Online Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide

Do you know who Chandler Bolt is?

If you’re an online marketing nerd already, like me, you probably do.

But if you’re part of the other 99.9% of the world, who isn’t super hyper about “this internet marketing stuff”, you’ll have never heard of this man.

Then what the hell is he doing with this headline on Business Insider?

business insider

(here’s the full story on BI)

How did he get on there?

Is he rich or something? Yes. Yes indeed.

That’s part of the beauty of online marketing.

This 21 year old kid has made hundreds of thousands of dollars, right from his kitchen table.

No need for fame, magazine interviews, talk show visits or acting classes (you know, to act in a blockbuster movie).

Even though you have no clue who Chandler Bolt is, not only has he made tons of money, but also, he’s helping others do the same.

His company, Self-Publishing School helps people publish books on Amazon and make a living from it.

If you’re an introvert, that’s a cause to celebrate!

Less than 20 years ago, extroverts had way better chances of becoming rich and successful.

Why? It involved a ton of networking.

You had to hire employees and build a huge company or, for a career in arts, music, movies etc. get every person in your industry to know you.

While connections are still a huge deal, today you can get them right from your couch.


(or from your living room floor, as in my case)

As a single individual, you can build a huge business inside the comfort of your home, after work, in your afternoons and on your weekends.

I don’t think I’m being dramatic when I say that online marketing is your shot at the life of your dreams.

Trust me, I would know 😉

I want you to have as much fun at work as these guys and I do. So today I’ll intro you to the world of online marketing.

Note: Even if you’re deep down the rabbit hole already, you can still learn a ton of new things from the following examples.


If you’ve read my previous guide on digital marketing, you already know that it’s different.

Not every digital marketing campaign is automatically an online marketing effort.

According to TNMedia, online marketing is …any tool, strategy or method of getting the company name out to the public. The advertisements can take many different forms and some strategies focus on subtle messages rather than clear-cut advertisements.”

Want the drop dead simple version of it?

Online marketing is any effort to spread the word about your company, which uses the internet to reach people.

Basically anything you do online to get more eyeballs on you and grab people’s attention, which should hopefully, at some point, buy from you.

There are 7 major sub-categories of online marketing I want to cover in this guide.


We already talked about search engine optimization (SEO), and I showed you all of the important aspects of it you have to get right.

Next to SEO, there’s search engine marketing (SEM), which is basically the paid version of SEO.

Marketers pay for displaying ads together with Google search results and hope to drive traffic, or rather interested people (=leads) to their product landing pages.

Then there’s content marketing, where marketers try to create valuable media and content and distribute those to potential future customers. This is the good guy version of online marketing, where you mostly try to guilt people into buying.

Of course you already know social media marketing, where you use one or several social media channels to engage with customers, build relationships and then send them to your products and services.

Pay per click advertising (or PPC) is similar to search engine marketing, but not limited to Google and its competitors. Most social networks let you create ads that integrate naturally into their feeds, allowing you to pay for clicks to your website.

Affiliate marketing is a kind of referral marketing, where you share profits with fellow marketers in exchange for promoting each other’s products.

Lastly, there’s email marketing, which is already considered old school, but still one of the most effective channels. Once your customers have given you permission to contact them, you can email them at any time, providing both value, and asking them to buy when the time is right.

You can already guess how big online marketing really is, as you know how huge of a space each of these categories is, taken on its own.

I mean just think about how many social media platforms you can name, off the top of your head.

Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Tumblr, Google+, Youtube, Periscope, LinkedIn, Meerkat, Blab, Reddit, StumbleUpon…

Okay, you get the point.

I want to give you a good grip on all of these categories, just like in our beginner’s guide, yet don’t drown you in the vast amounts of information out there.

That’s why, in each category, I’ll give you one example of someone who absolutely crushes it in their niche, along with some great points to get started.

Ready? Set. Go!

SEO – search engine optimization

It goes without saying that I think Quick Sprout is one of the best sites when it comes to SEO (we’re kind of a big deal, I think).

Our Advanced Guide to SEO alone has gotten thousands of shares.

But instead of spending an entire category bragging, I want to point you to someone who is a true SEO ninja and has worked for us at Quick Sprout for quite some time.

Not only because he has all the SEO skills you need up his sleeve, but also because he is super underrated.

Every time I read an article like “15 SEO Gurus That You Should Know for 2015”, I’m stunned he’s not on there.

Brian Dean aka Backlinko might be flying under the radar, but when you start googling around about learning SEO, you’re bound to bump into him.

