In simplistic terms, digital marketing is the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media. Digital marketing differs from traditional marketing in that it involves the use of channels and methods that enable an organization to analyze marketing campaigns and understand what is working and what isn’t – typically in real time.
Digital marketers monitor things like what is being viewed, how often and for how long, sales conversions, what content works and doesn’t work, etc. While the Internet is, perhaps, the channel most closely associated with digital marketing, others include wireless text messaging, mobile instant messaging, mobile apps, podcasts, electronic billboards, digital television and radio channels, etc.
Why Digital Marketing Is Important
Digital media is so pervasive that consumers have access to information any time and any place they want it. Gone are the days when the messages people got about your products or services came from you and consisted of only what you wanted them to know. Digital media is an ever-growing source of entertainment, news, shopping and social interaction, and consumers are now exposed not just to what your company says about your brand, but what the media, friends, relatives, peers, etc., are saying as well. And they are more likely to believe them than you. People want brands they can trust, companies that know them, communications that are personalized and relevant, and offers tailored to their needs and preferences.
Manage Customer Relationships Across All Channels
Digital marketing and its associated channels are important – but not to the exclusion of all else. It’s not enough to just know your customers; you must know them better than anybody else so you can communicate with them where, when and how they are most receptive to your message. To do that, you need a consolidated view of customer preferences and expectations across all channels – Web, social media, mobile, direct mail, point of sale, etc. Marketers can use this information to create and anticipate consistent, coordinated customer experiences that will move customers along in the buying cycle. The deeper your insight into customer behavior and preferences, the more likely you are to engage them in lucrative interactions.As a small business owner, you want to make sure you’re in the best position to attract new customers. One of the best ways to do so? By kickstarting a digital marketing plan.
Online marketing is more than just signing up for Facebook and creating a website (although those are two important aspects of it!). It’s also a great way to promote your business without breaking the bank (i.e. no more roadside billboards) and can be easily measured.
Already having palpitations over the thought of starting a digital marketing plan? Fortunately, it’s less complicated than you think. Here’s a simple guide to help you get started:
Define Your Goals
Before you can begin shaping your digital marketing plan, you must first determine your end business goal if you haven’t already. With a goal to work towards, it’ll be easier to determine if a certain effort is worth investing time and money into. Will X help you get closer to your goal?If the answer is ‘no,’ you may need to consider an alternative plan.
Identify Your Target Audience
Before you can begin digitally communicating with customers and prospects, take some time to identify your target audience — i.e. the type of people who would benefit the most from your product or service.
Once you know who you’re talking to, it’ll be easier to determine the best ways to communicate with them.
Websites are to brands like hives are to bees. They’re the central hub and source of information about your business.
Although 52 percent of small business owners say they don’t have a company website, it’s time to rise above. This is a must-have for any business, and we can’t emphasize that enough. Whether you’re starting from scratch or simply updating your website, be sure to keep the following in mind:
Your website design should be easy to use and have a color scheme that is consistent with your branding and easy on the eyes of your visitors.
Throughout each page of your website, include searchable keywords. Keywords appease the search engine gods, making it possible for people to discover your business online.
Your homepage should clearly outline what your business is all about, and make it easy for visitors to contact you. Update content regularly to ensure it’s current and accurate.
Mobile devices (cell phones and tablets) account for 55 percent of all Internet users in the US, so your website should mobile-friendly. There’s nothing more frustrating than visiting a website that cuts off the screen.
Email Want an easy way to stay connected with customers and prospects who visit your store or your website? Email is the way to go. Not only is it 40 times better at getting new customers than Facebook and Twitter, email can be easily measured and is known to deliver high returns.
Not sure if you have the time to dedicate to a robust email campaign?
Debello can show you how to automate your email campaigns so that communication is a cinch. Simply create a sign up form on your website to collect subscribers and follow up with awesome email content.
To reach customers offline, maintain a sign up form at your cash register — use a tablet or smartphone with a mobile email sign up app, or go old school with a “pen and paper” form!
Content can include product updates (e.g. featured or discounted items), upcoming sales, coupons, and anything else you think your customers will want.
Maintaining an active presence on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter is a great way to engage with customers and raise brand awareness among prospects at low cost.
While it’s important for any small business owner to set realistic goals, (it can take years before acquiring 5,000 “Likes” or followers), remember that the more effort you put into engaging your social followers, the more you’ll reap as a result.
Contests, helpful tips, and discount codes are all great ways to encourage followers to interact with your business on social media. To further expand your reach, you might want to consider paid advertising and promoted posts on platforms that are most relevant to your brand.
As you set up your social media accounts, don’t forget to set up your online business listings (e.g. Google+, Bing, Yelp) as well. This will bring more credibility to your company, and provide people with an alternative way to learn more about your small business.
On all platforms, however, be sure to also manage customer feedback — especially the negative kind. This is crucial to maintaining your brand’s reputation, as well as providing your customers with the personal interaction they desire.
Before firing up Microsoft Word, take some time to create an editorial publishing calendar. Why? Because coming up with something to write about three to five times a week is a lot harder to do than you think, especially when you’re brainstorming on the spot.
With an editorial calendar that covers at least three months of content, you’ll give yourself an opportunity to work ahead of time and establish a regular publishing cadence (which your readers will love and appreciate).
As you’re planning, be sure to note upcoming company or local events, webinars, holidays, and any other timely event that’s relevant to your business. In addition to scheduling ideas for your blog, you might also want to include content for social platforms, emails, and newsletters.
We’ve overviewed a lot of great ways to boost your digital marketing plan, but how will you know if it’s truly influencing business growth?
To determine the ROI of your digital marketing efforts, set up analytics tracking to measure the effectiveness of your website, social presence, and general content. Pick a day each month to review your stats (add a calendar reminder if you must!). These statistics will be the vital signs for measuring the health of your digital marketing strategy.
Once you have your reports, use them to obtain insights on the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing efforts. You might notice underperforming areas that could use improvement, or successful tactics that you should continue to support.
Remember, no tactic is ever finished — there will always be ways to improve and continue nurturing your online business relationships!