If your business is carried out all, or partially, online, then you should seriously consider the effectiveness of your digital marketing strategy – if you have one that is. If your business is locally focused, for example, a restaurant, hairdresser, driving school or other business that trades mainly offline and in its own local area, then the need for an organised approach to digital marketing and an effective digital marketing campaign is even more important. In these cases a potential customer is likely to make a buying decision based as much on your proximity to him or her as much as on the quality or suitability of the product itself.
What Is a Digital Marketing Strategy?
Before I answer that question it is important to be aware of the various ways in which business can come to you via online channels. The available channels vary according to how your business operates and the fundamental difference between those businesses which operate locally and those which are national or international in nature.
The reason for this distinction is the way in which search engines treat enquiries that are made by people who are looking for a product or service and who are likely to have an intention to buy that product or service either straight away or at some point in the future.
Google and Bing both analyse the searches which are made and try to establish whether it is a local search or not. These two types of search are treated very differently by these major search engines and this is why your digital marketing strategy should be tailored according to the type of business model that you operate.
For locally based businesses the most important aspect of your digital marketing strategy should be to be prominent on the Google maps listings when appropriate searches are made. This involves being accurately setup using a free of charge application from Google which is known as “Google My Business.”
If you own or work in a locally based business then you should certainly consider your presence in Google My Business and, if nothing else, make sure that your business is registered and verified on that platform – you will find everything you need on this link:
For those businesses who operate nationally, or even internationally, the approach is different. These businesses do not depend on local traffic and therefore need to concentrate on their visibility across a much wider audience.
For national, international and global businesses, the focus should be on building authority for their website and ensuring a prominent position in search engine results when someone in their targeted geographical area carried out a search for a product, service or topic which is relevant to them. The fact that someone has carried out such a search would normally signify that they are looking to buy or find out about that product, service or subject.
The digital marketing strategy for these businesses therefore is to gain visibility across all of the platforms where their potential customers, subscribers and so on, are likely to be looking for whatever it is that they make, sell or do.
How Do You Create a Digital Marketing Strategy?
First of all it is important to have a good idea of what you are up against. Even if you have a really good website, full of interesting content and, if you sell a product or service, really good, competitive pricing, you will still underperform if your online competitors have even better websites, better pricing and so on.
In other words, you are only as good as your competitors allow you to be.
Therefore, the first thing to do is to make an assessment of your competition. Marketers call this a “competitor landscape” or something similar.
The typical contents of a competitor landscape would be:
- A list of competitors against whom you are competing for online traffic.
- A list of key search terms which potential customers, clients, subscribers etc are likely to use if they are looking for your product or service.
- An assessment of the key metrics which tell you how well each of the above competitors is doing, relative to each other.
A quick “snapshot” metric is produced by MOZ and is known as “Domain Authority” and can be discovered, free of charge by opening a free account at: https://moz.com/free-seo-tools. DA is a metric measured out of 100, i.e. a percentage, and will give you a rough idea as to how your website, and your competitor’s websites, are performing in search engine results pages, (known as SERPs).
Whether or not your competitors are using ads to enhance their website’s visibility for certain search terms or keywords. You can do this by carrying out relevant searches and noticing whether the competitor appears in the ads which appear on Google or Bing’s search results pages.
Once you know who your competitors are, you can start to try and understand why they are performing better, (or worse), that your own site is currently performing. The free MOZ tool linked to above will tell you much more about your competitors but, at this stage, the main thing it will do for you is tell you who your top search competitors are. These are the competitors that compete for the same keywords in searches as the domain that you type in, (which can be your own or a competitor’s), ranked by visibility.
Other factors you can try to establish about how your competitors websites are performing, compared to your own, include:
- Which keywords or search terms they are most visible for, compared to your own site – this can be found by entering their web address into the MOZ free tool as described above. Please be aware that there are other platforms offering a similar service, the best known of which is SEMrush, but we are concentrating on MOZ here because they compile the Domain Authority metric.
- Whether or not they are using PPC (Pay Per Click) ads to boost their visibility for certain search terms. PPC is offered by Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Linkedin and many other platforms. You will need to enlist expert help when setting up PPC campaigns since mistakes can be very costly in terms of wasted clicks which cost money.
- How much use they make of Social Media. Do they have a Facebook page for their business? How many followers do they have? how often do they post content onto that page? and so on.
A website that has a healthy and active presence on Facebook, (and other social Media Platforms), will generally do better than one which does not. For those websites which target a B2B, (Business to business) audience, LinkedIn may be a better fit.
Important note – your online competition is not necessarily the same as your offline competition. Online, the “currency” is not expressed simply in financial terms but in terms of website traffic. Generally speaking, a website with high levels of relevant traffic will outperform one with a lower level of traffic, even if their product is of lower quality or higher in price.
Why Is a Digital Marketing Strategy Important?