He outranks huge sites like Wikipedia, Forbes and Copyblogger, and completely dominates the SEO space with his super long case studies, providing actionable step-by-step instructions for upping your SEO game.


(Backlinko ranks 1 AND 2 for “how to get backlinks”)

What’s great about his blog is that instead of just rounding up SEO news like Search Engine Land and others, he actually shows you how to implement good SEO techniques that work.

As I outlined in one of the previous guides of this series, SEO is the process of optimizing your online content, so that a search engine likes to show it as a top result for searches of a certain keyword.

Brian is one of the best sources on the web to learn how to do it.

For example: Brian recently published an article called “How to get backlinks with guestographics”.

There, he does 2 things.

1. He shows you the results that prove the strategy works.


2. He gives you detailed steps you can follow to execute it.

As a case study he uses someone he’s helped pull off this strategy in their niche.

You see the results and then you can just scroll down and follow along as you read. In this case the steps are:

  • Step 1: Create and Publish a (Really Good) Infographic
  • Step 2: Find People That Are Interested In Your Infographic
  • Step 3: See If They’re Interested In Your Infographic
  • Step 4: Make Sharing Your Infographic a Breeze (AKA, “The Bribe”)
  • Step 5: Add a Link In Your Introduction

Easy to follow, right? So what’s the catch?

It’s hard to execute. It takes time.

And that’s the reason not many people do it. Be one of the few who do, and you’ll get the results.

Just check this backlink we got to a Quick Sprout infographic just a month ago:


(you can view it here)

Want more proof?

Go through the entire Backlinko blog. You’ll only find about 30 posts over 2.5 years.

If Brian’s SEO didn’t work, then he would never have been able to grow Backlinko to 100,000+ monthly readers, 100,000 email subscribers and such a massive SEO brand with only 30 blog posts.

The following 3 blog posts are the best ones to get started:

SEM – search engine marketing

Search engine marketing is the paid cousin of SEO.

Instead of optimizing your content and promoting it a lot, in order to eventually show up as a top result for organic searches (which can often take a few months to happen, even if you do it right), you can pay your way to the top.

Since 50% of all clicks go to the first and second result, you’ll surely get a lot of hits to your site, but you also pay for each and every single one.


Depending on what keyword you want to show up for, you have to pay different prices.

Keywords, which people search a lot for, are more competitive and therefore more expensive.

Some keywords cost up to several hundred dollars.

$500 for a single click!

So while it is a great strategy, it only works out if you can immediately recoup your advertising costs.

Companies easily blow tens of thousands of dollars on Google Adwords campaigns, failing to make sure they get their money’s worth.

To win with SEM, you have to offer a paid product or service.

When you’re still in the phase of producing free content to build an audience, don’t waste your time with SEM, you’ll run out of money faster than you can spell S-E-M.

Thankfully, avoiding the mistake of paying for worthless clicks is not as hard as you might think.

By setting up conversion goals inside of your campaign you can track exactly who made a purchase from your ads and you’ll know exactly how much money you spent and how much you made at any time.

Google has published several case studies, of customers who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Google Adwords, with an even better return.

Their ROI (return on investment), is often way higher than any stock or real estate investment could be, creating 5x, 10x, and even 20x the ad spend in conversions.

A great source to get started with Google Adwords, whether you’re an established business or a solo entrepreneur sitting on his couch, is Jerry Banfield.

Jerry makes a living by being a full time instructor on Udemy, often generating $30,000 or more in monthly income.

The reason he was able to scale up his sales so much, is Google Adwords.

Prior to his solopreneur career, Jerry ran a one-man ad agency, helping businesses with their SEM. Once he had a few courses to sell, he went on to transfer his SEM skills to his own business.

Look at the kind of results he creates:


That’s an ROI of 4700% and that’s how powerful Google Adwords can be.

Even better, Jerry teaches everything he knows, and most of it for free. The by far best place to start learning Google Adwords is his free course on Youtube.

It walks you through everything you need to know for setting up your first campaign from scratch and is over 3 hours long.

This video alone is more than enough to get started, and once you’re ready to kick it up a notch, you can just get his Udemy course for over 9 hours of videos, detailed tutorials and guides.

Pro tip: If you buy the course, go through Jerry’s website for a coupon that lets you buy the course for $25, instead of $300.

Content marketing

Jon Morrow is a master content crafter. After getting annoyed by how great content often suffers from little traffic and exposure, he set out to help people change that.

His blog, Boost Blog Traffic boasts over 500,000 monthly readers.

