Digital Marketing in 4 Sections:
1. What is digital marketing also known as (aka) Internet marketing?
2. Does my business need digital marketing?
3. Digital marketing tools explained.
4. Plan of action for an SMB to implement digital marketing.
1. What is Digital Marketing? (aka Internet Marketing)
Digital marketing is a broad term that covers all your online and Internet marketing strategies, tactics, and tools including your website, blogs, social media, e-mail, eBooks, text messages, online reviews, text messaging, and more – all with the purpose of attracting quality prospects that lead to profitable sales.
See the full article “What Is Digital Marketing?”
2. Does My Business Need Digital Marketing?
The traditional forms of acquiring new customers—direct mail, billboards, paid advertising, Yellow Pages, and prints ads—are no longer working. Also, those methods are difficult to measure for effectiveness, often expensive, and the ROI (return on investment) can be minimal.
Prospective customers and clients often begin their hunt for products and services with a search on the Internet or social media.
If you don’t show up on the first page of the search results, you don’t exist.
Your potential customers are also doing much more of their research before they even reach out to your business, pushing inquiries down to the bottom of your marketing funnel.
A business today needs to provide quality content (such as informative web pages, blogs, and social posts) about solutions to your readers’ problems.
The solution is ideally your product or service. Then add references from happy customers, and simple ways to communicate and engage with your business before your prospects are ready to buy.
Fail to do that and another competitive business in your area is more likely to make that sale. You will never even know that you lost out.
Ask These Questions About Your Current Marketing
· Is your business growing? Either grow or you will die on the vine. (i.e., You’ll eventually disappear.)
· Do you have a high number of leads or inquiries for your products or services?
· Do you have a website that has quality information about your business, your products, who you are, and how to contact you easily?
· Does your website load quickly?
· Is your website mobile-friendly? (i.e., Does it shows up well on mobile devices, which now have the largest share of searches?)
· Have you done keyword research? Are your web pages optimized with keywords?
· Are you active and effective on social media?
· Do the images on your website and social media look “real” and not like stock photos (think “fake”), which don’t represent you or your target audience?
· Do you have a productive e-mail marketing program?
· Do you get referrals and recommendations from happy customers?
· Do you have good reviews on review sites? Do you have unhandled bad reviews?
· Do you have video content being utilized as a key marketing tool?
· Do you show up in directories about your industry?
· Do you have a CRM (customer relations management) established for your sales activities?
If you answered “no” to a few of these questions, read on for practical and realistic solutions to help you grow your business.
3. Digital Marketing Tools Explained
The Internet has fundamentally changed the way people find, discover, share, buy, and connect.
1) You Need a Website That is Informative and Looks Great
A website is an integral part of your overall digital marketing. If your website does not come up on page one for the keywords for which your prospects are searching, you are losing sales to your competitors.
a) Consider your website as a focal point of your marketing. It is much more than an online brochure. It must have a great design, compelling copy (text), and effective calls to action. Your website should load quickly.
b) Successful Internet marketing starts with an effective website—one that is attractive, user-friendly, and simple to use. In today’s competitive online market, your small business website is a valuable piece of real estate. It’s no longer enough to have a static online ‘brochure’ website.
c) A good website is one that is compatible with the search engines, including the site structure (the architecture, technical elements, and code) and with the text and marketing message of the site. If the search engines can’t find you, your customers never will.
d) The text, visual design, and graphic elements must all contribute to delivering your marketing message, focusing visitors’ attention and stimulating them to action.
e) Build what is needed to achieve the desired effect and avoid cluttering a site with graphics and doodads that don’t contribute to that purpose.
f) The website design must be done with the user’s viewpoint in mind. The site must be fast, it must be easy to navigate, and it must give the user quick access to the information that answers their questions or solves their problem.
g) Your website must take into account the wide variety of web browsers, mobile applications, browser settings, monitor resolutions, and connection speeds that are in use.
h) A successful website will be designed to forward your marketing message, represent you well, and appeal to your prospects and customers.
i) Content Hub – Your website should be the focal point of your content. Through dynamic content including news, stories of your customers’ successes, and a blog, your website will have an active online presence.
j) The overall architecture of your website should be easy to navigate and will guide the visitor toward action and response. It must:
i. Be attractive and professional looking
ii. Represent your business well
iii. Be easy to use and not be confusing
iv. Direct the prospects to act
v. Be written and designed from clients’ points of view
vi. Download fast
vii. Be built from the ground up to be “search engine friendly”
2) Search Visibility Leads to More Leads and Sales
a) Most buyers search for products and services or find websites via the major search engines—especially Google. Think of Google as the new Yellow Pages.