The internet is a crowded place. Visibility is important to any business or organisation that needs to stand out from the crowd and be found online. Every business needs a strategy to ensure that their website is visible to those who are searching for its products or services and this visibility can be achieved in a number of ways, including:
Building up the “authority” of your website to ensure that people will visit it and find it easily in search results. This is usually achieved by publishing a lot of good quality content on the website and making sure that it gets indexed by all major search engines so that it can be found by those who are searching for it. This process is known as content marketing.
By having a strong presence on major Social Media platforms and posting fresh content regularly that followers can easily engage with.
Many businesses find to their cost that simply posing numerous posts will not, in itself, help them to be more visible – the posts have to be engaging for the viewer and encourage them to interact with it.
Ensuring that your website is technically sound – all content setup in a way that search engines will recognise and include in their index. This means checking that all elements of your website and its pages are correctly setup.
Ensuring that your website’s content marketing strategy is varied and includes more than just text – videos are popular and enable you to be included in search results for searches where you may have missed out if your content were text only. A YouTube channel is very important in this respect and you can set one up for free. There are many ways to produce effective videos for your business without having to pay an expensive video production company. A good selection of videos on your site and/or linked to your YouTube channel will improve your visibility quickly and effectively.
Making use of PPC ads on platforms where your target audience is likely to be searching for your product or service.
Whilst all of the above could lead to your website getting more traffic and converting some of those visits into customers or clients, to simply carry out those activities in isolation, without a structure, could easily lead to your marketing budget being wasted.
Try to identify which approach is likely to give you the best returns and set a budget with clearly identified targets such as number of enquiries received during a given period and as a result of a specified number of website visits. All of this information can be identified using Google’s free-of-charge Analytics platform which you are strongly advised to install if you haven’t already done so – ask your website developer to be sure to install the Google Analytics tracking code onto all of your website pages.
What Are The Most Effective Digital Marketing Strategies?
The most effective digital marketing strategy will be different for different types and sizes of business. As I have already pointed out, a relatively small locally focused business such as a restaurant, hair stylist, driving instructor or car repair garage will need to approach the problem differently to a business that is targeting a wider audience.
Gain Local Visibility
For locally focused businesses the emphasis should be on gaining visibility on the map listing systems of Google, Bing, Apple and other similar services. These listings are free of charge and very effective.
Content Marketing and Authority
Those targeting a wider audience will benefit from putting more emphasis on optimising their website content for the search terms that are really important to them. The more content your website has, the better, as long as it is original and of good quality. Content should be varied and include text, video, possibly audio (podcasts) and other content such as quizzes, surveys and forums related to your product or service where your customers and potential customers can participate. Never copy content from other sites, this will result in unfavourable treatment by search engines.
As well as placing content on your own site it is well worth considering trying to get your articles and other content published on other relevant sites – a process often referred to as “guest blogging”. This is valuable on several levels, firstly it means that more people will see your content thus increasing your “authority” in that subject but it also means that, usually, the publisher of the target website will allow you to link back from their site to your own.
Such “backlinks” are very useful in increasing your websites Domain authority and are well worth spending some time in acquiring. A word of caution through – don’t ever be tempted to pay for such backlinks – Google hates this and will come down upon you like the proverbial ton of bricks if you do it.
Use a platform like Listly to publish lists relevant to your product or service, e.g. “Top Ten Upgrades for your Home Cinema System” etc. These lists, when published on a platform like Listly, can link back to your website and give your rankings a significant boost.
Both local and nationally/internationally focused websites could benefit from PPC and other types of paid ads however these should be handled carefully in order to avoid wasting budget on “vclicks” that are unlikely to result in a conversion.
Ad types and targeting will be different for these business types with a local focus who are advised to concentrate on reaching a prominent position in the local listings that accompany all map results – known as the “Map pack” on Google, rather than trying to dominate the top of the search results on the national or international platforms of Google, Bing and others where competition is likely to be strong and well-funded.
As well as placing ads on search engines like Google, which are designed to target those who are probably already somewhere on the buying cycle and will progress towards making a commitment or purchasing a product or service, they may also be placed on relevant third party websites using Google’s “Display Network”.
This can be very effective if done properly but care must be taken to ensure that the placements are relevant. Google will try to do it automatically if you let it but frequently gets it wrong – always select your target sites manually after careful research as to their audience demographics which can be found in the Google Ads system.
Social Media Marketing
Social Media is often suggested as being an effective platform for marketing a business website. It isn’t necessarily the case however. Many businesses of my acquaintance have spent hours and hours posting content onto their social media pages without achieving any real, or noticeable, results. The reason can be summed up in one word – “engagement”. Not only do people have to see your social media posts, they have to read them and, critically, take some action as a result of having seen them, even if it is only to “like” them. Ideally, such posts should have some kind of call to action which will result in a measurable result, e.g. a visit to your website, request for a report, viewing a video etc.
