As marketing technologies, channels, and platforms evolve, the skill sets of small business owners and professionals must also evolve to be able to plan and execute an effective digital marketing strategy successfully.
Technology has enabled marketing strategies to improve at a colossal rate. However, there are still a lot of fundamental principles that businesses of all shapes and sizes need to consider.
It doesn't matter what your industry is, or what products and services you offer - applying a well thought out digital marketing strategy can't be ignored. Not so long ago, Australian businesses needed little more than a website and a Facebook page, but now, the digital landscape is evolving so quickly that it's hard to keep up.
To help break things down for you, read on to discover practical ways to begin to plan and execute an effective digital marketing strategy as a critical component to the long-term success of your business. And since it's always evolving, you need to have a clear understanding of how to use old and new techniques to convert, grow and prosper.
Start by assessing your current resources
Before you start thinking about the planning and execution of your digital marketing strategy, how is your business going? Do you have a business plan? Before you develop a digital marketing strategy, take some time to keep your business house in order first and give your time, effort and resources strategically on the current state of your business.
Particularly managing a changing environment, it is crucial that you are regularly taking stock of why you exist, whom you serve and the type of customer you most want to attract. It is a discipline to track the right and most important things in your business to establish gaps and set new goals continually so you can adjust and strategically see the benefits of taking on a well-planned approach to your digital marketing.
Once you have a good lay of the land of where you have been, and where you want to go the best digital marketing strategy would be useless if you lack the resources to execute it. Ask yourself questions such as:
- What skills and talent do you already have in your business?
- Do you and your team already have the knowledge they need?
- Do you and your marketing staff understand digital and the potential difference a well-executed plan can make to your business?
Aside from these, try also to examine your tools. Is your marketing infrastructure strong enough to pull off your strategy?
With all this information, you can find out whether or not your strategies are feasible and what you need in place.
ACTION: Do you have a business plan? You can start by going through the questions mentioned above or deep dive into a more in-depth business plan for your business?
Make everything personal
Most brands have now realised the importance of personalisation. Making it personal is not new news as successful marketing was always synonymous with making it about your customer. Pulling it off online can be quite a challenge but remember the basics. To get the attention of customers and make them loyal to your brand, keep them engaged through personal touches.
A perfect, and familiar, big business example of personalisation to share with you is Netflix and their content recommendations. Netflix content recommendations mean users don't need to browse the platform to find something new to watch.
Consequently, Netflix learns more about users and make compelling recommendations that will keep people from unsubscribing to the paid streaming service. A notable example of how content personalisation can keep subscribers paying for a service.
People are always looking for ways to have an emotional connection with their brand, especially millennials. Another clear benefit tp personalising your content and customer experience is that it will also increase word of mouth referrals, and stellar reviews.
ACTION: Review your digital assets. Is your website welcoming visitors to contact you, is it even easy to find your details? Do you keep a well-managed email database of past clients or enquiries to your business? And what about your social media community? Reach out and say hello, and in your unique way, whether it be an email, a blog or Facebook post, how are you showing up regularly not only to let them know you are there but care and appreciate them.
Seek meaningful collaborations.
Celebrities have been endorsing brands for decades, but in recent years, this trend has taken a backseat to influencer marketing.
This method employs a recognisable person to instil their interest and trust in their target audience about a specific brand.
For this to be more successful, target niche influencers and even other businesses in your community and not just famous ones with millions of followers.
While their scope may be smaller, the trust of their more intimate fan base can do wonders for your business.
ACTION: Make a list of other businesses, services or people in your local community that complement your values and what you do. Reach out to them and ask not what they can do for you, but what can you do for them — an important distinction. Can you write a guest blog on their website, do a video feature or maybe run a competition on Insta? Do something to help another local business raise their online digital presence, and in return, yours will be taken care of too!
Remember that content is king.
Although it may seem straightforward, content marketing is hard, especially when done in-house. When you outsource it, it can save you time, but you have to invest money in it. Try to determine which arrangement suits you best and whether or not you need to hire a specialist. For example, if you have a team member who's a good graphic designer, maybe you can keep this service in-house. But if writing articles is hard for your staff, letting other professionals do the job may be well worth the investment.