b) Being ranked on the first half of a search results page in the natural or organic results increases your brand value and your sales. Internet users are influenced by where you come up in a search engine results page.
c) Local search results not only get you listed where customers are looking, but also are designed to help position your business above your competitors.
d) More and more pre-buying research starts on search engines or in social media.
e) It is vital to ensure that your business can be found and found specifically for the keywords that your prospects will use to search for your services. The tool to use is SEO (search engine optimization).
f) SEO is the strategy and tactics used to show up well in the free natural or organic search results. Good SEO results have to be earned.
g) SEO is a long-term strategy and needs to be continued over an extended period. Stable page one results for your keywords requires an investment. Results could begin to start showing within a few months.
h) Website SEO (search engine optimization) is in these 3 broad steps:
i. Website review, keyword research, and content strategy development
ii. Upgrade the website and optimize the content with keywords according iii. to the content strategy
iii. Ongoing monthly optimization and link building—this is a mid- to long-term strategy
3) Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Is the Use of Paid Ads on The Search Engines or Social Media
Paid search marketing is a way to get instant listings on Google and the other search engines for your selected keyword(s). There are many options for paid ads but the most common is PPC—pay-per-click advertising. In short, you pay each time someone clicks on your ad. This requires skill and a budget to get results.
a) Paid search results normally appear at the top of a SERP (search engine results page) or to the side, and increasingly look more and more like organic (unpaid) results. At the moment, Google has a small ‘Ad’ label on them.
b) SEM instantly connects potential clients directly with your business, thus making it an effective form of online marketing.
c) Although not as believable as organic or natural search results, it can get immediate results while SEO and content marketing programs are being implemented.
4) Social Media Marketing Has Real Business Value
Social media marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves the social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. The objective is to provide engaging content that users will share with their friends and associates—all to get customer reach and brand awareness.
a) It takes time and persistence to build a presence on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and YouTube.
b) The objective is to build a following on the social media sites and engage with them—all leading to interest in your business.
c) On an ongoing basis, create quality content that will be of interest to your target audiences.
d) Cross-promote the blog using the social media sites. Use social sites to promote each new blog post.
e) Many of the social sites have paid advertising options.
5) Content Marketing is a Cost-Effective Digital Tool
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute
a) Instead of the “old” outbound marketing methods of buying print ads, buying e-mail lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people, like a magnet, into your company to view your content, which will result in leads.
b) By creating and publishing online unique content that will be of interest to your target audience, you provide a better user experience. Here are some examples:
i. Lists – “10 Ways to Grow Your E-mail List”
ii. Solve a problem – “How to Wash Antique Dishes”
iii. Avoid failures – “Keep Your Car Running Longer With….”
c) Your blog can become a focal point of the content marketing strategy as it provides quality content that can be used to enhance your website and be featured in e-mail newsletters and on social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
d) Consumers want content that’s engaging—they often want quick reads, fun pictures, useful information, and inspirational images. As a brand, it’s important to create content that’s unique but supports the overall goals and maintains a unified message.
e) Consumers typically don’t buy something the first time they see it—they often need to see it multiple times to convert.
6) Blogging and Social Media
a) A blog can become one of your most important marketing tools. It can quickly become the “gateway” to your website. Blogs—compared to your website—are much easier to keep updated with fresh and interesting content, highlighting results, and designed for repeat traffic. Without fresh content, there is no reason for your prospects to come back to your site.
b) Also, search engines love new content and will index your site more frequently.
c) Generate more traffic. Your blog has the potential to create more web traffic than a regular website ever could. A blog can attract quality traffic from the pool of prospects you are trying to reach.
d) Blogs develop more visitors through:
i. Search visibility – blogs are organized to be search engine friendly. Plus, the more quality content you have (well-linked) the more chances there are of attracting search traffic.
ii. Click-through traffic – through posting interesting articles, a blog becomes a reason for other people to link to you.
iii. Repeat traffic – regularly updated content and comments bring visitors back. Most websites are not conducive to repeat traffic.
iv. Personality – create a blog around your business culture and let that shine through.
v. Viral effects – you create something interesting and visitors tell their friends, who tell their friends, they post it on social media…and so on.
vi. Authority and credibility – blogging allows you to become an “expert” in the minds of your prospective buyers.
