As the world is getting more and more online, and people are accessing products and services through the internet, offline marketing has ceased to be as effective as it used to be. The constant internet usage has increased among adults by 5 % in a short span of three years, according to Pew Research.
Marketing has always been about getting the right message across to your audience, at the right time, and getting them to act on it. Today, customers buy and shop differently, and that has changed the way marketers sell.
We are now plunging into digital marketing- any form of marketing that takes place on the internet. Before we delve deeper into how digital marketing can drive business sales and growth, let’s look at the various functions within the domain of digital marketing.
Critical Functions in a Digital Marketing Strategy
Search Engine Optimization
This is the process of optimizing your website pages to rank on search engines for discovery and outreach. SEO helps increase the amount of organic or free traffic that comes to your website, allowing higher chances of conversion without paying a dime.
There are several ways to approach SEO. Here are a few:
- On-page (that focuses on content that exists on pages),
- Off-page (that focuses on activities going on externally that might affect your rankings- backlinks), and
- Technical (that focuses on how web pages are coded at the backend).
Another vital piece of the digital marketing puzzle is content marketing. Content generates brand awareness, leads, and recognition for businesses, allowing them to stand out in an overcrowded market.
Content marketing efforts include blogging, ebook and white paper creation, infographics designing, etc.
Social media marketing
This function allows you to augment your reach and spread brand awareness across social media channels. Various popular social media channels include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat.
Businesses use social media marketing on platforms that make the most sense for them and then use the brand recognition to influence and engage buyers.
This is a form of performance-based marketing where people receive a commission for selling your products or services through their website. Companies use this form of digital marketing depending on the nature of their business.
Companies use email marketing as a way to connect and keep in touch with their prospective buyers and interested customers. Email is often leveraged to promote events, discounts, offers, and content.
Newsletters are a popular content format that leading businesses send out to their email list, besides holiday promotions, tips and tricks, follow-ups, blog subscription messages, and other types of email notifications.
Does Digital Marketing Work for Both Large Organizations and Small Businesses / Individuals?
Digital marketing is the art and science behind promoting one’s offerings through the internet. That being said, the approach to digital marketing changes along with the size and nature of the business.
For large organizations, digital marketing functions might span a lot of functions on a broad scale. While, for individual contractors and small businesses, digital marketing entails a handful of practices done at a sufficient scale to bring conversion cost-effectively.
Having worked with professional services firms, lawyers, CPAs, contractors, small businesses, and other entities that lack massive funds to invest in digital marketing campaigns, we have learned that digital marketing can be planned for higher leverage at reduced costs.
With the right strategy, implemented by specialists, consistently, small businesses can achieve results that help grow their business and improve sales.
Let’s see how.
Driving Sales with Digital Marketing
- Improve Website Credibility – On the internet, your website is your biggest marketing tool that works for (or against?) your business 24/7. Blue Corona confirms that 38% of the audience will stop engaging if the layout or the content is unappealing. Digital marketing can help you leverage your site to grow your business. People trust a website that has a credible name, appropriate branding, a simple layout, and a few key sections such as resources, about, contact, and services. As for the design, you can look to optimize your website design for seamless eye tracking, high conversion rate by placing the right CTAs along with the entire website, and user experience by making it easy to navigate. Complexity can drive website visitors away, while a well-designed website can attract leads and convert them.
- Consistently Blog – A website blog is another place where site visitors land and hang out. Companies with blogs earned 97% backlinks. To attract and maintain your target audience and get the required SEO traction, you need a blog that is consistently updated. Specific metrics, such as social shares, landing page views, comments, likes, blog subscriptions, leads generated, etc. can help you measure the effectiveness of the content you publish on your blog. Digital marketing through blogging can be done to attract prospects at various levels in their buying journey. The most commonly followed purchase path is awareness, engagement, consideration, and decision. Companies can create content targeted toward these buyers at various stages in their journey, to maximize impact.
- Gain Social Traction – Even individuals and contractors who have never used social before can leverage it to gain brand recognition and sales. Social media advertising can be an effective way for businesses of all shapes and sizes to acquire new customers, keep in touch with current customers, broadcast offerings, and gain social traction. Businesses can create a working social strategy by mapping out their target audiences in terms of their location, demographics, age, and several other factors. Global organizations too spend a hefty amount on increasing engagement on their social presence and gaining new customers. Often, businesses roll out referral programs on social media and carry out contests to attract customers and sell to them. Companies that do have some amount of invest switch over to paid social media advertising and target people who qualify as their ideal customers.
- Leverage Video Marketing – Videos are rapidly becoming the leading content formats that customers like to consume on social media platforms. Video marketing can become a successful venture for any business with consistency. Video impressions, shares, views, and click-throughs are some of the metrics to measure the effectiveness of videos. Videos can be used to entertain viewers, explain products and services, offer in-depth information, or convince viewers they need a specific product. Depending on the kind of business, videos can be leveraged for both mobile and desktop screens to drive engagement and conversions. By personalizing video content toward each customer segment, marketers can optimize ROI from video marketing.
- Local Online Marketing – Digital marketing should be done locally for businesses that expect customers that way. This is a helpful strategy for contractors, lawyers, CPAs, accountants, and so on. With services such as Local Ads, Google My Business, and so on, localization of digital marketing can help businesses get more traction and visibility in their proximity. Local digital marketing through online channels can help small business owners create a buzz about their services, discounts, and offers. This thereby increases the footfall to their business, or maximize sales.
Depending on the nature of the business, the industry, and size of the company, and its aim with digital marketing, it is advisable to create a tailored strategy before implementing any of these practices.
Since all businesses have varied goals with digital marketing, a one-size-fits-all approach does no good to anyone. By using the right plan with credible tools and services, companies can expand their customer base in times of slack using digital marketing.
Which of these practices do you aggressively use and benefit from?
Terrie S. Wheeler, MBC, is the founder and president of Professional Services Marketing, LLC. For nearly 30 years, Terrie has provided outsource marketing, digital marketing services in Minnesota including Minneapolis and St. Paul, and worked with individual lawyers to help them hone their personal networking and relationship building skills.