Digital marketing is a catch-all phrase that covers the varied online marketing efforts a business can engage in. Leveraging the technologies available on the web, things like search engines, social media, email, video, and websites, digital marketing becomes a very powerful way for a business to engage current and prospective customers.
People spend a lot of time on the internet. Like…a lot.
According to statista.com, internet users spent an average of 6.2 hours online every day 2014. In 2017 the average will likely be higher and will continue to increase.
Effective marketing requires that you find where your target audience is, and you market to them. Today, that means the internet. Digital marketing is the future and should be the cornerstone of your marketing efforts.
Understanding Digital Marketing
As stated above, digital marketing encompasses all things related to your marketing that exist in a digital format or online. This includes all of your digital business assets and the various techniques and strategies you can use to promote your goods and services.
The key to effective digital marketing campaigns is to fully understand your assets and how to use them within the various techniques available to achieve your pre-defined marketing goals.
In order to help clarify some of the assets and techniques available to you, let’s take a look at some of the possibilities.
Digital assets are the base of your digital marketing efforts. Everything will be built around these assets to increase your reach, influence, and engagement. All of which will help increase your revenue.
Your Website and Brand
Your website is your marketing hub. It should be the core presentation of your brand. With this in mind, all activities should be completed with the goal of getting leads to your website so they can be exposed to the things you offer. This means getting them into the various top-level aspects of your sales funnel.
Your Digital Content
Like it or not, content is still king. In the digital world content is the key component for driving your digital marketing success. You must create and execute a solid content development plan. Depending on your business and the content needs of your potential buyers, you will want to consider the following types of content for your digital marketing strategy.
- Blog Posts & Articles – If you aren’t blogging in 2017, get started. Seriously. Start writing!
- Videos – Again, it’s 2017 and YouTube is the 2nd or 3rd largest search engine behind Google. If you aren’t making videos, get started. Again, for real. Do it.
- Ebooks – Not as critical as blogging, but eBooks can be very effective way to gain consumer trust and demonstrate your authority.
- Guides – Business, generally speaking, is about helping people. Guides are helpful.
- Cheat Sheets – Ditto for cheat sheets…like guides, but more easily consumed.
- Tutorials – Tutorials are great too. They not only bring in traffic and promote sharing, they also demonstrate what you do and how much work it involves. If they understand what is involved, many people would rather pay you to do it.
- Photos, Graphics & Memes – A picture is worth a thousand words. Well, sometimes. Because of search engines, words are very important. However, quality photos and memes can encourage a massive amount of engagement around your brand.
- Infographics – Words and Graphics…combine them and you get infographics. People like them. Use them effectively, and again you can generate engagement with your current and potential clients.
- Podcasts – Podcasting, or essentially online talk-radio, can also be a beneficial asset for your business. As with anything else, provide value and people will come.
- Customer Contact Info – You are collecting email addresses and other contact info right? If not…you are missing out on one of your most powerful potential marketing tools. If it makes sense for your business you also should be collecting phone numbers and addresses.
- Your Social Media Audiences – Your social media audiences often represent your best customers and biggest fans. Cultivate this following. The payoff is worth it.
- Your Media Coverage and Social Proof – Google and other search engines place a high value on social proof for search rankings. Your potential clientele does too. Likes, favorites, shares, testimonials, and reviews are important elements of your digital marketing plans.
Digital Marketing Techniques
Digital marketing is comprised of many different techniques that are delivered through digital platforms on the internet. You can use these techniques to find leads and convert them into loyal customers.
- Email Marketing – Email marketing is the practice of promoting your business, services, and or products through email. This could include promotions, sales, content, and any number of other things that may interest your subscribers. This should be a cornerstone of your digital marketing efforts as it offers excellent returns on investment and is easily automated to work for your business 24 hours a day.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – SEO is the process of optimizing your website so your content is easily understood by search engine crawlers while maintaining simplicity for your audience. If done properly, it can increase your organic (e.g. free) traffic. It is a long-term strategy and should be based on high-quality content. DO NOT take shortcuts. The risks are high and the gains are short lived. You cannot outsmart Google.
- Content Marketing – The creation and promotion of various types of content on your website and other digital platforms. Blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc., are all helpful for your brand awareness, traffic growth, lead generation, conversion, and customer retention.
- Inbound Marketing – Inbound marketing is focused on creating content to attract leads through education, communication, and entertainment. Essentially, you are attracting, converting, and retaining new customers by providing value first.
- Outbound Marketing – Outbound marketing is more like traditional marketing. It focuses on getting promotional content in front of potential leads through advertisements on various platforms or mediums. There is a place for this in your digital marketing plan, and there is some cross-over between inbound and outbound techniques, but inbound marketing is becoming more effective.
- Social Media Marketing – Social media marketing is promoting your brand and your content on social media platforms. This can be done with both inbound and outbound concepts. When you consider the number of people using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, social media marketing definitely has a place in your digital marketing plan.
