In choosing how to implement your digital marketing strategy, are you making an informed decision on the right tactics or are you just playing Russian roulette?
Digital marketing plays a significant role in the growth of your business. You need to be where the people are, which is online. Publish or perish! — that’s the new world order in the age of the Internet, and a well-crafted digital marketing strategy can serve as the blueprint of your business’ success.
Gone are the days when optimizing your website was as simple as stuffing keywords on a page or paying a webmaster to add your link to its listings. Today, digital marketing has turned full-blown interdisciplinary. To become an effective digital marketer means knowing a little of everything — from copywriting, design, usability, and influencer engagement to search engine optimization, web development, analytics, and marketing automation.
So what constitutes your digital marketing strategy? Here we discuss the 5 common elements of a digital marketing strategy to help you start ramping up your online efforts:
1. Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process and practice of increasing a website’s visibility and getting the highest possible traffic from free and organic search results on search engines.
Winning the search engine ranking wars has become increasingly difficult as the Internet has turned into a crowded virtual marketplace, where brands compete for a bigger slice of the market. If you’ve done much of the offline work (e.g. branding, customer profiling, product development, etc.), your next step will be to put your business on the digital map. This is the time when you pull out an SEO plan from your digital marketing strategy toolkit.
Your SEO plan should identify the requirements — content, design, link profiles, web structure — for the website to be compliant in the eyes of ‘crawlers’, or program codes that search engines use to collect data from websites and store them into their database. This process is called indexing.
It’s imperative to know the various ranking signals that help search engines determine whether or not your website is worthy to show up on the results pages. Google, for example, employs a complex algorithm that considers over a hundred ranking factors to determine a site’s relevance based on a particular search term.
Unfortunately, Google doesn’t make the algorithm details public and they change relatively frequently. SEO specialists often pitch in and try to model Google’s algorithm, but most of them are merely conjecture. They get their insights about newly rolled out algorithm updates by studying its impact on website rankings, links, and content.
If you want to optimize your website, you need to know the whole nine yards of optimizing it for Google. The search engine extraordinaire claims more than 90 percent of all web queries. A near-monopoly of search volume worldwide! However, Google wants marketers to optimize for users instead of search engines. In principle, algorithms exist because search engines want to deliver the best possible result for any type of search. Remember, visitors before bots.
Recommended SEO tools:
2. Content Marketing
Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Go ahead, look at your website and social media profiles! Do you hear crickets? Or do you see tumbleweeds blowing across the page? Creative, engaging, and compelling content can keep your channels from being virtual ghost towns. If visitors can’t find that one piece of content they’re looking for in your page, they will click out of it, and with that go your leads, your profit, and other business opportunities!
Content is the heart and soul of your online presence, and all your channels should reflect your brand’s purpose. A content marketing strategy will be your North Star in developing and distributing content across different channels like blogs, social media, forums, listings, etc. Ultimately, your content should respond to the need of the buyer based on where he or she is in the buyer’s journey.
Below is a table of content formats mapped to match each stage in the buyer’s journey:
There are several benefits to using Content Marketing as an element of your overarching digital marketing strategy, such as:
- Stronger brand message and presence
- Increased brand awareness and recognition
- Increased visibility on major search engines
- An exponential increase in traffic and conversions
- Improved relationship with your audience and customers
- Increased authority and credibility
Now that content creation is a task of life-and-death importance, don’t let your brand dig its own grave. Make sure to include Content Marketing as part of your digital marketing strategy.
Recommended Content Marketing tools:
3. Social Media Marketing
Will your brand be among the millions of faces in a crowd or do you want to stand out?
Every month, Facebook hosts up to 2 billion active users worldwide. Half of this amount is on Instagram, while for Twitter, 365 million. People stay on social media for a myriad of reasons. Marketers have quickly cracked the code on how users behave in different platforms and have gathered insights on more efficient ways to reach a target audience, increase engagements, drive sales, and promote brand loyalty. With all the staggering figures above, it’s almost a crime not to include social media marketing in your digital marketing strategy.
In the same way, SEO specialists keep tabs on search engine algorithm updates, social media marketers must always be on the lookout for emerging trends on social media. Gone are the days when businesses use social media as an alternative medium to sell more products and services to people: they now use it to ‘humanize’ their brands and create personal relationships with their customers. In recent years, we’ve seen hundreds of social media campaigns that went viral because they have successfully struck a chord in their followers. We’ve seen them appeal to our emotions, make political stands, and weigh in on hot-button social issues. Short of saying, people expect brands to be “real”.
This datasheet from 2018 can help marketers understand the demographic groups of leading social networking sites. It guides your brand on how to approach your target market, what content to use and in what format it should come to get the most returns out of your platform-specific social media marketing campaigns:
Photo Reference: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-marketing-strategy/
Recommended Social Media Marketing Tools:
4. Email Marketing
Email marketing is considered as the dark horse among digital marketing strategies. Emails aren’t as popular and trendy as other content formats, but it remains as one of the most personal and cost-effective ways to disseminate information and directly reach out to customers. Unlike other content distribution channels, there are fewer restrictions and compliance regulations surrounding sending emails to your contact list.
However, email marketing does not equate to spamming. If done right, this element of your strategy can improve your relationship with your subscribers (leads and customers) and provide valuable information to help them act on their goal (e.g. sign up for a promo, download an offer, or redirect them back from where they left on the sales funnel). When salespeople receive leads, only 20% of them are sales qualified, so a sequence of nurturing emails can turn those marketing qualified leads into sales qualified ones.
The key is to send emails that contain content the subscribers want to read and take action on. There are 3.8 billion email users worldwide, and for B2B relationships, email is the third most influential source of information, next only to colleague recommendations and industry thought leaders. If you don’t use email marketing to your advantage, you are missing an important cogwheel in your digital strategy machinery.
Recommended Email Marketing tools:
5. Paid Advertising
If you have a substantial marketing budget, paid advertising is one of the quickest, most effective ways to get traffic to your website. Paid advertising is when marketers pay the owner of an ad space in exchange for using that space. Digitally, paid display ads are those you see on the top, sides, and bottom of web pages. Some ad spaces can be bought using the pay-per-click model, others can be rented for a specific period of time. Other forms include pay-per-download, pay-per-view, pay-per-acquisition, and pay-per-installs.
You can buy ads depending on your budget and strategy. Each ad placement tool has its own strengths and weaknesses so be careful how you run your campaign — from segmenting your market and conducting keyword research to testing and optimizing your ads. If you want to gain more visibility on high-traffic websites, you need to bid and spend more on the right keyword. If the budget is exhausted, the ads stop getting impressions.
Because of social media’s popularity, leading social platforms also offer a way to run paid advertising campaigns as in the case of Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter among others.
Recommended Paid Advertising tools:
There is a long list of things you can do to optimize your brand. In fact, there are so many of them that, for small to medium-size businesses with limited resources, staying on top of them can be overwhelmingly tiresome. The key is channeling your efforts to activities within your capabilities that are likely to have the greatest positive impact on your overall business goals.
A mix-and-match approach is recommended, but pushing your team to do everything in the playbook demonstrates a lack of focus, a lack of strategic thinking, a lack of priorities, and more often than not ends up being a colossal waste of time and effort. Don’t forget to test, and who knows, you may find that Midas touch that will bring the most returns in exchange for your team’s hard work.