A recent article in BRW magazine advises small business owners on how to get started with online marketing. It includes several good suggestions but it’s dated and totally misses the one thing to make or break any online marketing program. Without it, the money and time you spend on digital marketing will be wasted in the long run.

How small business owners can get started with online marketing provides plenty of evidence to suggest companies with a healthy online presence will be more successful than their counterparts who haven’t taken the leap across the digital divide. There’s no disputing that advice. It asks the reader two questions:

  • Why are most businesses failing to become more digitally engaged?
  • What’s stopping them from making better use of the internet?

It goes on to recommend five things business owners can do to go from ‘zero to digital hero’, including:

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO)photo of a bear
  • Search engine marketing
  • Mobile-ready websites
  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing

And that’s a big fat problem.

Why content marketing tactics aren’t the answer

Each of those recommendations is a tactic. None of them are strategic in their own right. Even if you work all of them into a single marketing focus, you’re still going to be spending a lot of money and, ultimately, have nothing to show for it.

You won’t attract the audience you want over the long term.

You won’t enjoy earned media.

You won’t build any assets out of your marketing investment.

In fact, you’ll be creating one long expensive churn and be disappointed with your overall results and your return on investment.

Content – the missing link

All five of those points rely on one thing for success but it didn’t get a single mention. Content is central to the success of all five recommendations. Specifically:

1) You can no longer achieve organic search rankings without original, high-quality content.

2) Search engine marketing without content results in continuous investment. The minute you quit spending, you quit showing up in search results. In 2015, search without content is a mug’s game.

3) Yes, your website must be mobile ready or you’re going to lose traffic. You’ll also lose traffic if they show up and there’s nothing of value on your site or the content is stagnant, regardless of how it looks on a mobile device.

4) Social media without content is chit-chat. Repeated studies show what consumers really want from brands on social media is information. They don’t want to engage with you unless they have a problem. Yes, there are billions of people on Facebook but they’re not there to support your business; they’re too busy socialising with friends.

5) If you don’t have great content to share in your email marketing, get ready for a lot of unsubscribes. The article mentioned ‘content-rich newsletters’ before plunging into how much data you might collect from your subscribers. It’s true, but only if you give them a reason to keep opening your emails.

Strategy beats tactics every time

There’s only one way to successfully approach online marketing and it requires a 3-part strategy incorporating original content, social media and SEO. Invest in tactics without a documented strategy and you’ll soon be discouraged by the amount of time and money it takes and disappointed with your results. If anyone tries to tell you differently, you’re getting terrible advice.

For more information about how you can get started with online marketing and see real results, get in touch. We’ll make sure you’re working from a comprehensive strategy tailored to your business and not a collection of tactics. Only then will you really be a digital hero.

-Sarah Mitchell