Long gone are the days of conventional marketing strategies, such as flyers and magazine ads. In today's tech-savvy world, it takes much more strategy to create a recognizable brand. A strong digital marketing strategy is a must for maintaining a successful business. From blogging to mobile ads, there is no shortage of options. Despite this, the digital marketing channel you choose can make or break your plan. So, which channels are most likely to set you up for success? Unfortunately, there are no "one size fits all" digital marketing plans for businesses. Instead, you must consider your target audience and determine your desired results first. Afterwards, you can begin to explore the differences between each digital marketing channel. By investigating each one with these specifics in mind, you can determine which will lead you down the path of success.
The term “targeted audiences” is not a new concept. It is one that is frequently used in digital marketing, but it reaches beyond technology. Your targeted audience is who you have deemed most likely to purchase your products or services. Even if you have used direct mail flyers for years, you understand that it isn’t a wise choice to send a flyer to everyone. For instance, if you are a roofer, you wouldn’t waste time mailing advertisements to apartment renters. This process of narrowing down your targeted audiences for digital marketing channels is much like developing a mailing list for conventional marketing campaigns.
Despite this, there are some business owners who take a “more the merrier” approach to marketing and target the masses. While this sounds excellent in theory, it is an expensive lesson to learn. No business can afford to target everyone. You are much more likely to see a high ROI when you narrow down your audience to a specific niche. For example, targeting homeowners between the ages of 40 and 60 with high incomes in Los Angeles, California will generate more successful results than simply targeting residents in California. This niche will vary drastically depending on the business type and whether you are targeting B2B or B2C markets. Understanding this will play a big factor in choosing the most successful digital marketing channel.
Much like a target audience, the more specific your goals are, the better. Many businesses start out with a simple goal in mind. They may want to increase lead generation, generate brand awareness, improve conversion rates or retain existing customers. While this is a great start, it does not allow you to gage the effectiveness of a digital marketing strategy. Instead, focus on realistic yet measurable goals. If you want to improve conversion rates, determine a percentage you want to reach and give yourself a reasonable amount of time to achieve it. For example, improve website conversion rates by 10% over the next six months. This is enough time to determine if the digital marketing channel is effective. If successful, you will understand the value of the channel and continue to improve. If not, you will have specific data to compare other outcomes to when implementing other marketing strategies.
Now that you have a specific idea of what you are looking for, explore what each digital marketing channel offers:
A website is a must-have for creating a strong online presence. Even a basic website lends credibility and professionalism to potential customers. The most successful ones keep new and existing customers interested with helpful content. While you may view blogging as a personal hobby, it is a popular marketing strategy. In fact, businesses who hone in on blogging are 13 times more likely to see a positive ROI on their marketing efforts. Likewise, website marketing and blogging is effective in reaching several goals. It can increase brand awareness; help keep existing customers and even generate sales. The key to success with this marketing channel is to provide well-written content on a regular basis. Blogging and website content marketing should be used in unison with a strategy like SEO. This will ensure that your content is visible to readers beyond your typical customer base. It is also important to note that blogs with images receive 94% more views than those without. This is one of the most flexible and effective marketing channels while done correctly. If you are not a strong writer or unsure of how to create informative content, consider hiring a professional writer or consulting a content marketing agency. Be aware that blogging does not align with all businesses' targeted audiences. For instance, a funeral home targeting B2C audiences will experience less success with blogging than a trendy hair salon. In this case, the funeral home director would have options for blogging, such as taking a B2B approach and offering advice to others working in the industry. This would also be a bonus to the company as it would position them as authoritative figures in their field.
Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) goes hand in hand with website content marketing and blogging. If you are unfamiliar with SEO, you have probably heard the term and assumed it was a new tech buzzword. But SEO is a longstanding practice that has been around as long as the internet itself. In the beginning, it was a less than reputable tactic used to outsmart search engines. This created spam filled search engine results for users. Eventually, search engine operators caught on to the practice and put rules and algorithms in place. Today, SEO aims to provide search engine users with the most relevant search results. Keywords, credentials and popularity all aid in achieving the best results. The webpages that land within the first page of the search engine results page (or SERP) have a huge marketing advantage. This is because as many as 75% of people will never look beyond this first page. Because of this, organic SEO is one of the top methods for improving lead generation and the ultimate answer for those wondering how to increase online sales. Unlike other marketing channels, every business can reap the rewards of organic SEO when implemented the correct way. The most important factor in finding success with organic SEO is to research targeted keywords. Even with a strong SEO strategy, it can take several years to achieve top results on the SERP. This method is a cost-effective marketing solution that does pay off over time.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising, or a PPC marketing, is a marketing channel which involves paid search advertisements. The company pays the search engine to display an ad based on specific circumstances. Most commonly, this involves the use of a targeted longtail keywords or phrases. For example, an ad may appear when a user searches "hair coloring in Miami, Florida". A person searching this specific phrase is likely a serious potential customer. Thus, you generally avoid targeting those who are not in the market for your service or product. This ability is dependent upon the chosen keywords, however, and is a form of search marketing. Likewise, your results will depend on the chosen ad program used. Google Ads, AdRoll, Facebook Ads and Bing Ads are some of the most popular. The cost of displaying the ads on each platform varies, but PPC marketing can become costly. While many do see a positive ROI with PPC ads, it works better for some business types than others. Ideal PPC marketing clients have high customer lifetime values, high margins, hard to find products or a wide variety of items. Doctors, lawyers, colleges, large retailers tend to experience the most success with positive ROIs. Smaller businesses may not be able to justify the high price tag of PPC ads for the long haul.
