The Basics of Digital Marketing

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Digital Marketing is promoting your company or your companies goods and services online or through mobile data channels. Like traditional marketing when done correctly it involves much testing and documentation to find what is truly working. Unlike traditional marketing digital marketing generally is much easier to track and easier to change and modify “on the fly” in reaction to feedback and tracking results.

Digital Marketing tends to be focused on a narrowly targeted audience more so than traditional marketing channels which tended to broadcast a message repeatedly over a broad audience.

Primary types of digital marketing are: Owned outlets such as a company’s website, Facebook page or other social media channels; paid ads such as Google Adwords or Facebook paid advertising; and earned media outlets such as a blog following, Facebook followers and other social media accounts. Obviously the digital owned and earned categories can overlap.

One of the first things a company must establish is the specific objective of their digital efforts. In a typical B2B (business to business) campaign the objective may be to generate high quality leads for a professional sales force to follow up with. In B2C (business to consumer) the main objective may be increased brand reach, build an email list of quality prospects, or a customer call to a brick and mortar location.

Some types of digital marketing can be quite inexpensive to begin with. For example an email campaign or publishing extremely engaging content on a blog post that gains an audience and is shared around the internet. Other options can start rather inexpensively and then be tweaked and optimized before scaling up into higher budgets. These options make digital marketing a much lower barrier to entry than traditional marketing. All of this is to say that small and medium sized companies have a much better chance at success and for that reason alone every business needs to have a well defined digital marketing plan and budget.

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Why Should a Business Focus on Their Online Presence?

It is a well established fact that the internet has changed the world. Today the printed Yellow Pages are not much more than a paper weight, (pun intended). Newspaper and magazine subscriptions are down significantly across the country. Network TV viewership is declining year over year. All of these “old-world” media outlets are succumbing to the digital “new reality.” The vast majority of people search online to find the local goods and services that they require. If a business wants to grow it must be found online, and it must have multiple outlets online.

Therefore, it is a simple fact that a business must have a digital strategy to grow their customer base, brand, and sales.

                                                                                           It Starts With a Plan

Just like traditional marketing a business must have a specific plan for their digital marketing. Marketing is a strategy that a business implements to reach out to their ideal prospects to inform them and get them to know, like and trust the business. Strategy is the big picture plan. Tactics are the HOW of execution of the plan.

The marketing plan does not need to be dozens of pages of complex technical jargon, charts and formula’s. In fact it can be quite simple. Read The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib. You need to laser focus on:

  1. Who. Your target audience in advertising can’t be “everyone that walks in the door”. Each campaign needs to be laser focused on a specific target. Pick you “ideal” customer. Focus your message on exactly that person. Are they male/female? How old? What income? What habits? What likes and dislikes. What are the major one or two problems that cause them anxiety. What are their fears, what keeps them up at night? Just as important. Who do you NOT want. What type of customer is your largest problem, most hassle and least profitable. Your advertising needs to weed them out as well.

  2. What. What can you uniquely do for them. You need to establish what your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is. What separates you from the crowd of competitors that are shouting for their attention. You must communicate clearly and succinctly what you can do for them to solve the problem identified above. Sometimes this stage of the relationship involves How. Don’t assume that the customer automatically understands how your solution will solve their issue. Do not leave them the least bit hazy as to how you will fix their issue.

  3. Why. Why they should choose you. Offer proof of your claims. Social proof, (other happy customers), a guarantee, seek to literally make an offer that they can’t refuse and that has no apparent downside for them.

The entire focus of your advertising is to let your prospects know, like and trust you. There are many was to accomplish this in digital marketing. Publishing lots of interesting and informative content serves to make you the expert in the field. Information that is free and useful builds trust. Your company could utilize blog posts, publish an ebook , create an engaging infographic or host a webinar.

                        It Takes A Touch, (or Five)

Marketing can be compared to dating. It takes time and multiple interactions to build the know, like and trust. A business relationship is a relationship after all. Your marketing campaigns need to focus on the process. This is sometimes described as an inverted funnel. At the top of the funnel are the “raw” prospects that may encounter you via your advertising. As you engage more with them, inform them and help them with your content they begin to trust you. Those that are interested in your business or your offer move farther down the funnel, while some prospects will drop out. Your campaign needs to focus on building the relationship with those moving through your funnel, and how to interact and continue to reach out to those that have not responded and moved further down the funnel. Those that “drop out” may not be gone forever. After all, how many guys hit it off perfectly with their wife right from the beginning. It is expected that the relationship may take time and work.

