When we talk about online marketing, we frequently find many different concepts, some of them even opposite to each other. There are dozens of things to consider, many marketing tools, several different methods and strategies and like opinions, all different, diverse and almost never the same.

This is why we like to talk about the four cores of online marketing. These four cores are a way of structuring your web marketing strategies to allow business owners to understand where to go and what to do with less confusion. These are by no means everything available online, but they are main elements that most web marketing strategies should incorporate.

From these four cores, we can extend, separate, branch or weave a much more complex strategy, however, to begin with, we should focus on having a clear, easy and results oriented marketing strategy.

Web design

Web design is the very first core. This may seem obvious, but many times we find business owners cutting corners by hiring a student or a friend who works in IT to do their website. The idea is that it is like business cards, you can buy them cheaply at cheap printing websites (who shall remain unnamed). However, just like business cards, well designed business cards made on high quality stock are much more effective at telling communicating the quality of your products and services than the cheap, badly cut, poorly designed business cards you get at those cheap websites.

Web design covers everything, from the appearance and user experience of the website, to the code and functionality. Pretty websites without good code is like a very dumb beautiful person, pretty to look at, but boring after the first line.

It also happens that your website is the base of most businesses online marketing. From it you can blog and publish news that can be shared to social media and promoted through SEO or pay-per-click. Your website is your store and people will visit and decide whether they trust you, can buy from or would rather go elsewhere.

If someone is offering a website for 400 dollars, have no doubt that your are getting scammed. For what you are getting, you can probably get a better deal with free websites or ones that charge less than 20 dollars a month. Of course, always have your own domain (www.mybusiness.com) instead of living in someone else’s (like www.mybusiness.othercompany.com or www.othercompany.com/mybusiness). Living under someone else’s domain is bad for branding and every investment you make in promoting your business will be lost once you get your domain. This is especially true for SEO, you will loose all your SEO on that subdomain.

SEO: Search Engine Marketing

Once we have a great website ready for marketing, we need visitors (traffic). The main source of traffic to a website is search engines, and the biggest player in this arena is Google. In the field of being found on search engines when people are looking for our services or products, Search Engine Marketing is what you need.

We have two great options (and two of our four cores) to generate traffic, visitors and consequently, revenue: SEO, or strategies to appear on searches (mainly Google) and paid search marketing using Adwords, also known as pay per click.

Search Engine Optimization must be considered a mid-term / long term strategy, with clear planning and a real understanding of its benefits. A detailed and carefully carried keyword analysis must be performed before the optimization begins. A cure only works if you have the right diagnosis first.

Along with SEO, we also have Paid Search marketing or Pay per click (PPC). Google’s most important money making product, this is the short term solution to traffic. With PPC you can start getting traffic to your website within minutes. There is a very big difference between a badly designed PPC campaign and one created by marketing strategists. It means hundreds or thousands of dollars and the success of your business.

Social Media

Social media have a triple mission: the promote brand awareness, generate qualified traffic and allow us to provide excellent customer service.

Having a base presence in the right social media, the one that connects your business with the right demographic is important. Each social network is different and have a different user base.

Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest and even MySpace have their own user base and attract different users with different interests, ages, and ideas. So, choose wisely before investing too much time, or better yet, find a social media marketing firm that knows their business and can help you choose the right options to promote your brand to the world.

Email Marketing

Email marketing can be very profitable. It must be done following the law, respecting ethical standards and with adherence to privacy regulations or is better not to do it at all. A well planned and designed email marketing campaign can generate millions in revenue, in fact, businesses like Domino’s Pizza leverage enewsletters to produce their highest return on investment, leaving all other forms of marketing in a secondary position.

Anyone can do email marketing, however, professional email marketing campaigns require experience, a design team (to produce the graphics) and a writing team. Producing interesting, entertaining and valuable content with the right calls to action is no child’s play. In the very least, it takes a lot of time and skills to properly manage, which you should be investing in running your business.

We highly recommend tools like Mailchimp, Constant Contact and Mad Mimi to create and manage your campaigns. These tools make things easier, but that still doesn’t mean you have a professional, high ROI enewsletter, those are only tools we use to produce things faster.

This is our proposal to you.