2019 digital marketing guide
How To Grow Your Company With Digital Marketing
This eBook contains everything you need to know when it comes to growing your business in the ever-changing digital world. Get ready to learn how digital marketing will benefit your company, how to optimize your website for maximum results, how to increase engagement on social media, how to create your very own digital content strategy - and so much more!
In today’s technological era, it’s more important than ever for business owners to understand the importance of creating and optimizing an online presence. As more and more companies expand their marketing efforts and incorporate the internet as a marketing tool, it becomes apparent that without an effective digital strategy, your business may begin to struggle to compete.
To put it simply, digital marketing is more important now than ever before. But what is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is a term used to describe your business’s online marketing strategy. That’s right, all of it. From social media and online ads to your website and its search engine optimization (SEO), digital marketing is all-encompassing.
Each tool you use in your digital marketing strategy can work either independently or in concert with other tools. Your digital marketing strategy is entirely customizable. All that matters is that your strategy connects with and appeals to your target audience. After all, the end goal is to draw in new customers and grow your business.
In this eBook, we hope to help you learn some of the best practices for digital marketing, including:
- Knowing your audience, and creating a digital plan that appeals to that audience
- Optimizing your website to get noticed by the search engines
- Developing relevant content that establishes you as an expert in your industry
- Leveraging that content to engage with your readers
- Using social media to develop and promote your personal or business brand
- Making efficient use of online advertising
- Nurturing leads through email marketing
After reading this eBook, you’ll understand better the importance of digital marketing. You’ll be able to implement the strategy in your own business. And, you’ll realize that digital marketing isn’t only an effective way to increase your revenue—it’s also essential! Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Step 1: Know Your Audience
Who Is Your Marketing Audience?
Every business has an ideal customer. Those customers and (potential customers) are the people advertising campaigns are designed for. Toy companies target kids and the parents who buy toys for those kids. Dog food manufacturers target pet owners and appeal to those pet owners’ love of their pups.
Who are you trying to appeal to? Before you take the first step toward creating your digital marketing strategy, think of your target audience. There are a few ways you can figure this out.
Who Is Your Current Customer?
Consider the consumers who walk through your doors. Are they primarily male or female, or is your client base a healthy mix of both? Are they teenagers or children? Vehicle owners? First time homebuyers?
Think about how your business is serving your existing clientele. It helps, too, to consider comments you’ve received from those customers. What do they like about your business? What improvements could be made?
Who Is Your Desired Customer?
Imagine for a moment that you own an engraving shop in the downtown district of a small city. Your existing customers may include small companies who want custom gifts for employees, or maybe you serve the occasional customer seeking a wedding gift.
Is this the customer you want? If you intend to expand your business to include, for instance, corporate enterprises or a more upscale client base, you’ll certainly need to factor this into your digital marketing strategy.
There may be an untapped client base out there that you’ve not yet even thought of. One of the easiest ways to explore this is by asking yourself, “What problem does my service solve?”
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Maybe your engraving service solves a problem for coaches who need trophies engraved. Is that your ideal customer? Perhaps your graphic design company hasn’t yet reached out to larger corporations that need, say, cereal boxes designed.
The success of every business is dependent upon the ability to create a solution, and sometimes that solution is the answer to a problem customers didn’t even know they had. Collaborate with your team to determine what solution your product solves, and the image of your ideal customer will become more clear.
Where Can Your Ideal Customer Be Found?
Later in this eBook, we’ll discuss digital marketing venues a bit more in depth. But it’s important for you, as you develop a clear picture of your ideal customer, to also determine where your client base “hangs out.”
Are your customers primarily college students? Social media may work well as a venue for your marketing. Are they on the go, commuting to and from work? Look into simple and straightforward web design that captures the attention of your audience - and the search engines.
The simplest way to find out where your customers are is simply to ask your existing clients. Once you know which is the easiest way to reach new customers, don’t limit yourself. Expand into other venues as well.
Once you understand who your target audience is, you can cater your marketing efforts to provide a more personalized experience for future customers. This personalized experience will not only draw the attention of new customers, but more importantly it will demonstrate to your clients that you’re paying attention to what they want. This attentiveness to their needs goes a long way in establishing a trusting, long-term relationship.
Your website is the foundation of the entire digital marketing process. Without an effective, converting website, any other digital marketing efforts pretty much fall by the wayside. Think of your website as your digital storefront. If you have a brick and mortar location, you pay attention to the aesthetics of your store or office. You make sure the sidewalks are maintained, the windows sparkle and the facade is welcoming.
Today, however, simply maintaining an attractive physical location just isn’t enough.
Step 2: Your Business Needs A Website
Recent studies show that almost half of all purchases are made online—without the consumer ever having set foot in a brick and mortar location. This is devastating news to businesses that have yet to develop even the most basic of websites.
Whether you’re a small solopreneur or a large enterprise, your business needs a website. Here’s what a well-designed, professional website can do for you:
- Your website is your 24/7 customer service line. If consumers are calling to ask about location, holiday hours, pricing or other information, they need only pull up your website to get those answers.
- Your business website will put you on the map—literally. Often, potential customers are just “passing through” your area, looking for your particular service. Today, the search engines use location based services to provide relevant, local information to consumers. If you don’t have a website, your customers won’t find you - they’ll find your competitor.
- A website establishes your legitimacy. You know that you’re an established, respectable business. But today, customers expect all businesses to have some sort of digital presence. A website is the easiest way to establish that presence.
- Your website will demonstrate your expertise. A well-planned website is essential to the demonstration of your expertise. The content customers see on your landing and other pages will explain what you do, and the content in your blog shows that you’re keeping up with industry trends.
There are many other benefits to having a business website; for instance, it’s a great place to showcase your positive reviews. But first and foremost, your website is the digital equivalent of a listing in the phone book. If there’s no listing, customers won’t call.
Ready to begin to build your website? Let’s discuss what your website should—and should not—include.
What Should Your Business Website Include?
Remember: your website is your virtual, digital storefront. With that in mind, there are a few obvious basics every business website should include, no matter the size of the company.
Here’s a short list of the bare minimum of information that should be displayed on your virtual storefront:
- Your business name and logo to build brand recognition
- An easy to remember URL - for instance, www.donsplumbing.com
- A short, concise explanation of your services, displayed on the landing page
- Your hours, location and contact information
That’s it. Those are the absolute basics. With that said, these pieces of information alone aren’t going to allow your website to service your customers in the way you’d like. Nor will this information draw customers in, compelling them to enlist your services or buy your products.
In order to appeal to a larger customer base, attract the attention of the search engines, and convince customers to consider your services, your website must also include the following:
- Customer testimonials which explicitly state how your business solved a problem.
- A call-to-action, such as “book now,” or “schedule a free consultation”.
- An “About Us” page which explains the mission of your business. This page should highlight your qualifications but focus on the customer’s needs.
- A business blog. Business blogs are critical for SEO. They also demonstrate to your customer that you’re “on top” of industry trends, establishing you as a reputable authority in your field.
There are certainly other components you may choose to include on your business website. It’s important, though, that you keep your website easily navigable and aesthetically simple. No one should have to figure out how to use your website.
