4 Businesses Doing Online Marketing Right

4 Businesses Doing Online Marketing Right– And What You Can Learn From Them

Every concept is simple in theory. Understanding a concept, however, is very different from actually executing it in reality, let alone executing it successfully. SEO and online marketing are not even necessarily easy concepts to grasp, and especially when you’re first starting out, it can be a struggle to successfully see it through. Some businesses have managed to do just that. Here I’ve compiled a list of businesses doing online marketing right, and they’re doing it right now. Using this, you can learn from the best and implement some of their proven strategies in a way that works for your company.


Business 1: Zappos and Customer Service

Zappos is perhaps most famous for mastering customer service.
Zappos is perhaps most famous for mastering customer service.

When you’re not operating exclusively (or at all) out of a brick and mortar based store, it can be difficult to get the personal touch of great customer service. Most communications are done online and via e-mail, so there is little human connection for the most part. It is essential that customers don’t feel that they are working just with a computer, however. What if there’s a problem with the order? What happens if they aren’t happy? Customers won’t buy from you if they don’t think you’ll be in their corner if something doesn’t go quite right, and customer service, unfortunately, sometimes goes overlooked in an ecommerce or online business, and wrongfully so.

If you search for Zappos customer service on a search engine like Google, articles after articles and testimonials after testimonials are stacked up one after the next. It seems like customers are more likely to complain when they’re angry sometimes, but the customers of Zappos have nothing but good things to say. Stories of best men being overnighted shoes when they showed up to the wedding without some, of record breaking ten hour phone calls, of the company paying for section of toll road for a span of time so that people would travel with less stress, are scattered all across the Internet. And there’s more.

Zappos has so mastered customer service that there is even an About.com page titled “Customer Service Lessons from Zappos,” which also has strong examples of personal acts of customer service.  The company’s CEO Tony Hsieh has even written a comic book discussing what he’s learned in the industry.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

Not only have they done so well taking care of their customers that the customers keep returning, the whole world is looking to them as a guide for great customer service.

Zappos tries to give the “wow” experience to each client, trying their best to make sure each and every one of them feel like cherished, valued VIP customers. There have been multiple reports of flowers being sent to customers due to hardships in the customers’ personal lives, like a death in the family or a struggle with a medical condition. They also train each member of their 500-strong call center team exactly what their brand and company ideals are. Whether you’re handling customer service yourself or enlisting someone to take care of customers for you, it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same level of dedication to clients. There’s a lot of things Zappos does well, but mastering the personal touch of excelled customer service without any brick and mortar stores is easily what they’re best at.


Business 2: Old Spice and Social Media Marketing/Brand Building/Original Content

Old Spice
Old Spice

Everyone has seen the Old Spice man. Everyone knows the Old Spice man. He’s the dream, the guy’s guy and a parody of a manly man. He’s what all guys supposedly aspire to smell like. He’s the face of the “Smell like a man campaign.” He’s that guy! You know, this guy!

Old Spice picked an attractive, masculine looking man plopped him into a hilarious commercial that became overwhelmingly popular, one enjoyed by both men and women no less.

Isiaah Mufasa’s character is speaking to women directly, presenting an oyster filled with two tickets “to that thing you love,” which turn to diamonds. He is a stereotype of the perfect masculine man, picture perfect with abs to envy. This commercial is an incredibly strong example of a brand that has been built well. They came up with original, clever, humorous content to brand their product, and it certainly worked well.

Once the concept of Old Spice Man was recognized as being successful, the company took the marketing campaign to social media. They went right to all their social media platforms (Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook), encouraging users to ask the Old Spice Man questions. Users overwhelmingly complied, submitting their questions before voting on their favorite ones. For example, “how does the white house get…women voters back?” The winners got a personalized video uploaded to YouTube, starring Isaiah Mufasa himself as the Old Spice Man, who answered the most popular questions while never breaking character.

To break it down: Old Spice came up with funny, clever, and unique content that caught watcher’s attention because it hadn’t been seen before. By using humor and wit, along with great casting and writing, Old Spice was able to build their brand around one commercial (though more inevitably followed). They then got users to actively engage and interact on social media (not an easy thing to do), and responded to some of them, giving a more personal touch that made the frenzy even more crazed.

Unfortunately, after the campaign was over, Old Spice let some of the momentum down. That’s something we can all learn from. One time success doesn’t mean we can get on auto-pilot—the momentum has to keep going. Gary Vaynerchuck talks about why the campaign’s results fell a bit flat, mostly due to not taking advantage of the high level of user interaction they had achieved.

Regardless, the campaign itself and the immediate results were huge, so taking a note out of their first page of Old Spice’s book is a good way to learn about how content marketing, brand building, and social media interaction can all overlap into one great marketing campaign.