Another advantage to digital marketing is the ease of which a business can establish multiple touch points with potential customers. Once they have entered your funnel and identified themselves it is possible to reach out to them via Facebook, email, text message, Google Ads or other social media outlets. Sales experts tell us that it takes between 5-7 touches before most prospects become customers. Your digital marketing plan should include multiple touches to prospects as well as re-targeting prospects that have not moved along in your funnel.

Your Website:

For most companies the best starting place to a digital marketing plan is to establish a website. It is extremely important to insure that your website is mobile friendly, loads fast and that all the elements of the site load properly on all types of mobile devices.

It is a simple matter to find companies that will build a website. However, most website builders are not capable of writing the content. They don’t know your business, your Unique Selling Proposition, and frankly are not copy writers. You need your website to compel prospects to investigate your business further. You need content that engages them, answers their questions and concerns and builds rapport. If you are not confident in your own writing skills your website is one place that an investment in a very competent copy writer is an excellent investment.

Keywords:

You will need to research the major keywords and keyword phrases that prospects will use to search for your goods or services. This may not be as hard as many make it out to be. Begin with your own experience. What words and phrases would you use for your business and services and your location. Type these into a Google search. As the pages come up notice how well the businesses displayed match what you were searching for. Notice as you begin to type your search Google will offer some search suggestions. Write these down. Go to the bottom of the search page and also write down the phrases that google gives as search suggestions. Do this for every keyword and keyword phrase that you can think of, then search the best of the Google search suggestions that you wrote down. Again, on all the searches go to the bottom of the page and find the best of the suggestions.

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Website Content:

When you are writing (or having written) your website pages make sure that the best of the best of the keywords and keyword phrases are included in your content. This is how Google and the other search engines determine what your page is about and when you should appear in a customer search.

Website Tracking:

Much of the ins and outs of building a website are beyond the scope of this article. However, do make sure that Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Facebook pixels are set up and working on your site. These tools will provide you with a means to analyze traffic to your site down to individual pages and will allow you to track visitors to your site so they can be re-targeted as we mentioned above in the discussion of funnels.

Most website owners fail to use the data that Google provides FREE. With Google Analytics and Google Search Console you can track all the traffic to each page of your website. You can discover where the traffic came from, (did they find you through your listing on Yelp or your Google My Business listing or general search). If from general search what keywords are working best for you? What pages on your site do they visit? How much time do visitors spend on each page? Time on site and “bounce” rate are measures that Google will use to evaluate the quality of your web pages and it will effect your ranking in Google. But more important, these types of data will let you know what your visitors think of your site and your content.

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                                               Getting to know the Terminology of Digital Marketing:

Every business or niche has it’s own language and key terms associated with it. Let’s review a few of the key terms used in digital marketing.

  • Bounce Rate: A measure of the total number of visitors to your page or to an online ad and how many stay long enough to digest the content verses the number that immediately click away. A high bounce rate is a definite red flag for your funnel or content. This measure lends its self to A-B testing. That is testing one factor vs another. For example, image A verses image B, or Headline A vs Headline B. A caution here is to only test one variable at a time and make sure you have enough impressions for each variable before you conclude which is the clear winner.

  • Call to Action: The response that you desire your page visitor to take. It could be to fill out a contact form, pick up the phone and call, click on a “Buy” button. One reason that most websites convert very poorly is that they do not have a clear and compelling call to action. Much thought and testing should go in to your call to action for every page or advertisement that you put online.

  • Conversion rate: The ratio of visitors to your page vs the number that respond to your call to action and buy, fill out a contact form, call or otherwise move further along in your funnel.

  • SEO: Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your web pages for higher “ranking” in the search engines. Most websites that are found on page 2+ in the search results get almost no traffic from their web presence. For this reason many businesses elect to insure that their websites are optimized for the search engines, Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.

