For many businesses that have been around for a while, the idea of digital marketing causes angst. On the one hand, digital sounds great! Things will be faster, automated, and you’ll be able to keep up with your audience. On the other hand, how exactly do you get there? What exactly does “digital marketing” even look like? If you don’t know all the tools, or can’t keep up with all the tools, will you actually be able to keep up with your audience?
Knowing that it’s important for your business, but not knowing where to start, you feel paralyzed and anxious. Every day that you’re not taking steps toward digital, you could be losing out on business and impacting your long-term success. Yet if only you knew what those steps were, you would gladly take them.
Before we dive into the steps that you can take to get your digital train in motion (sorry, couldn’t resist), it’s important to first cover some fundamental concepts. These will get you into the mindset to be able to confidently take on (rather than feel overwhelmed or intimidated) by digital marketing.
Search engine advertising, landing pages, search engine optimization, and carefully planned social media campaigns are part of digital marketing, but they are not the first steps.
These are tools and strategies that will help you to accomplish your activities more efficiently and effectively, but right now, your priority is getting started with those activities in the first place. The above are all important digital marketing tools and channels, but before you start using them, you need to have a basic digital foundation, both in terms of your business marketing and your digital know-how.
Digital marketing is effective and in some cases, it is a means to do away with more traditional methods. However, it is important to recognize that transitioning over to digital does not mean abandoning traditional marketing. There are many offline and old-fashioned marketing tactics that still work beautifully, that digital marketing can either supplement or improve.
Transitioning over to digital means:
• Trying new marketing activities
• Integrating offline with online marketing activities
• Benefiting from tracking, insights, and more efficient reporting on all activities
(Learn how to track your offline activities here.)
Digital marketing helps you to carry out various marketing activities faster. It also provides reporting and insights that enable you to get better results from the same (or even less) effort. Even better, however, is that digital marketing channels, once they’re set up properly, will be doing work for you 24/7. It will be doubling your efforts throughout the day and taking the reigns while you sleep. Digital marketing channels need constant upkeep, but even with minimal maintenance, they will always be helping to generate awareness, leads, and customers for your business.
Digital marketing involves both paid and free methods of building awareness about your business and generating leads. To stay sane, it’s important to start with the free digital marketing methods first. This will also help to facilitate greater success with paid activities that you will later take on.
1. Get your business listed in online directories and review sites.
2. Get a website, optimized for marketing. This means it:
3. Set up your social media profiles. You don’t need to be present in every social network out there. Choose the ones that are right for you.
4. Start saving content. the building block of digital marketing is content. You will need content to complete and optimize your digital marketing assets, and you will need snippets of information that you can plugin to various channels. (Content tips here)
Now that you have the groundwork laid out, you have the tools to start implementing strategies and measuring your results. Don’t start stressing over whether you’re using every tool to it’s fullest capability. You need time to get into a rhythm with these channels before you can fully understand how to optimize them. Below are some initial strategies and some basic dos and don’ts to get you started.
The goal with SEO is to show search engines they can trust you, and to structure your valuable web pages in such a way that they will rank them higher in search results.
Focus on: Writing like a human, offering value to your target audience, finding the right keywords for your business.
Stay away from: Keyword stuffing, duplicating content.
Social media is a great way to generate digital word of mouth. Share valuable content, and make it easy and enjoyable for others to engage with it and share it.
Focus on: Posting regularly, using hashtags, and engaging with follwers.
Stay away from: Lengthy captions and posts, salesey content.
and the ones that you can commit the time to manage. Don’t spend 10 hours this weekend setting something up to then forget about it in a week! Commit to one and work on it to build engaging conversations with your audience on it.
It’s time to start creating content to show your expertise and traffic to your website.
Focus on: Educating your audience in an interesting and easy-to-consume way, adding pictures and visuals.
Stay away from: Fancy words or industry jargon, creating titles for posts that don’t reflect its contents.
Email may be an older form of marketing, but guess what? Everyone still checks their inbox. You might do a monthly newsletter, product updates, promotions, or blog round-ups.
Focus on: Optimizing your subject line, getting permission to email people, keeping things concise.
Stay away from: Too many links and buttons, bombarding your customers.
Once you get familiar with these platforms and have spent enough time with them and on them to recognize patterns, you’ll have a clearer idea of how to optimize each channel, what to improve upon, what to get rid of, and what to capitalize on.
Optimizing might look like:
As your business starts picking up and you start generating a nice lead flow, you’re going to start building a list of people who are eager to hear from you. This is the time to start paying attention to your contact list and start segmenting or dividing it into sublists.
As you start growing your revenue you can start thinking about allocating some of that budget to paid advertising and lead generating efforts. Whether you do it yourself or pay for the service, these can be useful to supplement your business growth especially when you have enough of a budget to make them work. We suggest using them to expand your existing organic efforts in months with low traffic.
Making the switch over to a digitally-dominated marketing strategy is not as hard as it may seem. Start with the basics, and let your experience and results in each stage help to dictate how you will move on to the next.