Business 3: Coca-Cola and Social Media Engagement/Brand Building

Coca-Cola has built a strong brand through a variety of ways
Coca-Cola has built a strong brand through a variety of ways

You don’t become the biggest and most popular brand in your industry for no reason, and you certainly don’t maintain that status without some serious, hardcore effort

. Sure, when you have an established name to your business, building an audience isn’t necessarily as difficult as when you’re starting fresh from scratch, but it still doesn’t mean it’s easy. One thing that Coca-Cola does well, however, is managing that audience over their different channels of media (especially social media).

The post that you put on Reddit won’t be the same as the one you post on Facebook, and it will be starkly different than the one posted on Twitter, and Coca-Cola has grasped this concept. While Coca-Cola has kept their brand consistent—which is so important to only ever have one true brand—they have delivered different content in different ways to separate media channels. Kevin Shively talks about some of the differing tactics for each platform of social media in his article here. One example that he mentions is how the company has embraced videos on Instagram more than most, stating that the last four videos have averaged 5.5k in likes and about 90 comments each. That’s huge. Yes, they’re a big brand, but even if those numbers are reduced proportionally to a smaller business, those are still huge and potentially game changing numbers.

Regardless of what platform they are advertising on, however, certain things stay consistent. Having direct interaction and responses to visitors’ questions, comments, and concerns is huge when it comes to brand building as well as building loyalty. If you have massive corporation like Coca-Cola thanking you individually for your post, that will earn them some bonus points in the loyalty department. If you have an audience willing and excited to interact with you, engage them! Respond back! It can make all the difference when it comes to keeping their interest and their business.

The company has embraced new media to advertise on, or has adapted with changes in media. In addition to completely embracing—and successfully marketing on—social media, Coca-Cola has also had major success with content marketing and PR building campaigns.

Their “Share a Coke” campaign will be returning this summer. This campaign allows customers in the UK to get a personalized bottle of Coca-Cola, Coke Zero, or Diet Coke. Customers all over the UK joined in the fun at finding a bottle with the name of a loved one or a friend. When it returns this summer, the campaign will have bottles featuring over 1,000 names. They have added personalized touches, some of the bottles reading “Mum” and “Dad.” The bottles are mass produced, but finding a bottle with your name or the name of a loved one makes it feel personal, establishing a bond between you and the brand.

Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke"  Campaign
Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” Campaign

Coca-Cola recently had a campaign in which they developed “Small World Machines.” These machines were essentially video chat terminals, which allowed Indians and Pakistanis to connect with each other, live. The machines encouraged members of the differing countries to touch hands via the screen by tracing designs or patterns on the machine. This showed Coca-Cola’s intent to give back internationally. As one of the men in charge, Jeff Benjamin said, “It’s putting love and heart into the world through brands and making that brand stand for something in a way it hadn’t before.” Well said, Jeff.

Showing interest in your community, no matter how far that reach may be, can make leaps and bounds of difference when it comes to brand building. Showing the fruits of your labor via social media networking and truly embracing all marketing platforms while doing so can build a stronger brand. Coca-cola has continually managed to utilize these concepts, and combined with great content, strong customer interaction, and some good deeds, they’ve secured their place at the top of the industry as a magnificently successful corporation.


Business 4: Black Dog Café (Tallahasse, Fl) and Brand Building/Social Media Marketing

In a starkly different example from Zappos and Coca-Cola, a great small business example of strong social media presence is Black Dog Café in Tallahasse, Fl.  It’s a small coffee shop on a beautiful lake where I loved to study when I went to Florida State, and I found them through Facebook. They are environmentally friendly and extremely involved with the community. They host events like literary nights, helping them fit into a niche that’s extremely prevalant in Tallahassee, especially with one of the best writing schools in the country.

Post by Black Dog Cafe, showcasing their local events
Post by Black Dog Cafe, showcasing their local events


They also keep the community up to date on other events in the Lake Ella shopping strip, reminding followers of Food Truck Thursday and when the farmers market would be available. They are big advocates of buying local food, reiterate those ideals on Facebook. They support the surrounding community’s events, gaining them good favor with everyone in it. Simply put, they have successfully found their niche, build their brand around it, and have learned how to market to it directly.


Black Dog is a huge advocate of supporting local farmers and businesses
Black Dog is a huge advocate of supporting local farmers and businesses


Added bonus: to anyone living in the panhandle area, Black Dog really does have the best coffee I’ve ever had.


It’s Not Just About Big Businesses

Yes, three out of four of these companies are big names, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a mega corporation or that you need their resources in order to implement the ideas behind them. Great customer service can be implemented by anyone willing to go the extra mile and a half for each and every client (and no, this isn’t always an even remotely easy thing to do). These concepts can all be implemented on small scales successfully. Black Dog Café, for example, has a strong Facebook presence that’s well executed and well followed. The concepts are all the same—it’s up to you to customize them to fit in with your field, your clients, and you.