Business owners make many mistakes in website design. To keep the design process simple, remember this one thing: this is your digital storefront. You don’t need your website to be complex, nor do you need it to contain every bit of information you could possibly impart to a customer.
Your website is your link between you and your potential customers. The goal is to encourage them to stop in, or to pick up the phone and dial your number. With that in mind, here are a few components you should not include on your business website:
- Distracting pop up ads and email capture forms (we’ll talk more in depth about this later).
- A list of each and every service you provide, in detail. Just the basics will do just fine.
- Music or videos that automatically play when your page loads.
- Depending on your business, it may not be a good idea to state your religious or political beliefs on your website. However, this is entirely up to you and your personal preferences.
When you’re ready to begin to plan your website, grab a piece of paper and jot down a few ideas of what you’d like your site to include. Whether you’re building your own site or hiring a developer, these notes will be extremely helpful in implementing your design.
You may be hiring a developer to design and update your site. Still, it’s important to realize that even the most beautiful of websites doesn’t draw traffic. For that reason, we’ll now take a brief look at SEO.
SEO—A Changing Dynamic
You’ve likely heard of SEO, or search engine optimization. So what, exactly, is SEO? Search engines read the digital content of your website to find out what your site is all about. This information is then categorized and “filed away.” Later, when a web user types in a search query, the search engines will sift through the database of this cataloged information and return the most relevant results back to that user.
The goal of almost every website is to reach the top of those results. In other words, to be the first website that user sees. In the past, this was easy to do—developers would simply trick the search engines by “stuffing” their websites with keywords, whether they were relevant or not.
Today, however, search engines have begun to crack down on these people. Google, in particular, is known for ever-changing algorithms; with over 644 million websites live today, it’s essential to businesses like Google that the end-user is satisfied.
Google and other search engines reward websites that contain relevant, current content by bumping those sites further up the list. Sites which are spammy and irrelevant are penalized. Of course, there’s a bit more behind the scenes than that, but the basic gist of SEO is that relevant, user-friendly content ranks higher than useless sites.
To help you understand this a bit better, let’s take a look at the anatomy of a website.
The page title is the text shown at the top of your web browser tab and the text displayed in search engine results. Though it seems like a simple thing, there are some key dos and don’ts that you should be aware of when choosing your page title.
- Do choose a title that’s succinct and relevant to your website’s content. For instance, “Engraving Services for the Greater London Area”.
- Do include keywords in the page title. Your page title is the first thing users will see, and those keywords will grab attention quickly.
- Do make sure it’s shorter than 70 characters. Any longer titles will get cut off by search engines, diluting the effectiveness of your strategically used keywords.
- Do be sure that every page on your website has a different title relevant to content on that page. This helps users find the exact content they’re looking for when they search your website.
- If there’s space, do include your company name in the page title!
The meta description is the short summary of text that you can write for your web pages. This is what displays underneath the page title in search engine results. Think of it as a summary of your webpage - short, sweet, and to the point, but provides a clear preview of the content within.
Meta descriptions contribute greatly to your SEO score and are excellent for increasing your click-through rate. After all, the meta description is the first thing users will read about your webpage (after the page title). An engaging meta description will naturally draw the attention of users searching for you.
Headers and Subheaders
Headers and subheaders serve as the identifying text of sections within a body of text. If text on a page looks more prominent and is separate from other text, it’s probably part of a section header.
There are two reasons why headers and subheaders are important. First, imagine that you’re a web user who’s scanning a page for information. Because headers stand out, they make your page easy to skim for relevant information. You can quickly skim over the web page and determine whether you’ve come to the right place.
Secondly, search engines tend to pay more attention to header text than the actual paragraph text. For that reason, strive to include your keywords in the header text to improve your SEO. Remember, too, that search engines put more weight on text. That said, we recommend that you only use one header per page. The remainder of your page can be broken up into bite-sized, SEO friendly chunks using and headers.
Image and Alt Image Text
Users love images. What better way to illustrate a concept or to tie in a unique anecdote than a well-placed graphic?
Images have their own digital language that search engines read, known as the alt text. The alt text is basically the name of the image itself. Google reads the alt text of your images, which present an opportunity to boost or hinder your SEO score. For example: if you have a cool graphic about inbound marketing, name it “inbound-marketing.jpg” instead of just “image”. This helps users to understand the information being presented by the image, even if the picture doesn’t load. Alt text is also necessary for screen-reading devices, and is an important factor for ADA compliance standards.
Be mindful that overloading your page with images will negatively impact your loading speed, which hurts your SEO score. Graphics are an excellent thing to include in most websites, but as with anything, there is such a thing as too much.
The URL is the web address of a web page. Our URL is https://duboseweb.com. It was mentioned earlier that you should choose a simple URL—this serves two purposes. First, it allows the web user to understand what your website is about. Secondly, a simple URL makes it easier for search engines to do the same. As you choose your URL, keep the following best practices in mind:
Your landing page URL should describe the page itself. There are few things more annoying than a URL that’s just a jumble of letters, numbers, and symbols. Honestly, who can remember a URL like that?
Separate words with hyphens on individual pages. For instance, choose https://www.duboseweb.com/about-us instead of https://www.duboseweb.com/aboutus. The hyphen separates words out, making it easier for search engines to identify the keywords within the URL structure.
Use 301 redirects. Think of this like a forwarding mailing address. The sites “duboseweb.com” and “www.duboseweb.com”, if not connected by a 301 redirect, this domain will be indexed as two websites, and will get separate SEO credit, which undermines all the hard work you’ve done to develop your SEO score!
More and more frequently, web users are turning to their mobile phones and tablets to find information quickly. The major search engines have picked up on this fact, and have begun to reward sites which are optimized for mobile accessibility.
The most important thing to remember about mobile optimization is this: mobile users have a different reason for using the internet than desktop users. Perhaps they’re potential customers who are looking for the nearest credit union. Or maybe they’re commuters who are trying to place a quick online order of dog food.
To put it quite simply, the mobile user is a web user who just wants to get things done. It’s critical to your website’s SEO that your digital presence be suitable for mobile users, too.
In order to maximize your website’s mobile optimization, your site should meet the following criteria:
- It loads quickly. Google studies show if a site doesn’t load within three seconds, the user will find a different site. (Source)
- It’s easy to navigate. Clear menus and calls to action are essential to mobile optimization.
- It’s tailored to your user. Again, you’ll need to know your audience. Once you know your audience, you’ll have a better understanding of their browsing behavior—what do they want to do on your site? Your mobile site should show this first.
- Compress your images. As you build your site, be sure to compress your images to reduce page loading time.
- Try it yourself! There’s nothing more frustrating than visiting a mobile site and realizing that your fingers are too thick to navigate. Try the site yourself and ensure that it works smoothly and without frustration.
There’s a term for the way your website looks and feels to the end user. That term is User Experience, which is often referred to as UX.
UX is the key to your website’s success. No matter how beautiful your site, how thoroughly you’ve researched your blog posts or how competitively priced your products may be, the fact remains that if your users’ experience isn’t enjoyable, they’re going to find a different site.
As you design the layout and the content of your website, keep the following components of UX in mind. All are equally important to the success of your website, and all may determine whether a web user engages with your site or clicks the Big Red X.