- Native Advertising – Native advertising is advertising content placed beside other, non-paid content on websites and social media platforms. It is often camouflaged to look like content but is really just an advertisement.
- Affiliate Marketing – Affiliate marketing is the practice of using marketing techniques to promote other people’s products for a commission.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) – PPC advertising is similar to other forms of outbound marketing, however, it is based on ad performance. For example, when an ad on a website gets 25 clicks, the advertiser would pay a set price for each of those clicks rather than an upfront fee. Social media and search engine advertising is often based on this model.
- Online PressReleases – Online press releases are similar to traditional press releases but occur on the internet. They can be purchased or earned and may be beneficial for your business if you are a new startup, releasing a new product, rebranding, or have done something special. The key is to make sure whatever is being released is newsworthy.
Will Digital Marketing Work for Your Business?
The short answer is yes. Digital marketing, if done well and consistently, can work for any business. Basic marketing principles apply to digital marketing and you can use some or all of these techniques to generate more leads, improve conversions rates, and retain customers. If you have a product or service, the right digital marketing strategy will be a valuable part of your overall marketing plan.
B2B Digital Marketing
If you are generally marketing to other businesses, your digital marketing efforts might be focused on digital lead generation, followed by a more traditional sales process that includes direct sales discussions, sending a quote, or giving a presentation. In this instance, the focus of your marketing strategy should be on attracting qualified leads and then reaching out to them with more direct methods.
On the other hand, creative digital marketers are also using the other techniques in different ways to generate B2B leads. As is typically the case, it really depends on your market, your creativity, and your initiative. Alway test different strategies and focus on what is currently working for your market.
As a B2B marketer, you are also more likely to place more emphasis on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Keep in mind, however, other social media platforms can be very effective in promoting your goods and services to other business owners.
B2C Digital Marketing
If your primary market is the general population, you might have some more flexibility in your sales process and can focus more on closing the sale right on the website. This can potentially shift your sales funnel in significant ways. For instance, you might need to get your product benefits in front of your leads faster and focus on strong, clear calls to action in your content. Again, though, this is flexible and different strategies should be tested for conversion rate optimization.
As a B2C marketer, you might find it beneficial to explore Instagram and Pinterest before investing a lot of time in LinkedIn. Of course, Facebook and Twitter are essential to any business.
Benefits of Digital Marketing
Unlike most traditional and offline marketing efforts, digital marketing allows marketers to track and analyze results as they happen. If you’ve ever put an ad on television or in a newspaper, you probably know there is no way to verify how often it was viewed or if the message was received. You do not have access to specific data on whether or not the ad was effective. You can’t track clicks, opens, or views. The best you can hope for is averages or broad generalizations.
Digital marketing allows you to track data and see the results of your advertisements. You can measure the ROI on any investment or effort made digitally. For example, if you run a Facebook ad, you can quickly see how many people viewed your ad and how many people responded to your call to action. With further analytics tools, you can also see how they navigated your website, how long they stayed there, and if they took any further action. All of this is good data to help inform you on how effective your ads and website are. The key is that it can inform you on how to adjust and optimize your efforts for better results.
Website Traffic Analytics
In the digital realm of marketing, you can see the number visits to your website, how long they stayed, and where they clicked by using digital analytics software like Google Analytics, TruConversion, or JetPack for WordPress. These tools can also provide other types of information that can help drive your marketing decisions and improve your lead generation and conversions.
The analysis of your data helps prioritize marketing efforts that are most effective. This data can also be used to test your efforts and make improvements on less effective methods. For example, if only 10% of your traffic is coming from organic search, you know that you probably need to spend some time on SEO to increase that percentage.
With traditional marketing, it is very difficult to tell how people are interacting with your brand. Your only feedback occurs when they interact with a sales person or make a purchase. With digital marketing, you can identify trends and patterns in people’s behavior before they’ve reached the final stage in your marketing funnel. This allows you to make better decisions earlier in the process…at the top of the marketing funnel.
Content Performance and Lead Generation Analytics
With digital content, it is possible to use analytics to better determine the performance of your content and actively generate leads.
Let’s say you’ve created a product or report and you want to leverage the information to generate leads. You have the document printed up and mailed to a list of leads. The problem is that you have no idea how many people actually looked through your brochure or how many people glanced at it and threw it away.
Now imagine you had that brochure on your website instead as a download. In this scenario, you can measure exactly how many people viewed and then downloaded the brochure. While this does not tell you if they actually read it or not, they were interested enough to take an action. This means they are more likely to have at least browsed through it. The more important benefit to delivering content through this method is the ability to capture contact info in exchange for the brochure. With a web-form and an auto-responder, you can use their contact information to interact with them in a variety of ways to strengthen your relationship with them and further qualify them as a lead.
What Kind of Content Should I Be Creating?
