Five tips to drastically improve your online marketing efforts

online marketing2

So many organisations are missing the trick completely in the online space because they are incapable of ridding themselves of dated marketing behaviour of the past. I have listed five things you should do to derive tangible benefit from your online marketing activities.

1.     Provide value at all costs

Good content marketers keep harping on about this but so many do not listen. The Internet was developed all those years ago for people to find information that would add value to their lives. The emphasis here is on the recipient, not the person developing and sharing content. Online marketers that want to truly see notable results must produce information that is interesting, insightful, value-adding, intriguing and sharable. The more content you share that carries these attributes, the more people will continue to listen to you.

2.     Change the “I” to “you”

Go on a first date and talk about yourself all the time and see how well you fair. Generally, your will not make it to the second date. Online marketers that want to get noticed must talk about the customer, not themselves. Lose words like “I”, “we”, “us” and “our” and replace with “you” and “your”. The more you place the emphasis on the recipient, the more you instill a feeling that you actually care about them.

3.     Give away content

Ensure that at all times, that you give away content without ever expecting anything in return. It may take some time for recipients to realise that you are not going to ask them for anything in return, and when it does, you are on the road to developing some good online relationships. What happens during this process is that people continue to listen to you, but you are building credibility along the way and being viewed as a trusted adviser. As you are communicating regularly with your community, you are staying top of mind, and there is a greater propensity for your subscribers to contact you when they have a business challenge or a requirement that may be addressed by the services you provide.

4.     Never mention the products, services and solutions 

If you are an opportunistic salesperson or marketer, then mention all the products, services and solutions you sell, but remember this will be a once off exercise. You may land a few orders, but you will also upset a great deal of people who will report you for spamming them or who will unsubscribe from any future communication.

5.     Focus on subtle promotion

Online marketers who employ best practice techniques will:

  • Focus on the clients challenges and problems
  • Offer solutions, methodologies, approaches, tips, advice and guidance to resolve problems
  • Not talk about themself, their company, their products, services and solutions
  • Give selflessly without expecting anything in return

but this does not mean they will not include links to:

  • Their website where they talk about their company, products and solutions
  • Their LinkedIn profile and company page where they showcase their skills and qualifications
  • Invitations to meet to discuss specific business topics in more detail
  • Business events which they are hosting or attending

This advice is based on our past experience and results we have achieved through the adoption of this approach. Do you have any anything to add?

25 thoughts on “Five tips to drastically improve your online marketing efforts

    1. David Graham Post author

      Changing the “I” to “you” and leaving out “product speak” is something that most people get wrong. Our subject matter specialists normally get a lot of highlighted text with suggested changes from me, when they submit a thought piece for publication, but once they see the difference in terms of how the community interact with them, they start getting the picture. People are happy to get educated, not sold to. The trick is to never sell, but rather lead the customer to a “buying decision”

  1. TheTechieGuy

    Great post David. Companies would do well to remember that they are not talking to Twitter Accounts but rather to people. Stop shouting your marketing gumf, stop blindly RT everything, Add Value always and the golden rule. Remember why people follow you & read your info. Never deviate. If you are a tech company, provide tech news. If you are Chef, provide recipe. If you are a political party, provide political messages. Never mix. If I follow a company for their tech insights I do not want to see one political comment or one “how to cook beef” recipe

    1. David Graham Post author

      Thank you Liron. I agree that you should not shout and not deviate from your area of expertise and interest. The general rule as I understand it from a Twitter perspective is that you can “broadcast” good original content must mix in retweets and conversation.

  2. David Mannl (@David_Mannl)

    All very good tips with which there is no arguing provided that you already have the basics such as SEO, website analysis and measurement tools in place. Very much agree that product mentioning is a one-off excercise. Futher advice on how to effectively listen to one’s customer would be welcome so the tip “improve your product / service / etc. based on your audience’s advice” could be included. Althought not sure that would really fit below this heading…

    1. David Graham Post author

      SEO, website analysis and measurement tools are table stakes David. Listening is absolutely essential because these environments are managed by the community. Thank you for your comments and I hope the European winter is being kind to you 😉

  3. Barrie

    5 great points David. There is so much in what you’ve written that rubs up against the current paradigm. Your points are simple, the execution requires much courage in some contexts.

