often a key objective for brands using OOH advertising. Using large scale advertising is a great way for businesses to create a buzz and conversation around their brand.
There are several types of out of home advertising and places where businesses can market their business, including the following:
- Public street furniture, e.g. bus shelters, park benches
- Public transport placement, e.g. taxis, buses, trains
- Tube stations, train stations or airports
- Inflatables or aerial advertising, e.g. blimps
When it comes to getting started with OOH advertising, it’s vital for brands to first think about their objective. Are they just launching as a business and therefore looking to introduce the brand? Are they an established brand aiming to promote a new product? Establishing objectives is essential in the first instance, as it helps to inform the OOH strategy and where brands would be best to advertise.
Location is next on the list. Brands need to establish locations that will work best for their business. For example, a small restaurant might advertise on the side of local bus stops or in taxis that drive in the area. However, a large organisation with national reach might decide to advertise on billboards in major cities, extending their reach across the country.
When going down the route of OOH advertising, brands can buy placements and create media themselves by liaising directly with the owners of the space. However, this can be a minefield for businesses that haven’t done this before. It’s often a good idea to work alongside a company that specialises in out of home advertising.
Outsmart helps brands with out of home advertising and are experts in their field. For more information about them or to learn more about the value of OOH advertising, have a look at their top 20 out of home advertisers presentations.
Learn more about out of home advertising:
- If you’re considering out of home advertising for your company, check out the ‘Buyer’s Guide for Outdoor Advertising’ from Clear Channel.
- Clear Channel can also help you with measuring the reach of out of home advertising in their guide here.
- .When it comes to the effectiveness of OOH advertising, you might still have questions. This guide from JCDecaux gives you ‘10 reasons why OOH advertising continues to outperform’.
What is PR?
PR is short for ‘public relations’, which is the practice of helping businesses or individuals to build and maintain a positive image and reputation through a mixture of unpaid or earned communications in the media. PR can target any number of people, not just potential customers, and will largely depend on the communication’s objective.
As well as working to portray brands in a positive light, PR professionals also help with damage control if there is something that could harm the businesses reputation. For example, if a business were named in the tabloids alongside a customer’s negative experience, it would be essential for a PR professional to diffuse the situation with positive stories or official statements from the business.
There are several methods used when it comes to PR, including the following:
Media relations & coverage
This aspect of PR focuses on building relationships between the business and media professionals to gain media coverage for free. A PR person nurtures relationships with journalists, bloggers, broadcasters and influencers while sending positive stories about an organisation, hoping that they will be published.
However, by building relationships, it is often the case that journalists will seek out the organisation for a quote, story or case study thanks to the positive association they have built.
PR professionals have turned to social media in recent times, working hand in hand with marketing teams to promote the company positively. PRs can use social media to make new announcements about the brand or products, connect with stakeholders directly, influence public opinion, and of course, manage any negative stories that might be bubbling away in real-time.
Similar to gaining coverage in traditional printed media, digital campaigns apply the same principles to gain links to a brand’s website from other reputable websites. This is called a link-building strategy and is great for improving the brand’s public image online and gaining measurable results like increasing traffic to their website.
Events in PR are an excellent opportunity to showcase a business and its products or services not just to potential customers but to media people who might be interested in running a story following the event. For example, a business attending a trade show could invite key journalists from trade publications to interview a spokesperson about a new product they will be launching at the show.
With PR, it’s not always essential to hire an external company, like you would with some other forms of marketing. If you’re interested in learning how to do PR on your own, check out Publicize’s beginner’s guide to PR or the do your own PR guide from Criminally Prolific.
Learn more about PR:
- If you’re interested in learning more about PR, this comprehensive guide from Marketing Donut can help you with everything you need to know.
- The PR Academy also offers a number of guides and toolkits that can help you get to grips with PR.
- When it comes to the benefits of public relations, this blog by The Balance Small Business has got the basics covered.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’, and it’s the process of organically improving a website’s visibility in search results. SEO is an essential part of most marketing strategies, especially as SEO’s target audience is virtually anyone using the internet to search. In a nutshell, the better your website is optimised, the more likely it is that prospective customers will find it during a search.
