How Can I Start Digital Marketing?
We market businesses to find appropriate audiences for its products and services and to pinpoint the best marketing strategy for its audience. Marketing is meant to accelerate growth by accomplishing various things, whether it is spreading brand awareness or building lists to retarget.
Once your business is off the ground, success depends on whether you have a clear marketing plan. Modern companies are spoilt for choice when it comes to marketing tactics, which are nearly endless in today's dynamic business environment.
While it's normal to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of options available, you're bound to have more success with digital marketing if you first ask these questions:
Table of contents
What Are My Marketing Goals?
Before you can build a sound marketing strategy, you have to define its key objectives. What do you hope to achieve with your marketing strategy? Are you after more purchases per customer? Perhaps you're interested in better customer retention or are looking to mitigate the impact of bad online reviews through reputation management.
Defining goals allows you to choose the marketing strategy that best leverages your limited time and resources towards achieving them. And even though they sometimes overlap, remember that your business goals are different from your marketing objectives.
Who Are My Customers? How Do They Behave?
Customer and market insights are the metrics you must have to understand your target audience. You need to know why your customers seek companies like yours, whether they spend time online, and how often the average customer makes a purchase from businesses in your niche.
Aside from customer behavior, you also need to know about your market and how it behaves. For instance, learning how your competitors market to customers can shed light on industry trends that may give you an advantage. You can also see the marketing trends that don't work to avoid them and spend your resources more productively.
For this part, a lot of research is necessary. Collecting this data may require conducting customer surveys, scouring your competitors' websites, or even calling their customer centers.
What Kind of ROI Am I After?
As a small business/startup, you're probably working with a limited budget. Therefore, successful marketing tactics are those that offer the best return on investment for your limited marketing resources.
If you already know the ROI you're looking for, the next thing to do is to try out a couple of strategies. Digital marketing is usually touch-and-go at the start because it relies on real-world results. As you try and fail, you start to invest more in the marketing tactics that work, leading to better returns.
When you have clear goals, understand your market, and know what kind of ROI to expect, you're ready to start marketing your business. Here is an actionable step-by-step guide on how to start digital marketing for any business.
Create A Business Website
Think of your company website as a brochure that can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. It is a central point of information about your business, which you use to show customers what you offer and why you're the best option.
Your website is also your business's online headquarters. Customers that find you through search engines or links you send to their emails arrive here first.
These days, you can set up a website quite affordably, and you have the liberty of selecting from a wide range of formats and designs. It is important to have a proper website, even though a Facebook page can serve as a temporary landing page for some situations.
A Good Website Has the Following Attributes:
- Quality SEO - Billions of search queries are performed each day, so one of the main ways customers will find you is through search engines like Google. For your business to be visible, you have to perform proper search engine optimization (SEO).
- Mobile Support - A large percentage of the online population is on mobile devices. As such, every business must have a mobile-friendly website lest they lose customers.
- Content Management Software (CMS) - Unless you're a tech guru, you might find website creation and management easier if you use a CMS. Anyone can create professional websites using this software because they don't require any technical skills. Plus, it is cheaper to use a CMS, some of which include SEO and mobile support, than to hire a professional to build your website from scratch.
Use Google's Marketing Options
On the consumer side, Google is a well-known search engine. However, on the business side, Google's marketing options are perhaps the most useful digital marketing tools for small businesses. Even with a limited budget, they allow you to reach a huge audience and can scale quite easily as your business grows.
Two of their marketing options should be a vital part of your marketing strategies: Google My Business and search engine marketing (SEM).
With GMB, your company can have its business information displayed on search results and across all other Google products, including Google Maps.
But first, you need to supply business details like your address, contact details, and working hours to GMB. GMB allows you to read and respond to customer reviews, upload pictures, and showcase your products, premises, and services. Plus, since it costs nothing to use, it is a highly recommended marketing strategy for small businesses.
SEM is a different ballgame, although it is just as cost-effective to use as GMB. With SEM, your company pays for a text ad that appears on top of the first Google search result. Since it is a PPC (pay-per-click) model, you only have to pay for the ad when a customer clicks through to your website. Most startups invest in SEM as their chief marketing strategy, which is advisable, but it is important to diversify to have multiple traffic streams to your website.
The best advice for small businesses is to start right away with Google My Business. Since it's free, you have nothing to lose. Plus, anyone can submit information about any business on GMB, so it is important to be the first to provide Google with the correct business information if you want customers to find you easily.
Although effective, SEM may be a bigger challenge for startups that don't understand its complex keyword bidding auctions and general keyword research tactics. You have to learn a lot about using keywords to take full advantage of SEM as a marketing tool. Of course, you can always hire someone to do it for you because digital marketing services these days are quite affordable.
Finally, you should check out other Google services that align with your marketing objectives. There are many options to consider, such as banner ads and click-to-call/book features that send customers from all over the internet to your business. The best thing about using Google's marketing options is that it can be tailored to fit any budget.
Get on Social Media
Social media has morphed from a recreational platform into a powerful advertising tool that's especially helpful for small businesses. Here is where to find the most insightful customer analytics that helps you acquire accurate customer profiles and create effective targeting strategies for your audience.
Small businesses shouldn't ignore social media marketing but should strive to adopt it as quickly as possible. It is low-cost, so budget limitations shouldn't stop you from investing in this marketing strategy. In fact, it should be your first option if you're forced to choose just one marketing strategy.
Aside from highly-targeted advertising, social media facilitates reputation management. Remember, the internet works both ways. Positive comments and reviews can gain you more customers, while negative or unfavorable feedback can actually drive away customers.
