There are many opinions on leveraging digital mediums to gain new traffic and customers for businesses. But many companies struggle with understanding where (or how) to get started and waste time and money. Here is a guide to getting your organization online and how you can get more leads, recognition and revenue.
Understand the Different Digital Marketing Channels
The key to a successful digital strategy is diversification. I tell business owners of all sizes, from SMB to Enterprise levels, not to put all there efforts in one or a select few channels. Here is most of them:
- Web Design & Optimization
- Digital Media (PPC, Paid Search, Display Networks, Retargeting)
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) & Inbound Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- E-Mail Marketing
- Lead Nurturing & Marketing Automation
- Mobile/Tablet Optimization
- Local Business Optimization
- Analytics Analysis
Web Design & Optimization
A company is only as good as it’s web sites appearance, usability and technical architecture. If you are an E-Commerce site or just a small business looking to have a static site it is equally important to hire a professional web designer/developer who understands HTML/CSS, responsive design for mobile, SEO for architecture and conversion optimization.
Don’t take a short cut here by using a Wix, 1&1 or GoDaddy style site builder. Even Googles on “Sites” Web Design is not recommended. I most often recommend WordPress for businesses, which allows the owner to easily update and add in the future and is completely scalable. WordPress offers easy to use SEO friendly plugins as well. For ECOM we generally go with Magento.
A designer should be asking you questions during the discovery phase regarding your business objectives, your internal resources as well as your needs for interactivity on the site.
Digital Media (PPC, Paid Search, Display Networks, Retargeting)
There are great opportunities in Digital Media. Quickly buying targeted traffic for your site either through bidding on them in AdWords or AdCenter. PPC also provides valuable data at the keyword level to give business owners an understanding of their visitors behavior related to each keyword.
Media buying through display networks in the form of banner ads gives your company added brand exposure on targeted sites. Retargeting is a process of displaying your companies display ads to visitors that have left your site and are viewing web sites within a large network – giving the company a second chance opportunity to get that visitor back on site.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) & Inbound Marketing
SEO has been around since the beginning of the Internet. Consultants and companies immediately identified the value of high organic placements in leading search engines. Within the past two or three years the industry has become widely accepted as a required business need, either in house or through an agency.
Along with this acceptance came many updates and refreshes in search algorithms, which has deeply changed the process of SEO for success. There are still many old-hat SEO’s offering ineffective processes at cheap (or expensive) prices. If it’s too good to be true it always is. What’s too good to be trues? SEO’s guaranteeing 1st page results for $100. SEO’s focusing on a practice called “Link Building”. SEO’s only working on the technical end of a web site.
So, how should you look at SEO for your company? It’s about quality content. Design, write or develop content that you would want to read or see and share. Think about your audience and identify a need.
This new method (not so new really) is Inbound Marketing. Positioning high quality content on the web that answers a question and helps a user even before they are looking to buy or join your site. Make content that they will share and comment on. These social signals are still debated about regarding their SEO value – Even if there is no or little true SEO value there is an indirect SEO value in the added social reach of your content.
Here is a valuable Beginners Guide to SEO
Social Media Marketing
Some SMBs I’ve talked with have asked why do even need a facebook page for my company? Or more importantly, how can I leverage social media for my company?
Two common scenarios that are often exploited by agencies claiming to be social media experts. Having seen a large amount of social media campaigns at the agency level and through companies themselves I am more skeptical about what companies promise and what customers get.
ROI through social is not measured simply by how many more visitors/followers your company profiles received Integrating SM analytics allows you to truly gauge the effects of a social media strategy along with its micro campaigns within.
It’s a communication opportunity as well. WIth different voices on each channel you can message your customers more personally then ever.
Their are a few ways you can go about marketing via email. The mass distribution of emails to all of your prospects on your lists, targeting high value prospects with curated content blasts and even list buys to target larger quantities of users.
The best thing to know about E-Mail marketing is that it works. Schedule a consistent E-Mail schedule as to when and what you will be distributing and stick to it. For smaller businesses be careful not to send E-Mails too frequently.
Lead Nurturing & Marketing Automation
For those looking to go further with their E-Mail marketing initiatives there is marketing automation and lead nurturing software. These tools allow you to schedule drip email campaigns based off a set of events or actions.
Being able to see your leads throughout their entire life cycle gives marketers better data to understand both true lifetime value and buying patterns. Marketo, Hub Spot and others are an investment for organizations and should be considered for phase 2 or beyond.
The past two years we have learned about the direction of mobile and/vs. tablet. Google tells us that it prefers a site that displays for mobile (responsive design), then a mobile site (m.example.com) and last a standard web site. That has many major sites considering redesigns into responsive web sites.
Another major consideration, tablets usage patterns trend toward evening/night hours and will convert (ECOM or Goal/Event) higher than mobile sites. E-Commerce via mobile/tablet will account for 15+ billion in purchases in 2013. Check your web site on your smartphone and mobile tablet to see how it looks to you.
Check out iPadPeek.com for a look at your site on iPad.
Local Business Optimization
Local search is extremely important for all businesses. A search result will be displayed with location in mind. Digital media can be targeted and displayed based on location. And new “big data” companies are selling audience behavior and demographics to Ad-Networks for advertisers to buy into at the Zip Code (+4) level as well as even longitudinal & latitudinal.
Check your business out on major biz directories like Yelp, FourSquare, YB and others. Make certain your local citations (Company name, address, phone, etc…) are consistent across all. You can use GetListed.org or Yext.com to get this done.
Create a location specific page on your site. Mention local landmarks, and a Google map (preferably a link to your Google+ business page). An important fact to understand is that 43% of search is done with local intent.
For starters, add Google Analytics (and Webmaster Tools) to your web site. If you haven’t done this or seen this before you will be surprised at the amount of data you can see about your visitors, for free. There are many tools on how to get this set up – quite easy and well worth it.
Understand your data. Take a good hour or two each week to look into Analytics and see where visitors are coming from, how long they are staying and what pages they are going (or not going) to.
You can get some additional boost from other applications but it depends on where you are with your digital marketing efforts and what your business objectives are.
Put the Pieces Together
As a business owner you must work to understand all of these channels (and even more) and how they can work for your business. It’s allot to do and to get it done right requires a professional team or consultant who can organize and implement these strategies.