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Online Marketing: the Onion You Should Peel

This post was written by the Web Marketing Ninja—a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger. Curious? So are we!

One of the most common mistakes people make when entering into the world of online marketing and sales is having a narrow understanding of what the discipline actually entails. This tunnel vision is not focused on one specific area—it’s simply based on the fact that most people’s understanding of online marketing stretches only as far as their personal network.

If they have family or friends who might, for example, be search engine marketers, then their vision of online marketing is probably limited to working the search engines. If they’re conversion marketers, they’ll think sales funnels is where it’s all at.

As the online marketing industry matures, this tunnel vision is becoming more of an issue. True generalists are becoming few and far between, as it’s almost impossible to follow the industry as a whole in great depth. The generalists are out there, but the likelihood of one being in your network is pretty slim…

In this post, I wanted to take a huge step back and look at the online marketing discipline as a whole, so you can ensure you’ve got an open mind when it comes to your own approach, and ensure that your implementation is a balanced one.

I see online marketing as being like an onion: it has a lot of different layers, which combine to create a perfect whole. Let’s peel back each one in turn…

Brand management

Whether you like it or not, you have a brand, your business has a brand, and if you don’t care about it, others will shape it for you. You might get lucky and your brand could magically evolve for the good, but if you want to reduce the odds of a catastrophe, you should pay attention to your brand. You can’t dictate a brand, but you can help shape what it is you project.

Brand management isn’t all touchy-feely sentiment: there is actually method behind the madness. I’ll no doubt talk about brand management in future, but if you can’t wait and want a 24-hour crash course in branding, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding should be high on your must-read list.

PR management

In all honesty PR isn’t my strong point, so I feel a little guilty talking about it. What I can say it’s its valuable. Good PR people will put your brand and your product in front of a whole new audience. They mold media to their whim, and although I’ve got no idea how they do it, I love it when they do!

Community management

A couple of years ago, this would have resided within the brand segment of online branding. But it has evolved to become something that requires an approach all of its own. Community management includes social media, but it’s not limited to that: there are dozens of different types of communities, and you need to be thinking about them all. I could perhaps have called this engagement management, as that’s really the key measurement for this segment of online marketing, but the brand specialists will only argue with me that’s what they do!

Product management

Online, people are only starting to understand the value of pure product management and product marketing. Basically this is the discipline of researching, defining, shaping, building, promoting, and managing a specific product. This could be a service, an eproduct, or even a physical product. There a are a lot of great methodologies around when it comes to managing a product, and this discipline is the origin of such buzzwords as “unique selling proposition.” It’s an extremely important, but often underutilized area.

Market research

The role of the market research team is you give the other areas insight into what’s happening both in the industry as a whole, and within the groups of your customer base. They’ll provide competitive intelligence as well as helping you to discover new opportunities in the industry. Product marketers work closely with reattach marketers to get an understanding of the impact (positive or negative) their products are having, in order to assist in the evolution of the product. Usually research is conducted in qualitative (high-detail, low-volume) and quantitative (low-detail, high-volume) ways.

Campaign management

This where most people’s understanding of online marketing starts and ends. But as you can see, it’s only 1/6 of the picture. Online advertising, SEO, SEM, email marketing, product launches, affiliate management, and conversion optimization all sit under the campaign management banner. People seem to gravitate to these disciplines because they’re measurable and directly attributable to revenue. But the indisputable fact is that they’re dependent on all of the above. If you have a great brand with lots of convergence in the media, with a heavily engaged community, and a suite of amazing products, your campaigns will practically construct themselves. Sure, if you’re not running campaigns you’re leaving money on the table—but it’s not the only consideration you need to make.

Like an onion, online marketing has many layers, and it’s important you consider them all. If you jump straight into the campaign stage of online marketing, your conversions will suffer. So if you’re involved in marketing now, or you think it’s something you need to do, step back and ensure your plan covers all disciplines of online marketing.

Stay tuned from most posts by the secretive Web Marketing Ninja—a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger.

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Comments

  1. And don’t forget about Coach Management, where you act as the cheerleader to your community as well.

    When you become popular online, people will naturally start to look to you for encouragement…and that’s something that can deliver long term benefits indeed.

  2. ephman says:

    the one item missing is the power of shameless promotion. http://www.ephman.com has to be one of the coolest least known blogs in the universe.

    • Ishan says:

      Come on, shameless promotion is not that powerful. In fact, it can make someone look a complete fool.

      @Ninja
      I agree with you. Most of the people around forget to see complete picture. Many are focused on just one part and many just on two. However, it takes an all round approach to succeed.
      Looking to read more from you(and possibly, finding who you are really!)