Let's face it: everyone from your grandmother to your best friend from kindergarten is on social media. Around 3.6 billion people around the globe have one or more active social media accounts. This statistic is shocking yet enticing for marketers. With a plethora of social media channels, it’s likely that your targeted audiences are on one or more of them. But, with varying demographics, determining which platform they are on is necessary. This goes back to identifying and understanding your target audience. Platforms like Facebook are better to engage an older base, while Instagram is more popular among younger crowds. This means it is necessary to cater to your audience if you are curious about how to increase website traffic through social media. Take advertising life insurance on as an example. Instagram may not draw in any leads but posting the same content on Facebook might boost sales. By the same token, Instagram is photo based. This means a restaurant posting photos of dishes may experience more success here. After you have identified where your targeted audiences are, you can get started with your social media marketing campaign. From there, you can start to engage with existing and potential customers. This two-sided interaction is often a scary concept for business owners. Perhaps, you have seen PR nightmares as the result of inappropriate posts or comments. While these cases are highly publicized, they are not typical. Most businesses experience enhanced customer loyalty and brand awareness. This is because you can share new products, services and promotions to increase participation or sales. The key to success here is to engage customers and remain professional. If you opt to outsource social media management to inbound marketing agencies, be sure that the company is reliable and has recommendations.
E-mail marketing is a low-cost and highly effective digital marketing channel. This is effective because there are three times as many active e-mail accounts as there are accounts on Facebook and Twitter combined. Reports show that e-mail marketing has the highest ROI (an average of 28.5%) of all digital marketing channels. It aids in forming relationships with potential and existing customers, generating leads and improving sales. While it sounds basic, e-mail marketing is a little more time consuming than sending a mass e-mail. The most important step is to build a solid e-mail list. This list typically consists of existing customers. Through online promotions and other incentives, you can build your list to include potential customers as well. From there, you will need to determine the type of e-mail marketing campaign you want to send. This may be in the form of a newsletter, special offers or even invitations to events. In either scenario, be sure to include a call-to-action to encourage readers to engage with your business. It is also important to ensure the e-mails are easy to read and that the text is minimal. Many businesses opt to use an e-mail marketing service to simplify and manage the process. These services come with a plethora of benefits. From free image libraries to automated e-mails, they remove the guess work.
Nearly 60% of all search engine users conduct their searches from a mobile device. Whether a tablet or a smartphone, this is a huge market. Likewise, the number of mobile searchers will to continue to grow in the coming years. This makes mobile ads a great investment for now and for the future. With mobile ad marketing, you display ads in several areas. One of the most popular is to insert display advertising into games or videos. Other methods involve ads sent through SMS text or banner ads on mobile websites. Fortunately, this marketing strategy is effective for businesses of all types. Whether brick and mortar or solely online, they are an effective way to increase brand awareness and generate leads. Keep in mind that mobile ad marketing comes at a cost and depending on the platform, it can be a costly investment for businesses. While many business owners experience a positive ROI through this channel, small businesses may not be able to afford to place ads on some of the most popular platforms. If this is the case, be sure to test the waters before making a long-term commitment to mobile ad marketing.
With so many digital marketing channels having the ability to improve lead generation, sales, conversion rates and brand awareness, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. By knowing your targeted audiences and setting clear goals, you can determine which one is best for your business. Although it may be tough to decide on only one to start with, keep in mind that you are not limited to one marketing channel. In fact, some of the most successful businesses use many means to attract potential customers and improve sales. While this expands your horizons, be sure to track the results of each channel to determine which are performing better than others. Over time, you will easily be able to compare your results and determine the best digital marketing channel to set your business up for success.
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