For most modern businesses, marketing is overwhelmingly digital. Entrepreneurs find new customers on the web, big businesses use social media for leads and it’s almost impossible to have a successful company without a website. Digital marketing, however, is about more than just taking the traditional principles of marketing and applying them to smartphones. Digital marketing is a new approach that solves problems for your audience, attracts them to your brand and makes it easier to engage, convert and profit from online leads.
Digital Marketing Basics
Before you create your own online marketing campaign or start developing content, make sure you’re familiar with the basics. What are your goals? Are you advertising to a creative market, or are you hoping to attract executives working at multinational corporations? Here are some great places to start as you begin putting together a strategy for digital marketing.
What Are Your Digital Marketing Goals?
All too often, businesses or individuals throw themselves into digital marketing without first identifying their objectives. Your goals should be specific, attainable and customized to your business and your industry.
If you have a landscaping company, for example, you might want to become one of the top results when people search online for landscaping services in your area. That’s a great goal, and it can help drive your strategy. You can take it further by refining that goal into tangible numbers. You might decide that on the SERP, or search engine results page, you would like to be in the top five for your desired keywords.
Beyond that, think about your overall objectives. Digital marketing is a means to an end, not the end itself. Goals like a certain number of unique visitors, followers on Facebook or daily website visits get you to your primary objectives: Selling more products, retaining more customers or making greater profits. These goals should also be clearly defined. You might want to have $500,000 in total sales this year, or you may wish to increase your customer base by another 1,000 people. Your digital marketing strategy can help you accomplish all of these goals.
Who Is Your Ideal Audience or Customer Base?
Before you can establish an effective strategy for online marketing, you need to have a clear idea of your target audience. To get a realistic picture of who is using your products or paying for your services, take a closer look at your existing client base. Collect as much data as possible to put together a few typical buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a fictitious example of your ideal client. To be truly effective, go beyond statistical analysis like age or gender. Look at things like area of employment, style, family size, income or any other relevant factors to your specific industry or product. For example, a baby clothing company might create a specific buyer persona named Martha. Martha may be 37 years old and have two young children. She works a full-time job, makes $50,000 a year and always seems to be busy and short on time. The clothing company can create specific marketing campaigns online that would attract and appeal to potential customers just like Martha.
How Can Your Business Address the Needs of Your Audience?
Once you have decided on the goals of your business and you have a clear picture of your buyer personas, you can figure out how to meet the needs of your audience. Once again, you don’t need to do this by guessing. Simply ask your existing customers what their biggest pain points are. Or, compile all the questions and queries recently asked by customers and website visitors.
If a large percentage of customers are asking for advice about a specific problem, then you’ve found their pain point. Now, you can work to address that pain point through your digital marketing. Let’s continue to expand on the idea of owning a baby clothing business. Your customers might consistently say that they want to buy more clothes, but they routinely have trouble finding the right sizes. You’ve just discovered a major pain point for your audience.
Now, let your digital marketing plan address that problem. Your campaign might revolve around the fact that too many parents struggle to find consistent sizing for their child’s clothing. You can write blog posts that include sizing charts, and you can promote the fact that your company now offers standardized sizes for babies and toddlers.
Do You Have a Way to Verify if Your Strategy Is Working?
One of the things that makes digital marketing unique from traditional marketing is that the analytics are easily accessible. It takes just a few clicks to determine how many people viewed your advertisement online and how many people clicked on your blog post on any given day. With all these figures at your fingertips, it is important to use them to your full advantage.
To start, you can identify where your audience is coming from geographically. If you’re a national business, you might find that most of your customers are coming from a particular region of the country. Investigate to find out why this is happening, and then capitalize on it. Perhaps most of your customers are from Florida and California, for example, but your advertising expenses are the same in every state. It might be because your products or services are geared to warmer climates. Once you know that, you can refocus your digital marketing to these areas.
You can also see which ads perform well and which blog posts are shared the most. If you are working with more than one content creator, you might find that readers overwhelmingly prefer one writer to another. You can use this information and ask the preferred content creator to write more blogs and create a consistent voice throughout your campaigns.
Digital marketing strategies are often in flux. This isn’t a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean that your business is failing. Instead, it reflects the day-by-day information that digital marketing provides. With new data available constantly, businesses can adjust their strategies to achieve the best possible results. With a content manager who has access to these analytics, your business can continually improve, boost web traffic, increase customer satisfaction and achieve many other key goals.
