Digital Marketing 101: Five Essential Considerations Before Your Business Goes Digital.
By Edward Chamberlain-Bell
Digital marketing is no longer the trendy buzzword that it was once, often touted like a one-size fits all magic potion to cure all sales ills, it’s become an integral element of all marketing. It’s not a static tool either as it continues to evolve in simplicity and complexity as the internet continues to grow.
People are probably exposed to more digital marketing than what they take cognizance of. Those display ads appearing on the top of your internet search pages, alongside your emails and between your friends’ social media updates are classic examples of digital marketing. They’re subtle enough to appear contextually relevant, yet designed to engage you in a digital marketing experience.
Two digital marketing statistics emerged this year, from varying sources, that intrigued me because they should already form the cornerstone of your’ business’ marketing strategy:
1) 60% of all online searches are conducted through mobile devices.
2) 50% of businesses don’t have a defined digital marketing strategy in place.
That’s a huge divide that businesses have to bridge if they want to connect with potential customers. Digital marketing is no longer a luxury that only big businesses can afford, because ultimately consumers determine where they’re going to spend their money. And, being people, they are only human, they are going to choose the path of least resistance. Why would they drive across town to see if you’re open when they could call you? Why wait for you to respond to your emails when they can find you online, alongside your competitors and make a cross comparison within minutes. Quicker, cheaper and more convenient. Oh, and if you don’t offer free delivery that just makes their decision a lot easier!
Considering that there are over 1 billion websites competing for space in the digital landscape, here are my top 5 considerations before you roll-out your digital marketing campaign.
Objectives & Strategy
Any digital marketer can give you 100 reasons why you should be online but only you can decide which ones are relevant to your business. Increased sales would be the obvious choice, but sometimes branding awareness or product information might need to take precedence before closing a sale. Your objectives will determine if you need a cosy or clinical looking website that supports B2C or B2B marketing. You can then cherry-pick which tools or platforms support your objectives most efficiently.
A blog can enhance your SEO, Google Adwords can drive customer directly to your website, social media marketing can enhance your word of mouth referrals, LinkedIn can bring in business partners, email marketing campaigns can deliver targeted information to specific leads… All of them in conjunction could crack the jackpot, some of them might be unnecessary, or your budget and objectives will determine which one yields the highest return within a specified period of time.
Metrics / Results
There is no point wasting money on ineffective digital marketing campaigns so establish in advance how you will measure your performance. And, decide if those metrics are worth the money to achieve them. Anyone digital marketer can get 10,000 clicks on Google Adwords or 10,000 followers on Twitter, but if none of those potential leads offered tangible value to your business then it is an irrelevant metric. Bear in mind that the value of digital marketing could be a direct return on investment, extended social media reach or establishing brand authority.
While you can’t predict the outcome of a campaign, your digital marketing manager should be able to offer ongoing support re-targeting poor performing campaigns or redirect budgets to successful ones, before a campaign ends. Those metrics will prove invaluable when budgeting and planning future campaigns. Digital marketing is a combination of art, science and human behavior, but let your metrics take the guesswork out of the equation.
Outsourcing your digital marketing campaigns to an agency, or managing them yourself, takes more commitment than what you may realize, so determine the level of your commitment before setting yourself up for disappointment. Nothing spells apathy faster than a blog that doesn’t get updated regularly, unattended social media platform can become the breeding ground for disgruntled customers just as quickly as an email marketing campaign can deliver leads faster that your sales team can service timeously.
Digital marketing happens in real-time, 24 hours a day, and your customers will expect you respond in their time. They will understand if you’re not a multi-national giant with around the clock customer support, but they will expect appropriate service delivery, and while time-frames may vary, the fact that you are paying for them to engage with you, you need to respond ASAP before they engage with your competitors.
This may sound obvious, but digital marketing is evolving at such a rapid rate that some digital marketers wish they had studied medicine! Creating your website, establishing your blogs and social media platforms, and even your Google Adwords require ongoing maintenance. As search engines (specifically Google!) update their algorithms you need to optimize your SEO, responsive website design for mobile devices is becoming obligatory and the online community is becoming equally dictatorial and discerning. Keep abreast of all those changing factors, or retain someone to inform you about them.
Specifically, an ongoing maintenance program will include auditing your website so that it meets most of Google’s requirements. I say “most” because if your website is overly optimized Google might penalize you. Search keywords change in priority over time, your target market may change or your platforms just look outdated.
The big question is always how much will digital marketing cost? Asking how much a digital marketing campaign is going to cost is like asking how long is a piece of string, but establishing your budgets helps determine the scale and scope of your digital marketing. Your marketing budget could be R10,000 or R10,000,000, but you need to establish an amount and how it is going to be allocated responsibly.
A small budget can be put to better use addressing priorities before advancing into other digital territories, while a larger budget can unleash a campaign that has all the hallmarks of a world-class integrated digital marketing strategy. You should also anticipate the unforeseen expenses of copywriting, illustration and community management. The might be unseen expenses but if someone has to do them, they also need to get paid. A common misconception is that social media is free; which is true, but the person managing those campaigns doesn’t work for free.
It is no longer debatable if digital marketing can work for your business, but how you are going to use it to work for your business. Every aspect of digital marketing is going to incur an expense so it needs to be optimized to show a return on investment. Fortunately it is relatively easy to implement yourself but outsourcing them to a specialist agency can also save you time and money to concentrate on your primary business objectives.
Edward Chamberlain-Bell transitioned from being a freelance writer to offering digital marketing solutions to SMEs throughwww.chamberlainbell.com. He’s also a trainer, consultant, speaker, radio producer & presenter, who remains obsessed with digital marketing innovation.