What is Digital Marketing?
Digital Marketing inspires internet users to become customers
Marketing is how businesses communicate with their potential customers. For people to know you exist your business needs to have a presence in the world, interacting with your potential customers and building relationships between people and your brand. The art of selling has become much more than billboards and bus stops with people constantly interacting with brands as soon as they pick up their smartphone.
Our opportunities as businesses is not just to sell our products but to create long standing relationships who trust us to solve their problems. Marketing does this by being their when people need them, a searchable, visual, brand building experience which consumers previously enjoyed wandering around shops and seeing posters or catalogues of things they'd like to buy.
Marketing has changed a great deal in the last 10 years, moving onto digital spaces and platforms, giving power to buyers who are just as well informed on products and services as salespeople. Digital Marketing is another way of saying - connecting with strangers and being useful to them.
Take a moment to think of all the times in a day you might do a Google search, whether you are asking Alexa or Siri, or whether you are typing it out into Google, you have questions that are based on your needs at the time.
Reasons to search
- You have a question, "what is the weather doing today in Edinburgh?"
- You are researching or planning, "Where are the best places to go scuba diving in warm water?"
- You want to buy something, "Dyson dehumidifier"
As we ask the search engine questions at any point in the day we have different objectives - to know whether to take an umbrella out for the day, or we're researching a holiday, or about to buy a product or do a price comparison. Search engines are now sophisticated enough to take this question, understand the context and give us relevant information.
Google search engine in particular using machine learning to understand the context and provide us with the most relevant information. If we are on using our smartphone to search for restaurants while stood in Edinburgh city centre at 5pm, Google understands you are looking for places to eat dinner and shows you results that are open and within walking distance. As business owners we can use this valuable insight to start thinking about what questions our customers might have about products or services we offer and topics that our potential target audience might be interested in.
Digital Marketing builds relationships between brands and strangers, by understanding what our potential customers are out their looking for online, we can be useful and provide relevant information. Turning strangers into visitors, showing them our brand and value, building trust and credibility the whole time they are on our website.
Why use Digital Marketing?
Serve your prospective customers
make it easy for them to find you
Digital Marketing is now going further than ever before to not only show potential customers products and services but to assist them in their buying journeys. The benefits of using digital marketing are seemingly infinite; as businesses we can answer questions, support research and provide answers. If your website is live to make sales, generate leads and build your brand, it will happen only after you have shown the visitors value.
Firstly, do you currently know how your customers are finding you?
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are great tools to understand this and they should underpin your marketing strategy. You can find out goal orientated metrics such as:
- Where you visitors are coming from?
- What search terms they are using to find you?
- What visitors do when they visit your site?
All of this data helps you to understand how your marketing is currently performing, whether people can find your website in the first place and whether, when people arrive, they go to the pages that are meaningful to your business (forms, contact, downloadable resources).
offer A solution they need
Yes of course you want to tell the digital world, how awesome your product or service is - but how does that help the website visitor?
Remember earlier when we talked about the different types of searches we all perform daily? Not everyone is ready to buy just as soon as they land on your website. Digital marketing can meet people wherever they are in the buyers journey and support them to find the best solution for them. And sometimes, that might not be your solution. It's important to remember here that if you have truly identified your ideal customer and a 'best fit' user of your product or service you will draw those people to your site as you answer the types of questions they are asking Google.
Your marketing can specifically be aimed at those individuals or companies that are looking for a solution that you offer. When you created your product or service did you have a particular person in mind? What problem do you solve for them? If you know the answers to these questions then they feed into your marketing too, each part of your marketing strategy can be tailor to where people are in the process of discovering your product.
Help visitors become customers
We've covered ways to help people discover you - providing useful content that helps them to click on to your organic search listing on Google and enter your site. People make there first impressions of websites in seconds, just like greeting someone and shaking their hand.
