We live in an increasingly digital world. We honestly aren’t a long way from living in a world like Ready Player One or even Wall-E (both great films, by the way).
As a society, we’re more connected than ever before. The concept of a phone is completely different from what one may have envisioned just 20 years ago.
Through our mobile devices, we can talk to people across the world, watch movies, browse websites, interact on social media, host video conferences…
The list could honestly go on and on forever.
We’re more connected than we’ve ever been before in the history of mankind. And not just to one another. We’re connected to brands and businesses as well.
If I want the best ice cream within walking distance, I simply tap a button on my phone and ask, “Where’s the best ice cream near me?” and I get more options to choose from than I can handle.
As business owners, we need to learn how to leverage the power of this digital frontier and use it to connect more effectively with our audience.
If you haven’t quite figure out how to do that, you’re in luck. That just so happens to be the subject of the day.
So, without further ado, let’s dig into how your business can leverage digital marketing to grow and thrive in a world that’s going more and more online.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is the part of the marketing discipline conducted online and using various software and digital platforms to target current and prospective customers online. Customers are targeted on desktops, laptops, mobile, and other devices promoting companies’ products and services.
This can involve a wide range of tactics including:
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Content marketing
- Digital advertising
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Marketing automation
Digital marketing falls into three categories. Paid media, which involves tactics like SEM and digital advertising where the business will pay to get their message in front of their audience in targeted digital spaces. Owned media, which involves spaces that your business fully owns and can manipulate as desired, like a website. And earned media, which is essentially word of mouth that gets around about your brand through sharing of content and customers talking (digitally) about your brand.
How do you use digital marketing for your business?
There’s no one-size-fits-all digital marketing strategy. To be successful using digital marketing to promote your business, you need to have a customized strategy specifically designed to promote the value of your brand to your specific target audience.
This starts with understanding your audience and their online habits. You’ve likely already developed buyer personas to better understand your audience, but did you add notes about their digital habits?
To be successful with digital marketing, you need to understand the following about your audience:
- What channels does your audience utilize online?
- What types of digital content do they prefer to consume and share?
- How frequently are they comfortable seeing digital content from a single brand?
- What time(s) of day are they most active online?
- What type(s) of offers get them to take action?
These are just a handful of questions to get you started. Dig in and do some serious research into your audience and their digital habits and preferences. Then incorporate the insights you uncover into your buyer persons to craft more effective marketing campaigns.
What are the best digital marketing tactics for your business?
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to digital marketing, there are benefits to each of the available channels.
Your audience isn’t going to be everywhere. It is, however, highly likely that they will be very active somewhere online.
So, while this article will not offer you advice specific your business alone, it will highlight the value you can potentially leverage on some of the most popular digital marketing channels.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn…this is just scratching the surface. There are so many different social media channels available for your business to benefit from. You just need to understand where you audience hangs out and focus your energy on the right channels.
Take a look at a sample of what popular skateboarding shoe brand Vans is doing on Instagram.
You can see they’re taking full advantage of video, and they really found a way to connect with their target audience. The brand has amassed over 17 million followers, and they’ve earn tons of engagement.
Vans did a great job of connecting with retail customers, and there are tons of other excellent B2C examples on Instagram, but what about B2B brands? Turns out, they’re doing a solid job as well. Take a look at this video from General Electric that garnered over 12k views.
The key takeaway here is that with clever marketing, your brand, no matter the industry, can be creative and fun. Just be sure to understand where your audience spends their time online. Not every company appeals to Instagram users. Your audience may prefer Facebook, LinkedIn or another channel, so make sure you develop a deep understanding of their preference before you choose a channel.
Podcasts are another super popular form of digital marketing. Audio content has gained in popularity quite a bit in recent years, and brands have picked up on the trend.
And while there are lots of brands creating amazing podcasts, your brand doesn’t necessarily have to be the one creating the content. If you don’t have the personnel or the budget, you can still leverage the power of podcasts for your digital marketing by securing guest spots on other companies’ podcasts.