With trillions of searches conducted every year and more and more websites being built, it’s essential to stand out from the competition. You need to ensure that the content you write and optimise on your site is relevant and answers the query that a user is searching for. Your site also needs to be crawlable so that search engines can reach and index your content.
SEO can be broken down into three key pillars.
You may have heard the saying that ‘content is king’, and this is especially true when it comes to SEO. Without content, there is nothing for people to look at online, so it’s imperative to have good content in place when it comes to SEO.
When creating content, brands should write unique and informative content that is directly related to their industry. Businesses also need to include the keywords they aim to rank for and ensure the content they write is long enough. Numerous studies have shown that blog posts or articles of 1500-3000 words perform better on search engines and offer more credibility.
This aspect of SEO aims to improve the technical parts of a website to increase its pages’ rankings in search results. Actions might include making the website faster, easier to crawl and ensuring the pages are easy to understand for search engines.
A technically sound website tells a search engine exactly what it is about and avoids duplicating content, which can confuse search engines. Well-optimised websites will also have a good internal linking structure that search engines can crawl to understand the most important content on the website.
SEO outreach involves obtaining valuable links from other websites which link back to the brand’s website. This aspect is vital for improving the organic ranking of a business and boosting brand awareness.
Businesses will need to ensure the websites who are linking back to them are credible and related. The content used should also be of good quality and offer value to the reader.
If you’re looking to improve SEO on your site, there are many tactics you can use to do this, such as:
- Improve your page loading speeds
- Regularly product high-quality content
- Include both internal and external links
- Optimise for mobile devices
- Optimise for voice search
Learn more about SEO:
- If you’re just getting started with SEO, we’d recommend you check out Moz’s ‘Beginner’s Guide to SEO’.
- For more information about how you can improve your SEO efforts, read ‘34 ways to improve SEO rankings’ by Quick Sprout.
- Single Grain is also a great place to learn more, with their ‘10 effective SEO techniques to drive traffic’ blog.
- This blog from Search Engine Journal can help you with the benefits of SEO and why you should be using it in your business.
What is paid advertising?
Paid advertising covers a variety of digital marketing channels that all require budget to appear. The best known of these is paid search, also known as pay-per-click (PPC), a digital marketing technique that involves advertising on search engine results pages or partner websites. This advertising model can be both targeted and cost-effective, as brands can target their adverts based on the keywords they want to be found for and only pay when someone clicks on their ad.
The main goal of PPC is to increase visits to the website and ultimately generate revenue. Brands will need to use specific keywords to target people who are already interested in their product or service and use content that informs and encourages a visitor to make a purchase or engage with the brand.
There are several types of paid advertising, including the following:
Search engine text ads
Perhaps the most traditional paid search medium, search engine text ads, are the results that appear at the top of a search engine results page before organic results. Brands can create adverts that will appear when people search for terms they have specified in their campaign.
PPC works on a ‘bid’ system, so the higher you would like to appear, the more you will have to pay. Brands will often have to pay more for highly competitive keywords.
Shopping ads are similar to search engine text ads in that they work based on targeting with keywords. This type of paid search advertising works best for specific products, as opposed to brand awareness. The difference with shopping ads is that they will also show an image and price of the product.
This type of paid search advert is a more visual ad than a traditional PPC advert and is typically placed on third-party websites instead of search engine results pages. Brands will pay a website to show their advert on a relevant page, with a link to their website when the user clicks the ad.
Remarketing adverts target consumers based on their internet search history. They combine both search and display forms of paid search and are a great way to increase brand awareness.
A key benefit of remarketing is that brands know that the people being shown remarketing ads are already interested in the brand or product. They can therefore be classed as more qualified prospects than those targeted in search engine text ads.
These adverts are similar to display adverts as they are also placed on third-party websites and are of a visual medium. However, the difference is that they blend in more with the content and style of the website. This means they are less obvious to users and, therefore, relatively unobtrusive. Brands will need to identify these ads as paid for by marking the ad as ‘sponsored’, ‘promoted’ or simply ‘advertisement’.
