Thanks to an always-evolving landscape and the nearly limitless availability of engagement resources, it feels like marketing gets more difficult with each passing year. This wealth of options, in fact, can put marketers in analysis paralysis while they try to figure out which direction to go.
Social media, for one, has potential as a digital tool that more than one-third of internet users turn to when they want to learn more about a product or service. Then there’s live chat, which is gaining in popularity for companies looking to outfit their websites with real-time, 24/7 customer support.
Even though those two solutions each have their own appeal, you can’t expect to master digital marketing by simply acquiring every available tool—you’ll want to develop a more thorough and holistic digital marketing strategy and plan.
Hiring the right team for digital marketing
Adopting a holistic digital marketing approach pays obvious dividends to a company’s bottom line. However, it also helps you assemble the kind of team you need to sustain that success over the long haul.
Let’s imagine that you hire a marketer to help generate more leads, but you veer too niche by hiring a social media specialist. That’s great for building a social presence, but it’s unlikely this new hire can help you concept an ad, monitor data, or track results.
Keep in mind that like anything else, it can be challenging to hire (and afford) someone who is good at all aspects of digital marketing. You might benefit from outsourcing or using a contractor for specific types of campaigns, giving you control and flexibility around how long you keep someone on board. You don’t just want someone to do the work—you need them to deliver results too.
Whether you hire a marketer or do it yourself, your goal should be growing your company’s digital (and overall) footprint. The following considerations are some of the most important aspects of any digital marketing campaign.
1. Custom websites
Your digital footprint starts with your website. If you’ve been running your startup or small business entirely from your Facebook page, it’s a good idea to consider putting together your own website. If you don’t, there are some risks. What if the platform shuts down, for example?
A website isn’t much of anything until it’s designed and customized to your business. The last thing you want is to spend all that time, money, and energy driving people to your site only for them to click away after a “meh” experience.
Think of your website as never entirely finished. Use tools like Hotjar to see where people click on your site, or how far down the page they scroll. Test different calls to action. If “buy now” messaging doesn’t result in that many conversions or purchases, test different pricing options and messages, like “no risk free trial.” Use tools like Qualaroo to invite users to tell you whether they found what they were looking for on your site. And if they didn’t, ask them what they were hoping to find!
If you get to know the basics of user experience (also called customer journey), website design, calls to action, and target audiences, you’ll improve your conversion rates and lower your cost per acquisition.
As soon as your website is up and running, set up Google Analytics. You’ll learn a lot about the traffic you’re getting, where it’s coming from, and whether you can associate revenue with that traffic.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
For consumers to find your business’s website, you need your pages to show up in search results. That sort of exposure requires search engine optimization, or SEO. Moz defines SEO as “the practice of increasing both the quality and quantity of website traffic, as well as exposure to your brand, through non-paid (also known as ‘organic’) search engine results.”
Really, SEO is about understanding what your potential customers are searching for, the words they’re using when they search, and the type of content they’re looking for—articles, how-tos, video, podcasts, reviews, and more. There are some technical aspects, like optimizing your website’s meta descriptions and making sure your pages are mobile-optimized and quick to load, but think of it as the process of providing the best quality content on your website.
It takes a lot of effort to build an SEO-friendly site, but you can find plenty of information online explaining current SEO best practices and how they fit into your overall digital strategy. Moz offers a great beginner’s guide to SEO that’s worth reading, just so you understand the whole landscape.
3. Video content
Producing high-quality video content is easier than it’s ever been, and there are some relatively cost-effective options. A basic understanding of the editing process and a smartphone with a 4K camera allows you to take raw footage and turn it into a polished video. There are also a number of animated explainer video tools like PowToon out there. They make created animated videos as simple as recording a voiceover and using a Powerpoint-like drag and drop video editor.
Before you go about finding a basic online program to assist you in editing video content, take the time to identify your target audience’s video content preferences. That knowledge will help you better tailor your final product. Check out these stats on why video is an increasingly important medium for digital marketers.
4. Google ads
Not unlike SEO, Google Ads can help drive consumers to your website. Instead of doing it organically, however, this service moves your website listing to the very top (or bottom) of a search engine results page. Think of it as a digital classified ad with prime placement.
The best way to learn and use Google Ads is by taking the search engine’s courses. Just make sure that your coursework details how to connect your ads to Google Analytics. Otherwise, you won’t necessarily be able to measure your advertising ROI. From there, all that’s left is to run and test ads. I’d again suggest a trial-and-error approach to A/B testing and then adjusting your ads based on those findings.
5. Facebook ads
Facebook has some of the best targeting capabilities—not to mention the most users, the most attention, and the cheapest ad costs. Combined, these make the platform a powerful resource for digital marketers.
But test into Facebook ads—meaning, don’t start with a huge campaign. See if you can achieve your marketing objectives on a small scale first. If your business serves a demographic that isn’t spending time on Facebook, you’re going to have a hard time, no matter how good your ads are.
To use Facebook effectively, start with Facebook Blueprint courses. You might also want to explore other Facebook-related classes from outside experts to learn about custom audiences and retargeting, which is a form of advertising based on a user’s past online activity.
Once you find your footing, run and test a few ads. Trial and error often is the best classroom, but this is particularly true when it entails A/B testing, which splits your target audience into two groups and delivers different messaging in hopes of determining which ad resonates with potential customers.
If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, it’s also wise to learn how to track offline conversions to understand your return on investment, or ROI. Asking a simple question when you make a sale, like, “how did you hear about us?” can go a long way.
Be clear about what you’re trying to achieve. Does getting 2,000 new likes or followers serve your business goals? If it does, great! That said, if your business goal is to increase purchases (conversions) from Facebook ads, make sure that you’re tracking that.
6. Social media
Social media as a whole can offer plenty of long-term value to businesses. It’s all about building a solid foundation and knowing what to post on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to engage your target audience.
Posts will vary depending on your business, but you should be able to sum up your strategy in one word: relevance. Get to know your customers’ likes, interests, and preferences, and then tailor your social content based on that information. If you’re still unsure, follow famed author, speaker, and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. His blog and podcast each have a wealth of information on how to build a winning social media strategy for potential customers.
Again, be clear on what you want to achieve with social media. Seeking brand awareness is a fine goal—you might measure that by increases in likes or followers. Brand awareness is a long game though, and it may be difficult to track conversions against branding campaigns on social media. Be sure you’re look at Google Analytics to see where your website traffic is coming from. If any percentage of traffic back to your site is coming from Facebook or other social media platforms, you’ll be able to track that there.
Many business owners don’t even bother with online marketing because they’re afraid it will cost them an arm, a leg, and maybe a few fingers. But getting a feel for just a few online platforms means an investment of time rather than buckets of money.
Do that, and you’ll hit the ground running—or at least walking at a brisk pace.