      • Web Marketing Ninja says:

        unfortunatly my profile needs to kept secret for a while yet. This way I’m able to be a lot more open and honest with my posts. I’d rather share as much as I can with you all, than build a name for myself :)

    • Nice Plug!… :]

    • d3so says:

      Those tips do help in promoting your blog.

      How can your blog be cool & not known? That’s an oxymoron ;)

    • Tim says:

      Shameless promotion is absurd. I have seen it work for a couple of companies, but the majority are absolutely annoying and miserable. They almost become the laughingstock of their industries.

  3. StormDriver says:

    The process of online marketing is as crucial as having a website or blog simply because they are unlimited options available to an average web surfer. Of course this increases your job manifold as an online marketer and entrepreneur but this is where strategy pays.

  4. Ray Higdon says:

    Very true, some see the task as too massive to undertake and others see it as too productive not to undertake, good information here

  5. Guest blogger.

    You make some great points.

    Online marketing is huge with many departments which all have their ‘goo-roos’.
    Getting to grips with it all can be very challenging.
    What I have learned is that a person quicker buys from a person the know and trust.
    Making Branding and PR an essential part of the puzzle.
    Once this is building and growing the right way, working on the rest becomes easier. (Some easier than others).

    Dwayne Huggins

  6. This is a set of important point to be considered when you want to run a business online. While you are at online marketing, you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed. If you feel in such a way you cannot make profit here. One, know secret to get success online is to choose things you are passionate about and not those that got hyped or related to other commercial benefits.

  7. Online is not rocket science, and some people look at it in that crazy way. This stuff is easy when you actually sit down and learn it..It you want to be successful online you must continue to educate yourself.

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  8. contrarian says:

    Ninja – you’ve shown us the onion (this is a good 30,000 foot view of the topic), now let’s peal that onion! show us what lies underneath the surface of those six subjects with some action steps we can take.

    – Thanks for the post!

    • Web Marketing Ninja says:

      that’s exactly what I’m planning to do. My posts to date have been more theroey based, but I thought that was a good way to start, but I think you’re right, it’s now time to all get our hands dirty.

  9. Erin says:

    I recently dived into the world of blogging, so it’s fascinating to discover that there are many layers of online marketing.

  10. I totally agree and will take it a step further…People (and experts) as of late seem to have forgotten that marketing in general is larger than online marketing. Marketing is an even larger onion, with many layers that must be deployed and managed in concert; online marketing is one of those numerous layers. Contrary to popular tweats and blogs, traditional marketing is not dead. It remains, in fact, the core strategy within Fortune 500 and start-up marketing departments. Social media, advanced web richness and robust tracking, viral videos, etc. are new and effective tools to be sure. But marketing remains a human (emoting, connecting, persuading) and not a technological endeavor.

    • Web Marketing Ninja says:

      I totally agree, I’ve sent out as many direct mail letters as I have emails, and it’s a displine that shouldn’t be ingored. Great point.

  11. Nurul Azis says:

    I’m so curious about your profile, I’m following your posts on ProBlogger and I am always amazed. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  12. spot on great post, well done and thanks!

  13. Hemanth says:

    Definitely great post. Must do things for bloggers.

    Well Who is the guest author for this post?

  14. Great post, hopefully there is more to come.

    Look forward to the next installment

  15. chris says:

    Pagerank is an essential tool – but if google does not update its PR status then no one will ever proceed forward! I think that google needs to update its pagerank checker!

  16. Thanks for the reality check. I would add another category as well. Platform Management….basically the support that works with all of the above areas. You know the message that you are sharing, building an audience and creating an income stream all at the same time.

  17. behzadizadi says:

    Thanks for the great tips.

  18. Nice! Thanks for the post, I am stepping back and restructuring my ideas….i am not as patient as I once was :)

  19. Vladimir says:

    very nice and helpful key points..
    it’s good to be reminded from time to time, because we tend to doze of or forget about marketing details…

  20. Nina Alvarez says:

    Thank you for this really great piece. It helps. It really does. :)

  21. astrology says:

    lots of info to digest here. i think brand management and pr are a lot of bloggers weak links. for example, i still don’t have a presence on twitter, or any other social network, as i don’t understand exactly how social traffic functions in the business sense.

  22. milo says:

    I think the branding thing is vague and people mess it up too much. Including me.

    We bloggers don’t usually have the greatest idea of how branding needs to work. I guess it’s years of blogging with a specific purpose that you build a brand like Darren.

  23. I think patience is also the key.
    You cannot get success overnight.

  24. Suharto says:

    Really nice tips for make money online (internet marketing). Thanks to PROBLOGGER.

  25. Jacob Warren says:

    @Ninja – I run a network of online buyers’ guides. Would the items I post be considered my products in a sense?