Learn more about paid advertising:
- Naturally, Google has a lot of information about PPC and paid advertising, like this ‘Guide to using Google Ads for online marketing’.
- Search Engine Watch’s ‘Beginner’s Guide to Paid Search’ is definitely a good place to start too.
- We’d also recommend the ‘PPC Hero PPC Marketing Guide’.
- If you’re not sure whether to put your money into Google or Facebook, we’ve got a guide on the differences between Facebook Ads vs Google Ads here.
- For more about the benefits of PPC, Search Engine Journal has put together this great blog detailing ‘7 Powerful Benefits of Using PPC Advertising’.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing can be described as using social media platforms to advertise a brand, product or service. Social media can give brands a large audience to market to, whether organically or using paid ads.
Businesses can post a variety of content on social media, with each method helping to meet their objectives. Social media marketing objectives range from building brand awareness or recruitment to increasing engagement and encouraging website click-throughs.
Keeping followers interested is key to meeting these objectives, and we’ve outlined some of the ways brands can use social media to do this below:
A popular way for brands to use social media is to link to current blogs or articles on their website. Blogs will often form a large part of a company’s social media strategy because they are pieces of content that can be used across several mediums to gain maximum coverage.
Brands can use guest posters in their social media by asking bloggers or well-known industry figures to write content for their website and social media. Guest posting is good for building brand awareness through someone who already has a large following, but it’s also useful for establishing credibility and endorsement.
Businesses can also use guests for ‘social media takeovers’, where the guest writer would manage the business’ social media for one day, interacting with followers and posting relevant content.
Polls are an excellent way for businesses to get their followers to interact and engage with them. Polls can be used just for fun to help build engagement and visibility, or you can use them to ask questions that will inform your business strategy and direction. E.g. you might ask your followers what types of new products they would like to see in the future.
If building engagement is a key objective, competitions are a great way to add excitement to the content and get people interested. It’s essential, however, to ensure the prize given away is worthwhile and relevant to the business.
Visual information gets to the brain 60,000 times faster than text alone, so infographics are a great way to get people interested quickly. This style of graphic can perform well independently or alongside blog content. By taking key statistics from a blog and putting them in an infographic, followers get a snippet into what the article is about so they can quickly tell if they’re going to be interested or not.
Learn more about social media marketing:
- If you’re just getting started, Brandwatch has an excellent guide to social media marketing that we would recommend.
- We’ve also pulled together a list of social media tools that you will need to grow your business.
- To learn more about the benefits of using social media for a small business or start up, this blog by UK Startups is a great point of reference.
- The use of bots to grow social media channels is a hot topic, but we’ve broken down why using bots for social media is a bad idea here.
- If you’re wondering how to get the most out of your social media budget, check out this guide from Hootsuite.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a strategic approach to marketing that involves creating and distributing content to a defined audience. The overall aim of content marketing is to attract and retain customers through valuable and relevant content, ultimately driving sales and growth.
When it comes to content marketing, there are several objectives that a brand might have, and this will influence the type of content a business uses. Some marketing objectives include:
- Brand awareness
- Traffic driving
- Link building
- Lead generation
The types of content a business uses will depend on the campaign type and target audience, and other factors. We’ve outlined some of the types of content that brands can use below:
Blog posts account for 86% of content marketing material, thanks to their versatility and cost-efficiency. Brands can use their blog posts to inform their audience or increase the number of visits to their website from social media and use them for link building.
An excellent example of a brand using blog posts to its advantage is HubSpot. HubSpot covers hundreds of topics related to their business and presents them in a well-informed and detailed way that resonates with the audience.
A well-crafted infographic is great for both engagement and link building. It can be used as a standalone piece of content or alongside a written article. The idea of an infographic is to break down detailed information or data from a large piece of content and present it more tangibly.
The below infographic was posted by Instagram when they hit 500 million users.
By using video, brands add content that resonates with people who prefer visual content. Video can be used to show how a product works, for brand awareness, to show behind the scenes in manufacturing or even for case studies.