  • Content Marketing: Is the process of utilizing good and engaging content to enhance brand awareness, customer trust or traffic growth. It can take the form of blog posts, ebooks, infographics or videos.

  • Organic Results: Is to rank in the search engine result page (SERP) below the paid ads. The search engines will feature the paid ads at the top of page-1 and if there are enough bidders ads will also appear at the bottom of page-1 as well. After the paid ads Google will have the 3-Pack or Map which features 3 local businesses for the major search queries. This Map 3- Pack is the absolute best listing for a local business to have. It appears on page one “above the fold” and features the businesses Google reviews. The businesses listed in the top 3 receive the highest click through rates on page one.

  • PPC or Pay Per Click: The term refers to paid advertising on the SERP’s. A business will bid on a keyword or keyword phrase with buyer intent, such as “plumber in Tempe Az”. The winning bids will instantly be featured at the top of the search results page where they are the first impression for the searcher. If the searcher clicks on their listing they will be directed to the businesses website or landing page where the business has an opportunity to convert the click into a customer. The advertiser will only pay the search engine if someone clicks on their listing.

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Social Media Marketing:

An astute business knows they want to be found everywhere that their potential clients are found. Today that means having a presence on social media. Every business need not be found on every social media outlet, but it is critical to find out where your customers spend time and be certain to be found there. A rough generalization of a few of the most popular social media platforms follows:

Facebook is one of the largest with billions of users. Hundreds of million people sign on to the platform each day. A general age range would be 25-55 years old. Facebook has an incredible data base of their users. A business that wishes to advertise on Facebook has a much better opportunity to narrow in on a very focused audience with Facebook’s user data. However, the advertiser must bear in mind that people do not go to Facebook to shop. They are looking for entertainment and social interaction. Your advertising must fit right in with the flow to be effective. A hard core sales pitch will not be effective.

Twitter has about a 20% market exposure online. Users tend to be younger than Facebook. More in the 18-29 age range. Communication on Twitter is brief and abbreviated. Ad costs run a little high so getting the hang of Twitter as an ad platform takes expertise.

LinkenIn is more effective as a B2B platform, but it is clearly the best option in that category. It is designed for an older more business professional. Having said that, it host about 1-billion users. In the B2B space it is well worth learning how to use effectively.

Pinterest is a very visual platform which has a higher female demographic. If a business has a product or service that lends its self to those factors Pinterest is a viable advertising platform.

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Video Marketing;

Most businesses have not even begun to tap into the power of video marketing. YouTube is the number two search engine by volume, in the world. People respond to visual stimulus much more than the written word. Video is becoming more and more popular on all of the social media platforms. In short video is the best untapped resource for local businesses to engage with their best prospects.

Video is perfect for short clips that fit in well with the flow of social media sites. A business owner can highlight a special service, show off their business location, or provide an “explainer” video to help customers understand the benefits of their product.

Videos that connect with an audience will be “liked” and “shared” across the internet. That kind of free exposure is the dream of every business owner. Video’s do not always have to be large, professional productions. Many video clips shot with a cell phone have gone viral on the internet. The real key is producing content that connects with your target audience.

Email Marketing:

Another untapped resource for many local businesses in today’s digital marketing landscape is email marketing. Building an email list of satisfied prior customers and then keeping quality content and compelling offers in front of that established audience is just good business. Email marketing can be quite inexpensive and very effective. It is however, important for the business owner to keep value in mind. It is not prudent to just continually pitch to that audience. That is the quickest route to a mass unsubscribe. The business needs to provide true value and engaging content that keeps their client list opening and responding to the emails.

The Bottom Line:

The bottom line is that virtually every business can benefit and grow with a solid digital marketing plan. The marketing plan does not need to be overly complex but it does need to be well thought out and implemented. Digital marketing today offers a wide spectrum of platforms to reach out and engage with prospects. The wise business will work through multiple channels to reach their targeted audience and build rapport.

Digital marketing lends its self to a small or medium size business on a budget. Some of the opportunities are free to begin with. Paid advertising online has excellent opportunities to track performance and makes it easy to test and modify a campaign early on before serious money is consumed.

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