Social Media, Web and Email Marketing
Digital marketing involves more than just the content on your website. To be successful in the digital age, your marketing strategy needs to include social media, web marketing and email marketing. Together, these three platforms can help your business be seen widely and allow you to connect to a potential audience on multiple platforms.
Why Social Media Is a Nonnegotiable Aspect of Digital Marketing
In the United States alone, there are over 219 million Facebook users. Businesses who aren’t on social media are missing out on an incredible way to connect with an enormous audience. Despite knowing the number of social media users, some companies still can’t see the value.
Social media is more than just a trend or a fun way to stay relevant, although it can also be both of those things. Social media is a way to establish relationships with clients and to promote your brand consistently. It reminds users of the value you can offer on a daily basis. While a customer might not visit your store every single day or view your website every day, there is a good chance that they will log onto their social media accounts at least once a day, if not more. This builds brand loyalty and keeps your business or website in the minds of current, past and potential customers.
Social media is also an excellent way to promote the content you’re already creating. If you write a daily post for your blog, you can share that post on your social media platforms. More people will see the content you’ve created, increasing its reach as well as its value. In this case, content can include written blog posts or articles, but it can also include graphics or charts created through programs like Creative Market.
Finding the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business
There’s little doubt that social media is an integral part of a digital marketing strategy. However, that doesn’t mean that your business needs to be on every single social media platform. It’s important to learn more about each form of social media and then get active on the platforms that work best for your brand and your preferred audience.
For many businesses, Facebook is the place to start. It is the largest social media platform in the world, and it is used by a staggering number of businesses already. Right now, there are over 50 million business pages on Facebook alone. Many businesses with visual content may also want to explore apps like Instagram or Pinterest. These options are especially popular with a younger demographic.
If your business primarily deals with other businesses, then choosing a more professional platform can be the right choice. Many large companies post their content on platforms like Google + or LinkedIn, both of which are used by professionals across countless industries. Companies appealing to a younger demographic might find success on Snapchat or Tumblr. The key is to find the right platform and then commit to it. There is no need to be marketing on every platform, but it is important to stay consistent and remain active on the ones you do commit to.
Why SEO Matters
It is impossible to talk about digital marketing without discussing SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO is all about ensuring that search engines bring up your relevant content when users are searching for it. That way, when people type key phrases into Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine, your website will pop up in the search results page.
Your content won’t magically or accidentally make it to the front page of these search engine results. Even if your content is great, it needs to be optimized for search engines. This is where SEO comes in. When you write an article or create the content for your various landing pages, be sure to include keywords or phrases that people commonly use to find businesses like yours. There are plenty of SEO tools online that can help you find appropriate keywords for your industry.
If you’re creating meaningful, relevant content that addresses the problems of your customers, then you’re already using the inbound marketing philosophy. Inbound marketing is about helping people find the solutions to their problems, even if it doesn’t immediately promote your products or services. If your company offers landscaping services in Florida, then your content might revolve around topics such as:
These topics answer the questions that your potential customers are asking. They also position you, and your business, as an expert in the area. When individuals read your blog posts and visit your website, they are learning more about you and the services you offer. When it comes time for them to hire a landscaper, you’ll be one of the companies they choose from. Inbound marketing lets customers discover your value rather than shoving a direct advertisement in their face. It’s subtler, but it is just as effective in the long term.
Bring Back Previous Customers With Email Marketing
Far too many companies send out emails that can be considered spam. This is such a significant problem that many people have apps and filters designed specifically to stop spam from reaching their inbox. While spam is certainly not something you want to be sending to your customers, email marketing can and does still have a place in your digital strategy. One of the ways that it can be most helpful is by bringing back previous customers and retaining current ones.
Sending occasional emails with valuable content isn’t spam. Instead, it’s a service you provide to previous and current customers. If your emails offer meaningful information or content, then it can go a long way in bringing previous customers back. Plus, it can help retain current customers who continue to see the value in your products or services. The key is not to flood people with emails and to ensure that each email has a purpose.
Send Emails Designed to Be Seen on Phones
Over 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone. One in 10 Americans only accesses the internet on their smartphones. Many more check their email frequently on their smartphones. That’s why it is so important to ensure that all emails look as good on mobile phones as they do on laptops and desktop computers.