- Visual design is important to your user experience, but perhaps not in the way you may think. Many business owners overload their visitors with graphics, videos and even sound clips. Skip that. Instead, opt for a simple layout with eyefriendly colors. Avoid including too many pictures, as these are slow to load and also may not appear as you intend to a mobile user. An aesthetically pleasing website leaves a great first impression; err on the side of simplicity.
- Ease of use is absolutely essential. If your customers or potential customers find it necessary to wait for the page to load, or if they can’t find what they’re looking for within the first few seconds, they’re going to find another website. Ensure your website is easy to use and navigate, whether your visitors have found you on a mobile device, a tablet or a laptop.
Balanced information is also important to the user experience. As mentioned, your website need only include the absolute basics - the who, what, why and how much, if you will. But many business owners choose to include more. If you do (and we think you should), be sure that the basics are easily accessible to your visitors.
Growth Driven Design is just a fancy way of saying your website is adaptable. As your business goals and needs change, your website should, too. That said, designing your website in a way that will accommodate future business changes is critical to user experience. Continuous improvement also minimizes your website’s down time, should you need to implement changes.
Designing and launching your business website takes time, planning and a bit of foresight into the future goals of your company. Once live, however, your website is one of the most cost-effective, efficient ways to market your business to prospective clients. Your website is your digital storefront; proper planning and attention to the user experience will ensure that your website is search engine friendly and creates a pleasant first impression of your business to visitors.
Step 3: Develop A Digital Content Strategy
You’ve heard the saying before: Content is King. And, in fact, content is the key component driving the success of your website. Good content is essential to search engine optimization (SEO), and it’s also critical to the user experience.
So what makes good content? In this section, we’ll talk about the importance of cohesive, quality content and how you can create and refine your digital content strategy.
What Is Content?
Simply put, content is everything that’s included on your website. The words you choose for your landing page, the blog posts you publish and even the images you include on your site are all components of content.
Your website’s content serves three purposes. First, content is designed to impart information. Whether that information is the mission statement of your company or local news pertaining to your industry, content is meant to inform the audience. Furthermore, quality, relevant content helps to establish you as an expert in your industry.
Secondly, content is designed to communicate. Good content will draw your readers in, engaging and compelling them to want to learn more about you and your business. Remember: your website is often the first point of contact when a prospective customer is seeking information. It’s important that your content be a reflection of your brand.
Finally, as mentioned, it’s no longer adequate to “stuff” your website with keywords, in the hopes that the search engines will reward you. In fact, doing so may cause your website to be penalized by the search engines. That’s where your content comes in.
Well-written content is the biggest building block to the success of your search engine optimization. If your website contains information that’s useful to your visitors, search engines like Google will notice this. As visitors consume your content, your search engine rankings will improve—it’s really just that simple.
What Can Content Do For You?
Obviously, the content within your website is designed to give information to your customers. Who you are, what you do and how a client can reach you are the most basic pieces of content on your site.
But good content can do so much more than just provide basic information about your business. Well-written, quality content can provide the following benefits to your company:
- Lead generation is one of the most obvious benefits of quality content and of your content strategy. As mentioned, good content will establish you as a leader in your industry. Proving to your website visitors that you’re knowledgeable . in your industry will give you an advantage over your competition. Of course, quality content will also help your search engine ranking, which means more potential customers can find you.
- Content is also an excellent way to build your brand. We’ll talk more about branding in subsequent sections of this eBook. Suffice it to say, for now, that customers like to see the “personality” behind a business. When your content reflects that personality, it helps to build this brand recognition.
- Actionable content leads to conversions. Strive to publish content that serves the customers. Answer their questions in a concise, compelling way and include an accessible call-to-action on each page of your website.
- Finally, your content will help you to build relationships with your customer base. Your content should reflect the personality of your business, and should communicate to your customers exactly what you stand for. A foundation of trust begins with well-planned, well-written content.
For the purpose of this eBook, we’ll focus primarily on written content. The graphic components of your website are important, but even the most visually bare-bones website will rely heavily on the written word to deliver a message.
Content Your Website Should Include
There are several types of content that should be included on every business website. These content forms are critical to your search engine optimization, sure. But they’re also a service to your customers.
Let’s look at a few of the types of content you should include on your business website.
Evergreen content is content that remains true, no matter when you read it. Imagine, for a moment, that you own a real estate brokerage. Your website may include market updates, or local news that’s relevant to your area of service.
In addition to timely current events and news, however, you’ll want to include evergreen content. This type of content is usually found on your business blog. For instance, imagine you run a brokerage firm in Virginia. Your evergreen content would include articles such as, “Owning vs. Renting: Why it Makes Sense to Buy,” or “Adjustable Rate Mortgages 101: What Every Buyer Needs to Know.”
Evergreen content is SEO friendly, and it will improve your search engine rankings. It is also easy. You can “set it and forget it,” as the content you publish today will still be relevant three years from now. There’s no need for constant page updates. Finally, evergreen content is shareable. If your content is useful to your visitors, they’re more likely to share, which in turn draws more traffic to your site.
Current content is exactly as the name implies. It’s fresh, updated information that’s pertinent to your industry. Current content takes many forms, but the most commonly implemented form of current content is the blog.
Your business blog is a great opportunity to engage with your readers. It’s also a great venue to showcase your personal style, allowing you to give customers a glimpse into the personality behind your business. Furthermore, blog posts are very search engine friendly, as sites like Google love to see continually updated, fluid content.
In most cases, current content is its own section on your website. This section may simply be called your “blog” or you may choose to include a section for “news” or “trending now.” No matter the verbiage you use, the current content on your website should be easily accessible to visitors, whether they use mobile or traditional browsers.
Finally, and likely most obvious to you, your website will need to contain static content. This information covers the basics of your website. Your business hours, a summary describing the services or products you offer, and a way to contact you are all important to include in your static content.
Like evergreen content, static content rarely changes. However, you may find that a few minor tweaks may be necessary from time to time to reflect changes in your business. For example, you may be introducing a new member of staff, or you may wish to inform customers of modified holiday hours.
Other Types Of Content
Depending on your business and your personal preference, there are other types of content you may choose to include on your business website. This content may take the form of customer testimonials, infographics or even eBooks and case studies. Whatever you choose to include is ultimately up to you. Remember, though, that each and every bit of content you add to your website should serve your customers, helping them to make the decision to enlist your services. Too much unnecessary content can give your website a cluttered feel, distracting consumers and turning them off to your brand.
What Makes Content Good?
Now that you’re more familiar with the different types of content that should be included in your website, you’re probably wondering, “What makes content good?” The answer to that question isn’t necessarily cut and dry. Good content, though, does have a few defining characteristics. Let’s explore what sets good content apart from inferior content.
- Good content is engaging. Whether it’s your About page or a blog post, good content will draw in your readers, encouraging them to learn more about you and your business.
- Good content is professionally written. There’s little more distracting than a website filled with grammatical errors and typos. A well-written page will demonstrate to your customer that you are a professional, and that you give attention to detail.
- Good content is geared to a specific audience. We touched on this earlier in this eBook, but it’s worth mentioning again. Your content should appeal to your desired audience. That means you must know who that audience is.
