If you think the Internet Age and Rise of the Mobile Device Age has ushered in a new world for marketing, you would be right. Print advertising has seen its market share dwindle as subscriber bases plummet. Television and radio have had their own problems in retaining eyeballs and ears as streaming content, podcasts, cable channels, YouTube, and more continue to create a splintered audience. There are so many things for a business owner to pay attention to: search engine optimization (SEO) for both desktop and mobile platforms, pay-per-click campaigns, social media marketing, blogging. One thing remains the same, though. You have something to sell and the customer has money to spend. Where do we go from there?
Widespread Internet and mobile device usage seems to have had a specific effect for a business looking to implement an effective digital marketing strategy. Only a few years ago, marketing consultants would tell you that you had to engage the customer. Respond to them. Talk to them. Lead the conversation. These days, our mercurial attention span seems to have decreed that a customer is not so enamored with simply talking with a business. Telling people what you do and don’t do isn’t a sound strategy any more. You have to create an extraordinary experience and deliver it through action.
How does your website look on a mobile device? More than anything else, this is where I see a marketing strategy fail. Take a look around. 68 percent of Americans have a smartphone. 45 percent own a tablet computer. It doesn’t matter how robust or impressive your website is. If it doesn’t look outstanding on a mobile device also, you’re leaving money on the table. Put this tidbit in your brain. The majority of users’ experience your website through a mobile device. This trend isn’t going to change any time soon. It is incredibly critical that you internalize this idea. If you don’t focus the bulk of your efforts on the mobile audience, you will not succeed.
Annoying Customers. Good Strategy?
Think of your own Internet browsing experiences. How long do you stay tuned into a business that annoys you? Whether it’s an endless stream of War and Peace length emails or Facebook posts documenting every tiny occurrence in your business, here’s a tip. Stop doing that stuff! Those who subscribe to your newsletter or follow you on Facebook have already shown they’re interested in your service or product. Don’t punish them for it.
The modern world has created humans with the attention span of gnats. If you want them to take the time to read your content, make sure it is simple and adds value to their lives. Otherwise, they’ll just click away and eventually unsubscribe. And the Golden Star Award for today goes to any business owner who figures out how to find where customers congregate, monitor what they talk about, and naturally engage when they’re ready.
Your Content is Ready
Before spending a penny on on pay-per-click or any other darn bright and shiny marketing object, get your website SEO right. Quality inbound links, page titles, meta descriptions, and keywords are all important. However…search engine monster Google continues to tweak the famous algorithm that rewards well-written, informational content. That means no more keyword stuffing. The natural flow of your copy should make it very clear to Google’s spiders what your website is about. Engaging in the various (and easily found) black hat strategies that might offer a temporary search results boost are not worth it in the long run. Trust me, you don’t want to land your website on Google’s infamous blacklist. That is where businesses go to die.
Social Media Marketing
Okay. Twist my arm. I’ll admit the obvious. Social media engagement is a crucial component to any digital marketing strategy. It’s a good idea to include icons from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and whatever the new flavor of the day is prominently on all your blog posts. The goal is to get people to share your content, creating more traffic to your website in the process. Maintain an editorial calendar with set daily times for posting to social media accounts, but keep in mind the less is more principle.
On one side of the digital marketing spectrum we have the organic strategy. This is where you focus on writing good content and engaging through social media. The good thing about an organic strategy is it’s free. The bad thing is it can take more time than some business owners want to wait to see results. On the other side of the spectrum are PPC campaigns like AdWords. This approach allows you to choose which search result keywords you want to be found under. Every time someone clicks on one of your ads, you pay a little chunk of change to Google.
Many people have made millions of dollars advertising this way but there are a few things to keep in mind. First, top-tier keywords are expensive, as much as $5 or maybe even $100 per click. A better bet is to search out more specific long-tail keywords that can be had for considerably less money, perhaps pennies per click. The second thing to keep in mind is to set a daily spending budget and overall limit, then let it run for a short period of time before assessing whether or not it was an effective use of your money. Maybe it will be. Maybe it won’t. The bottom line is not to just let it run until it empties your account.
Introducing the Marketing Funnel
The marketing funnel has recently begun to be talked about more seriously in the marketing world. While volumes have been written on the subject, the concept is fairly simple. A marketing funnel is when you map out a customer’s journey through your sales cycle. At each step along the way you have strategies and devices in place to guide a person from complete stranger to first time customer to repeat customer. At the top you have a broad strategy that grabs as many potential customers as possible. Terms like lead magnet, call-to-action, opt-ins, and offers all serve at different parts of the funnel to discern who your best customers are and squeeze as much money as possible out of them while they’re having a great experience at the same time.
According to a recent study, 46 percent of brands have no defined digital marketing strategy. Another 16 percent have a strategy but have yet to implement it. The simple act of creating a strategy and following through with it will automatically put you ahead of 62 percent of other businesses. The exact process you settle on isn’t as important as getting something down in writing and then doing it. Adjustments are part of the game. Jettison what doesn’t work and keep what does. You should think of your marketing plan as a constant work-in-progress. If it never changes, you’re doing something wrong.