Social Media is also a place where paid ads can effectively be placed. Since there are no keywords in Social Media ad systems the type of marketing carried out there is generally demographically targeted – social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn hold huge amounts of data about their members including age, gender, education, interests etc and this can be used to accurately target those who are most likely to be interested in your products or services.
YouTube & Video Marketing
YouTube is also becoming increasingly popular as a place to run ads alongside videos that are relevant to your product or service. These ads can be placed via the Google Ads system, (previously known as AdWords), and are still reasonably priced. Many people are deterred from YouTube advertising because they think that they will need to have videos made but that is not the case – you can advertise on YouTube without the need to have videos although it may well be worth getting some made and we suggest setting up a (free) YouTube channel for your business as this can be a significant boost for your website in search results on Google and YouTube.
If you run an online shop, (e-commerce), then Google’s Shopping Ads could be just the thing for you. These ads are automatically generated by Google, (Bing has a comparable service), from a product feed that you provide – most online shopping platforms like Shopify, Woo Commerce etc will generate these feeds automatically so the process is really quite straightforward. You will need an image for each of the products you wish to include.
Use Remarketing and Email Marketing to catch the ones that get away
Make sure you remarket – “Remarketing” (AKA Retargeting), is the process of anonymously gathering lists of people who have visited your website, noting what they seemed to be interested in, and then showing them reminder and progressing ads until they finally convert into a customer. If you can build a list of customers and prospective customers you can remarket to them by sending regular promotional emails – this method is widely used and can be very effective if done properly however there are strict regulatory controls in place to prevent abuse so be sure to take professional advice.
5 Digital Marketing Trends for 2020
As more people use voice search on devices such as Alexa and on search engines like Google it is now the time to start planning how you should tailor your website to benefit from this. In order to appear in voice searches the content on your website needs to be formatted in a way that such technology can recognise. There are many aspects to this but in essence it means writing the website content in a way that fits in with Google’s search result display techniques. The most common way to achieve this is to ask your website developer to incorporate “Schema” coding snippets into the website’s content so that search engines can recognise it and place it into voice search results as well as “knowledge panels” and other search engine result elements. This requires planning and careful preparation but is well worth the effort – voice search is set to boom as devices become more affordable and widely available.
Brand Management and User Participation
The trend towards involving clients/customers and users in the development of a brand and its overall reputation moves forward, powered by and increasing number of available platforms and review sites. It is now almost compulsory to have a business or product page on Facebook, LinkedIn and elsewhere and user groups comprising existing users of your products or services are a useful way to involve people and benefit from their feedback – they can also be a useful source of referral business as well. Once again we encourage you to setup a Google My business account for your business as this will open up the availability of Google Reviews which are taken into account when assessing your ranking in local and national search results. It is important to monitor reviews and comments closely and to respond to everything that is said – good or bad – in order to prevent adverse reviews escalating into unpleasant situations.
We have already mentioned the importance of including video content onto your website. This is because Google and other search engines are ranking sites higher if their content is more varied and includes at least some video. Facebook and other Social Media sites are becoming more and more focused on video content and this is showing signs of ramping up fast during 2020.
The concept of “Micro moments” recognises the fact that the buying public are less and less concerned with a lengthy buying process and more likely to gravitate towards solutions that give them what they want quickly, or even better, instantly. The main driver for this has been the availability and widespread usage fo mobile devices such as smartphones.
However, to position your product or services in such a way that it is readily to hand when someone has such a micro moment and makes the decision to buy, almost without warning, can be tricky. It involves reassessing your website’s content and ensuring that it is highly optimised for the triggers that are likely to result from such a micro moment. For many website owners this is a major rethink and should be carried out with expert help if required.
As I said earlier, just cramming your website and/or social media page(s) with passive content is no longer enough. Try to involve your audience by giving them something to interact with, such as a quiz or competition or maybe a quick survey. Offer them a useful free download such as a checklist or “beginners guide to…..” – anything to make them feel part of the community that likes, uses or recommends your products.
As you can see, the marketing of a website can be achieved in many ways and there are many factors involved that are not always apparent at the start of the process. This is why it is important to do the initial research into the market you are operating in, know the competition and how they work so that you can work better and win the business.
Constant monitoring, using Analytics and other monitoring tools, is also vital – what works one day might not work the next so always keep your finger on the pulse of your site and act upon the data that you are getting.
There is no single solution to achieving online visibility and there is no wisdom in relying on a single marketing approach. Try to be seen as often as possible by those who are likely to be looking for you or your products and services and give them as many opportunities as possible to find you and become one of your clients, customers, subscribers, members, or whatever it is that your business needs in order to thrive.
TRON Media can help with all your digital marketing requirements. We have a highly qualified team of trained specialists in digital marketing, content marketing, web design, SEO, PPC, digital strategy and social media, and can work with you to develop your ideas and build a digital marketing strategy perfect for your business.
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