- Good content is relevant. Every word you include on your website should tell the story of your brand, and should be immediately relevant to the needs of your consumer.
- Finally, good content is easily digestible. Today’s internet users want information, and they want it fast. It’s imperative that you break down your information into bite-sized chunks as a courtesy to your readers. Just a glance should be enough to tell your visitors if they have come to the right place.
The static components of your website are the most visible components of your digital storefront. It’s important that these static pages follow best practices for creating quality content. However, for most business owners, these pages are the easiest to write. A simple description of your business and services is easily written, because you know your business inside and out.
A struggle many business owners face is creating quality content for the more fluid aspects of the site. For instance, the blog post. For that reason, we’ll now take a moment to look at the anatomy of a blog post and at the importance of developing a digital content strategy.
What Is A Digital Content Strategy?
You now know what content is, and what makes content good. But you may still be wondering how you can create a digital content strategy. Or, at an even more basic level, you may be wondering what a digital content strategy is.
A digital content strategy is a roadmap you follow when you’re creating and publishing content. This roadmap serves to ensure that everything you publish is relevant to your industry and your customer. But more importantly, it ensures that your content serves a purpose: marketing.
Creating A Digital Content Strategy
In theory, creating a digital content strategy is simple. The process can actually be summed up with just a few steps.
- Determine what you want your content to do. Would you like to re-brand your business? Reach a new customer base? What is the goal of your content?
- Identify your ideal customer. Who do you want your content to reach? Be as specific as you can, and brainstorm with your colleagues. Together, you may even choose to “invent” target customers. Heck, name them if you like. Nicole is a recent college graduate who’s in the market for a new home.
- Find out where your desired audience is. Does your ideal customer frequent Facebook? LinkedIn? Or would he respond better to a direct email?
- Time to brainstorm again, but this time you’re thinking of topics your customer wants to learn about. Create a comprehensive list of topics which would appeal to your target audience.
- Write. You may choose blog posts, direct mailings, eBooks, white papers or any other venue.
So, yes. In theory, it’s easy to develop a digital content strategy. In practice, however, you’re going to have to delve a little deeper into research. Keyword research, for instance, will be important to your digital content strategy. A bit of market research won’t hurt, either.
A successful digital content strategy requires planning, and it requires a bit of prediction as to how your audience will respond. Once you begin, however, it’s important to occasionally check in with your content strategy’s performance to ensure you’re on the right track.
What Is A Topic Cluster?
Keywords are important. A keyword is the most basic way that a user is telling a search engine what he’s looking for. And therein lies the problem: every one of your competitors wants to rank for the same keywords you do.
Your website will be competing against many others in a race to the top of the search engines. For that reason, you may be tempted to stuff your content with as many of these frequently searched keywords as possible.
Don’t do that. As you now know, the search engines will penalize you. Furthermore, this keyword stuffing will confuse and frustrate your consumers. There’s a better, more effective and more SEO-friendly way to include your desired keywords in your digital content. You can get the search engine rankings you want by using topic clusters.
“What the heck is a topic cluster?”
The concept of a topic cluster is simple. You begin with one “pillar” article. This article is usually evergreen content, but that’s not always the case. This pillar article will cover a topic in relatively broad terms and will focus on (but not overdo) one or two very basic keywords.
From that pillar article will stem other articles, which are your cluster content. Cluster content provides a more in-depth look at principles introduced in the pillar content, and allows you to focus on other, longer and more descriptive keywords. Each of these articles are in some way related, and all are relevant to the pillar content.
As a quick example, let’s imagine your business is a small tea house. It would be impossible to cover every aspect of the popular search term “green tea” in just one blog post. Green tea is a good example of a great pillar topic.
Once you’ve written and published a broad overview of green tea, it’s time to dive into a few more specific keywords. Green tea for skin might be one. Green tea and weight loss might be another.
The key to successful topic clusters is a knowledge of your audience. You may not be able to rank for every keyword. Instead, focus on the keywords that reflect what your audience seeks, and you’ll find yourself ranking for the right keywords for your business.
Implementing Your Digital Content Strategy
You may choose to implement your digital content strategy any way you see fit. As mentioned, “content” includes every single piece of media you release for public consumption. Ebooks are content. Videos are content. Facebook posts and paid advertisements are content, as well.
In subsequent sections of this eBook, we’ll explore social media, email marketing and paid advertising. Do note, though, that the easiest and most cost-effective way to begin experimenting with your content is via the blog post.
There’s little more effective than an engaging blog post to capture the attention of your reader. Unfortunately, it would be nearly impossible to provide a comprehensive guide to creating the “perfect” blog post in just one eBook.
The foundations of good content were covered earlier in this section, and all can be applied to a solid blog post that will convert. The basics of search engine optimization have also been explored. Keeping these two aspects of your digital marketing at the forefront, there are a few rules of thumb to follow as you write and publish your blog posts.
- Title your blog post well. Blog post titles should be attention-grabbing, but should not sound like click-bait. Your titles should clearly indicate what the article is about, and should include no more than 70 characters.
- If you do nothing else, be sure your blog post is well written. Not a writer? That’s okay. Hire a copywriter to write for you. Outsourcing the task for $50 to $100 per hour is much more cost effective than spending an entire day trying to write a post yourself if you just don’t have the knack for it.
- Include links in your post. There are two types of links you must include in your blog post. The first is the outbound link, which cites references within your article. For the purpose of SEO, these links should generally direct to .gov and .edu sites. However, there are many other “high-authority” sites that will do just fine. The second type of link is the internal link. Internal links direct to other pages within your own website. Once you begin your cluster topics, this will be a breeze.
- Include a call-to-action, which is a piece of content that directs the user to perform a specific task (such as “Buy Now” or “Click Here”). A call-to-action should be included on each and every blog post you write. The trick, however, is not to sound “salesy.” Usually, if your article has presented the solution to a consumer’s problem, the call-to-action is fairly self-evident.
- Make it easy to digest and shareable via social media. Break your post down in small chunks of easily digested information. Use headers (usually H2) to do this. Where possible, include social media sharing links at the top of each post.
Step 4: Increase Engagement With Social Media
One of the most powerful marketing tools available to businesses, regardless of size, is social media. Social media is, however, one of the most frequently overlooked steps in digital marketing. Some executives feel there’s no time for tweeting. Others feel that their target audience doesn’t spend time on social media. These are misconceptions, and if you’re not using social media as a marketing tool, you’re losing revenue.
New studies are conducted each year, and the statistics are constantly changing. However, as of 2017 there were 2.46 billion social media users globally. (Source) Those two and a half billion social media users cover a vast range of demographics, from teens with cell phones to C level executives in multi-national corporations.
Social media use is no longer viewed as a preteen’s plaything. Businesses are fighting for ad space and consumers are becoming connected with the brands they love – and some they don’t know they love just yet.
The numbers are in. And social media is huge. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the other platforms are all (usually) free to use, so why are so many business owners still hesitant to take advantage?
Here are some common reasons cited for not using social media:
- “My customers don’t frequent the platforms.”
- “Social media marketing is too time-consuming.”
- “There’s too much drama on social media.”
- “Social media doesn’t result in sales.”
