Digital marketing has changed rapidly since the beginning of the 21st century, and even in the last ten years. At one time, a website was a handy marketing tool to have, but far from essential. Now, not only do businesses need a website in order for their marketing campaign to thrive but an active presence on social media, a strong email list, a Google business listing, and an app doesn’t hurt.
Every resource about digital marketing uses acronyms like SEO, SMM, and CMS that can make an entrepreneur’s head spin as they make their first foray into digital marketing.
There’s no denying the importance of digital marketing. When we live in a world with more mobile devices than people and nearly 2 billion people currently on social media, digital marketing is the most effective way for businesses to reach their target demographic and turn those leads into new customers.
But the internet is vast, and so, of course, is digital marketing. Every business has a different strategy, and it can be overwhelming to know where to start. The solution is much like anything else: start with the essentials and then branch out as you feel more comfortable. Here are the 5 things to focus on when you’re just starting your digital marketing campaign.
Having a website is key to the digital marketing process. This should be the home base for your business online. Every social media platform or a digital marketing campaign should come back to your website.
First, you’ll need to claim a domain or the address at which anyone can find your website. Then comes the fun part: design and content.
Your website design is important. Much like a good business card or storefront, your website design should be pleasing to the eye and draw visitors in to find out more information. But not every entrepreneur is a graphic designer or a website designer, and not every entrepreneur has time to figure that out.
In that case, you can hire a website designer to create your website for you and set you up, or you can use services like WordPress or Squarespace who offer web hosting with preset design templates.
Website content is any written words used on the website. Essentially, your website should tell your potential customers the following:
- Who you are
- What you do (what products or services you offer)
- Why they should choose you for those products or services
- What your current or past customers have said about you (testimonials or reviews)
- How they can reach you (if you’re a local business, the address to your location is key here)
The right content is the best way to drive new visitors to your website, through the help of search engines. Your goal is to be on the first page of any relevant search. Sprinkle keywords (the words your visitors will potentially use to search for the services you offer) heavily but naturally throughout your content and use formatting like bold type or headers to catch the attention of search engine algorithms. This attempt to boost your ranking on search engines is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
One way to boost your SEO is by adding a blog to your website. Your blog should offer helpful information to your target audience. For instance, if you sell dietary supplements, your blog can be full of topics about eating healthy, exercise, or the various benefits of a particular supplement. This way, if someone searches for “exercises to build muscle,” search engines can lead them to your blog post, “5 Effective Ways to Build Muscle Mass.”
From the blog post, you can guide them to other sections of your website by linking them throughout the post. Most businesses end their blog posts with an invitation to contact them for more information on the subject, or a Call to Action (CTA). The CTA is the best way to turn leads into customers through your blog.
Your blog should show you as an authority on the subject, but it should also be engaging and understandable to your target audience. A friendly but professional tone, plenty of eye-catching images, and content broken into smaller sections, subheadings, and bullet points help the content to appeal to your target audience.
Newsletter and Email Lists
Your website should include an invitation for visitors to sign up for your newsletter. Visitors will enter their email address, which you can then save to your email list. When you have news about your business or special offers to share, you can send that out to everyone on your email list, as well as a monthly newsletter.
The newsletter is often similar to blogs and sometimes even comprised of blogs you’ve posted throughout the month. It offers helpful information that might be of interest to your audience with a small, secondary invitation to connect with you towards the end. An appealing design is a key to crafting an effective newsletter, but there are a plenty of newsletter templates to use, as well as professional services who can draft a newsletter for you.
You should check your email list regularly to ensure that you don’t have any inactive contacts or typos that might cause emails to bounce back. In any large email list, there will be some bounce rate. You can keep it to a minimum, however, and boost your likelihood of results by combing through your list once each month or quarter.
There seems to be a misconception when it comes to Social Media Marketing (SMM) that your business has to be on every social media platform. While of course, it’s important to spread your brand, some social media platforms just aren’t the right fit for you or your business.
For instance, if you run a copyediting service, image-oriented platforms like Instagram might not be the best way to promote your business, but you should have an active presence on Twitter, as it is a particularly popular platform for writers. It’s more important to have an active, focused presence on a few platforms than to have accounts on all of them that you never use.
So how do you choose?
Well, first, think about the social media platforms that work best for you. Are you an active Facebook user or have you amassed hundreds of followers on Twitter? Do you have a Pinterest board for everything or a weekly vlog on YouTube? It sounds simple, but the more comfortable you are with a platform, the more easily you’ll be able to navigate it when it comes to promoting your business.
The other thing to consider is where your target audience is most likely to be found. Think about who your business is for. Artistic teenagers? Retirees interested in travel? Professionals? Once you have your target audience in mind, do some research to find the social media platforms where you can most easily find them.
Sometimes this is as simple as entering “the most commonly used social media platform for contractors” into a search engine. You can survey your current customers and ask them what social media platforms they prefer. Facebook Ads Manager even offers a way to gauge the size of your target audience.
Digital Marketing Management or Consulting
Still overwhelmed? You have enough on your plate just running your business. If digital marketing isn’t your thing or if you don’t have time to tend to it regularly, don’t worry. There are professionals all over the internet who specialize in digital marketing. They can offer you consultations and advice to get the most out of your digital marketing, or they can even run your digital marketing for you.
There are companies like Market Boost who focus on boosting your SEO. They use analysis, outreach, and Facebook ads to draw the attention not just of search engines but a human audience (because search engines will probably never become your customers).
Then, there are websites like Hootsuite or Buffer that allow users to schedule and manage all of their social media accounts from one central location. You can even hire a freelancer to manage your social media accounts or your web content. No successful entrepreneur is an island, and you shouldn’t have to be.
We live in a digital age, and having an active digital marketing campaign is essential for promoting your business. After all, if you’re not marketing digitally, your competitors are, and they’re the first businesses your target audience will see. But in your digital marketing, you don’t have to do everything at once.
Play to your strengths. Use the social media platforms that best fit your business and update them regularly. Bring everything back to your website. Do everything you can to be on the first page of any relevant internet searches, but make sure that your content is speaking to a human audience and not just an algorithm.
And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re overwhelmed. You may find that investing in professional digital marketing services will be well worth its cost…and save you a headache in the meantime.