Ten Best Online Marketing Tools for 2017 – Most Bang for Your Buck and Time Invested
As a marketing consultant my most critical responsibility to my clients is to be constantly reviewing both traditional (mailers, newspaper, trade shows, etc.) and the new online methods of advertising and promoting a business. Every year there are new tools, both free and paid, where a company can expose their offering. So each year for the last 8 years I have created a list of the top 10 online marketing tools based on the best possible ROI for time and treasure you invest. I have included two bonus options at the end.
Disclaimer – Every business is different, so this list will not be in the perfect order for every type of concern. However, it would be a mistake to assume that your business is so “different” and that these don’t apply.
- Email blasts – There is a huge consensus that email blasts continue to be the best ROI of any marketing tool. Those who don’t agree that emails are number one generally put them number 2. Some companies have honed the email side of their business to such a degree that the vast majority of business comes from this tool. For most, it is just one more way to keep their name in front of customers. The reason the ROI is so high is that the cost is very, very low.
- YouTube videos – Videos offer another very low cost (both time and $$) way to reach existing and new customers. Videos are continuing to gain in importance, and might pass Email blasts soon. YouTube videos do not need to be elaborate or high tech. They need to be authentic, useful, and answer the questions your customers are asking.
- Facebook/Instagram – Here is another media that is increasing in importance by leaps and bounds. Two years ago it was not important or very useful. Now it is a must for every business. Having a robust Facebook Page is a starting point. Advertising through Facebook is probably the best advertising dollar you can spend. Instagram is fantastic for some businesses who are trying to reach those in their teens and 20’s.
- Google Places/Yelp/Reputation Management – For local businesses it would be easy to move these tools to number one. It doesn’t cost that much for most businesses to be ranked #1, 2, or 3 on Google Places (aka Google My Business and Google Maps.) Some highly competitive businesses such as locksmiths or real estate agents will need to spend serious money to get that ranking. Getting reviews on Google Places and Yelp and managing those reviews to keep a very high rating will definitely pay off. If you are under 3.5 stars, you are losing business. If your competitors have more stars than you, they are getting the phone calls instead of you.
- Website/Organic Ranking on Google – You need a website! But your website is not likely to be a huge source of new customers. It does help to keep you in the mind of existing customers who may go to your website for information, including your address or phone. It is very important for some businesses as a brochure to show that the company is a serious business. If you are able to get your website ranked on the first page, you have a better chance of generating new customers. Moreover the quality of your website is a major contributor to how Google ranks you for your Google Places listing.
- Blogging – As the amount of online content increases, the ability to use a blog for generating direct business is getting harder. However, a good blog can be a great way to keep serious clients involved. Your blog will help your website ranking. And a blog is a great way to integrate all of the above. Blog posts can be advertised on your Email blasts and on Facebook. YouTube videos can be embedded on your blog.
- PayPerClick – The “Big Boys” all use pay per click (adwords, Facebook, Yelp, YouTube ads, etc.) Pay per click is the reason Google’s parent corporation, Alphabet, is now the 2nd most valuable business on the planet. The reason this is number 7 on my list is that there is a substantial investment of time and money involved. Finding a company to do your campaign can be a major nightmare, as there are plenty of companies who will take your money and not produce results.
- Groupon – If you offer services or food, Groupon can be a great “free” way to get new customers in the door. Many argue that after the discount and the fee, there is no profit or even a loss. The key to a successful Groupon campaign is multifold – Upselling, customer return or referral, reviews on Yelp or Google, free advertising, and adding to your email list. There is no upfront cost, and the only cost is the lost margin that happens when the customer cashes the Groupon.
- Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+ – Each of these can be the source of new business, or contribute to other marketing efforts that will ultimately provide new customers. They are all free or low cost except for time. Each of these will work for some types of businesses and niches.
- Amazon – I list Amazon (and eBay, Google, Walmart) 10th because the cost in time and money to become successful is generally substantially greater than the first nine. On the other hand, the potential benefits are huge and lasting.
Bonus 1. Meetup.com – You can start your own Meetup for pretty much any reason. You can even charge people to join your Meetup. It akes some work, but you can end up with actual “members” who are very likely to do business long term.
Bonus 2. Kickstarter – If you have new products to release, there is no better way to do so than through a Kickstarter effort. The cost is $2000 to $7500 to launch the product, but you might raise $50,000, $100,000 or more.
All of the above methods of marketing your business constitute but a fraction of the ways that The Executive Suite can help you promote your business. And this is just the marketing portion of our suite of services that also include the functions of a Chief Financial Officer, a General Manager and Executive Coach.
We are looking for one or two companies that want to grow their sales and/or profits, streamline their operations, develop new products, locations, or move into new distribution channels.
Each member of the Executive Suite can be contracted for the specific services of their specialization, but the combination of all three create the potential for the kind of synergy you would expect if you had $600,000 a year worth of talent down the hall.
If you would like to set up a 45 minute no obligation meeting, we promise that you will not waste your time. We will provide actionable ideas even in that free first meeting. Call my cell: 310-910-1848