Ask me about social media, email marketing or "what's up with this Google stuff," and I'll tell you that all of those activities can be considered part of the digital marketing landscape.
Let's not sugarcoat it. Digital marketing is an ever expanding umbrella of practices and "spaces" that are gobbling up more of the marketing pie every year. It's not going anywhere, so let's get you up to speed.
Here's a quick look at the most common areas of digital marketing:
• Web Site Design
• SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
• Content Marketing (Web content with a purpose: blogging, video, case studies, helpful guides, and more)
• Email Marketing
• Social Media (Marketing/Public Relations & Advertising)
• Paid Search (Google Ads: Pay-Per-Click, Retargeting)
• Paid Advertising, (Banner Ads, Listings)
• Digital Analytics & Optimization
More on those in a minute.
Point is, there's plenty to consider. And until the last 5-6 years, many of these activities were handled as separate projects. Your business may have "done a little email" or "tried out Facebook" in recent years but the truth is that effective digital marketing now requires us to integrate at least a few of these areas to be successful (and frankly, you might not be getting a solid return on investment if you're not).
Why should I look more closely at my website and digital marketing?
"57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier."
- CEB, a research, insight and technology company
This means your website and other online spaces (such as industry profiles, social media, etc.) are playing a huge role in shaping whether a prospect or potential lead even considers your company worthy of consideration. That's if they even find you online in the first place.
67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.
- SiriusDecisions, a global B2B research and advisory firm
How much of your marketing budget is spent on traditional media like print ads or going to trade shows? That's not to say those things aren't important, but data and polls show us that 2/3 of customer interaction is happening online, in their email box, or on social media.
So here it is, we've condensed the Digital Marketing process into one graphic:
Why does this go in a circle?
Trust is earned over time. So repeating this process of content creation, promotion, and engagement is key to earning that trust. Rather than blindly emailing and calling people with sales pitches or just plain ignoring people that aren't ready to buy, we use content-driven digital marketing to attract and nurture leads.
It may take several visits to your site, numerous emails and/or a handful interactions on social media to convert a person from a "visitor" into a truly qualified lead. Here's a basic a model for how we use content to progress people in your sales funnel:
Now that I've covered the basic process and purpose of digital marketing, let's look at those steps a little more closely...
1 - Website, "Home Base"
• This is the foundation of your online activities. Your website should engage readers with content they value. By having your social media, email, and other communication activities direct people to your website, we are better able to collect contact info and track useful analytic data.
• Show viewers that you’re experienced and knowledgeable. Use case studies, helpful guides, video demonstrations, etc.
• Then provide CTAs (calls-to-action) and turn viewers into leads
• Track the interaction via your web analytics to see the ROI
Functional needs for your website:
• Mobile Friendly/Responsive Design
• Analytics (track data relevant to your site and web content)
• CMS (Content Management System)
• A section to house content, i.e. having a blog and "blog functionality"
• CTAs that work for all types of leads
2 - Your Content*
Ever hear people say "Content is King"? Look at the content on your website. Seriously, this is big.
Does your content focus on truly helping customers? Does it show them something they haven't seen before? Or is it just a brochure?
Your website's content is an opportunity to show customers why they should trust you and demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable. Show people your passion and give them proof of your expertise and industry experience. Make your leads feel like you care about more than just the sale, and, you might find that people seek you out when it’s time to buy.
*Content Types: Content can take many forms, including blog posts, videos, podcasts, webinars, press releases, infographics, newsletters, white papers, downloads, guides, cheat sheets, ebooks, etc.
Remember, unlike a lot of advertising, your web content is an asset that you control, which can help generate leads indefinitely.
3 - Content Promotion
Okay, now you have great content. How will people find you?
• Email Blasts
• PR - Press Releases/Articles/Trade Pubs
• Google Searches (SEO) & PPC, digital ads
• Sales-based activities
• Social Media
• Traditional Advertising
• Trade shows
- Audience first. Don't lose sight on the fact that "promotion" is just as much about building and connecting with an audience.
