Arment Dietrich

The Four Elements of Online Marketing

By: Arment Dietrich | August 24, 2010 | 

I keep seeing these long lists everywhere on how to use social media for business purposes and although a lot of them touch on some important factors, they are usually too complicated so I’m breakin’ it down for you.  It doesn’t matter if your company is B2B, B2C, or A2Z, online marketing programs all have the same four elements.


This element seems to be lost in most social media campaigns.  Without research, how do you know where your customers and prospects are playing online?  Are they on Facebook?  Are they on LinkedIn?  Once you find them, dig deeper and find out what they do on the social platforms.  Are they participating, looking for leads themselves, or not active at all?

Besides finding your customers, research what your competitors are doing.  Do they have a blog?  Do they have a community? Do they make use of videos, podcasts, or photos? If so, are the people engaging with them potential clients for you?


This is where your research comes into play.  If you found your customers and prospects are already participating on Twitter, build a profile; one for your company, yourself, and other key players at your business.  This is where it gets tricky.  Just because your competitors are doing something doesn’t mean you need to do that as well.  Make sure whatever you decide to embark on (a blog, a virtual community, Facebook pages) that you are offering something unique and that you have the time to devote to it. It’s worse to create a profile and not participate in conversation than to not have one at all.


Most people begin online marketing campaigns and expect thousands of followers and incoming calls right off the bat.  I’m here to tell you it’s about quality, not quantity.  Make sure you get to know your followers and make sure your efforts are attracting the type of audience that drive your business goals.

This takes time, just like a relationship, so be patient, network, listen, and build.


This is my favorite part and this is where you cultivate and nurture your leads.  It’s about conversatin’, commenting, and companionship.  Make your followers feel at home.  If they are comfortable enough to comment with you the loyalty is already getting stronger.

What tips do you have for online marketing success?

*Image courtest of Marketing Services Online

  • I am a bit confused by this article. I could see if it was titled Social Media Marketing. Not sure it fits with Online Marketing though.

    • I think it definitely fits for online marketing as well as social media. Any marketing you do online, these four elements need to be in place in order to be successful. Take banner ads for example. You must research to find where they should be placed, build the concept and programming, listen to the numbers and click-thoughs, and gather the email addresses for follow-up and engagement.

      • I don’t disagree with that. When I am constructing an online marketing campaign, there is a different approach than a social media campaign. Not saying they aren’t interlocked and shouldn’t be. It just confused me when clicking on the link. I just don’t agree.

        • OK, I’m intrigued. How would your list differ for online marketing?

        • I think Social is a subset of Online. Many, many F1000 B2B buyers and influencers are barely (if at all!) using Social (perhaps Facebook for personal), but they are on-line via web and email.

  • Good read. I agree with Nick, that the specifics here speak directly to social media marketing, (e.g. references to “followers,” Twitter, “profiles,” etc.).

    But many of the same steps are involved with online marketing as a whole. Online marketing is a very broad category and extends to many things — so your strategy might be different, depending on which type of online marketing you were doing. For instance affiliate marketing is a form of online marketing that would require slightly different tactics. And banner ads and PPC advertising — all of these things fit into the very broad category of online marketing, and the things you might employ in each instance are very specific, and different than your overview here.

    No matter, it’s a great overview of basic social media marketing steps and a good read — thanks!


    • Good points, Shelly. I think the RESEARCH part fits across the board and people don’t do enough of it. But the remaining elements seem more targeted to social media. In fact, just had a conversation the other day about how certain elements of online marketing are not meant to engage at all, but to drive the consumer to where the engaging can take place (e.g. social media).

      One question: Been researching B2B a lot lately and am interested in what internal processes people are using to track leads and get them from PR to sales or wherever else they need to go. Thoughts?

  • Great tips, Molli!
    I think they are relevant for both online marketing and social media programs. Although approaches may be slightly different, these tips are the building blocks for any campaign.

  • and, THANKS, Molli for having a reasonable # of tips. I’m flummoxed by the tip lists that have 50! or 300! tips or suggestions. If I’m following or reading you, you’re an expert, and I expect you to be discerning for me – not just throw a bunch of suggestions my way.

    This is a great list, sensible, and easy to apply.

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  • I have a proposal to do some work in front of a retrotech band. And, I was wondering why so many musicians have stayed with MySpace when everyone seems to have left for Facebook and Twitter.

    Lifted from your blog: “Just because your competitors are doing something doesn’t mean you need to do that as well. Make sure whatever you decide to embark on (a blog, a virtual community, Facebook pages) that you are offering something unique and that you have the time to devote to it. It’s worse to create a profile and not participate in conversation than to not have one at all.”

    I see the heads shake right now, recalling the last time I described the commitment. There is really no qualitative difference in committing to social networking and paying someone to broadcast an ad on TV and in print.

    Your money is your time. Remember the old saying time is money.

    I recommend to people who have not tried social networking because they’re too busy to pay me to ghost write some of their postings – using content from a blog they have written. In that scenario, the content is genuine. I help them spread their message across social media. (Yes, I know you can set up cross postings. This is different.) I track the engaging comments and refer comments to the client so they can respond personally.

    Business owners still don’t understand social media, probably because it was so easy to dismiss as something silly. Now that Twitter is encroaching the 150 million mark, it’s not so easy to dismiss.

    If it seems a business is “too busy” and they have to remain on the sidelines, there is something else going on there. Or, I’ve been getting the brushoff. It’s like saying I don’t have time to invest in my business. Isn’t that why people go to work everyday – to invest in their business? Silly.

    Raymond (aka NextwaveRay)

    • I agree and disagree with some of your points. First, I disagree with you about MySpace. I go to MySpace to listen to music. I don’t go there to engage but it is still my favorite site for getting to know bands. So for any band I think they should definitely have a presence on MySpace. Facebook doesn’t have the music listening features and you have to like their page in order to learn about them.

      I agree with you on the silliness about business owners thinking they don’t have time, that is precisely why I created these four steps. Four is manageable, 15 is overwhelming.

  • Amy

    Hi Molli, I agree that this is a very good process. The long list everyone uses on how to use social media for business purposes does get overwhelming and its great that you narrow the importances in only four elements. An additional point to simplify is to focus on communities that are relevant to you (especially on engagement). Do you think having a tool to support this process makes it easier?

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  • hiflynjim

    Practically the same can be said for marketing via websites. Time is the main ingredient, which requires patients, and building relationships with your visitors is all important. It’s really a shame that the perception is that the so called “gurus” of the industry became wealthy over night, truth is it takes hard work, persistence and patience.

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