Those statements are untrue, wrong, incorrect and false, respectively. In the United States alone, over 81 percent of Americans have a profile on social media. (Source) And while sometimes social media can be a bit theatrical, your experience on the platforms depends on how you, as a business owner, utilize the tool.
In reality, social media marketing only takes a bit of planning and a bit of, well, social finesse. The result? An increase in brand loyalty and a subsequent increase in your bottom line. Let’s look a bit at how the three major platforms work, and how you can use them to increase your sales.
Facebook For Business
At the very minimum, your business should have a Facebook page. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2017, Facebook had 2.2 billion users. That’s a lot of exposure for your business, and it’s free exposure at that. It costs nothing to create a Facebook business page, post your contact information, write a description of your services and link Facebook users to your website.
What’s more is that your business will turn up in search results – not only on Facebook itself, but on Google and other search engines as well. A search for “florist in North Carolina” on Google will return your Facebook page in the search engine results, increasing the likelihood that customers will find you.
Having a Facebook page for your business doesn’t mean you need to constantly post updates, or snap pictures of happenings at your location. To the contrary, as you begin exploring Facebook you can simply allow your website to automatically post for you. Each blog post you create will be instantly syndicated on your Facebook page, driving traffic and making your content more shareable.
Facebook also carries the advantage of enabling users to place ads. We’ll look at paid advertising in a subsequent section of this eBook, but do know this: Facebook ads are highly targeted. You choose your audience. Do you want to target female, dog-owning book lovers between the ages of 18 and 26? Facebook lets you do that.
The platform has faced criticism over the years for gathering and storing users’ personal information. This is not the venue to discuss that criticism, but Facebook is, in no uncertain terms, a place for sharing. For better or worse, users of the platform have no qualms about sharing personal—even identifying—information about themselves. They’ve freely given this information, and Facebook uses it to your advantage: your ads are targeted to precision. When you establish a Facebook account, be sure you do so as a business owner.
This will allow you access to metrics. You’ll be able to view your post reach, page engagement and the demographic base of your “fans.” This capability isn’t unique to Facebook, but it will certainly assist as you choose the right platform for your business.
Twitter For Business
At inception, Twitter earned a reputation as a news platform. Tweets were limited to 140 characters, resulting in a fast-paced platform with a “clipped” feel. Today, the character limit for a single tweet has been increased to 280. And over the years, Twitter has begun to have a friendlier feel. Networking, marketing and simple banter all have a place on Twitter.
Businesses will likely never be enabled to post several paragraphs or complete articles on Twitter. However, the platform does have one unique and compelling advantage. You, as a small business owner, can directly interact with influencers in your industry, large corporations you admire or even vendors to your competitors… without a mutual “like” or “follow.”
Because of the abbreviated content displayed on the platform, Twitter moves very quickly. Simply tweeting won’t gain the attention of consumers. In fact, they could literally blink and miss your post. That, though, means that Twitter is an outstanding platform for starting a conversation about your business, your industry or anything else you choose.
As with Facebook, Twitter does allow businesses (or anyone) to view metrics. Paid advertisements posted on Twitter are targeted, though perhaps not as much so as on Facebook. Overall, Twitter is a fast-paced and interactive way to begin exploring social media. Some business owners would even say the platform is fun.
LinkedIn For Business
LinkedIn was launched as, and continues to be viewed as, a professional platform. A vast majority of updates and posts you’ll read on LinkedIn are business and industry related, and while there’s certainly “drama” on LinkedIn as there is on other platforms, you won’t see nearly as much here.
Many business owners who attempt to use LinkedIn are, frankly, confused by the platform. Upon signing in for the first time, a new user will primarily see LinkedIn users posting about how much they love LinkedIn. Don’t let this deter you from examining the platform further. LinkedIn is actually very customizable and very useful to your digital marketing strategy. To customize your LinkedIn feed, create your profile. And as you create your profile, bear in mind that the platform has its own algorithm for determining how you show up in search results. Keep SEO best practices in mind: don’t keyword stuff, but do describe yourself and your business using search-friendly terms.
Connections, recommendations and your own content are critical to being noticed on LinkedIn. Initially, strive to add only connections you know or who are in your industry or local area. As your network grows, so will your opportunity to expand your group of connections.
LinkedIn has long been known for its ability to create “thought leaders” and “influencers.” As with Facebook, the platform has faced some criticism. With that criticism in mind, posting your original thoughts and content to LinkedIn is one of the quickest, most effective ways to build your reputation as an expert in your industry. The brand recognition you’ll receive is just a positive side effect.
The Importance of Social Media for Business
You have a gorgeous, well-written website that’s ranking well with the search engines. Your digital storefront is sparkling, and customers are calling. Why do you need a social media presence at all?
There’s a simple answer to this commonly asked question: consumers expect it. Just as the average consumer expects your business to have a website, he expects you to have an active social media account.
It doesn’t matter which social media platform you choose. Each has its benefits, and each its downsides. Facebook allows for greater search engine visibility, Twitter is phenomenal for building your brand, and LinkedIn is great if you strive to be perceived as an expert. What matters is that you find a platform you like, and use it regularly.
A recent study by Eptica showed that:
77 % of consumers who send an email say they’ll not wait more than 6 hours for a company to respond.
85 % of consumers using Facebook to contact a business want a response within 6 hours.
64 % of consumers who contact a business via Twitter want a response within an hour.
Your consumers want to hear from you, and they want a response quickly. If you can’t meet the demands of your consumer, they’ll find a business that can. Likely, that business will be your competitor. To put it simply, social media is the new telephone. Your customers are calling you; it’s your responsibility to your business – and to your consumer—to pick up the phone.
How Should You Use Social Media?
Consider your personal Facebook account. With whom have you connected? If you’re like most Facebook users, most of your contacts are your friends and family. There are, however, probably a few business pages you’ve liked.
Now, consider why you “liked” those businesses. Perhaps you added that vineyard in California because it’s a place you’ve always wanted to visit, or the local florist because you had a positive experience at her shop.
It’s reasonable to assume that you didn’t like either page so you could read daily promotional posts. That is to say, if either of those businesses were to inundate you with ads, you’d probably find yourself deleting them from your feed.
Social media is social. There’s no other way to put it. While it’s an effective marketing tool, that’s not necessarily true in the way some business owners think. The end goal of an active social media account is to keep your customers engaged, not to self-promote.
Here’s how social media can impact your business:
- Social media gives your company a face. The platforms give you a unique opportunity to “meet” your customers before they ever set foot in your office. You will quickly evolve from “Johnson’s Steel” to “Mary Johnson, that friendly woman who owns the steel production plant” when you take advantage of social media.
- Social media establishes trust between you and your consumer. As your consumer notices that you are responsive and accommodating to your client base (or to him), he will be more likely to feel a sense of trust.
- Social media builds brand recognition. This almost goes without saying. Your consumers will begin to recognize your voice and your brand, and your company will remain at the forefront of his memory when he requires your service.
- Social media, similarly, builds brand loyalty. Because you continue to engage with your customers on the platforms, those customers will continue to come back to you.
