Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Marketing your business in today's digital world can be like understanding how a car engine works. When we lift the front hood, most of us have no idea what we're looking at - but doesn't mean we don't use our cars! The same goes for digital marketing.
Digital marketing has somehow evolved into a business area that only geniuses understand - at least that is the perception. There's algorithms, analytics, impressions, reach, click rates, open rates, paid media, earned media, owner media, content marketing, email marketing, affiliate marketing, social media marketing, influencer marketing, and mobile marketing. Then there's all the online marketing acronyms: SEO, SEM, CPM, CPC, CTR, CTA, KPI, ROI. Who has time to understand this stuff when running a business?
Though facets of digital marketing have become complex and technical it doesn’t mean we can’t understand it, develop a plan and get started. How? By taking a step back and looking at the big picture, you can implement a simplified, yet effective strategy by following these 4 steps:
1. Determine what's remarkable about your business
Your business may be in a competitive marketplace, but there’s something about what you offer and how you offer it that makes your business different from others. This uniqueness should originate from the perspective of the buyer and how it benefits them--so avoid promoting your company’s product or service features when developing your big picture messaging.
Let’s be honest, today’s buyers have heard all of the sales and marketing lingo anyway:
“We offer 100% satisfaction guaranteed.”
“We’ve been in business for over 100 years.”
“We have multiple locations.”
“We have cutting edge technology.”
While these sound great, what buyers really care about is whether or not your business can satisfy their personal or professional wants and needs at a price that fits their budget. It’s this value and focus on buyers that will become the foundation of your digital marketing strategy.
"WHAT BUYERS REALLY CARE ABOUT IS WHETHER OR NOT YOUR BUSINESS CAN SATISFY THEIR PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL WANTS AND NEEDS AT A PRICE THAT FITS THEIR BUDGET"
Now that you’ve identified what makes your business unique it’s time to take the next step.
2. Attract visitors
To attract visitors to your business you’ll want to communicate your value via your social media channels, website messaging, and online advertisement platforms such as Facebook ads or Google ads.
You can target your ideal audience by:
Using appropriate hashtags in your social media posts
Adding relevant keywords to your website messaging and blog posts
Utilizing the targeting and demographic features in social media ads
Optimizing search engine results by creating local online business profiles
Visitors becoming aware of your business is crucial, so consistently provide your audience something that is valuable, educational, pertinent or emotional—and not just promotional.
The “something of value” might come in the form of newsletters, blogs, videos, DVDs, webinars, whitepapers, guides, ebooks, printed books, podcasts, audio clips, discounts, coupons, contests, giveaways, info packets, free samples, networking events, symposiums/forums, study groups, complimentary consultations and audits, and much more.
"CONSISTENTLY PROVIDE YOUR AUDIENCE SOMETHING THAT IS VALUABLE, EDUCATIONAL, PERTINENT OR EMOTIONAL—AND NOT JUST PROMOTIONAL."
Notice that some of the value examples listed above aren’t provided online, but rather are fulfilled offline, such as a networking event or learning symposium. Regardless of how, when and where the value is provided it’s important to remember that the value offered is always for the benefit of the buyer. That doesn’t mean your business won’t find value in it either. Visitors provide their contact information (and their permission to contact them) in exchange for your value—and that leads us to the next step.
3. Stay top of mind
With so many distractions grabbing the attention of buyers today your business has to stay connected with them. Don’t expect visitors and prospects to show up at your door ready to buy after one reach out, meeting or social post. Prospects need to hear about your company many times before taking action. Some marketing experts, citing The Rule of 7, believe it can take a minimum 7 times before prospects take action to buy a product or service.
The most efficient method of contacting people is still email, so collecting their email address should be your number one priority. Why email? Though email has been around for forty years and we all complain about the amount of emails in our inbox, it’s not going away anytime soon, especially in our connected, mobile world.
"80% OF SMARTPHONE USERS SAY THEIR NUMBER ONE PHONE ACTIVITY IS CHECKING EMAIL."
So what’s the catch? The catch is your business should offer a compelling enough value to obtain an email address during the sign-up phase of your offer. If visitors perceive the value as too low, don’t expect people handing over their email address.
Here are a few best practices regarding email management:
Sign up for an email marketing application like Mailchimp or Constant Contact to segment lists and automate your email communications.
Don’t bombard subscribers with communication. The greater frequency of emails delivered the greater chance they’ll unsubscribe. Establish a routine, like weekly, every two weeks or monthly.
Focus on providing value within your communication. It’s understandable that you’ll have to promote your product or services occasionally, but your content ratio should include more value than promotion.
An effective way to promote your business is by showcasing what other customers say about your business, such as testimonials and case studies.
Always provide an option for subscribers to unsubscribe to your list.
Through your consistent outreach, your product or service will be top of mind when buyers are ready to buy. Your consistent value can oftentimes nudge buyers to act, especially if you’re including promotions or limited time offers along with your value.
After closing the sale, don’t stop your digital marketing process. There’s another step and it’s critical for the growth of your business.
4. Turn buyers into promoters
After successfully delivering your service or product it’s time to make sure your customers come back again. This step is vital to the health, efficiency and profitability of your business.
"IT IS 25X MORE EXPENSIVE TO ACQUIRE A NEW CUSTOMER THAN TO KEEP AN EXISTING ONE."
Additionally, buyers are bombarded everyday with advertising, so if you’re not communicating and connecting with your customers then your competition might be. This is why it’s so important to continue providing value, and oftentimes that value must evolve in order to help your customers succeed. To understand their changing needs it’s best to consistently get their feedback by implementing active listening strategies, including social media management, surveys and transcripts from live chat interactions. Your customers desire numerous ways to communicate with your business, so make sure you’re providing those options to engage them.
The combination of continued value, active listening and customer engagement will build a positive reputation with your buyers. It’s this reputation that will encourage them to recommend your business to friends, family and colleagues.
After implementing these marketing steps you can then begin learning some of the more technical aspects, strategies and measurements of digital marketing. For example, you might start monitoring your open and click rates of your newsletter campaigns and then adjust the type of content provided or the frequency of your campaigns. Additionally, you can begin educating yourself about your website visitors and how they use your website by signing up for Google Analytics.
Partnering with a marketing company or consultant might be a good option, especially if you have limited time or personnel, but the most important thing is getting started.
Now is the time.