7) E-mail is Still a Powerful Digital Marketing Tool
E-mail, while sometimes considered “old technology,” is still a highly effective tool.
a) E-mail is still a preferred communication tool and is a proven way to stay in touch with prospects and customers.
b) It is low cost but high engagement and provides a personal way of marketing to your target market.
c) It is important to capture e-mails so that they can be used for marketing on an ongoing basis with a regular newsletter and offers.d) E-mail marketing is often discussed as an alternative to social media marketing. Especially for a small business (under 100 employees), it has been known to outperform social media when it comes to overall conversions. However, modern marketing campaigns need to be more diverse to reach the broadest target audience.
d) E-mail marketing is often discussed as an alternative to social media marketing. Especially for a small business (under 100 employees), it has been known to outperform social media when it comes to overall conversions. However, modern marketing campaigns need to be more diverse to reach the broadest target audience.
8) Online Video Marketing is Inexpensive to Produce and Easy to Distribute
Video adds an interest factor to your online marketing and adds impact to your marketing efforts against which text just can’t compete. They’re effective, eye-catching, and stimulating to viewers in positive ways. Videos are a great way to convey your marketing message with emotional impact.
a) Even though video marketing is more affordable and easier to create than ever, most small businesses still aren’t taking advantage of it.b)
b) Video is a great way to reach volumes of potential customers—plus get your marketing message seen and heard.
c) People like to do business with those they like and trust. Video helps prospects get to know you, resulting in more leads and sales.
d) The goal is to create an amazing, noteworthy video so that people will share it. Sharing gets your business more exposure and greater interest in your products or services.
e) Including video in your digital marketing plans can help you stand out from your competitors.f) Video provides a powerful and compelling way to bring your business to life. Through both amateur and professional videos, you will be able to tell your story on your website, e-mail, YouTube, and social media channels.
f) Video provides a powerful and compelling way to bring your business to life. Through both amateur and professional videos, you will be able to tell your story on your website, e-mail, YouTube, and social media channels.
9) Citations Make Your Website Visible Through Reliable Listings
Citations or online directories are “mentions” of your business name and address on other websites, even if there is no link to your website. They are important to get good local search results and inquiries. Examples of a citation could include:
a) Yelp, Facebook, Bing Places
b) Business directories – simply initiate a Google search for business directories for XYZ (the industry sector you are in).
c) Yellow Pages online directory
d) Local business associations – Chamber of Commerce, etc.
10) Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems
Forming and maintaining relationships with prospects and clients is one of the most important aspects of any business.
a) With positive relationships, it’s much easier to thrive and expand.
b) That’s why it’s so advantageous to implement a customer relationship management (CRM) system into your operations to support sales.
c) There are lots of options, so do some homework to find one that fits your needs and your budget.
11) Online Public Relations (PR)
Online PR is similar to traditional public relations but in the online space. It includes those tactics and actions taken to get online coverage of your events, products and services, client successes, and other newsworthy topics.
This does require some special skills and knowing media contacts can be a big advantage.
12) Other Digital Marketing Tools
There are several other digital marketing tools that you can employ when you have the resources to do so:
a) Webinars – online presentations
b) eBooks – both free and paid versions published on sites like Amazon
c) Case Studies – concise report on a success you had with a client
d) Infographics – visual display of a concept
e) Online review sites
f) Online directories
4. Plan of Action for an SMB to Implement Digital Marketing
The following digital (Internet) marketing plan is in rough order of priority for an SMB (small medium business). Depending on your time availability and your budget, you may be able to perform only some of these actions.
It is better to do a few of them well versus doing a bunch of them poorly. Also, you can hire a digital marketing agency to do some or all of it.
1) SEM (search engine marketing) – Paid Ads for Quick Results
a) Set up a budget to implement PPC (pay-per-click) ads on Google and Facebook.
b) Track results and adjust the campaigns on an ongoing basis.
c) Repeat each month.
d) Optional: Research other sites and specialist directories in which to advertise.
2) E-mail – Publish a Regular Newsletter
a) Subscribe to a service like Mail Chimp (currently free up to 2,000 names) or Constant Contact, which has newsletter templates and simple ways to manage e-mail lists. Or use an integrated CRM (customer relations management) like the Nimble.com system.
b) Collect every e-mail possible and add them to your mailing list. Treat this list as “gold” because e-mail is an effective marketing tool.
c) On a routine basis collect e-mails from prospects and customers—ensure all client forms include a permission-based e-mail authorization.
d) Install a pop-up and a prominent e-mail registration on the website.
e) Research, write, and publish a monthly newsletter that will be of interest to your target audiences. Use your blog articles in the newsletter and gradually move to publishing it twice a month.