What is the first impression people are getting of your website? It's important to think about the journey of the user as they arrive as the first impression they get of your brand could be a lasting one. Digital marketing can go a long way to deliver a great experience with the user in mind, and your website performance is also an important factor in having your website pages delivered in search to be discovered by those looking.
- Experience and first impression is key
- How are people finding you?
- What would make them want to stay?
Simply visiting a website does not tell us whether a person is researching or in the process of making a decision, we'll talk more about the buyer journey soon. Marketing tools can also help us to engage and begin building relationships with prospects when they arrive so we can get a better idea of what information they are looking for and how we can help them.
Ask yourself, are there actions of your website that tell you how engaged a visitor is? Many businesses fall into the trap of using very few CTAs (or calls-to-action) or simply using a 'Get in Touch' or 'Enquire' button, assuming that all visitors are ready to buy or have a sales call as soon as they discover the business. This simply isn't the case. We can apply additional marketing strategies on our website to begin to build relationships and better understand our visitors and how likely they are to become leads, sales or partners.
- How do you currently build digital relationships with prospect clients?
- Are there any signals on your website that help you understand your prospective clients?
- Engaging helps you better understand the problems you are solving for people.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound Marketing puts people first
The inbound marketing process is an upgrade to digital marketing even as it exists today, businesses cannot rely simply on ranking for keywords and having good visibility in search engines. Traffic is no longer a measurement that tells us if we are doing a good job with marketing. Yes it's still important - we want people to find us online! However what happens when they arrive on your website?
If we understand where someone is on their journey we can use marketing to reach them with useful content that helps them along the way. By understanding the types of searches people do depending on their buyer journey stage, we can tailor our inbound marketing efforts to meet the needs of our potential customers at any one time.
MARKETING FOR THE CUSTOMER NOT THE BUSINESS
By understanding the buyers journey you'll suddenly find yourself with hundreds if not thousands of possible content offerings that enable you to be discovered by and connect with your potential customers. Here are some key content ideas you could start with:
- Do you have the industry knowledge to help visitors identify there current challenges and solutions?
- Do you have specific expertise you could share that would help a prospective customer identify their solutions?
- Do you offer a solution for this particular challenge, and why is your solution a good fit?
CONTENT IS KING (OR QUEEN ;)
Outbound marketing is now becoming redundant, as a jarring experience that assumes a person is ready to buy. Intrusive emails, ads and sales-y web pages turns potential customers off as they are at different stages of the buyer journey. A good inbound marketing strategy goes further into understanding how we can meet the needs of the customers and begin building relationships with our brand and trust in the solution we offer.
Any buying decision in the age of the internet can leave people confused in a sea of options and businesses with strong marketing strategies serve visitors to help them see through the seaweed.
What is your website goal?
WHERE IS MY WEBSITE TRAFFIC
A strong digital marketing plan starts with a 'where are we now' assessment. Review your current status to see how you perform online, in search engines, on social media and find out how people are currently finding you. If your website is producing good quality leads and high value sales then it's likely visitors are having a positive experience and finding what they need when they arrive. Getting more good quality traffic is usually the starting place of many marketing strategies, to build brand awareness and let as many ideal customers as possible know that you exist.
Using the tools mentioned above, you can see search performance and begin to look for keywords, search terms and common questions that are being used to find your website, you can optimise for these terms to improve your visibility in search. Widely known as search engine optimisation, this process is the foundation of good quality long term marketing strategies that lead to business growth.
Search Engine Optimisation key tips:
- Understand how your prospects are searching online.
- Create website content with optimisation in mind.
- Understand the how different search terms might be used in your industry for different stages of the buyers journey.
WHERE DOES MY WEBSITE TRAFFIC COME FROM
Resources is something we discuss frequently with clients and colleagues as marketing is a full time job! If you are time or budget restricted, marketing is an easy way to develop a 'quick win' methodology. By analysing your current traffic to see where your audience is coming from you can focus your marketing efforts to where your customers are online.
