Buried in online marketing day in, day out, we often forget that there are *gasp* people who don’t know search, marketing, or the intricacies of content development. We know, we know; it’s hard to believe, isn’t it? Well, we’re still getting comments from people who are just stepping on the marketing path. Although the questions seem simple to us, the short answers are often confusing for the beginner.

Today, we’re going to attempt to create a clear path towards a strong online presence in as short a blog post as possible. Each section links to more in depth posts on the topics, and don’t forget to save our new Online Marketing 101 infographic for easy reference!

Shopping and Buying in 2012

In December 2011, eMarketer released their yearly US Digital Media Usage report. The results promise a strong future for online eCommerce, at least in the U.S. For example, eMarketer predicts that online buying in the U.S. will reach 154.6 million buyers by the end of this year.

That’s a lot of shopping and buying, which is probably why you’re here. You want your piece of the pie.

Budgeting for Business

In Marketing Online, What Was That ROI Formula Again? we covered some of the biggest problems with online marketing: the budget. Setting a sensible budget gives you a much better idea of what kind of Return On Investment you can reasonably expect from your marketing expenditures.

Branding: Your Image, Your Story

Everything you do online will help or hinder your brand. You know it, but it’s easy to forget. The best way to make sure your brand is properly represented isn’t to let it build itself, but to carefully craft it for maximum, positive representation.

Online Marketing – What’s Your Branding Power? and So That’s What Build Your Brand Story Means! covers the two biggest things you need to take care of before you start marketing: creating your brand image and writing your brand story.

AIDA Marketing

AIDA stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action, and is known in marketing as the “AIDA method”. Taught in many Marketing 101 college courses, the AIDA breakdown allows you to break down your strategies into sections (among many of its uses). In Using the AIDA Method As Part of Your Marketing Strategy, we cover the essentials of this method, as well as how it can be applied to your online endeavors.

Awareness

Your target market is not you. It isn’t search engines, and it isn’t the world. Clear your mind of these misconceptions by reading Repeat After Me. Target. Market. Learn more about it, and then Find Your Online Customer Base. Hint: they’re asking questions you can answer!

Part of creating awareness is making sure your first handshake looks really, really good to the visitor. With that in mind, we wrote The #1 Traffic Builder: Hint, It’s Probably Not What You Think and 10 Building Blocks of Great Meta Tags. These two posts will provide you with a comprehensive walkthrough on crafting your first impression.

Interest

You know who your target market is. You know where to find them. –And now they’re coming to you. You have to keep their attention and awareness but generating interest. How are you going to do that?

First, they’re landing on your pages. As we wrote in The Art of the Landing Page, “the feel of a landing page is as important as the need your product fills”. Learning the components of a converting landing page can make a huge difference in your website marketing.

Find out What Motivates Your Customers and then address it. Just remember that the real paths to conversion aren’t as clear cut as you may think. It’s not as simple as {landing page > buy now > sale}. Website Conversion – Forget About the Obvious covers a few of the bumps you may come across in a hunt for the sale.

One of the issues we’ve come across in develop a blog post specifically about the topic of hunting for (and snagging) sales is the fact that there’s just so much information to pass on! For example:

Finally, if you have a product site, make sure to read Presenting Your Product as a Masterpiece: You Can’t Market a Piece of Junk and Creating a Lasting First Impression – Your eCommerce Website.

Desire

Using all the tools brought together in Interest, your job is now to build desire in the reader. Think of conversion like a relationship, where conversion is a second date. How do you get there? By practicing the rules of Converting Conversation and learning how to Convert Readers to Buyers.

Action

Action is the final step of AIDA, and the final move on your site. It IS the “Buy Now”, “Pay Now” and “Sign Up”. Action is when the user steps into the final part of the goal funnel. You can taste the sale.

Don’t pop the champagne yet, though. They can still back out, as evidenced by the extremely high amount of shopping cart abandonment rates.

In E-commerce Marketing: Why Are Your Shopping Carts Being Abandoned, you’ll find tips on bringing those visitors abandoning their carts back to your website. The companion post, Has your E-Commerce Shopping Cart Run Away With Your Sales, discusses why they leave, and a few ways to address those outstanding issues with your buying process. -And finally, I Really Want to Buy This From You... will help you find common problems in any site’s process and fix them.

In the Beginning…

In the beginning of all this, there was Google. Oh, sure, the Internet came about first, but did you really care (for the most part) until the Big Daddy search engine came along? Once we started asking the SE for everything from “how to put up a roof” to “how much does this cost”, life changed forever.

Now, Google is the Yellow Pages of online marketing and search. It’s the place we go when we want to go some place and buy something. It’s our library, circular ads, storefront and mobile home away from home. Isn’t it about time your business started showing in the most popular mall in the world?

We thought so.