Would you consider your marketing strategy digitally-focused? Are your advertising and lead generating services taking advantage of all that digital marketing has to offer? Do you get most of your qualified leads from your website or Facebook account? If you answered no to the above questions, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Things changed significantly at the birth of the new millennium. With the rise of the internet, businesses found themselves in uncharted territory with new opportunities, but a lot of uncertainty. Transitioning from traditional print, television and billboard advertising to online marketing was daunting, even for the biggest and most successful businesses.
Many were not equipped to deal with the change. That caused them to put their digital transition on the back burner and focus more on what was currently making them money, rather than looking at the future of their industry. Remember Blockbuster Video? They took too long to introduce a mail order and streaming service, and were swiftly overtaken by Netflix. Now, there is only one Blockbuster left in the nation, and its days are numbered. How about the Seattle Post Intelligencer? They lagged behind their competitors in moving to a digital platform, and eventually had to shut down their print operations completely. Now, even though they still put out the news, their content rarely appears in news feeds. It’s not uncommon, especially for small business owners, to spend most of their time focused on providing their product or service rather than marketing it, and this gap has widened as we have moved into the digital age. Over time, businesses have found themselves struggling financially in the current business climate, which makes it even harder to make big investments into digital marketing solutions.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to embark on your digital marketing journey. Keep in mind, however, that focusing on only one of these areas will not yield optimum results. You need to put time and resources into each and every one to form a well-rounded digital marketing strategy to get more money in your pocket.
First and foremost, your business needs a website. These days, most consumers research a business online before deciding to call or buy from them. If you don’t have a website, you are sending the message your business isn’t interested in finding new customers, and you don’t care enough about them to give them information in their research. Even if you’ve been around for 50 years and have deep roots in the area, people may have no idea who you are. Reach those consumers who research online to find the best company by building an informative, easy to use website that gives potential customers everything they need to choose your business over someone else’s.
You don’t necessarily need a flashy, ten-page site with every tidbit anyone could ever want to know. If you’re just starting out, a simple, three-page site is the least you can do to get your name out there. You need a home page, about page, and a contact form. Find out more about creating the perfect website in an upcoming blog post by yours truly.
Are you on social media? You should be! Businesses in the digital age need a solid social media presence to stay relevant. The hard facts: There are 3.48 billion social media users in 2019, and it still hasn’t reached its peak. 33% of social media users would rather contact a company by social media than by any other means. In a nutshell, businesses need multiple social channels that they post in regularly to connect with their customers, communicate sales, offer support and increase brand recognition. A few posts a week to each of your social media accounts will suffice to permeate the social sphere. Unless you’re a photographer, food blogger or something similar, posting multiple times per day can clog your customer’s feed and cause them to unfollow you. Be sure to include your contact information in the bio of your channels, and don’t be afraid to interact with your followers. Users these days expect a brand to have a unique identity that clearly has a human behind the curtain. Finally, don’t forget the #hashtags. Adding a few relevant hashtags to your posts will allow them to appear in searches and be visible to more people. For example, if you’re a carpet cleaning company, you might simply add the hashtags #carpetcleaning, #carpets or #flooring.
Word of mouth is a wonderful resource, but without being shared online, it can only go so far. That is why we have review sites like Yelp. Unfortunately, one of Yelp’s (and any review site) flaws is balancing good reviews with negative ones to paint a clear picture of your business. It’s well known that consumers are much more apt to write a review online if they are angry or feel they were mistreated than if they had an excellent experience. Our brains are wired to remember the most unpleasant experiences and emotions in detail. Due to this, it’s important to have a well-rounded online presence to offset any unintended consequences of negative online reviews, even if you don’t feel the reviews accurately represent your product or services.
Content is King
Are you looking to nab the top spot on the Google listings for your business? It’s no easy feat. With millions of websites all vying for premier placement, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Google’s algorithm for page ranking, depends on many things, some of which are out of your control, but I can tell you that one of the best ways to move up the ranks is by having lots of content on your site and around the web for users to find. However, adding a bunch of content to your website at once isn’t a good long term strategy. Google is looking for sites that update their site frequently and introduce new content regularly. One easy way to meet this requirement is starting a blog. Admittedly, it can be daunting to think about executing this, but you can get good results without 50 long-winded posts about random things. Also, I’m almost done with the other 49 posts in my queue.
Let’s go back to the carpet cleaning example. One might think that a carpet cleaner wouldn’t have much to blog about, but nothing could be further from the truth. You could easily write a post telling your customers how to prepare for a carpet cleaning. For example, they may need to vacuum, move their furniture, and let their pets outside before you arrive. A post like that with an opening, some bullet points and a closing is perfect. You could also write a post about a new technology or product you have adopted. Are you the first one in your community to have a truck mounted steam cleaner? Are you using a type of cleaner that most businesses aren’t using? Talk about it! Not only will it boost your content on your site, it will also serve as a useful marketing tool that makes you stand out from the competition. Google’s web crawlers will also look for keywords on your site and move your listing accordingly depending on what the user is looking for. Blogging weekly isn’t always feasible for businesses, but you can get results even by posting as little as once a month. Remember, the more content you have floating around the web, the higher you will appear in Google’s search ranking, which leads to more people calling you before they call your competitors. Couple that with positive online reviews and a strong social media presence, and you are well on your way to being a powerful force in the age of digital marketing.
Digital Analytics: Putting all the pieces together
Remember when, in order to get new customers, businesses advertised on the radio, in newspapers and on cable television? Remember how difficult it was to gauge the effectiveness of those advertisements and how many people were actually hearing or seeing them? In the digital age, that problem has been virtually eliminated. Almost all online tools that businesses use in their marketing efforts have analytics software easily obtained via their platform. The most popular platform is Google Analytics, which aggregates all the data on how users are interacting with your website. Where they’re coming from, how many pages they view, how long they stay on the page, whether they click on a call to action button, if they are new or returning, and so much more. Google Analytics has a finely tuned functionality that is integral in gauging the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, benchmarking, and planning for the future.
Social websites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram also have embedded analytics functionality readily available to all their business accounts. You can track clicks, see the reach of your posts and how many people are seeing it, as well as monitor engagement on your posts to find out what your most popular content is. All this information is integral to your marketing initiatives and will help you form your future strategy. Understanding your customers completely will allow you to better serve them as well as increase revenue for your business.