If you build up you team members’ thought leadership enough, then you’ll find you start receiving invites to appear on other brands’ podcasts. And this helps introduce you to another entire audience.
For example, I was recently invited to speak as a guest on the B2B Marketing and More Podcast, hosted by my friend Pam Didner. We spoke about building partnerships for business success. You can listen to the episode here.
Pam has built quite a personal brand over career, and thus, when she speaks, people want to listen. And those thousands of people listening to each episode became familiar with my brand when that episode went live.
You can leverage the power of podcasting in this way as well. Or you can start your own podcast and build your own loyal following. Either way, podcasting is a powerful tool that will help your business grow, and you can find podcasts across pretty much every industry and every niche.
If you can find a way to work podcasting into your digital marketing strategy, and you focus on developing high-quality content, you can leverage this tool to grow your business.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a big subject. There are entire publications dedicated to SEO alone. So, obviously, we will just scratch the surface here today. That said, no matter what business line you’re in, if you are online you need to have an SEO strategy to ensure you capture ample traffic from search.
There are somewhere around 200 factors that Google considers when ranking your site in search results. Brian Dean of Backlinko put together a list of all those factors and updates it regularly.
Google is forever updating its algorithms and making changes to how they rank websites. Thus, Dean’s article is a good one to bookmark so you can keep on top of the latest updates to the SEO world.
From the moment you start planning your business, SEO should be a strong focus of your efforts. Use a tool like SEMrush to conduct an audit of your website and to look at competitors to see what they’re ranking for.
By leveraging a tool like this and conducting an audit, you can ensure you’re organically working in the right keywords and optimizing each page to be in line with how you’d want your target audience to locate you via search engines.
And don’t just think about your basic keywords. People are searching in all new ways today, speaking into mobile devices and smart speakers. Search terms are longer generic and are now more in line with how people speak.
So, instead of optimizing for “buy red shoes”, think about optimizing for long-tail keywords like “Where can I find red Nike shoes in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.”
There’s so much that goes into a quality SEO strategy. Think about things like the speed of your website and how fast your images load. Look at your backlink profile and how many websites are linking back to your content. Domain age, title tags, keywords, the depth to which you cover a topic.
SEO is a lot of work, but it’s critical to your digital marketing success. So, if you don’t have the skills or resources in house, consider hiring an agency to get the work done and ensure your site appears at the top of search results.
Content is the cornerstone of all your marketing efforts. It goes hand in hand with your SEO strategy, and it’s perhaps the most important factor in building lasting relationships with your audience.
The content you produce feeds into things like your social media marketing as well. I fully recommend posting content on social media that’s both off your site and on your site. But, if you only post content from off your site, you’ll severely limit the traffic coming your way.
That’s where producing your own content for your brand comes into play. Producing great content allows you to link back to content on your website, your YouTube channel, or elsewhere to really give your brand a boost.
These days, content doesn’t simply refer to written articles. It refers to all the different types of content you can produce.
- Blog articles
- Case studies
- How-to guides
With so much variety in the types of content you can create, there’s a ton of opportunity for you to connect with your audience through content and build those connections to ensure they turn into paying customers.
And once you’ve converted site visitors into customers, content is a great way to add value to their lives and keep them coming back for more. Nurture your leads and your customers by send them emails with the latest articles, free eBooks, discount codes, and other content that helps them in some way.
Content is such a powerful thing. Make sure you put together a content strategy that incorporates your audience members’ needs and is designed to help you grow your brand and connect on a deeper level.
Digital marketing is a huge space with so many amazing opportunities for your brand. It offers a way for your brand to stand out in a crowded market and grab your share of the pie.
Businesses that are not leveraging the power of digital marketing are doomed to mediocrity…or worse.
Give some serious thought to who your audience members are and their activities online. Then build out a strategy that incorporates a variety of different digital (and traditional) tactics to reach your audience.
As you begin to execute your digital strategy, you’ll start to see your website stats rise. Your social media following will grow and engage with your content. The value of your brand will increase in the minds of your target audience, and your business will experience growth.
Don’t miss out on this powerful tool. Leverage digital marketing today to grow your business.