When it comes to marketing your business online, there are an overwhelming amount of choices and it can be difficult to figure out where to begin. I have worked in advertising and marketing for over 10 years, and in that short time many new online marketing options have been developed. Digital marketing is excellent because results are trackable and measurable. You will always know what is working for you and what isn’t, and you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
Knowing what your business goals are, and what your marketing budget is are the first two things that you need to figure out. What do you wish to accomplish with your marketing plan? Is it branding, lead generation, appointments? Who are you trying to reach with your message? Everyone in the world, or every 22 year old basketball player that drives a 1995 Honda Civic in a hundred mile radius of your location? Try to be as specific as possible when you are jotting down your ideas. Yes, I said jot those ideas down. Make yourself a marketing plan, you can always edit it later. Knowing exactly who you want to market to and what you need to accomplish with your marketing is the first key to a successful campaign.
As for budget, Keep it generous. You’ve got to spend money to make money. There’s a reason McDonald’s is the most recognized and frequented burger joint on the planet, and it’s not their menu. Obviously you can’t buy what you can’t afford, but a good rule of thumb for setting a marketing and advertising budget is to spend between 3% and 10% (and up to 20% in a competitive industry) of your gross profit. Basing your budget on gross profit allows your spending to fluctuate as your revenue does.
So after you have figured out the who and how much, it’s time to decide on the what - what type of digital marketing should you invest in? A savvy business owner should have a basic understanding of the most popular and utilized digital marketing options, so it’s a good thing you found this article!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving rankings of a website or web page in the unpaid “organic” search results of search engines. This process can take time, and results are not instant, but showing up on page 1 of search engines organically eventually can be worth the wait, depending on your business goals. SEO is great for gaining online credibility. The closer the link to your website is to the top of page one on Search Engines, the more reputable it will become.
Pay Per Click (PPC) - Done properly, Pay Per Click is the fastest way to to drive traffic to your website. Pay per click ads are displayed on the top and sidebar of search engines, and can also be displayed on relevant websites, or can be “sponsored stories” on social networks. They can be displayed as product listings, or as video ads. They are targeted, either by search term (keyword), demographic profile interest, or by the website on which the pay per click ad is displayed. PPC is great for turning passive viewers into interested prospects, and once your campaign is optimized, you’ll be able to calculate a fairly accurate and predictable ROI (return on investment).
Email Marketing - Because email is so private and direct, it’s one of the most effective types of online marketing in terms of driving sales. When your email campaigns are set up properly, you can tie exact dollar amounts to individual customers. By offering exclusive content, special email subscriber discounts, or personalized deals, email subscribers will feel a little more special than non-email subscribers, driving customer loyalty and repeat business.
Social Media Marketing - Social Media marketing is an excellent platform for promoting your business or brand to a hyper targeted audience while increasing brand recognition and search engine rankings. One of the best benefits of marketing on social sites is that it facilitates interaction with customers, which builds trust and customer loyalty.
Online Display (Banner Ads) - Online display advertising means embedding an advertisement into a webpage. These ads drive traffic to your website and build brand awareness. Being one of the best sources of digital marketing for branding, it’s also one of the most dynamic. Banner ads can use rich media to incorporate video, audio, animations, buttons, forms, or other interactive elements.
Video Marketing - With YouTube being the #2 search engine in the country, it's no wonder video marketing is one of the best options for digital presence. You can embed videos on websites, but you can also have links to your videos in all of your other marketing. Videos are a great way for people to get to know your business.
There are still many other forms of digital marketing left to explore, but the ones I listed here are a good place to start. It is always a good idea to speak with a Digital Marketing Strategist (DMS) so that you can ask questions and get details about your specific market area and suggestions on what online marketing options would be best for your business. A good DMS will do all the research before meeting with you, and here’s a hot tip, you DON’T have to buy anything! But I will say this, paying a little extra for an experienced and dedicated person to manage your online advertising will get you the best results and save you a lot of money in the long run.