What is Digital Marketing?
Business owners have been fighting the same frustrations since the beginning of time. Why aren’t I getting more customers? How can I get the word out about my business?
Fortunately, the years have been kind to us because advancing technology has brought us new ways to spread our message. In today’s world, digital marketing is the key to reaching your customers and making your business more successful.
If you’re new to the idea of digital marketing and aren’t sure how to get started, here’s your crash course in digital marketing 101.
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THE BASICS OF DIGITAL MARKETING
Before you can start putting digital marketing to use, you need to understand what digital marketing actually is. Digital marketing is exactly what its name implies: any kind of marketing and branding that uses a digital platform. When you’re reaching customers on their smartphones, desktops, tablets, or other electronics, you’re using digital marketing.
WHY IS DIGITAL MARKETING SO IMPORTANT?
As you start to educate yourself about the best ways to reach consumers today, you’ll notice a strong emphasis on digital marketing. This isn’t because digital media is new and shiny. The fact is today, people’s lives revolve around their electronics. They use phones and computers to organize their schedules, communicate with loved ones, entertain themselves, and more. In fact, the average person spends four hours per day on their mobile phone. If your customers tend to be young adults, the number is likely even higher. Keep in mind that this doesn’t account for the amount of time people spend using computers at work.
WHAT DOES DIGITAL MARKETING INVOLVE?
It’s easy to define digital marketing, but you need to realize that it’s a large category. Under the umbrella of digital marketing, there are several strategies you can use to reach consumers.
Website Design and Development
One of the most important aspects of digital marketing is having a digital “home.” This is where your website comes in. A strong website is one of the most valuable tools for any business. It’s a place for you to tell customers anything and everything about who you are and what you do. It’s also a way for you to establish yourself as a reliable, stable presence. On top of all this, your website is crucial for your branding. Between the design and messaging, consider your website to be your business’s version of a resume or storefront.
Search Engine Optimization
For success with digital marketing, not only do you need to have strong and valuable content, but you also need people to find that content. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the way to make your company easy to find online. It allows you to pop up on the all-important Google Search result pages when potential customers are searching. There are actions you can take on your own website and elsewhere on the web to build your online presence. SEO is a complex challenge of its own, and it’s an ongoing project that never ends. Search engines are constantly updating the way they rank websites on search results, so keeping your keywords updated is crucial in order to land on that first search results page.
Emailing has become a major form of communication today, and that means you should be using it. With email marketing, you can gather email addresses from your customers, followers, and future customers. This lets you land directly in their inbox so your content is easy for them to spot. You can use your mailing list in many different ways. Some emails can be sales-driving messages, advertising your latest products and telling customers about a sale. Other emails should be content-focused, giving readers insider tips in your area of expertise.
Social Media Marketing
Social media isn’t just a place for people to share pictures from their vacations and spread the latest gif. It’s a great place for you to reach your customers as well. People spend an average of almost two and a half hours on social media every day. Being active on those platforms will allow you to take advantage of that time to get to know those customers.
On top of introducing yourself to new customers, social media marketing allows you to nurture your relationships with existing followers. It’s a casual platform, with great opportunity to put your brand and personality forward.
Pay Per Click Ads
As we mentioned above, showing up on search engine results pages, or SERPs, is one of the most vital ways to bring traffic to your website. Pay-per-click ads will help that happen. These ads look like organic search results but they’re at the top and bottom of the first SERPs. Paying for those positions can be a game-changer for your digital marketing results. Keep in mind that for success with pay-per-click ads, it isn’t just about paying for placement. It also requires expertise in how to target the right customers for those ads. On top of the targeting and budget, your ads need to be compelling enough to inspire users to click through.
As helpful as written content is online, video marketing is just as vital. It’s a more engaging medium that lets you reach a wider range of customers. You can post your videos on YouTube, social media platforms, your own website, and more. While some of your videos can mimic TV commercials, most of them need to be interesting and contain valuable information your customers want to hear. Video marketing also has a way of being particularly effective. In fact, at any given time, 80% of people can recall a video ad they’ve seen in the past month.
MAKING DIGITAL MARKETING EFFECTIVE
The list of digital marketing strategies above is a start, but it’s far from a comprehensive step-by-step guide. Success in digital marketing requires extensive planning and knowledge. As you begin to delve into the world of digital marketing, these tips can help you enjoy better results.
