This blog post is an excerpt from a chapter of my Digital Marketing 101 E-Book. If you'd like to learn more about the basics of digital marketing sign up here.
When you're sitting at home and realize your air conditioner has gone out (after cursing the universe for your misfortune) do you grab your dusty phone book from under your table with uneven legs, or do you grab your laptop or phone & search "HVAC repair" or some other combination of that query? If your answer is the phone book, well, I'm a bit shocked. The majority of people in 2017 turn to the internet to do research before making a purchasing decision.
From Lawyers to Bakers, businesses are relying more heavily on digital marketing to reach out to potential customers. Gone are the days of sifting through your junk mail to find the most recent Target ad, when with a few clicks of your finger you can find sales for any item using a search engine.
Google search engines lead the pack when it comes to providing information on the internet, with Yahoo! and Bing close behind. Google alone processes 3.5 Billion searches per day. If you're not taking advantage of the many online marketing avenues, then your business is potentially missing out on customers and revenue.
Social Media and Online Marketing
Research shows that 93% of shoppers buying habits are influenced by social media (source: Iornpaper), this means having a strong social media presence is not just something to do because it's popular- but it works at driving customers to your business. Having an engaging social media presence helps you put a personal feel to your brand. Although marketing on social media is different than marketing on Google Adwords, the goal is the same- generate more leads for your business.
When engaging in social media marketing it's important to understand that most people use social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter) for entertainment purposes, so if you're constantly posting about your sales or trying to get people to sign up for your newsletter, you may soon notice that you're getting very little engagement. The rule most digital marketers stick to is the 80/20 rule. Meaning, 80% of what you post should be entertaining or educational and the other 20% should be about your brand.
But What Do I Post About 80% of The Time?
I know what you're thinking, aren't I trying to boost my brand awareness? Understanding your target audience is a key point in social media marketing. You can engage with others that are in your target audience as your brand, repost articles or links that relate to your product or service, or just have a little fun and host a trivia poll on your favorite local restaurant. If you're able to increase audience engagement, you'll, in turn, be building your brand awareness so when the time comes to post your promotional items your audience won't feel like they're constantly being sold to.
Social Just Isn't Where My Target Market Hangs Out, What Do I Do?
Not every digital marketing platform works for every business. BUT there is a platform for each business. Google+ is essential to have if you're a local business. Having a Google+ account may seem unnecessary but it's reasonable to believe that Google pulls more social signals from it's own platform than it would from another. Having a Google+ account also allows you to set up a Google My Business account which is what gets you on those map results during searches.
Speaking of Google, Google Adwords allows you to create some targeted ads that appear when your buyer is in their research phase. Have you ever typed in a search query and the top results were all ads with ad copy that relates exactly to what you searched? Those marketers were using Google Adwords to target you by keywords, location, or even device (desktop or laptop). Google search ads can be highly effective because they catch the buyer when they are specifically looking for your product or service. With the correct ad copy you can influence their decision, and if you have a well-made landing page you're one step closer to collecting a lead or having a new customer in your shop. It's said that clients usually visit a business within two days of searching for it online.
Traditional avenues of marketing such as newspaper and magazine ads just aren't as tough as they used to be. They're also much more expensive than paid advertising. With television ads you could spend multiple thousands of dollars and not be able to tell if your leads are coming from your TV commercial or not. With paid advertising, you can set your budget, and with a properly optimized campaign, you can spend anywhere between $5 or $0.05 per click, depending on your niche and keywords.
Okay, But I Don't Have Money To Spend, Can I Still Market Online?
Maybe you're a small startup and it's just not in your budget to spend on online advertising right now. That doesn't mean you have to ignore digital marketing until things take off. If you don't have an advertising budget then it's best you focus on search engine optimization, or SEO, to get your business ranking higher in search engines.
SEO is a method of optimizing your website content, photos, flow, and backend information so you can be found by search engines. There is no magic formula when it comes to SEO. Some websites have less than 500 words on them, others have pages and pages of content, and they both could either score in the top 10 on Google searches or be on page 20. When it comes to SEO remember that a properly optimized website fulfils the searchers intent. You could get 2,000 hits of traffic a day but if your bounce rate is 85% it's quite likely that you are not going to move up in search rankings because Google sees that your website is not relevant to what searchers are looking for and that means lost money to them. Imagine, if all they ever showed were websites that didn't satisfy a users search then people would stop using Google and move on to another search engine.
How Do I Know If I'm Doing Things Right?
Use Google Analytics to monitor your website traffic and see user activity. Google Analytics is easy to use for basic information, but if you want to get the most use out its service there is quite a steep learning curve- but it's worth it. Combining Google Analytics with Webmaster Tools will be able to give you a good overview of what internet users are inputting into search engines to arrive at your page, the audience behavior insights on GA will let you see what page users are dropping off. If you've set up certain conversion goals you can also see which pages get you the most conversions and what referral traffic sent you there.
This all takes some time to understand and implement properly, but if it's time you have and not money to hire a professional digital marketer, then I firmly believe it's time well spent.
The meat and potatoes of it all is that digital marketing is here to stay. Whether you're a small local business or a large national corporation, it would benefit you to implement digital marketing into your customer acquisition process. And remember, you don't HAVE to spend money to make it to the top, although it will make your journey happen quicker.