3 Make-or-Break Online Marketing Trends

By Adam Hansen
3 Make-or-Break Online Marketing Trends


Online marketing is so ubiquitous that it would take a lot of work to avoid it.  

The saying, “unless you have been living under a rock” doesn’t even apply to online marketing. Say you removed yourself from society, completely unplugged and effectively lived under a technology-free rock — online marketing would touch your life. Goods and services are marketed, advertised, bought and sold all around the world in every industry possible online.

But considering you’re reading this blog, you know all of this already. Your question is, “How can I capitalize on the most important trend in business since the industrial revolution?”

Online marketing encompasses a diverse field of intertwining strategies, tactics, platforms and processes used to generate sales and leads through the Internet. If your goal is make money from online marketing then you need to understand how all of these interact and the most effective ways to make sure they create profits for you.

It’s a tall order when you stand back and look at the 10,000 foot view, but when you start breaking it down into smaller pieces, it’s much more manageable. Learn the basics, study others outcomes and stay on top of emerging trends that show the most promise and you’ll be ahead of most of the online marketing world.

Online Marketing Methods

Online marketing comes to us in a variety of forms.

While you don’t need to master all of them — nor may they all be the best solutions for your business — you should at least be aware of the whole Internet marketing landscape.

Some of the most common online marketing vehicles are:

  • Search Engine Optimization: The organic or "free" search results found on Google, Bing and other search engines.
  • Paid Search Ads: Advertisements bought by marketers that display on the search engine results pages.
  • Display Advertising: Image or video ads commonly referred to as banners displayed on websites. These also include pop-ups and pop-unders.
  • Social Media: Utilizing paid and viral traffic on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and so on.
  • Mobile Advertising: While mobile usually comes in one of the other forms as well, it is specifically designed to attract and convert users of mobile devices like smartphones and  tablets.
  • Email Marketing: Yup, good old-fashioned email has been working like a charm for about 20 years and still is going strong.   

Different Types of Online Marketing

Depending on your business model, you may elect to use a variety of these marketing methods.  Your audience, goals, market share, location and many other factors will help you decide which type of online marketing you want to focus on to get you the best results

Here are four of the most popular and common types of online marketing you will come across:

Affiliate Marketing

Sometimes called referral marketing, affiliate marketing is a marketing system where a company pays a bounty to an independent marketer to promote their products or services.

There are several variations of affiliate marketing designed to suit the end business goals. For example:
Percentage of Sale: The marketer is paid a percentage of the final purchase amount as a bounty.
Lead Generation: The marketer is paid a predetermined amount  for sending traffic that completes a certain task like submitting an email address, signing up for a quote and so on.

Affiliate marketing has been widely adopted by businesses of all sizes. Amazon.com and eBay are among the largest online companies that utilize affiliate marketing for traffic generation and increased reach.

Businesses like using affiliate marketing programs because they are only paying for results. As opposed to running paid advertisements themselves, where they end up paying for clicks that never become paying customers, businesses only pay once they have the outcome they want.

One recent development in the affiliate marketing world is the FTC and other government agencies around the world coming down on affiliates who do not disclose their business relationship with a merchant.

For example, say a famous fitness blogger recommends a new weight-loss product to fans by sending out emails, writing blog posts and so on. He (or she) is getting paid a referral fee for any sales made, so it is in his or her interest to talk up the product as much as possible regardless of the truth.  

Affiliate marketing can be extremely profitable; just make sure to be as upfront and honest as possible when it comes to your marketing. If there is a business relationship there, disclose it.


E-commerce marketing describes any method of online marketing and advertising done for a strictly online business.

In this instance it differs from affiliate marketing because typically this type of marketing is done by the business directly or by an agency hired by the business.

E-commerce marketing runs the gamut from social media to paid advertisements and everything in between. Smart business owners recognize the power of diversifying their marketing channels so they are never beholden to one type for their success.

Local/Small Business

This type of marketing is one of the fastest growing as more and more small businesses are discovering the power of online marketing.

While not all small businesses focus only on their local markets, typically this type of online marketing is concerned with getting clients in close geographic proximity.

Again, a wide variety of online marketing methods can be used to promote local businesses. However, since there is a local focus, elements of marketing that center around reviews, reputation management and customer service are usually the most powerful.

While a paid search ad might make your potential client aware of your business, they will most likely be exposed to reviews from Google +, Facebook, Yelp and other sites. Many potential clients will seek out these reviews independently even if they aren’t exposed to them in the course of their research.

National and Global

This level of marketing is reserved more for large businesses with big budgets and have a much wider audience base. Large brands will often use online marketing to expand brand awareness, launch a new product, generate leads or tie into their traditional marketing campaigns.

Online Marketing Trends You Need to Know

While there are many different paths you can take to achieve digital marketing success, there are a few game-changing trends you need to know if you don’t want to be left behind by the competition.  

Stay on top of these online marketing trends and you’ll be at the forefront of the industry:


Mobile devices are everywhere.  Phones, tablets and hybrid “phablets” are getting more powerful and less expensive everyday.  