As I taught you in the previous guide, content marketing is all about providing timely and relevant value to your audience.

The first step to doing that is knowing your stuff, and boy, did Jon do his homework. He’s built his blog to a six-figure income.

Monthly, that is.

He makes more in a month than most people in a year, so it’s fair to assume he’s good at all kinds of online marketing.

jon morrow

He did all of it, just with the power of his voice. Jon is paralyzed from the neck down.

When he decided to make marketing a key focus of his blog, he knew sharing the lessons he learned when building his blog and former businesses would attract a lot of readers.

But what would get him even more fans and potential customers, is teaching people how to implement the techniques he used to growth hack his companies to these huge revenues in such a short time.

Similar to Backlinko he often breaks down a marketing tactic step by step, with screenshots, results and detailed how-to’s.

Super specific instructions like this are rare in any industry, and if you can take people by the hand from A to B, that’s when you’ll build a loyal following.

What’s more, Jon often brings on guests to share their best tactics in the same manner, so you can learn about other ways of online marketing as well, like building relationships, Google Analytics, or email marketing.

One way to learn what it takes to create awesome content is to just look at Jon’s writing.

Take this intro for example.

Jon coins an entirely new term that he introduces the reader to. He alienates the audience by talking about “them”, even though every reader knows he or she is addressed personally.


Then he explains his terms and compares a common blogger’s problem to a sickness. Anyone would want to know how to cure it! He’s created a huge curiosity gap and the reader immediately gets drawn in.

Another way to learn from him is by straight up reading his content about, well, creating content. 3 good articles to start with are:

Content comes in many more forms than writing, and if you want to know more about other ways of creating content, take a look at my content marketing guide.

Social media marketing

Social media is a beast. This industry is gigantic and it’s growth rate is scaring even me.

By now there are hundreds of social media networks out there.

This topic deserves a whole guide on its own, but if you want to be successful with social media (and you’ll HAVE to, in the long run), your best bet of a one stop shop is Gary Vaynerchuk.

Gary is firing on all cylinders and platforms, has written 3 New York Times bestsellers (2 of which are solely focused on how to use social media for your business), and runs one of the biggest media agencies in town.

He’s successful on Twitter, thanks to being witty and engaging with lots of people individually, and has amassed 1.18 million followers on the platform.

gary vaynerchuk

On Youtube he dominates with his #askgaryvee show, which is published every working day of the week.

Then there’s his Facebook page with over 400,000 likes, his Pinterest board with 15,000 followers and of course he couldn’t miss out on Instagram and had to garner another 160,000 followers there.

All in all, around 2 million people follow his every move, and if you watch him closely as well, you can learn the art of social media from him.

One of the biggest takeaways from Gary is that content follows context.

He says “content is king, but context is god”, meaning if you don’t respect the context of each individual platform, you’re bound to lose.

Example: I could have posted this blog post as a Facebook status update, but would it have made any sense? No. No one consumes long form content on Facebook, that’s what blogs and Youtube are for.

Twitter’s video platform Vine has gotten immensely popular. Lots of people completely failed in building a big following on it, because they were just putting out the wrong content.

wrong content

(the top vine stars know what works)

If you only have 6 seconds of your viewer’s attention, the feeling you try to excite in them better be strong.

Only 2 kinds of accounts are able to pull that off consistently: Musicians and comedians.

Go through the list of the top Viners and you’ll see that 99% of them are comedians making short, funny videos.

So instead of seeing social media as a distribution channel where you push out the content you created on one platform to all the others, try to tell stories that match the context of each platform.

Since Gary is also a speaker, you can learn a ton about social media by watching his talks on Youtube.

But Gary’s not the only social media wizard out there, so here are a few other resources to help you learn how to kick ass on various platforms:

Pay per click advertising

Pay per click advertising (or PPC) is exactly what the name suggests. You pay for each click you receive on an ad you create.

Sounds similar to SEM, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. But while SEM is only one type of PPC advertising (and a very special one), there are many platforms that offer you showing ads to their audience with PPC.

Twitter does it, LinkedIn does it, Youtube does it, and recently Instagram introduced ads as well.

But by far the most popular platform for PPC advertising is Google AdWords and Facebook.

On Facebook, the way it works is that you create an ad, which looks just like a Facebook status update.

Then you can pick a specific audience, for example women in Austin, Texas, between the ages of 32 and 45, who like Jon Bon Jovi (yes, it’s that specific).

Lastly, you set a budget and how much you’re willing to pay per click.

Your ad will then be served to your audience, either in their Facebook news feed on a desktop computer, or their mobile phone.