Sources of website traffic
- Search engines
- Social Media
These are the most common sources of traffic and each one has it's own marketing potential when considering (based on your current data) whether than traffic leads to engagement on your website, enquires and bookings or sales. You can maximise for sources of high quality traffic on your site, making sure those that really need your help and services can find you when they are looking.
WHAT IS A LEAD?
A lead is often someone who has taken an additional step towards becoming a customer. They have come to your website and done more than browse and read blogs, perhaps they've filled out a form or engaged with a call to action on your website. Many websites overlook the importance of adding this part of the journey to their websites - has yours?
how Do I ask visitors to become leads?
If your website is getting plenty of traffic, but isn't generating engagement from the visitors, perhaps your marketing efforts should focus on increasing leads and building relationships.
You'll be able to see from your analytics data what your most commonly visited pages are, how long people spend and where they leave. You can use this information to identify points of engagement so that rather than leaving, they can request additional information or take something with them to read later in their own time.
The opportunity here is that not everyone is ready to be a customer immediately. Remember the buyer's journey, if a visitor is in the awareness or consideration stage then it's likely they are collecting as much information as possible and requesting a call back or having to email to request a brochure is too strong a buying signal for them to commit to. Reduce friction for your visitors by providing other options, that continue to build brand relationships and give them food for thought so that they can reach out at a later date.
WHAT IS A SALE?
A sale is something of value to your business, for some website it will be a booked appointment, a reservation or selling a product. In marketing we often refer to conversion rate as something that determines how good the website is at turning visitors into customers.
- Everyone would love more sales on their website
- Determining your is a good fit for your product or service will help people find those likely to become customers
- Understanding how visitors use your website will enable you to create a natural (not forced) journey toward them becoming customers if your solution is a good fit.
Other things to think about with sales in your journey is how your content and marketing bring 'good-fit' visitors onto your website and encourage them to choose your solution over other competing ones.
Have visibility on how long it usually takes someone to make a purchasing decision like yours and what other information what they might want to know before they buy. Websites are too often putting people into the decision stage too early, so you may get lots of almost sales (adds to cart or abandoned carts) but the journey is just as important as every other stage.
If you have a high drop off rate, it's time to look at the check out process and see what the burden is on the shopper and if you make make this simpler and more transparent.
CONTENT IS KING
Use your website content to connect, attract, engage and delight your website visitors, building brand trust and offering helpful solutions to people looking. Look to create a web of pages on your that go a long way to helping a visitor define their current challenge, identify possible solutions and understand what you offer.
By adding context to your content you'll enable your visitors (and Google) to see you as an authority in your industry so they don't simply have to return to the search engine to ask their next question.
- Great content is useful to the visitor not the just the business goals.
- Use keywords and search terms in your content to be found more easily by people looking for your solution.
- Build credibility in your field and relationships with your visitors.
Calls to Action
If your visitors are reading a blog, a FAQs page or a services page on your site, they may be at different stages of the buyers journey. One call to action does not fit all. Asking your prospective customers to get in touch might be a step to far, what else can you offer them to begin building a helpful relationship and help you identify what else they might need help with.
- Downloadable content is great for those who want to read more at a later date.
- Ask your visitors for some commitment in finding a solution with your which opens direct dialogue.
- Make your calls to action clear to visitors and have one on each blog page on your site.
WHERE DO YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMERS SPEND THEIR TIME
Social media can't be overlooked by any business wanting a well defined brand and digital presence. Digital marketing strategies that under utilise their social media often get left behind as they struggle to keep up with the rapid changes in how people like to digest information and do their research.
- Are you generating website traffic from your social channels?
- Where is your ideal customer likely to be on social media?
- What do people engaging with your brand on social media want to hear from you? How can you be useful to them wherever they find you?