Mobile traffic has eclipsed desktop traffic several times when looking at overall Internet traffic on a monthly basis. In February 2014, mobile app usage alone surpassed all desktop traffic, according to CNN Money.

Mobile is the future, and as an online marketer you need to have embraced this… like yesterday.

In order to make sure you are reaching mobile users and giving them the best user experience possible, you need to do the following:

Have a Responsive Website

Responsive website design allows your site to naturally fit the device’s screen without forcing the user to zoom in or otherwise manually adjust their browser.

This allows you to have one version of your site that will work on PCs, phones, tablets and everything in between. As more sites become mobile friendly, users are expecting that functionality and will click away if your site is a pain to interact with.

In addition to making your site responsive, avoid the use of Flash or Java in your web design. Apple products don’t support Flash and your site will not display properly on them.

Use Images and Video

Mobile users engage a lot more with images and video than they do with text.

Mobile users are most likely looking for something quick and easy to consume and probably don’t want to scroll through your endless text.

Make Key Information Easy to Find

Remember that your user is on a mobile device so there is a good chance they are on the go or at the very least not near a PC. Chances are they are on your site to get some vital information and get on with their lives.

This might be a phone numbers, directions or a map or your latest deal. Make it easy for them to find and use the information they are looking for in order to do more business with you.

Social Media

Social media has been exploding in popularity and marketability over the last decade. And this is only going to continue to grow as more people embrace social media and businesses see value in marketing there.

Look, we know there is a healthy list of social networking platforms out there. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram… and the list goes on. Keeping up with all of them can be time consuming and take up a big chunk of your resources.

However, when done strategically, social media marketing can be a killer source of business. Here are a couple of important social media tactics to keep in mind:

Use Images

Since a high percentage of mobile users are also the most likely to be on popular social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, it’s no surprise that the use of images and video are key to successful social media marketing.

According to eMarketer, the most common type of content posted by Facebook pages were photos, at a whopping 75 percent!

To drive the point home even more, Social Media Examiner report that photos have a 87 percent interaction rate on Facebook. That’s not bad considering no other post type got more than 4 percent!

This explains the success of image-based networks like Instagram and Pinterest. Images are just much easier to consume than text.

Know Your Audience

Different demographic groups tend to use different social media platforms. For example:

  • Younger people like teens are moving away from Facebook while older demographics are signing up in record numbers. Grandma and grandpa want to see pictures of the kids!
  • Women tend to be the dominant group on Pinterest.
  • Teens love SnapChat and Instagram.

Do some research and find out where your target audience is hanging out and meet them there.

Don’t Focus on Selling

It might seem counter-intuitive, but don’t focus on selling when you’re creating social media content. Your audience wants to be informed, entertained and otherwise distracted. They don’t need you bombarding them with post after post about you, your products or your business.

Create a following by providing useful information in your area of expertise. Become the go-to person for your industry on that social media platform and the selling will take care of itself.

There’s A Lot of Money in Local

Some businesses might be slow on the uptake, but most understand that they need an online marketing presence to be competitive. That is why there is so much money to be made helping local businesses establish themselves online.

No matter if your expertise is in social media, website design, lead generation, pay per click advertising or any other form of online marketing, there are clients out there waiting for you.

While entire books have been written on this subject, there are a few key steps you need to make happen before you’re able to truly tap into this source of wealth.

Choose the Right Clients

You want to look for businesses that have high-value customers, whether that is a one-time purchase (lawyers, plastic surgeons) or over the lifetime of the relationship (insurance agents). A lawyer will only have to land a client or two over the course of an entire year to pay for your services. A hot dog cart will have to sell thousands of frankfurters to make it worth his while to hire you.

Find Your Clients 

Your potential clients need you but they don’t know you even exist. You need to get in front of them and show them what you bring to the table. You can do this by:

  1. Attending/Speaking at local business events.
  2. Advertising on paid search ads or Facebook where you can really target your potential clients.
  3. Word of mouth. Tell everyone you know what you can do and that you’re looking for new clients. Offer special deals to get some testimonials under your belt or even pay out referrals and create your own affiliate program.

Prove Your Value 

Local marketing is big right now, which means a lot of small businesses are getting bombarded with proposals from online marketers. Once you get the chance to get in front of some decision makers, show them what you can do and how much value you are bringing to the table or you will be dropped. They might not ask for or even want your reports, but by shoving the ROI you’re bringing them in their faces, they will keep you longer.  

Tip of the Iceberg

You could write an encyclopedia’s amount of information about online marketing and still not scratch the surface. What we have presented here is just the tip of the iceberg to get you thinking about how you want to approach this field.

The best thing about online marketing is that many tactics that worked ten years ago still work today. Then on top of that, new tactics and strategies are being developed everyday.

When you combine the different types of online marketing, the different methods, the traffic sources and the endless supply of businesses looking for experts in this field, the possibilities are truly endless.

Jose Luis Delgado 10 years ago
Great article. A lot of good information. Sometimes it can get overwhelming. I suggest creating a sort of binder with tabs and the break down of the categories.
Karen Jain 10 years ago
Social Media is the biggest boon for seo and also for any business. In order to to get effective benefits from this, one has to be active user and help people to gain more information.