3) Website Upgrades
a) If your website is more than a few years old, updated it with a modern design, quality images, and less text.
b) Ensure your website opens quickly—both on desktop computers and mobile devices.
c) Upgrade the website to include a blog and add important plugins—additional software for specific functions such as backup and spam filters.
d) Obtain an online survey of your target audience in order to find marketing “buttons”—words or phrases that elicit a strong emotional response or reaction.
e) Edit and optimize the website for high visibility and interest for your target audience. Each of the web pages needs to be edited to make them search friendly as well as have strong marketing copy to interest the potential buyers.
f) Have relevant photos added to the website to replace those that look like “stock” photos.
g) Get Google Analytics (free service from Google that gives you some basic stats) installed and set up for optimum reporting. Monthly, review the reports in Google Analytics.
h) Add testimonials to the website—both text and video.
i) Based on the analytics, make any needed changes to the web pages or the content strategy.
a) Set up an informational blog on your website as part of the main navigation.
b) Write regular blog posts or follow a new trend of fewer but longer blogs like this one.
c) Post the blogs to social media and include them in your newsletters.
d) Involve customers and prospects as much as possible.
e) Comment on other blogs, especially those of influencers, to develop relationships.
5) Social Media Marketing – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
a) Review and optimize the profiles on all applicable social media accounts.
b) In a timely manner, post the content generated, including blogs, video testimonials, and more.
c) Concentrate on one social account and participate lightly on other important ones.
d) Find appropriate groups in which to participate.
e) Network by participating.
f) Grow your social networks.
6) Ongoing SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
a) Arrange for comprehensive keyword research as all website content and social media marketing centers around your targeted keywords.
b) Edit all content using your keywords.
c) Undertake actions to build back links (one-way links to your website) so necessary to get good search rankings. DO NOT BUY BACK LINKS or you will face the wrath of Google.
d) Link blog posts to the services pages.
7) Create Video Content and Publish on YouTube
a) This could start with video testimonials from happy customers or helpful tips.
b) Get a camera with video capability (more common now), tripod, and lapel mic.
c) Train team members to shoot customer testimonials or other interesting content.
d) Get the video uploaded to your website.
e) Get the video uploaded to YouTube and other free video sites.
f) Get the video uploaded to your key social media sites.
g) Eventually, set up a YouTube channel.
8) Citations – Set Up Profiles on Appropriate Directories to Link Back to Your Website
Citations are listings or mentions of your business name and address on other websites. Ideally, there is a link back to your website. Examples are a local chamber of commerce or local business association.
a) Check all current places where you have listings to ensure that the profile is correct and consistent with phone numbers, address, etc.
b) Look for and add places where citations can be obtained.
c) Collect icons (logos) of these organizations and get the important ones added to your website on the home page to add credibility.
9) Review Sites
a) On a regular basis over many months, get positive reviews placed by your customers on review sites (Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.), Google, industry-specific sites, etc.
b) This must not be perceived as an organized campaign—adding a few each month is just fine.
10) Client Relationship Management (CRM)
Research and implement a CRM system to support sales.
a) Get details of existing systems or no system of tracking prospects, and then review the CRM systems available for a small business. (Just search for reviews for small business CRM.)
b) Plan and prepare to implement. Set up and customize as needed. Test to ensure it is working.
c) Get appropriate team members enrolled.
d) Train everyone concerned, including executives.
e) Drive adoption—one of the biggest problems with CRMs is they don’t get used.
f) Continuously improve, all with the objective of nurturing prospects to become long-term customers.
11) Measurement is a Key Action to Manage Marketing Programs
It is vital to keep metrics (stats or statistics) of the actions being taken and the results being produced.
a) Metrics (Stats) – Keep the following stats to measure sales and marketing success:
i. Marketing outflow
ii. Number of inquiries or inbound calls or e-mails
iii. Number of leads
iv. Total new sales
v. Keep a log of new sales from each source (e.g., the Internet, referrals, networking, etc.)
vi. Social media (e.g., the number of followers on Facebook)
b) Review – On a weekly or monthly basis review all metrics and adjust the marketing emphasis based on what is producing the best results.
Finally, follow a successful business model by continually investing in marketing. Eliminate the marketing tactics that don’t have a positive return on investment, and invest in those that do.
Be a Huge Success!
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to KIAI Agency Inc.