Important as social media is, don't make the rookie mistake of picking the wrong social network. They all have different interaction features, so the chances are good that they will each deliver different results. A good rule of thumb is to follow your customers. A B2C interior design company will have tons of success on Pinterest, whereas a large B2B shipping conglomerate may have an easier time finding interested retailers on LinkedIn.
If you're still not sure, start with Facebook, which is one of the largest social networks on the planet. Facebook has billions of monthly active users and also offers a dedicated advertising platform (Facebook Ads) that suits businesses of all scale.
Once your business grows, it is important to scale your social media marketing as well. Problems start to come up when your company has to juggle between multiple social networks, so it is wise to invest in software solutions to maintain multiple social media accounts. This is also something that you can outsource to professional social media marketers.
To be successful on social media, you must build a habit of responding quickly to customers. Everyone hates waiting, so keeping your customers waiting for feedback for weeks will not boost customer retention.
The best companies have systems in place that ensure customer feedback (especially negative comments) are responded to within 48 hours. Even though consumers understand that bad reviews are unavoidable, you create room for doubt when you don't respond to the negative comments left on your page/listing/website.
Build A Mailing List
Email marketing is a direct response marketing technique that's the real-world equivalent of handing out flyers on the streets. It is the cornerstone of many small businesses, which often thrive from direct marketing.
Email marketing is flexible, so it's an ideal strategy for most companies. Part of the reason it's so effective is that it can be tailored to fit different audiences. For instance, you can send a welcome email to new customers or a thank you email to customers who have just completed a purchase. For repeat business, email marketing can be used to distribute coupons and discounts that incentivize more purchases.
Since it can be highly personalized, email marketing can be quite attention-grabbing. It is a well-known fact that personalized emails boost customer engagement, so, when done correctly, email marketing tends to have a much higher ROI than one-size-fits-all marketing tactics.
Collecting consumer emails is a lot easier these days with tools like ConvertBox, which let you customize deals that appeal to every customer type that visits your website. Email marketing software makes building a mailing list a lot easier than it previously was, and you're encouraged to take full advantage of them.
Businesses also learn how to segment their audience when creating personalized emails. Most CRM software will help you in customer segmentation, but some email marketing software is equipped with this capability.
Invest in Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing involves attracting customers to your business through the use of valuable and informative content. Most of what we've covered are outbound marketing tactics where you push out messages (ads) in the hopes of grabbing people's attention. Inbound marketing involves posting useful articles on topics related to your industry.
Customers online are drawn to websites that provide them with the information they need. This information incentivizes a lot of them to dig deeper for your business information, which gradually leads them to your website. Customers you obtain this way will think about your company more favorably since they look for you on their own volition.
Inbound marketing also boosts SEO and gives your business authority or expert-status in your industry. Any company that delivers value to prospects before they become customers develops a good reputation, which inspires word-of-mouth marketing.
For inbound marketing to be effective, you must have quality content. If you're not confident in your writing skills, videos and webinars perform just as well on the internet. It's important to deliver content that you're comfortable producing; otherwise, it won't offer the kind of quality that turns prospects into customers.
Again, make use of CRM software to nurture any leads captured by inbound marketing. You need to track these leads as well to see how effective a particular post is. Some CRM software comes with automation tools that automatically take your leads down the sales funnel.
Invest in Mobile Marketing
Everyone these days has an internet-enabled mobile device, so mobile marketing is a powerful strategy. Small businesses can thrive from its low-cost yet highly targeted nature that lets you deliver messages to specific audiences in the most intimate setting possible.
Mobile marketing allows you to reach very large audiences with urgent messages that inspire action. It is a perfect platform for small businesses looking to raise local brand awareness.
Two things are particularly effective when it comes to mobile marketing: the use of mobile apps and retargeting. You don't need an app for your business because there are already a number of them that cater to small businesses. Yelp and Foursquare are two perfect examples of apps that help you attract customers in your vicinity.
Retargeting involves showing ads to customers that have previously visited your website but did not complete a sale. Retargeting is a subtle form of re-engagement that you can deploy across multiple devices. Hence, it serves as a gentle reminder to your customers about what you're offering, whether they're on their mobile devices or computers.
Invest in Video Marketing
Video content performs better than all other types of content on the internet. To capture an audience that's predominantly made of visual learners (approximately 65% according to this study), you need to learn how to create videos to market your business. The best videos for marketing often include detailed information alongside powerful visuals to help showcase the true value of a specific product or service.
There are several options within video marketing that you can use to promote your business. Companies with unique or complex products can start with how-to videos, while B2B services can water down their business description with a personal story of how the business started.
The key to successful business marketing is to be yourself. Strive to avoid stuffy or boring videos by humanizing them as possible. Consumers want to connect with human beings, not corporations.
Maximize the visibility of your video content using Facebook and YouTube. Last but not least, make your videos entertaining. Regardless of the subject matter, your video should grab and retain your customers' attention. One tip you can use is to keep your videos under 1 minute whenever possible unless an in-depth product is revealed. Use humor, adventure, and excitement to capture attention.
Much of marketing relies on experimentation, so the best way to start digital marketing is just to start. Measure the results and then use these marketing metrics to determine which strategies will help you achieve your business goals.
If things don't work out at first, keep trying. It might take a while to find the perfect marketing formula for your company, but one of the ways to shorten that process is by working with a digital marketing agency. Experience counts for a whole lot when it comes to digital marketing.