TARGET THE RIGHT AUDIENCE
One of the unique advantages of digital marketing is the huge amount of data that is available. When you put up a billboard, you don’t know who is traveling that road or whether they fit into your target audience. Digital marketing makes it much easier for strategizing and targeting. Online platforms have plenty of data that lets you send targeted, specific messaging. For example, you can direct your social media ads toward people who have children of certain ages, people in particular industries and careers, and much more. You can even use a strategy called retargeting. This allows you to directly reach out to people who have taken certain actions on your website. For instance, if you’ve ever received an email from an online store after abandoning your shopping cart on their site, you’ve experienced retargeting.
PRIORITIZE YOUR LOCAL DIGITAL PRESENCE
As a whole, your goal for digital marketing is to boost your revenue. That starts with getting traffic to your website, but you also need to focus on gaining the right kind of traffic. In particular, you want traffic from your local area. These people have a far greater chance of becoming paying customers compared to people halfway around the world.
Local traffic comes from local search engine optimization or local SEO. This is a collection of strategies that makes it easy for search engines to know where you’re located, and prioritize you when people in your city search for related keywords. As with SEO overall, local SEO requires you to do on-page and off-page work to get strong results.
LEAVE THE USED-CAR SALES SPEECH BEHIND
In the course of your digital marketing, pay close attention to the message you’re sending in your content. The best way to reach consumers today is with a unique approach called content marketing. In content marketing, you focus on educating your customers rather than “selling” to them. When you’re producing the type of content people are searching for, those people will find you and get to know you.
Let’s say that you run an HVAC repair company. Which blog post do you think would be better to post? “Signs Your HVAC Needs Repair” or “Why You Should Hire Our HVAC Technician.” The first one will undoubtedly bring in more traffic and perform better. Why is that? Because it’s a likely phrase searched on Google and you’ll display your knowledge so readers recognize that you’re a trusted expert in your industry. The next time those customers need an expert, they’ll turn to the trusted professional they heard about online. Nurture your relationships with your customers, and strengthen the trust they have in you.
When you place an ad in a magazine, its one-way communication. You’re sending your message out and hoping someone responds. Digital mediums are interactive, there is ongoing conversation between you and your customers. You can do this by designing your social media content to spark a conversation. Create posts that invite your followers to share and interact with you. Respond to them on an ongoing basis, so they see that you’re connected and engaged with them. Your website is another helpful place to spark up a conversation. Be accessible by adding features like emailing options, online chats, and other easy ways for customers to reach you.
TAKE A VARIED APPROACH
Take another look at the list of the most common types of digital marketing. Consider that to be a to-do list, not a menu. It’s important to use a variety of online mediums in your digital marketing. People need to hear about or interact with you several times before they become paying customers. Most marketing experts say you need to reach customers 7 times to make a conversion.
On top of this, keep in mind that most people have some apps and digital media they use more than others. You want to widen your net so you reach the right customers no matter where they are in the digi-verse. At the same time, make sure your marketing is consistent across all those channels. People should be able to see in a heartbeat that your social media posts have the same brand and feel as your marketing email blasts.
TRACK, ANALYZE, RINSE, REPEAT
We mentioned above that one of the benefits of digital marketing is the massive amount of data at your fingertips. You need to use that data for more than your initial planning stage. Most digital marketing channels will gather data on their own. For instance, the “insights” section of your Facebook and Instagram profiles will tell you a lot about how well your posts are performing. For channels that don’t track all the data you want already, come up with a plan to track the data yourself. Set aside time in your schedule on a regular basis to see how your marketing is doing. Get to the details of who’s clicking, how they’re finding you, what actions they’re taking, and more.
This type of information is invaluable for your future digital marketing campaigns. It tells you what’s working, what isn’t, and what segments of the population you’re missing.
DIGITAL MARKETING 101: GIVING YOUR BUSINESS THE BEST
At first glance, digital marketing seems intimidating. The internet is a vast place, so how do you even begin to make your business stand out? Like anything else, you need to start by educating yourself and then taking it one step at a time. Our digital marketing 101 guide above can help you learn the basics and start building your strategy from the ground up. Of course, you could always go for the more reliable route of hiring a professional to deliver the results you want in less time. To learn more or take the first steps, schedule a free consultation today.