- ROI. Many of these methods are very low cost. Email marketing statistically has the greatest ROI of all communication options. But promotion usually takes time and/or money, so it's key to figure out how to balance the two.
- Social Media. Don't jump in without a plan. And keep in mind, consistency is key, so using calendars and staying committed is a must. Even for businesses leery of social media, we suggest looking at LinkedIn or niche industry platforms which often times provide a cost-effective way to promote content directly to quality leads.
- PR. Networking, guest blogging (such as writing an article for a trade publication), creating courses or events, and other opportunities online or face-to-face, can get the word out as well.
- Testing. When it comes to the promotion of your content, remember, "best practices" are only suggestions. Test out different messages and CTAs, as well as different promotional channels – see what works and run with it.
Your audience has landed on your website to check out your content. What now?
5 - Calls-to-Action (CTAs)
What kinds of CTAs?
• “Sign up for Email Updates” (this one is big!) – getting an email address from a visitor to your site means you’ve got a lead. This can happen by offering people useful materials in exchange for their contact info.
• Read/See More: give viewers more by promoting related content. This is a good option for leads in the top of the funnel. For example, at the end of a blog post, try promoting a related infographic or video.
• Connect and engage on Social Media. Look to create a CTA that spells out the benefit to following you on Facebook or Youtube. Or create an incentive to entice visitors to connect.
• Enticements for inquiries about your company/products. But not plastered on ever inch of your site. Yes, you want sales calls, but craft and place these CTAs strategically.
6 - A) Get a Inquiry/Sale!
B) Assess, Optimize & Bring the Audience Back
At this point in the cycle if you received an inquiry you can act on, congrats! Or, more likely, you've got some analytic data and/or a few leads. Assess your next move. For example:
You collected an email address from a potential lead in exchange for offering a PDF download of your E-book.
Great, what was the e-book about? Perhaps this lead already understands your industry and some of the problems you or your product solve.
So, what's next?
Add that contact to the appropriate email marketing list (or in your CRM/marketing software). In the next few days you might send that person a link to some related content or invite them to connect on social media.
Continue to do Analysis
Using your data (web analytics) to understand where leads are within the funnel will help you plot your next move. Timely, targeted follow-ups help build trust and deliver qualified leads.
What are the important take-aways here?
• A well designed, highly functional website is step 1 for your business
• Customer-Centric Content: information people actually care about is your digital currency. Google, potential/current customers, meaningful influencers in your industry – no one will find you online or care about you or your products and services without giving them something of value.
• Promotion: find what works for you. Ads, Email, LinkedIn, Facebook; doesn't matter, just test and analyze the data. Focus on the promotional channels that work for you and optimize and grow those channels.
• Motivate people to supply you with their email address, to connect elsewhere online, or to contact your directly. As you earn trust, use the right offers (CTAs) to prompt people to willingly engage with you.
• Analytics. Analytics. Analytics. We want people to interact with you on your website, social media spaces, and within email blasts because those are all places we can track data, and thus, prove our effectiveness. Knowing where leads are coming from and what content is working is the name of the game.
• This takes time. Digital marketing isn't going to bail out a struggling sales team this quarter or even the next. Getting serious about digital marketing and your content is more about the next 1-3 years than it is about seeing a quick jump in sales. But not doing anything with your online presence is a sure-fire way to handicap your sales teams and put your company behind the competition. Sure, there are quick-wins out there, but thinking a few one-off tactics will get you to your longterm goals is a mistake. More importantly, it's not sustainable. The internet is here to stay, so get organized, plan for the long-haul, and remember that what you build online is an asset to your company.
Want to continue this conversation?
Call me, Todd Sledzik
Creative Director, Diversa Inc. @ 330-673-6763
Or Email us to set-up a time to talk.