As much as possible, always go for strategies that save time. If your resources are tight, don't build your content from scratch. Releasing good content is time-consuming, but there are tons of strategies that can help you speed things up, such as repurposing old content. For example, an old evergreen article could be recorded and turned into a video.
ACTION: Time for a stocktake. What do you have in your digital vault by way of content that you have done in the past? Do you have videos you can transcribe to blogs or blogs you can make into video? Take the time to evaluate your content and create a new content plan for the next 12 months.
Creating a content plan
After you've made arrangements for your content, the next step is to create a calendar for your content strategy. Having a guide helps you stay organised and accountable for what you want to do in a given period. An excellent place to start is to insert select dates in your plans, such as major public holidays and special events that are relevant in your business and niche. You also want to leave some blank spots where you can incorporate trending topics.
Having a content calendar can be used not only to plan whatever you are posting on your website but also where. A multimedia strategy and planning how you will distribute your content is not just an option but a requirement. See which distribution channels fit in your sales strategy and insert it into your calendar.
ACTION: Whether you love a nice big yearly planner from Officeworks or, if like me, geek out on a good excel spreadsheet, make it happen and list what type of content you will produce, how frequently you will create your content ie weekly/fortnightly/monthly basis, and how you will distribute it ie social media, to a partner website or, if you produce something valuable for other businesses even with the team here at Venture Melton?
Study Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an area of marketing that you need to be very knowledgeable and passionate about to win. But despite its importance, many people are still intimidated by it. Know that when you learn to leverage SEO, the sky's the limit for your brand.
Many companies have tried to use schemes to trick search engines, but this will get you nowhere. While it may get you short-term results, it will directly hurt your business in the long run. The truth is, you can't simply take shortcuts in this area. You have to put in the work and wait until you see results.
ACTION: Read the The Art of Being Findable – SEO for (Non-Techie) Small Business to start to understand the importance of not only SEO, how your efforts in SEO and content creation is directly linked to one another when it comes to a successful digital marketing strategy.
Get clear on the data
Arguably the most critical skill in any digital marketing in 2020 and beyond is data analysis.
Thanks to the growing importance and the abundance of customer data (which will only grow more abundant as a result of the Internet of Things), digital marketing professionals must feel at home with measurement, metrics, and the analysis of data.
Data analysis allows you to answer the most critical question: "Is this working?" Which results in more effective and targeted marketing campaigns, enhanced customer personas, improved customisation capabilities, reduced bounce rates, and higher customer retention, among numerous other benefits.
Naturally, if you want your digital marketing to be effective and successful to generate more leads and awareness, winning in data analysis is winning in business.
Make sure your strategy aligns with your abilities.
After you've done enough research on your target audience and marketplace, you need to determine your digital strategy.
For example, do you plan on creating content for your website, making Instagram your main channel for marketing and creating smart collaborations with other businesses online? If not, do you have the resources or team to make videos for YouTube and other video-heavy platforms like Facebook?
Examine how you will position your brand in the marketplace, as well as the key messages you want to deliver.
ACTION: Take a deep breath. You have a lot on your plate, I know. These actions are not here to overwhelm you, quite the contrary. The intention is to give you hope and opportunity, not to mention, to spark your creative juices to work on your business and leave a digital footprint to let the world know you are here.
- Start by assessing your current resources
- Make everything personal
- Seek meaningful collaborations
- Remember that content is king
- Creating a content plan
- Study Search Engine Optimisation
- Get clear on the data
- Make sure your strategy aligns with your abilities
Nobody ever said growing your business is a walk in the park. And if it was easy, everybody would be doing it. Without the right marketing strategies, you cannot fuel your growth and churn out profit to keep you afloat. Thankfully, improving your digital marketing strategy is not rocket science. Using the tips listed above, you can deliver your message to the right audience and in turn, convert visibility into sales. The ultimate objective, otherwise none of us will be here in the first place, and it is worth every opportunity to work 'on' our business and digital A game.