You can also place ads in the sidebar.

When people click on your ad, they’ll be redirected to your page, which can be part of your Facebook fan page, or any URL you define.

This way you can get people to buy your product, read your content, or, as in this example, sign up for a free webinar:

free webinar

(Grant knows how to run fb ads)

What’s good about PPC, is that it integrates seamlessly into the flow of its respective platform.

Ever since marketers first started advertising heavily, consumers tried to avoid it.


Because in 99% of all cases, it’s not relevant to them.

What college kid needs to see a billboard about adult diapers? No one!

With PPC, marketers can be sneakier, and we need to.

The ads just show up as part of the natural “just scrolling through my Facebook feed” process and are much less obvious.

In addition, thanks to the specific targeting, you can now make sure your ads are actually seen by relevant potential customers.

A prime resource online is AdEspresso. They offer a software that layers on top of Facebook’s fairly complicated ad manager.

fb ads

(Jerry Banfield also helps people with fb ads)

But the blog is where they hide the good stuff. They have a Facebook ads for beginners guide, which is a great starting point.

Here are some other good articles and resources to help you start your first Facebook ad campaign:

Affiliate marketing

You can’t spell affiliate marketing without Pat Flynn. Actually you can, but you can’t learn it without him.

When Pat created Smart Passive Income in 2008, he was just starting to get familiar with selling informational products online. His first product, Green Exam Academy, a course he created to help people pass the LEEDs exam for architects sold well.

He wanted to learn more about the concept of passive income, where you earn money without actively working for it (after an insane amount of work upfront of course).

Let’s just say he managed to learn quite a bit, given his most recent income report:


Affiliate marketing is his single biggest source of income.

But what is affiliate marketing really?

Imagine you know a great pizza place. You know the owner, Luigi, and you go there all the time.

Naturally, you tell your friends about it.

When your friend Tim goes to the pizza place, he mentions your name and buys 4 pizzas for his friends.

The next time you come back Luigi says: “Dude, your friend bought 4 pizzas because of you! That’s the biggest order I had all week! Thanks man, here’s $5 bucks for referring him!”


You’ve just made your first affiliate marketing sale.

Except that it would never happen in real life like this, especially because a pizza place who’s biggest order in a week is 4 pizzas won’t be around for very long.

You know where it happens all the time? Online.

Amazon’s a prime example.

When you sign up for their affiliate program, you can generate a special link for every single product page they have.

You can then put that link on your blog for example, or send it to friends who you want to recommend that product to, and if they click your link and buy it, you’ll get a small commission from Amazon for referring that customer.

Over the last 7 years, Pat has built the best resource online about affiliate marketing. Some great starting points are:

Email marketing

I want to introduce you to your new best friend, when it comes to email marketing.

Meet Bryan Harris, founder of Videofruit.

Do you know that feeling when you keep complaining all day long, until you see your best friend and she immediately tells you: Shut up. Stop complaining and do this instead!

That’s Bryan.

In the past 2 years he bootstrapped his blog from $0 to a six figure business. His latest course made a cool $220,750.

Originally providing freelance work for big brands like HubSpot and our very own KISSmetrics, he eventually started focusing on teaching more.

He says his single greatest asset in his business is his email list.

In 2014 he grew his own from 0 to over 10,000 subscribers, and has by now more than doubled that.

2014 numbers

(that’s a lot of emails)

Lots of articles online show you “how to write better emails” or “how to pitch anything”, but in order to be able to send those emails, you first need the list of people to send them to.

That’s what email marketing is all about. Directly communicating with your audience and customers.

It trumps lots of social media platforms when it comes to engagement, and is a great way of selling products and services.

Think back to the last time you changed your phone number. Probably not that long ago, right?

Now remember the last time you changed your email. Uhm, never?

Changing your email is an absolute pain, and therefore an email address is a very good thing to have as a contact.

Bryan’s by far not the only one who escaped from the cubicle by building an email list, but he’s the best when it comes to teaching you how to do so.

He has a full fledged course called “Get 10,000 Subscribers”, but for starters, check out these 3 posts:


Online marketing is the real deal. Of course guys like Chandler are the exception, but thanks to the power of the internet, everyone can become financially independent now.

No boss.

No 9 to 5.

No fear of losing your job.

But that’s all easier said than done. If you do anything right, it’s hard.

Online marketing is no different. To get ahead, you need to get started.

I hope this guide will help you do just that.

What’s your favorite type of online marketing? Are you building a business with it? Which type of marketing will you learn next? Let me know in the comments!