DON'T LET YOUR CUSTOMERS BE 'ONE-OFF's
After all your inbound digital marketing efforts have paid off and your growing your business rapidly online, don't overlook the customer you've already won. Think about how you can continue to engage and delight them, turning customers into long term relationships.
Of course, some products and services are infrequent purchases but keeping in touch and valuing your current customer can be a far simpler way of increasing digital business growth than finding new ones.
- Keep in touch with useful and helpful information
- Make sure email content is relevant and contextualised to the customer
- Get feedback on what works and what doesn't work for your customers to ensure long term growth.
Creating a Marketing Strategy
DON't just do more
Identify your current marketing challenges and opportunities and use them to frame your marketing efforts for the next 6-12 months. It's not about being great at everything (or anything, as digital marketing efforts can be outsourced) but thinking about where your biggest opportunities lie. Knowing where your biggest marketing growth can come from may require some expert insight but by using your analytics data you will also be able to see where to improve. Put a plan together to make these goals happen within your time frame.
- Set out clear goals for growth and set a time frame
- Define digital marketing goals for the stages of the buyers journey you want to target
- Review them regularly so you can keep on track
Time and Budget
WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO WORK WITH
Companies that are growing rapidly or looking to grow fast in a digital world must commit to investing in marketing to reach their goals. Understanding what your resources are allows you to be realistic in your goal setting and actually hit and exceed your objectives.
Things to consider:
- Do you have the time and the person-power in place?
- Do you have a budget for advertising to accelerate your growth.?
- Making long term investments secure growth and long term financial success.
MAP IT OUT
Work to a frame work that delivers on your targets, content calendars, social media scheduling tools and graphic design tools can take time to learn and optimise but once in place can accelerate your marketing efforts as they become a streamlined part of your business. Marketing does not work well by implementing a feast and famine strategy but with sustainable efforts over time.
If business growth is your current goal then up to 30% of your time should be committed to digital marketing to make this happen.
- Use time wisely in areas of high opportunity.
- Regularly review the time your spend on your marketing and how successful you are being.
- Being organised is key to solid repeated digital marketing success.
Measuring your success
Any marketing efforts should have a clearly defined goal in mind, SMART goals are the best way to know whether your marketing investment is paying off and more importantly, that it is delivering the growth you expect.
Having time bound goals is one of the easiest ways to see whether your business growth projections are accurate. Using smart goals allows you to see direct return on investment and create secure future business projections that allow you to invest in products, staff and invest long term.
Regular reports can be pulled from many marketing tools so you can see month on month improvements in performance, a snap of in time can be compared to previous snap shots and are an essential part of a great inbound digital marketing strategy.
Great tools for reporting:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Hootsuite and Buffer (for social media)
- Facebook & Instagram Insights and Twitter Analytics
- Advertising reports from Google Ads, Facebook Business Manager
DIGITAL MARKETING IS FOR LIFE
As you learn more about your website visitors, people who find you on social media and those visitors who become customers you can update your strategy with what you've learnt. There is always room for improvement as digital marketing is currently changing at a rapid pace to keep up with buyer desires and behaviours. Coming back to your goals and changing them is essential for you marketing efforts to work for your business growth long term.
Feedback from customers and website visitors is a fundamental for smart digital growth as you can hear from the mouths (or fingers) of your ideal prospects what they love or dislike about your digital presence. Use this to grow into to a business that puts people at the forefront of what you do. Improvements through feedback turns strangers into visitors and customers into brand ambassadors, make it easy for your customers to rave about you online and recommend you to all their family and friends.
- Feedback enables us to keep delivering what customers want and love.
- Improvement is a constant cycle within online business growth.
- Have fun, try new things and see what works for your customers and your business.
Digital Marketing of the future
Person centred approach
There is a lot to think about, (and do!) when it comes to digital marketing, if you've read this article and aren't sure where to start, we'd love to hear from you, why not get in touch to discuss where you currently are and let us help you prioritise you current marketing goals!