    I’d like to add, the ‘opportunity to be fresh’. By that I mean that most brands traditionally have a very fixed image that they present. Online marketing creates a space to push the envelope a little or a lot (in the context of who they are). You can try a lot of different stuff, and either expand it or withdraw it very quickly depending on the response you get.

    1. David Graham Post author

      Thanks Barrie. I fully agree that you can be fresh but most organisations are still managing their marketing departments the “traditional” way. Organisations that have job titles such as community managers, B2B social media marketing managers and Digital Marketing Directors in the marketing department are most probably getting it right.

  4. RichSimmondsZA

    Great article and as Barrie says you continue to challenge paradigms.
    Here are my comments and considering most people have given the accepted commentary I would like to push the envelope a little further and perhaps open the discussion with a bit of controversy.

    Point 1 – Content may be king now but don’t think content will remain king, the new king will be relationships, build them at all costs – so don’t think content, content is the ‘need to know’ information, find out via the relationships what your listeners and followers actually want, always give them what they want not what you want them to hear from you.

    Point 2 – Be honest and see to it that your intentions are real, if you not authentic and you can’t be honest, change yourself first before engaging in this process. Overuse of the ‘you’ and ‘your’ statements can come across fake.

    Point 3 – Never use the word FREE, free tells me you are a schmuck and you actually wanted to charge me, oh I know you intend to actually burn me later – don’t use the word free.
    The internet is full of this as soon as you click on the site or follow someone they want to give you something for free, why would you give me anything when you don’t know me?
    Be careful, build a relationship first. If you give away everything to everybody it has no value!

    Point 4 – People don’t buy products or services, they buy you, so build the relationship and then let them ask you what you do and who you work for, yes it will take longer but you would of built a relationship and a customer for life. In social business remember why they found you and followed you first, respect the individual and don’t listen to the marketing director – it’s your relationship and your customer.

    Point 5 – Find out by listening to people what the challenges and problems are, then address them as SUBTLY as possible, remember you are wanting to start a conversation not try be the expert, focus on the relationship you want to build.

    On the consistency issue I agree fully, don’t mix the beef with the politics and especially not the kangaroo biltong with the politics, but when necessary do express your opinion and always be ultra sensitive when you do deviate from the norm.

    Be yourself, be true to you and the opinions you hold. Never be scared to challenge the status quo and try be more suggestive if it is your personality.

    1. David Graham Post author

      Thank you Richard. The “you” and “your” was a metaphor 🙂 You are right on the button in terms of building relationships and listening.

    1. David Graham Post author

      Thank you for your comment Adam. I am glad you agree with me on the “giving away content” score 🙂 There are companies that have internal facing knowledge management systems, that if turned inside out (and removing specific content) would add tremendous value.

  5. Adrian Lee (@AdrianLeeSA)

    Hi Dave, might have missed it due to the amount of great comments on this post. One thing I didn’t see were the channels of engagement? The content strategy tips you listed are entirely on point. However the one thing that bothers me, is the channels (social, web, mobile, OOH) utilized somehow don’t ‘fit’ the messages. I’ve seen brand trying to engage in long conversations on Twitter, websites that re-direct to an enquiry email, and mobile ads that link into a website landing page? Marketers have yet to realize the technical and marketing capabilities of each medium.

    1. David Graham Post author

      Good points and thank you for bringing them up! I agree that there is no point producing content that doesn’t render properly on the recipients communication channel and device of choice. These all have to be considered very carefully

  6. John Langford

    Thank you David for a very good ‘unselfish’ post. Give, give, give and others will appreciate and enjoy listening to you. Building trust with people is one of the cornerstones of business in a cynical world. Keep them coming. Well done.

    1. David Graham Post author

      Thank you John. It was interesting how you referred to this article as being unselfish 🙂 Something I recommend to people when they are evaluating a service provider is to check if the provider in question “practices what they preach”

  7. Pc Benadé (@pcbenade)

    Thank David. I especially like your 3rd point. I have to agree with some of the comments listed above. To me building relationships and integrity regarding your service or brand are of utmost importance. People can be miss led to a certain degree, but at some stage they realize who the person behind a service or brand is. Or so I hope.


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