- Social media de-escalates sticky situations. When a customer is angry, often the first point of contact is your (public!) social media profile. When you respond to these negative remarks promptly, with tact and grace, social media can serve to de-escalate problems. Plus, others will notice.
- Social media allows you to be social. Most importantly, social media is social! As a business owner, it’s perfectly okay to kick back and talk about sports, local events or even (non-controversial) news with your followers. In fact, that’s how you’ll get to know them, their habits and what they need from you.
Step 5: Use Landing Pages To Increase Visitors & Convert Leads
If you’ve been successful in developing your social media and your digital marketing strategy, your traffic will come from all over the web. You’ll get visitors who visit your site directly; these visitors may have acquired your URL from a business card or other collateral. You’ll get traffic from social media; these visitors are intrigued by either your social media interaction, a post that’s been shared with them, or something you yourself have shared. You may get visitors from direct email marketing or from a search engine query.
In some cases, it will be perfectly adequate for that traffic to land on your home page. From your home page, your visitor can browse the contents of your site, searching for the information he needs. After all, your site is well-organized and user-friendly!
However, in many cases it’s not appropriate to direct visitors to your home page. Your user will be looking for a very specific bit of information, as defined by the social media post or the direct email he read. For these visitors, you’ll need to create landing pages.
What Is A Landing Page?
A landing page is a website built for the purpose of capturing your visitor’s information and compelling him to buy your product. Landing pages are highly targeted. Because you know the source of your traffic, you know the information they’re looking for and you can create a customized page just for that visitor.
The landing page you create must have several characteristics to be effective.
- It offers something in exchange for your users’ contact information. Whether this be a discount on products or just a free eBook, you want to give your visitors a reason to enter their email addresses.
- It allows little chance to leave the page. A good website is easily navigable and will allow your visitor to move about the site, browsing or searching for information. A good landing page offers little opportunity to leave the page—you want that user to stay.
- It includes a strong call-to-action. A call-to-action can be as simple as “Book Now” or “Click Now,” but may alternatively offer a free trial or a free consultation. Either way, you want your visitor to take you up on your offer today.
- A good landing page contains useful information. If your visitor doesn’t immediately find that your landing page is useful to him, that “back” button is just a click away.
- Finally, a good landing page is short. Too much information will overwhelm and distract your visitor, greatly minimizing the likelihood of closing a sale.
Developing A Landing Page Offer
Your landing page has two objectives.
- To offer something to your visitor, in exchange for his email address or other contact information.
- To convert that visit to a sale.
With those objectives in mind, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- What brought this visitor to my site? Was it a PPC (pay-per-click) ad, a Facebook post or a direct marketing email?
- What information is valuable to this visitor?
- What do I want this visitor to do? Purchase a product? Begin a free trial?
As you evaluate your audience, the goal of that audience and your own intent, you can begin to formulate the “meat” of our landing page.
First, you’ll need to determine what it is you’re giving away. Have you ever visited an ecommerce site, only to be prompted for your email address? If so, you know that those sites don’t request your personal information without offering something in return.
“Enter your email address for 15% off your next order.”
“Tell us where to send your free samples.”
Does that sound familiar?
Landing pages have the unique benefit of being highly targeted. Users to your site are looking, specifically, for the service or information you’re offering. However, people are more likely to part with their email addresses if they’ll be offered a free service or product in exchange. This is the first offer you’ll create.
There are few limits to the offers you can extend to your visitor in exchange for contact information. Consider using the following:
- eBooks. eBooks are particularly appealing to B2B customers. You’ve established yourself as a leader in your industry, and your visitor wants to know how to do what you do. Offer a well-researched, professionally written eBook to explain one of the aspects of your business.
- Discounts. Whether you’re an e-commerce business or offer a service to consumers, you may choose to offer a discount on services to your site visitors. Entice them to enter an email address to receive a coupon.
- Newsletters. You may choose to offer a weekly newsletter to subscribers. This newsletter may include “top tips,” industry news or anything applicable to your industry. Bear in mind that, should you choose this route, you must commit to producing a weekly newsletter.
- Tangible items. Though not as commonly implemented, a capture form offering tangible goods can be an effective way to capture physical mailing addresses. Note that people are less willing to give this information than a simple email address.
- Consultations or other services. If you wish, you may choose to respond to each email capture. Do this by offering a free estimate, a consultation or a customized rate list to each individual user. Be sure you follow through.
In order to understand what your visitor is looking for, it’s imperative you know where your traffic came from. Doing this will allow you to customize your offer to suit your audience. After all, a consumer shopping for shoes is extremely unlikely to want an eBook about the impact of the fashion industry on the environment. Tailor your capture forms, and you’ll get more leads.
In the same way that you’ll customize your capture forms, you’ll also customize the landing page itself. Knowing how your visitors reached your page will allow you to adapt your page accordingly. And, similarly to your capture form, your landing page must compel your visitor to buy.
Your landing page should:
- Include a title, explaining precisely what your visitor will gain from reading the material.
- Be short, sweet and to the point. Relate to your user’s problem, explain how you’ll solve it, and urge them to act immediately.
- Include a call-to-action. In a best case scenario, your visitor should be able to respond to your call-to-action without ever leaving the landing page. Your call-to-action should be included near the top of the page, and again at the bottom, after your written material.
- Make use of visuals, but not so many that they are overwhelming. Videos are helpful, as are infographics.
In other words, and it can’t be stressed enough, your landing page should be direct and concise. The most compelling landing pages include just the right amount of information to sell your product, and a strong call-to-action.
Creating The Call-to-action
Creating a call-to-action could be as simple as writing two words: buy now. Of course, you’ll tailor this to be applicable to the service you’re offering. Download now, sign up now and subscribe now are also perfectly fine.
As simple as it may seem, there are several considerations you’ll need to make when developing your call-to-action. First, how can urgency be created? Creating urgency may entail offering a product “while supplies last,” or “before the offer expires.”
Secondly, you’ll need to choose your verb deliberately. There’s a subtle, yet definite difference in meaning between “subscribe” and “sign up” or even “register.” Choose a word that will appeal to your target audience.
Third, know how your audience reached your site. As an example, social media marketing may target mobile users while Google Ads may target a desktop user. Knowing where your audience was sourced will allow you to enable users to respond to your call-to-action in the simplest way possible.
Finally, where space and opportunity allows, tell your user exactly what they’re getting themselves into will greatly increase the probability that a visitor will respond to your call-to-action. “Subscribe now to receive 20 free greeting cards” is much more compelling than a dry “subscribe now.”
Overall, your calls to action should follow the same guidelines as your landing page: concise, visually appealing, and conducive to a sense of urgency.
Testing Your Landing Page
Even the most beautifully designed, UX friendly landing pages may not get the results you expect. That’s why it’s so important to test your landing pages.
Thanks to marketing tools available to businesses like yours, it’s quite easy to test the efficacy of your landing pages. Google Analytics, Twitter Analytics and Facebook Analytics are just three of the dozens of tools you may choose from. Of course, the method you use to test will be dependent upon from where you draw your traffic. If you’re using a direct email marketing service like MailChimp, you’ll also have access to testing.
The most commonly implemented form of testing is called A/B testing. A/B testing takes a bit of planning but is quite easy to perform. You’ll simply create two versions of your landing page (and its components) and measure which performs better, and under what circumstances.
