With mobile technology evolving in a smartphone tethered society, it’s no surprise digital marketing success has become a focal point for many companies looking to drive business with an online presence. Digital marketing offers a world of opportunity, but is becoming highly competitive in an increasingly cluttered space. Marketing is no longer about repetition, where the company with the biggest advertising presence (or budget) triumphs, and has shifted towards developing personal connections with a product or service through the quality of brand exposure.
Customizing the user experience is not an easy task, but can lead to great success when executed correctly. Although, before success can be measured, there are three fundamental aspects a digital marketing strategy should cover: research before creating content, choose the right digital platforms for your brand and audience, and clearly define your goals/manage your campaigns so they’re always working and improving.
1. Evoke Emotion
Customer conversion relies heavily on the ability to capture an audience’s attention and keep them positively engaged with your brand throughout the buying cycle. Digital strategies should reflect this aspect by nurturing an emotional preference for your product or service by intrinsically understanding your customer’s needs and engaging them with highly tailored content.
As SAS, a business analytics provider, summarizes it: “People want brands they can trust, companies that know them, communications that are personalized and relevant, and offers tailored to their needs and preferences.” Customers also want you to deliver on your promise, because if you don’t there are plenty of other options a keystroke away and several online forums to discuss their displeasure. Your marketing plan should not only include methods for initiating positive interactions, but best practices for following up on and managing negative experiences. Sometimes simply acknowledging a customer’s issue and offering assistance can convert a detractor back into a brand advocate.
2. Pick Your Platforms
Digital marketing encompasses a vast array of electronic media you can utilize to promote your business, but the platforms you choose and the design of your content can have a big impact on the success of your marketing efforts. Regardless of your company size, location, industry, B2B or B2C services, people are talking about you. Make sure you are a part of the conversation. Knowing how these platforms operate and the composition of the audience using them is paramount to crafting your digital marketing campaigns.
Although digital platform options are increasing and some may be better suited to your goals than others, a general understanding of the major online players listed below is a good starting point.
Your website is often one of the first touch-points a customer has with your company, whether it’s the landing page link from a paid ad or a direct search for your site. It is the first impression they’ll receive and a pivot point for whether or not they’ll pursue your services further. Use smart design and well-crafted content to stand out amongst the crowd. The website experience should seamlessly guide visitors through the buying process with clearly defined value proposition(s), ample resources for informed decision making and direction towards making a purchase. At a minimum, a good website is:
- Intuitively navigated
- Mobile friendly
- Content rich
Social Media Channels
Social media has become vital to digital marketing practices. It’s free to enter the arena and get the conversation going, but also offers targeted advertising options to increase visibility. The first step to customizing your social content is to take a look at your follower demographics and dig into the content they’ve been engaging with. If you haven’t launched any posts yet, be sure to do some research on your target market and develop a strategy around how you’re going to entice followers and continually supply them with appealing information. To help you discern where to direct your energy, here are some high level data points for the social media industry’s top players:
- Twitter reports having 302 million monthly users sending 500 million tweets per day. Tweets are restricted to short text of 140 characters and demographics point towards a younger audience (18-29 and 30-49).
- Facebook has 1.44 billion monthly active users and continues to dominate the social media space, but growth has slowed in comparison to other social channels. At a minimum, your social media strategy should include a Facebook business page.
- LinkedIn reports 347 million members in 200 countries with over 50% having college degrees and the highest segment of members falling into the 30-64 age range.
- Instagram has 300 million users sharing 70 million photos per day.
- Pinterest shows 72.8 million users pinning content with 85% of users being female.
- YouTube has over 1 billion users uploading 300 hours of video every minute.
A blog allows you to push out custom content specifically related to your business, your customers, and the valuable information your audience needs to view you as a knowledgeable and reliable resource in your industry. It also provides dynamic content to improve your website’s SEO ranking.
Email automation is a great way to nurture leads and keep existing customers informed. This type of audience has elected to receive information from you and supplying behavior-triggered content at specific intervals helps prevent your customer interaction from becoming dormant.
Search and Display Advertising
There is a range of online advertising opportunities and various pricing structures. Here we’ll just cover some basic terminology to help you select which option is best aligned with your business goals.
- Search Ad – Text based ads that display alongside search results with related keywords.
- Display Ad – Ads in text, image, rich media, or video format that display on websites with related content.
- CPC – Cost Per Click. Drives traffic to a website or landing page.
- CPM – Cost Per Mile or Cost Per Thousand Impressions. Delivers a message/increases brand awareness.
- CPA – Cost Per Acquisition. Focused on conversion where a specific action takes place.
3. Analyze and Adjust
Monitoring results is just as important as developing the initial content strategy. If you take the wrong route to work each day and don’t eventually stop to determine if there is a better course, then you’ll never make it to your destination. Data driven marketing is smart marketing and almost all online platforms provide some type of analytics component. Your digital marketing campaigns should include success metrics and you should be monitoring the performance of your efforts to see if they are achieving your desired outcome.