Justin Staples is an entrepreneur who specializes in providing businesses with results-driven SEO, custom web design, and content development. Below, he offers a modern guide for any business to ensure their efforts are modernized and effective:
Growing a successful business is anything but easy.
If you want your business to scale, you need more than a good product or service. You’ll also need tried-and-tested processes to deal with anything from sourcing products, managing employees, dealing with customers, and more.
Beyond that, you also need to figure out how you can reach as broad of a customer base as possible, and that comes down to marketing.
There are a thousand ways to market your business. However, every day that passes, digital channels become more important. Now more than ever, customers are more likely to look up products online before spending a single dollar.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of digital (or online) marketing, now’s a great time to learn some basics, so let’s get to it.
A Quick Introduction to Digital Marketing:
Every type of promotional activity that involves electronic devices falls under the banner of digital marketing. However, some online channels are far more important than others when it comes to promoting your business.
Social media is the easiest example. Unless you’re a hermit, almost everyone you know probably uses it.
Perhaps the best thing about digital marketing is it enables you to reach a far broader audience than old-school approaches – such as handing out flyers, magazine ads, and others.
If you run a local business, you can use online marketing to gain customers from all over the country, and even the world (depending on what you’re selling!). It all comes down to choosing the right channels.
10 Must-Knows of Digital Marketing in 2019:
In this section, we’ll walk you through the key terms you must know to get started with online marketing and some of the best channels you can focus on.
Keep in mind – some businesses will find more success in some channels than others, and it all depends on who your audience is. By the time we’re through, you’ll have all the information you need to make some important decisions!
Throwing money at marketing without a plan might work, but it’s not a sustainable or scalable approach.
To reap the full benefits of online marketing, you need a framework, which is a fancy name for a business plan. Here’s what it should outline:
• What your goals are (i.e., finding new leads, getting more traffic, sales, etc.)?
• Who is your audience?
• What online channels will you focus on?
• How much money do you plan to spend?
• What process will you use for tracking your results?
Frameworks are the basis of a great online marketing strategy. By laying out all that information, you’ll gain insight into why some marketing approaches work while others fail.
2. Brand Story
Branding is essential for any business. It enables you to establish relationships and build trust with your audience, which can help transform them into customers and keep them around.
The concept of branding is often very vague, but you can boil down what your brand is by answering a few simple questions:
• Who are your ideal customers?
• What problem do you help those clients solve?
• How do you want your audience to perceive you?
To put it another way, the products and services you offer may be at the core of your business. However, it’s your branding, web design, and the value you bring to your customers that determines what they think about you.
Before you embark on any marketing endeavor, you need to have a clear idea of what your brand is or what you want it to be. That way, you’ll be able to keep things consistent throughout every channel.
3. Traffic Acquisition and Conversions
When it comes to online marketing, we often don’t talk about sales, sign-ups, or leads. Instead, we refer to those things as “conversions.”
The more traffic you can drive to your website using digital channels, the more potential conversions you get. Those conversions might not always lead directly to sales, but ideally, they’ll get you one step closer to that finish line.
At the end of the day, the value of your services is what convinces visitors to become clients. Digital marketing is just the set of processes you use to get them in the door.
4. Paid Ads
Most online channels enable you to pay in exchange for traffic. That includes social media platforms, search engines, websites, and more.
Depending on which channel you use, you’ll be able to run different types of ads. Usually, you’ll pay for clicks, impressions, or more specific interactions.
In online marketing, we refer to groups of paid ads as “campaigns.” Ideally, you’ll test different campaigns across marketing channels, figure out what works, and then scale upwards to get more conversions.
5. Email Marketing
When it comes to digital marketing, email is king.
To reap the full benefits of email marketing, you’ll need to build up a sizable list of subscribers and develop engaging campaigns. It’s a ton of work, but the numbers speak for themselves.
6. Live Chat
If you take a quick look at some of your favorite websites, we’re willing to bet a lot of them have live chat windows.
Nowadays, live chat is by far the most popular channel for customers to communicate with you. In fact, 44% of visitors say having someone that can answer their questions directly is a big factor deciding whether to make a purchase.
Once someone gets to your website, it’s your job to explain what your products and services can do for them. The best way to do that, by far, is telling them yourself, and live chat provides you with a channel that enables you to do that.
7. Affiliate Marketing
Think about affiliate marketing as a commission program for the digital age. In short, businesses that run affiliate programs pay end-users or marketers to promote their products.
These days, affiliate marketing drives over 16% of all e-commerce sales, which is a staggering figure. If you can set up an attractive affiliate program, it can become a cornerstone of your digital marketing strategy.
If you’re trying to grow an online business, then you need to learn how to love search engine optimization (SEO).
Search engines can make or break websites. If your business shows up on a high position in the search engine result pages (SERPs) for popular terms, they can drive massive amounts of traffic to your website.
The problem is, there’s no magic formula when it comes to SEO. What you can do is follow best practices, which evolve all the time as search engines refine their algorithms.
SEO involves a lot of trial and error, but it’s key to the growth of most – if not all – online businesses.
9. Public Relations (PR)
If you want to get people talking about your business, one of the best ways to do it is through good old-fashioned PR.
Traditional press releases, for example, can drum up a lot of interest if you can get attention from publications with a big following.
Nowadays, there are a lot of online tools you can use to build relationships, with leading online publications. What that means is that in 2019, you don’t need the help of a PR firm to get the word about your business out there.
10. Social Media
As a marketer, the only thing you need to know about social media is that almost 44% of the entire world uses it.
Some platforms are more popular than others, of course, and not all of them might be a great fit for your business.
What you want to do is identify which social media platforms are more popular among your audience, and then use them to promote your business. In most cases, that means running paid ads, setting up profiles to promote your content, and engaging with your followers as often as possible.
What Digital Marketing Will Look Like in 2020:
The main thing you need to know is digital marketing is only becoming more important with every year that passes. Over half of the world’s population is already online, and a lot of them use the internet to decide where they’re going to spend their money.
As far as specific trends go, 63% of online marketers say they want to focus on social media in 2020.
Mobile use only keeps growing as well, which means more and more people are using voice searches to find what they want. Making sure your digital marketing strategy is mobile-friendly is key to staying relevant.