In today’s business landscape, having a targeted customer-centric online experience is no longer a novelty idea but rather a necessary strategy for attracting new customers and keeping current customers. Companies that are investing in digital strategies are creating a substantial competitive edge in finding new customers, gaining insights into customer behavior, creating a unified online brand experience, and engaging in the way consumers want to be engaged. This is not an all-inclusive list of marketing strategies a brand should have, but these are principles I start with to advise companies on their digital marketing strategies. Before these are implemented, a business should understand who their customers are, what their value proposition(s) is/are, and have well thought-out branding, among other components. So, without further ado, here are my top 8 digital marketing strategies businesses can implement:
Your digital marketing strategies all starts with establishing your brand. Although technically it’s not “digital”, I cant’ exclude branding from the list when I advise a business owner how to create a digital marketing strategy. If you skip this step, you’re doing yourself a major disservice and will most likely be all over the map in your efforts and approach. Establishing your brand identity is a critical step in connecting with your target audience and positioning your business effectively in the market. But what is a brand? I love Forbes’ definition:
“Put simply, your “brand” is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name. It’s everything the public thinks it knows about your name brand offering—both factual (e.g. It comes in a robin’s-egg-blue box), and emotional (e.g. It’s romantic). Your brand name exists objectively; people can see it. It’s fixed. But your brand exists only in someone’s mind.” -Jerry McLaughlin, Forbes.com, 2011
Now that we have an idea of what branding means, here are 6 components of a brand that your business needs to think about:
Brand positioning means the place a brand occupies or wants to occupy, relative to the competition, in the mind of a customer. Brand positioning takes into account the target audience, competition, and any outside market factors.
A brand promise is what your customers can expect from purchasing your product(s) or the process of purchasing your products.
Brand beliefs define how your business makes its decisions. These are your business’ core values and what you stand on.
Brand personality are the characteristics associated with a brand. It’s something that the consumer can relate to. It includes characterstics such as humor, conservative, innovative, inspirational, and many more.
A Brand’s Book Cover are all of the visual characteristics derived from the above 6 components. Things like color scheme, logo, typography, tagline, and brand guidelines are important in visually representing a brand’s purpose, positioning, promise, identity, beliefs, and personality.
Want more information on establishing your brand with examples? Check out my Components of a Brand Strategy post. Your brand strategy will help steer the digital marketing strategies I’ve outlined below.
The second digital marketing strategy every business should invest in is building a strong website strategy. I cannot understate the importance of having a great website for your organization and/or brand. In marketing, perception is reality. A flat, static online presence that only communicates in one direction without segmentation does not reflect well for a brand. I have seen so many organizations with no website or a TERRIBLE website, even organizations with thousands of employees making hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue! A website is the anchor for your digital marketing efforts. For this reason, one of the first steps I always take with a potential client is to assess their website. Here are some key statistics to put things into perspective for both business-to-consumers (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) companies:
These statistics scream to the point that having a strong website is fundamental to establishing strong digital marketing strategies.
The third digital marketing strategy every business should invest in is a web analytics strategy. Ask yourself these questions:
If you said no to any (or all) of these questions, I’d recommend either doing research on setting up and using an analytics platform (Google Analytics is free and effective) or hiring an employee/consultant who can assist you.
The fourth digital marketing strategy every business should invest in is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I have spoken to companies large and small who put a lot of effort into writing their website copy and blog copy, but do not have an on-page SEO strategy. Even if the content is amazing and you are the best writer in the world, not optimizing your content is a timely mistake. It’s like writing a book and keeping it hidden in your house. There are many strategies companies can incorporate to get better search engine rankings, both on-page and off-page. I will touch on some of these in future articles.
The fifth digital marketing strategy every business should invest in is having a well-thought out, timely content strategy across all touch points. The goal is to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time.
A content mapping strategy is a great way to build the right content for the right customer at the right time. But content creation shouldn’t stop here. After creating a content mapping strategy, I typically incorporate high level goals for each product/service to build out a high level yearlong content plan. To accomplish goals, custom campaigns are typically needed throughout the year. After establishing campaigns that I think will accomplish the goals, it’s very important to define all the channels that your campaign will be on, the types of content that needs to be created, and the tone of that content. This content plan can also include relevant industry events, seasonal activities, and much more. During the planning stage, it’s vital to make sure technology, content creation, and labor resources are accounted for to stay under budget.
Content creation is a MASSIVE job to do properly, but it’s an important part of any digital marketing strategy. From my experience, successful campaigns need to be well thought out, clearly defined, and measurable. Data is so vital in determining successful aspects of each campaign and the success of the overall campaign.
The sixth digital marketing strategy every business should invest in is a social media strategy. Where your customers are, you should be too. Social media is no exception. Determining which channels to be on is important, you don’t have the resources to be everywhere and do everything. In general, the essential channels I recommend my clients to be on are:
For more information, check out some amazing social media usage and demographic statistics that can help you determine which platform your business should be on.
After determining which channels to be on based on who your target customers are, determine the tone and style of your business’ communication on social media. A financial institution should probably not use the same tone and language style as an ice cream parlor.
The seventh digital marketing strategy every business should invest in is an advertising strategy. Having said that, BE CAREFUL. Before you even think about advertising, your website strategy better be near flawless. I have spoken to business owners who aren’t interested in fixing their websites yet spend thousands of dollars a month advertising to a site that is not mobile responsive, has no keyword strategy on their website landing pages, and has little knowledge of copy-writing and/or non-professionally designed graphics. All of these factors, among many others, can drastically reduce an ad campaigns effectiveness, causing you to lose a lot of money. Also, make sure the landing page where traffic is being sent is highly optimized and has all necessary tracking set up.
Okay, so what if your business has all the above implemented?
These 3 are only a few of the many digital advertising platforms businesses can use, but I’ve had success with these 3 over the years. I’ll mention it again, be careful with advertising. I like to say that advertising online is like playing the stock market. Many people (including myself) have lost a lot of money in the stock market underestimating the vast knowledge needed to compete at a high level. The same can be said of digital advertising. Digital advertising can be a very fruitful part of businesses’ digital marketing strategies, just be careful.
The eighth digital marketing strategy every business should invest in is an email marketing strategy. There are many types of email marketing campaigns and all kinds of platforms to use.
Each of these email types can provide value for your business, if done correctly.
Many providers have the ability to automate emails as well so that the right email creations can be sent to the right people at the right time. There are email service providers (ESP) for all sized businesses and I recommend doing some research on which platform best fits your organization’s needs.
So that’s that! My top 7 digital marketing strategies businesses should be using.
How are your digital marketing strategies coming? Have any other digital marketing strategies that you’d recommend for other business owners? Leave your comments below!
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