The kind of content you create depends on your potential client’s needs at different stages in their journey and experience with your brand. You should start by creating Buyer Profiles to intimate yourself with your client’s goals and challenges. This can help you develop content that is relevant to their needs and actually helps them with the challenges they are experiencing. Fitting your content to your audience’s needs allows you to position your brand as a helpful and engaging authority that is interested and capable of helping them. This is a powerful tool and should be the foundation of your content creation plan.
Another key aspect of your content development plan is understanding more about your client. In addition to the profile, you should determine where your client is in the buying process and direct them to the most relevant content. This is being in the right place at the right time. Understanding this allows you to engage in a process known as Content Mapping.
With content mapping, the goal is to target content according to your buyer profiles and where they are in making a purchase decision. This means you will create content for people in all stages of buying and then help them progress through these stages until they buy. While there are many different opinions on the number and scope of buying process stages, at BizTek ToolBox we try to create content based on the following six stages.
- Problem Recognition – This stage of the buying process is essential. Without it, your potential customer won’t even know they need what you offer. It is important to educate people on how and why they might need what you are selling. You need to create the understanding that they have a problem that you can fix.
- Information/Research – Once the problem is identified the buyer will then need to educate themselves on the solution. This is where you need to show the buyer that you can actually solve the problem and start to make them believe you are the best option for that solution.
- Evaluation of Options – At this stage, the buyer will want to confirm what they started to believe in the Information/Research stage. They will look at other options and evaluate the pros and cons against what you provide.
- The Decision to Purchase – At this stage, the buyer understand they have a problem, there is a solution, and you can best meet their needs. The problem is they may still decide to live with the problem or procrastinate. Here you need to convince them that actually correcting the problem will be a significant improvement for them.
- The Purchase – This stage is important as it focuses on ensuring that all barriers to actually making the purchase are removed. This isn’t a direct content concern but you need to ensure your buying process is as simple as possible. Make sure they can find the Buy Now button and don’t have too many steps to complete. Other considerations are page-load times, responsiveness (can it be done easily on a smartphone?), and payment security.
- The Post-Purchase Evaluation
Each of these stages provides opportunities to create content that will appeal to potential clients that are in the various stages. A strong content creation plan should include the development of content that fits into each of these stages.
Content Ideas for Each Stage
You should create different types of content for each stage and focus the topics on areas that will help them move on to the next stage with your brand. With this in mind, here are some examples content ideas.
- Blog posts & Articles
- Photos, Graphics, & Memes
- Short videos
- Blog posts
- Photos, Graphics, & Memes
- Short videos
Evaluation of Options
- Longer Ebooks
- More In Depth Videos
- Research Reports
- Case Studies
The Decision to Purchase
- Case studies
- Payment Security Policy
- Terms of Service
- CANN/SPAM Policy
The Post-Purchase Evaluation
- Clear Documentation of Product Use
- Support Forums
- Follow-Up Surveys
This list is just to get you started. Your brand and product may require different content to help progress your customers through the buying stages. Also, it is important to keep in mind that creativity counts and can play a powerful role in making you stand out from the competition. Spend some time thinking about how you can “Wow” your audience with your content.
Do I Need a Big Budget for Digital Marketing?
No. You don’t need a big budget to get started with a strong Digital Marketing plan. It really depends on what elements of digital marketing you’re looking to add to your strategy and how quickly you want to scale. It is perfectly acceptable to start small and grow into a larger marketing budget.
If you already have a website and some other key components in place, you don’t need a very large budget at all. With inbound marketing, the main focus should be on creating high-quality content that your audience will want to consume. The only investment required is time. That being said, if you have room in your budget, a great writer and/or copywriter can be very valuable to your business.
With outbound techniques like online advertising, press releases, and purchasing email lists, there are expenses. Even so, you can still start small and scale as you grow. The cost comes down to what kind of visibility you want to receive as a result of the advertising and how quickly you want to see results.
For example, while using Google AdWords, you will bid against other companies in your industry to appear at the top of Google’s search results for keywords associated with your business. Depending on factors like the competitiveness of the keyword and the number of impressions you want, this can be inexpensive, or very expensive. Inbound marketing is cheaper but also takes longer to see results. If you have the budget and want to scale quickly, outbound techniques are there to pour a little gas on the marketing fire you’ve created. Just remember, you don’t have to do it right away, and it is a good idea to build your inbound marketing strategy as well.
I’m Ready to Try Digital Marketing. Now What?
This really depends on you. If you want to spend time reading blog posts, watching videos, and going through a trial and error process, you can continue your research and get started.
Also, we can help. BizTek ToolBox offers two pathways for you to get the help you need.
If you are a DIY type business owner but need some guidance, then you can sign up for a BizTek ToolBox Membership to take advantage of the many courses we have available to assist you. On the other hand, if you want to hire us to help, you can contact us for a consultation. We also offer memberships that give you a website.
No matter what, you need to start doing something. So take a look at your options and start making up your digital marketing plan. Action is the key to success.