Often, the men and women in charge of sending out marketing emails are designing the emails on computers at work. Many readers, however, will open those emails on their iPhones. Mobile formatting is a small step that can ensure emails look good when opened. If the email is a reflection of your brand and your business, it needs to make the right impact.
Content Management Strategy
At the root of digital marketing is one key element: content. In addition to having a content creator, or multiple creators, you’ll need to have a content manager. This is a person in charge of releasing, scheduling and planning upcoming content for your business. In a creative market, a content manager understands the need for imagination but still appreciates hard data and analytics. When managing content, key things to consider include frequency, consistency, distribution, voice, brand image and formats.
Every business should schedule their content, and an editorial calendar is the best way to keep track of it all. When scheduling content, there are three things to keep in mind: consistency, frequency and platform.
Consistency is absolutely necessary. If your business posts on Facebook once a day, and then stops using the platform for a week, it can leave users confused. The user experience is diminished if there is no regularity. Plus, the algorithms of certain social media platforms may penalize your account after long periods of negligence. If you write a blog post once a week, try to stick to that schedule. Show that you value your readers by remaining consistent and delivering content on time.
One of the best practices in digital marketing is filling out an editorial calendar as far in advance as possible. Many businesses find that working two or three months in advance is ideal. This gives you plenty of time to come up with content ideas, find a content creation team and schedule it in a consistent way. Plus, mapping out your content in advance allows you to see whether you’re favoring one subject over another, or whether you’re truly addressing the problems and pain points of your ideal audience.
With your editorial calendar full, it’s time to figure out how best to distribute the content you create. Of course, the best distribution methods depend on your company, your desired audience and the type of content you’re delivering. If your company has had success making videos, then sharing them on YouTube is a natural fit. If you are a photography company, then sharing photos on Facebook or Instagram might be ideal.
Don’t forget about the distribution methods that exist outside of social media. Your website serves as your own means of distributing content. Updating your blog with new developments, and sharing all the content you create, helps increase traffic by bringing more eyes to your website. You can also distribute content to existing customers or contacts through email. These are distribution channels that you own, unlike social media platforms. Most successful businesses find that content should be distributed across multiple channels to be seen by as many people as possible. If you pay an author to create a blog post, for example, make sure that you enhance its value by having more people read it.
Finding a Consistent Voice for Your Content
Your brand’s voice dictates how your company is seen and understood by the world. Think about a brand that uses lots of emojis and gifs in their content. Right away, you’re probably picturing a youthful brand, or perhaps a service aimed at teens. Clearly, your brand’s voice is important. Just as important as defining your voice is being consistent with it.
Having a consistent voice doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to work with the same writers over and over again, although that can be helpful. You can still recruit from a large pool of content creators if you have clear guidelines for the voice. Specific direction makes it easier to get consistency. You might have all your content in the second person as a way to directly connect with readers, or you can keep a third person voice if you’re involved in B2B marketing on a more formal level.
Ideally, the voice you choose for your brand should be heard across all your platforms. While it is acceptable to tweak text on varying mediums, the overall tone should reflect your ideal audience and the image you want to promote for your company. That voice should start on the homepage of your website and translate through to emails, advertisements, social media posts and even print media, if applicable to your business.
Exploring the Many Formats Available
The content you share can come in a wide range of formats. As a business, it is up to you to decide which formats are the best for your industry. Keep in mind that it is entirely possible to be successful with multiple formats. A business might primarily write blog posts, but they can also include occasional videos to share information in a new way.
Most content is written, and for good reason. Often, the written word is the easiest and most effective way to communicate an idea. If your goal is to share content with a wide audience, then text is ideal. You might choose to interview an expert in your field and share that information with readers. You can write blog posts, craft e-books or offer extensive white paper reports that explore certain topics in depth.
In today’s fast-paced world, other forms of content can also be hugely successful. Many businesses find that photography expresses an idea quickly, particularly on social media. Videos, especially short videos, are also a great way to connect to users on a new level. Remember to tailor the content format to the ideal user experience. People on Instagram aren’t going to click on a link to read a long research paper from their phones, but professionals on LinkedIn might.
Digital marketing can feel overwhelming because there are so many different elements that might be involved. Fortunately, you don’t need to handle it alone. Whether you’re a marketing professional in a big firm or you’re a small business owner just starting a blog, Textbroker can help you create and manage your content to make a big impact in the world of digital marketing