Here’s how you do it.
- The first step is obviously to determine what you’d like to test. Are you testing the content of your landing page? The venue of your advertising? The title of your landing page or a call-to-action button? Use your existing page as your control page. Then…
- Create variables. Play around with the components of your landing page until you find a cohesive alternative to the control.
- Run your test. This test should be conducted like a science experiment, using one variable constant. For instance, use Google Ads to promote both your control and the variable.
- Determine which variant, A or B, performs better and leads to more conversions.
Depending on your objective, conversions may not be the only metric you’re researching. You may choose to use A/B testing to measure:
- Social media shares
- Email open rates
- Website bounce rate
- Ad reach and click through rate
Frequent A/B testing is the most effective method to determine if your landing pages are working. Furthermore, they’ll assist you in getting to know your consumer better. Through this testing, you’ll learn where your target audience hangs out, what appeals to them and, most importantly, what converts them from a website user to a customer.
Step 6: Supplement With Paid Advertising
What Is Paid Advertising?
As you begin to promote your website, you’ll notice that paid advertising opportunities exist in many places across the internet. The major search engines, for example, all offer paid advertising options. Social media platforms, too, give business owners the choice of whether to pay to expand reach.
Paid advertising takes several forms, including:
- Banner ads
- Sponsored search results
- Promoted posts or tweets
- Email campaign managers
- Ads on third party sites
Indeed, there are quite a few ways you can pay someone else to promote your website. But for the purpose of this eBook, we’ll discuss only the tried, true and measured: search engines and social media.
Why Use Paid Advertising?
The goal of every business website owner is to create a website which creates a constant flow of organic (non-paid) traffic. This can be accomplished with a visually appealing site which contains great content and is optimized for search engines.
But good SEO takes time. It could take months—even years—to begin to see the traffic you desire. Paid advertising allows you to bypass this waiting period, reaching an audience quickly and making your website immediately visible to prospective customers.
Paid advertising also carries an additional benefit: it’s highly targeted. Whether you choose to implement social media or search engine ads, you can custom-fit your ads to reach any audience you desire. A sampling of the variables you may use in your paid advertising includes:
- Customer demographic
- Lifestyle choices (dog owners, home buyers, et cetera)
- Method of accessing the internet (tablet, mobile device, et cetera)
- Specific keywords
You can literally customize your ads to reach the exact consumer you seek. That means that each visitor who arrives at your website is more likely to covert and be a more qualified customer. In fact, that’s more true of a visitor who reached you via paid advertising than of your organic traffic.
Are you ready to begin incorporating a paid advertising campaign into your marketing plan? Let’s look at the two most commonly used paid advertising venues: Search engine advertising and social media ads.
Search Engine Advertising
Search engine advertising could be described as an SEO shortcut. In other words, you pay for your website to appear at the top of search results. Search engine advertising carries risks and rewards but is very effective in drawing consumers to your website.
- As you may know, Google is the biggest, most popular search engine. The platform boasts 1.2 trillion searches per year. Those Google users are attempting to find the most relevant results amongst the 1.8 billion websites live on the web as of 2018.
To make a long story short, your business has a very wide potential market. However, the competition is fierce. You want those 1.2 trillion to land on your website, not the site of your competitor. Therefore, your desire is for your link to appear at the top of the list.
Google Ads can help you accomplish this. The search engine offers two types of paid advertising to businesses like yours: display ads and text ads. Which you choose is ultimately up to you (and you’re A/B testing results). The appeal of each is largely the same, as are the risks.
A guide to utilizing Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) would fill an eBook of its own. For that reason, we’ll stick to the basics. Creating a Google Adwords campaign can be completed in just a few steps, and those steps are explained in a straightforward, easy to follow manner on the Adwords site itself.
There’s just one important key to remember: When a customer clicks your ad, you pay. With that in mind, it’s important to be as specific as you can when defining your target market. It’s also in your best interest to set a budget broad enough to cover “errant” clicks.
The benefits of search engine advertising
Search engine advertising offers amazing benefits to your business.
- An immediate surge in traffic from consumers who are seeking your service
- Customizable budget options – spend as much or little as your business can allocate
- A quick and effective way to “rank” for desired keywords
- Measurable results you can use to improve your organic reach
- Easy to use and quick to set up
- Extremely efficient for A/B testing
Search engine advertising works for businesses of any size, budget or target audience. However, there are a few risks to this form of advertising as well.
The risks of search engine advertising
Of course, any form of advertising comes with associated risks. For that reason, it’s important to be diligent in your A/B testing and in tracking your metrics. Some of the risks of search engine advertising include:
- Your target audience may immediately identify your ad as just that, and be less inclined to click
- As with search engine optimization, you’re competing for keywords. A competitor with a bigger budget may still outrank you.
- You risk paying for the “merely curious” visitor to arrive at your site.
Overall, the benefits of search engine advertising do outweigh the risks for most businesses. If you find that search engine advertising doesn’t fit with your marketing strategy, consider social media advertising.
Social media advertising
Earlier in this eBook, we countered several objections commonly put forth against social media use by business owners. Therefore, you already know that your target demographic is likely frequenting social media.
According to Pew Research Center:
- 68% of U.S. adults use Facebook
- 50% of college graduates in the U.S. use LinkedIn
- 46% of Twitter users log in daily
- The average American uses 3 social media platforms regularly
Those numbers only reflect American social media consumption, and studies show that the number of active users rises each year. As you can deduce, social media advertising is an extremely effective method of getting the word out about your business.
That being said, the average social media user isn’t as attracted to ads as the average search engine user. These consumers are often tech savvy, and will immediately recognize your advertising efforts. They’re also not on social media to shop— they’re there to be social!
As you develop your social media advertising strategy, there’s one tenet which should be at the forefront of your mind:
Social media is social.
Your audience has no desire to be inundated with your ads, nor are they likely to click your links if they don’t trust you. Use social media advertising wisely, offering a balance of business promotion and social interaction.
You can choose any platform you like to build your social media advertising campaign. Platforms which offer advertising options include:
- Google +
Of course, you can use any social media platform, but these venues offer metrics and analytics to business owners which will prove extremely helpful to your campaign. As with search engine advertising, there are risks and benefits to using social media advertising.
The benefits of social media advertising
Social media users are different than search engine users. That presents a unique set of benefits to your social media advertising campaign.
- Social media users know how to use the internet. They’re more tech-savvy than their search engine query counterparts.
- Social media users will follow or like your page. This translates well for you: no need to capture their email address at all.
- Comprehensive analytics tools are offered to social media advertisers, enabling you to tailor your ads to your ideal customer.
- Ads are extremely targeted. Choose your audience specifically, even down to hobbies, professional memberships, and geolocation.
- Social media advertising is an effective way to build your business brand. Do remember to mix a lot of “social” in with a little bit of “promotion.”
- Your paid ads are visible to an audience bigger than just your followers.
Social media advertising, like search engine ads, are quick to set up and very easily changed as the need arises. However, there are risks associated with social media platforms.
The risks of social media advertising
It’s because the average social media user differs from the average search engine user that you’re also presented with unique challenges.
