When we talk about digital marketing, we’re casting a pretty wide net. Think of it as a category for any of the online marketing and advertising opportunities. This includes your website, email marketing, mobile marketing, podcasts, internet yellow pages, content marketing, search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, inbound marketing, blogs and more every day.
Many businesses don’t have a digital strategy at all when we first visit with them, and that may be the case for you as well. A great first step is to learn as much as possible about how your audience uses the internet. Where are your current customers getting their information? Are there any differences between how your current customers and ideal customer use the web? Where are they socializing? Who do they trust? Do they research online before making purchase decisions?
The graphic below with results from the Nielsen Global Connected Commerce survey gives an insight into current “connected shopper” behaviors. Regardless of the product, looking up product information, comparing prices and searching for deals scored high.
Once you determine how your audience is using the web, you can utilize a digital marketing strategy to make sure that you’re involved at every digital channel opportunity. If you’re audience is looking online for information, be the provider of that information. The more unbiased and truly helpful content that you can create, the more opportunities you’re creating for your target to interact with your brand long before they’re to the “decision” stage of their buying journey. As you can see in the Buyer’s Journey graphic below (courtesy of Hubspot), you can create different types of content for each stage of the journey, and this will allow you to connect with prospects at different stages.
This content can take on many different forms, from blogs and articles to free tools, eBooks, how-to videos, and different types of content are going to work better at different stages. Now, how do you get that content in front of your prospects while they’re out there searching? The short and useless answer is, it depends. The long answer is that it depends on who they are, what they’re looking for, where they’re looking and what the competitive landscape is. You may find that there’s an all-out bidding war taking place on SEM platforms for the related keywords but SEO is wide open. You may find that promoting your content to a very specific target on social media channels creates more leads than running display banners. So find out! Your competition may have done a lot of the heavy lifting for you already (success leaves footprints). You may be the trailblazer and have to experiment to refine the strategy that works best.
Most likely, it’s going to be a combination. Your competition may be utilizing a digital channel in a way that really connects, but the way people utilize digital media changes every day. You have to be flexible – willing to change – willing to explore and experiment. After all, one of the beautiful capabilities that digital marketing gives us is the ability to monitor near real-time results. If you’re not using this information to continually improve, you’re missing out.
When we talk about digital marketing, we love to ask “what’s next?” Someone visits your website… what’s next? Where are they supposed to go? What are they supposed to do? When you get the opportunity to connect with someone who has the potential to be a customer, you had better damn well have a plan, and that plan had better spring into action automatically the instant you have their attention.
Your content on digital channels can and should integrate with your sales process – your funnel. Once visitors interact with your content, you have the opportunity to learn more about them. Where do they live? What kind of device are they using? How old are they? What’s their income? Figure out what features actually matter (what qualities make up your buyer persona) and what they need to know (to move down the funnel), and create a series of steps to both educate and qualify them. You’ve already turned a stranger into a visitor by getting them to interact with your content. Now turn them into a subscriber, a lead, a customer, and finally, an evangelist. With a solid digital strategy, you can accomplish all of this.