    Also, my subdomains are doing well. They are what the content is in. The parent domain does quite well, too, but people hardly navigate to the subdomains from it. I was wondering if it’s a bad idea to keep the base-domain as a hub page, or maybe I’m just doing it wrong? I’m not trying to do any black hat work by doing this, and I hope that you don’t mind, but since you don’t have any personal information I can use to get a hold of you, I have to ask you on here: http://buycertain.com/ is the home (hub) page for the whole Buy Certain network. We have built the whole network around one brand – Buy Certain. I am wondering if this is the best practice for a hub page, or am I going about it all wrong?

  26. fleet gps says:

    Google search does not break rules, the violation is possible, if the search has not yielded any results claimed on the search page or if advertisers pay for the results stacked and Google is not performing as agreed.The stacked EU can realistically investigate the nature of the search engines for private management to see whether legislation is needed to control its operation…

  27. fleet gps says:

    I would add another category. Platform to support the management of all work with any of the above. You know the message they are sharing, build an audience and create a revenue stream and at the same time.

  28. Jerry Yu says:

    What a huge onion that millions of people are peeling it, but that’s true, I am now just peeling it. However, which one is the first layer we should pee? Well, my idea is community management, how do you think?

    • WebMarketingNinja says:

      First layer IMO is define your brand, and the market you exist to serve.

      Create a persona of your brand and your customers, as well as you’re elevator pitch and unique selling proposition. Everything else flows from that.

  29. So true Ninja. Marketing is vast and filled with many essential facets.

    I myself, like many online today have been attracted to the campaign management area of marketing, But for me online marketing has become my passion and being able to help people like yourself and add value to their lives is very fulfilling.

    I have a lot of respect for traditional marketing and strive to understand and apply much of it as I can.

    But, the part I feel is most effective and important of marketing is that personal connections and relating to the emotions of your audience is the key to it all.

    Great post, Ninja. Keep em’ comin.

  30. Suharto says:

    This is a site where I keep coming back for more. I am a neophyte and I feel this will help me a lot. Thanks to you,

  31. Todd Dowell says:

    This reminds of the the time when i was strarting out as a newbie, and created my first product thinking that i was going to make loads of money from it. Boy was i wrong because my conversion rates were terrible, due to the fact that i didn’t have a brand created for myself.

    Building a brand is extremely important if your trying to make any decent money online with your product launches.

    Thanks again ninja for leaving a great post

    cheers

    Todd Dowell

  32. Getting the big picture like this is totally necessary, but one thing those of us just starting out need to remember is that you tend to mess up the onion layers if you try to peel them all at once. And sometimes, it takes time to get to all the layers. Thanks for helping me add to my goal list. ;)

    • WebMarketingNinja says:

      That’s abosolutly true Ande. But don’t be afraid to mess up those layers. Has everything I’ve done succeeded — no way, but if your affraid to try, you’ll never get anywhere.

  33. Sally Green says:

    Thanks ninja for the great post.

    I am a newbie to the world of Online Marketing.

    How is the best way to find a reputable SEO marketing firm that can help us obtain conversions not just bring spam traffic to our site http://www.GreenTextbooks.com ? I have viewed a few firms and they seem to just tout the numbers. Number are important, but I would think it is far more important to have fewer numbers with a higher content interest. Also I have tired and tried to get a page rank higher than a page rank of 4 is 5 or 6 an impossible dream or do I just need to keep building content and having others link to me?

    • WebMarketingNinja says:

      There’s a few considerations to make, but my number 1 is ask for references, and get in touch with them. Find out how happy their clients are and depending how open the client is — the tangible impact they’ve had on their businesses. Tenure is also valuable too — if they have been using them for a week, how well can they really judge their performance.

      You want demonstrated commercial success over a period of time.

      As for Pagerank — don’t be too fixated on that. It’s number thats nice for bragging rights. Think keywords and relevance and aim for the number one spot for those. If your page rank lifts, let it be a happy symptom. But to answer your question yes — I’ve worked on sites that have PR 8, so it can be done.

  34. stan says:

    just provide good content and your marketing would work for you

  35. Looking at just one side of a problem is common practice nowadays, but I can’t blame people doing so, the topic of “Online marketing” is indeed something so complicated it’s rare to find someone proficient in all of its aspects.
    Regarding PR, I have your same doubt, lately though I had the luck to interview Petya Georgieva about the PR world, and it was very inspiring, perhaps talking with her will shed some light for you as well.

  36. Its useful for new blogger like me

  37. Michael Cole says:

    I was introduced to Internet Marketing by a marketer in my niche (Network Marketing). He told me I could make more money online. (traditionally in my niche the business is built person to person). I was taught the sales funnel approach ( and still is being taught that). I have found that their are more skills to marketing online. I am really learning how to market online by internet marketers such as Pro Blogger ( I stumbled upon Pro Blogger in Barnes N Noble). You can’t do it by yourself you need a team of people.