- Social media users can spot an ad from a mile away. It’s critical that you develop both a content strategy and a marketing strategy.
- Your social media followers are “easy come, easy go.” While it’s easy for a user to follow your business, it’s just as simple for that user to unfollow your business.
- The social media user is typically mobile. That translates to a need to create landing pages that are 100% accessible to mobile devices – including the call-to-action.
- Your brand is intertwined with our social media ads. While not necessarily a risk, it’s important that your ads be cohesive with your company brand.
Risks aside, social media advertising allows business owners an avenue to connect with consumers in a way that search engine marketing can’t. Regardless of the platform(s) you choose for your campaign, social media marketing is cost-effective and can create long-term relationships with consumers.
SEO best practices change frequently, as search engines attempt to improve user experience. Similarly, social media advertising best practices are fluid, as well. Social media practices strive to create a community that enables users to feel “safe” and which encourages use of the platform.
There is, however, one marketing method businesses use which remains fairly consistent in both best practices ad results: email marketing.
Step 7: Nurture Leads With Email Marketing Best Practices
Email marketing requires a bit more legwork than search engine or social media advertising. While it’s possible to pay for a list of prospective customers, it’s not generally advised that you do so. That list may contain inactive email addresses, consumers who genuinely have no use for your service, and consumers who will immediately mark your email as spam. In short, paying for email addresses can be a colossal waste of advertising dollars and could get you in trouble.
Instead, consider building your own email marketing list.
Building Your Email Marketing List
Previously in this eBook, we discussed the landing page and the email capture. Once you have a steady stream of traffic to your site, this is the most organic and effective way to build your email marketing list. Customers who input their address are almost guaranteed to have an interest in your service, and are almost guaranteed not to mark your first email as spam. After all, they requested information from you, and willingly told you how they could be reached.
There are other ways to build your email marketing list, however. Consider using one or more of the following methods:
- Blog posts. Well-written blog posts should always include a call-to-action. However, that call-to-action does not always equate to buying your service. Instead, why not encourage visitors to subscribe to your blog. By doing so, your subscribers will be automatically notified when you post new content. More importantly, you have gained another email address.
- Social media. Interaction with others on social media should include offering something in exchange for an email address. Remember that social media is social — don’t spam your followers.
- Collaborate with other businesses. As about opportunities to share contact information with other businesses. For instance, wedding planners may choose to collaborate with caterers or florists.
- Encourage forwarding of your emails. Allow your subscribers to forward your emails, and enable those recipients to opt-in to receiving emails from you.
- Sponsor a giveaway. Giveaways work well for small businesses, but they’ll also work for larger corporations. Share your promotion with social media followers, visitors to your physical location, website traffic and existing customers.
Building your email list requires that you think outside the box, tailoring your approach to your business practices. Don’t limit yourself to your email capture form. There are plenty of creative ways to grow your list.
Sending Email Marketing Messages
As you begin to develop your email marketing strategy, there’s one rule you absolutely must follow: don’t spam your consumer.
It won’t matter how much time you spend building your email list, creating a content strategy or ensuring your emails are visually appealing. If you send too many emails, or if you send irrelevant emails, your subscriber will become an unsubscriber.
Today’s consumer has little time. He wants information in a hurry, and will dismiss anything he perceives to be too time-consuming or irrelevant to his immediate needs. Therefore, your email marketing campaign should:
- Be a part of an actual campaign. Emails which seem arbitrary to the customer will be deleted. Develop your plan when you create your content strategy.
- Include an attention-grabbing subject, but one that’s not spammy. Try A/B testing to find the right mix.
- Consider the audience. Research, and determine where your leads have originated. That will assist you as you create emails that are relevant and compelling.
- Get to the point. Tell your consumer why you’re emailing, and what they will gain by reading (or skimming) your message.
- Include a call-to-action which enables the reader to immediately take advantage of your offer.
- Be visually appealing. Big blocks of text are not appealing. Fluid, clickable images are.
- Offer an option to unsubscribe. (Which is honored.)
In a nutshell, your reader wants to know why your message has shown up in his email inbox. Tell him, but be succinct. Then, simply include a call-to-action that’s easy to take advantage of. It really is that simple.
Measuring Email Marketing Performance
There are dozens of tools available to businesses which allow for tracking of marketing performance. This includes the performance of your marketing emails. Using these tools will allow you to measure and analyze your:
- Email Open Rate. This is the percentage of recipients who opened your email to read it.
- Click Through Rate. These are the readers who clicked on one or more links in your email.
- Bounce Rate. These are the emails that were not successfully delivered.
- Conversion Rate. This measures the recipients who read your email, clicked through, then subsequently took action on your website.
- ROI. Your return on investment may or may not be measured, depending on which marketing platform you use. Those platforms that do measure ROI will analyze how cost-effective your email campaign is.
The metrics you can study will vary with your email marketing service. You may be able to track how many of your emails are forwarded, how many are sent to spam and how well your email list is growing. What’s important is how you use that information.
Regularly evaluating the performance of your email marketing campaign will allow you to make appropriate changes. Adjust your verbiage, layout and even the frequency of your emails to suit your customer to result in higher conversion rates.
Know The Effectiveness Of Your Digital Marketing
The principles of digital marketing are applicable to all businesses, whether you’re a sole proprietor or a multinational corporation. Throughout this eBook, we’ve outlined the basics, from your digital content strategy to your social media presence.
You can choose to customize your digital marketing strategy based on the unique needs of your company. You may choose to build a website and draw traffic with social media, or you may opt for a large allocation of advertising dollars toward search engine marketing.
No matter which tools you use, it’s imperative that you measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. Knowing what does and does not produce results for your individual business can make a marked difference in your bottom line.
To simplify, you’ll need to keep tabs on the following aspects of our digital marketing strategy:
- Keywords. Know which terms your consumers are searching for. Use these keywords as you develop your search engine marketing plan, and be sure to create your topic clusters based on those keywords. Google Keyword Planner and similar tools will help with your research, allowing you to create a cohesive keyword list that’s relevant to your target audience.
- SEO. Whether you hire a web developer to create your website or simply create a small site in Wordpress, there are dozens of tools available to assist you with your SEO. Use a program like Yoast in Wordpress to ensure that your website is SEO-friendly. And track your traffic, too. Tools exist which will indicate which keywords brought traffic to your site.
- Content. Content really is King. Good, well-written and informative content that’s easily digested by your consumer is imperative. A poorly constructed blog post that doesn’t offer anything of value is guaranteed to turn consumers off to your site — and your brand.
- Social Media. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to view the metrics for your social media profile. Evaluate which posts are reaching your consumer base, and tailor your ads and your personal posts accordingly.
- Email marketing. Capture email addresses on your landing pages, but utilize other means as well. Then, use your email marketing manager to determine what your consumers are, well, consuming. Analyze your subject lines as well as the content of your emails, and make changes to suit the needs and preferences of your readers.
Above all, remember that your website and your digital marketing strategy work in concert to create your virtual storefront. A storefront that’s appealing to your customer and consistent with your brand will guarantee the success of your strategy — and your business.
Ready to start a project or really curious about our process? Drop us a note or give us a call; we’re happy to answer all your questions.