A brand that uses video well is Bulb. They use various video techniques, including animated TV adverts, live-action client testimonials, top tips animations and live-action videos.
User-generated content (UGC)
This form of content describes anything that is created by people rather than the brand itself. It includes videos, images, reviews and text created by customers, which the brand then uses.
GoPro has harnessed the power of user-generated content well. The company set up the GoPro hashtag, created a web page showing users how to upload their videos online and set up another page showing GoPro users’ content. They also installed a large button on their homepage, encouraging visitors to upload their videos. They also now run the GoPro Awards, urging customers to share their videos to win prizes.
If you’re interested in learning more about using content marketing to benefit your business, check out Moz’s beginner’s guide to content marketing or the definitive guide to content marketing from Backlinko.
Learn more about content marketing:
- If you’re interested in learning more about using content marketing to benefit your business, check out Moz’s ‘Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing’.
- ‘The Definitive Guide to Content Marketing’ from Backlinko is also a great place to start.
- The benefits of content marketing are plentiful, but if you’re looking to find out more, HubSpot has put together ‘7 Benefits of Consistent, High-Quality Content Marketing’.
- To learn more about content marketing strategy, The UK Domain’s ‘Guide for Small Businesses’ includes everything you need to know.
- SEMRush has also put together ‘The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing Strategy’ which contains plenty of helpful tips to get you started.
What is event marketing?
Event marketing uses direct face-to-face interactions with prospects and customers to promote a brand, its products or services. Target audiences and objectives for event marketing tend to differ depending on the type of show, whether it’s a stand at a trade show, a company-run event or even an online event.
There are several types of events that a brand might host or attend. We’ve outlined some of these below:
Conferences are one of the most popular events attended by both B2B and B2C businesses. They are usually large events filled with notable speakers, workshops and networking sessions. This type of event is often hosted by a business and targets key stakeholders, from investors to customers.
Apple holds an annual conference called the ‘Worldwide Developers Conference’ where it showcases the latest updates in software and hardware. This event is ticketed but also streamed online to reach an even larger audience.
Many businesses attend trade shows or exhibitions that are relevant to their industry. Trade show organisers usually invite businesses to host a stand at the event where they can promote their products or services and engage with potential buyers. Trade shows are also a significant opportunity for businesses to find out what others are doing in their industry and network with like-minded professionals.
Product launch events can take on several forms; some businesses choose to host their own event, much like a conference, where others might use a trade show to launch a new product. A product launch aims to showcase a new offering and build excitement amongst customers, prospects, and the media.
Businesses use VIP events to offer an exclusive experience with the ultimate aim of increasing revenue. These invite-only events allow brands to engage with a smaller number of people at a more personalised level, which helps build relationships and brand loyalty.
Some businesses combine VIP events with product launches, offering an exclusive ‘sneak peak’ to their most valued stakeholders. Other VIP events could include dinners, small conferences or client entertainment activities such as golf days or theatre trips.
Planning a marketing event takes time, and there are several things businesses need to consider in the planning process. This event marketing guide from Aventri can help you learn everything you need to know about planning and organising your marketing event.
Learn more about event marketing:
- If you’re interested in learning more about event marketing, check out ‘the ultimate guide to event marketing’ by Entrepreneur Handbook.
- Medium has put together this handy blog detailing the importance of event marketing as part of a wider marketing strategy.
- To start building an event marketing strategy for your business, Eventbrite’s guide here can help you with the basics.
- You can also learn more about the benefits of event marketing in this guide from First Event.
Our guide to marketing has covered the basics when it comes to marketing types, strategies and channels, giving you all the information you need to ensure your marketing efforts are fit for purpose and delivering results. But there’s always more to learn over on our blog.
the virtual world
Your complete business toolkit
Rovva puts everything you need for your business in one place. From an accountancy helpline to a drop-in business lounge - we've got everything covered.
Your complete business toolkit
Rovva puts everything you need for your business in one place. From an accountancy helpline to a drop-in business lounge - we've got everything covered.