Most entrepreneurs decide to embark on the startup business journey because of a passion and particular skill set that innovates or sets them apart from the masses. So, whether you’re a genius at graphic design or make the most incredible fishing lures for largemouth bass, you’re the best at what you do.
Now, where more business owners begin to struggle is with marketing. After all, if you were a marketing savant with in-depth knowledge of everything from PPC to OOH, you would have started a marketing business instead. It’s ok. You don’t have to be an expert marketer to find your way to marketing success. In this segment, we’ll introduce you to the best practices and strategies for setting up the most important marketing pillar – digital marketing.
Marketing Has to Start with Digital Engagement
Here’s what you need to remember. Marketing is a principal centerpiece for your business success. It allows your business to stay relevant with your core audience. Marketing means you can compete within your space and have a consistent presence in the lives of your customers.
So, where do all of your customers spend most of their time these days? They’re online. They’re on their phones. They’re playing video games, surfing the web and watching YouTube videos. Every business, regardless of the niche, needs to be digital to connect with consumers.
This is why we’re starting this marketing conversation off with a little infusion of digital marketing know-how. It should be the first marketing strategy you develop for your business.
Here’s the proof in the online engagement pudding:
- As of 2021, there were 4.66 billion (that’s a B) active internet users worldwide.
- More than 92% of those internet users were accessing the web with a mobile device.
- Buying services and goods online is officially the new norm. In fact, 2.14 billion (again, with the B) are said to have made online purchases this year.
- Last year, 18% of all retail purchases transpired via eCommerce platforms.
There is a lot of money exchanging online these days. Not tapping into those revenue streams with an online digital marketing strategy could be devastating to your business.
Tina’s Cleaning Business: Tina’s cleaning business needs to reach beyond friends and family if it’s going to grow. The best way Tina knows how to connect is by starting with a clean, easy-to-navigate website. She knows her brand voice and has a clear idea of what she needs her website to do for visitors. But she realizes, beyond that first step of creating a site where customers can book her services or request a quote, she’s somewhat at a loss. It seems lots of businesses post on social media, but are paying for ads there worth it? She knows that SEO is important, but in an actionable way. Like many business owners, Tina’s not sure what to do or invest in next.
There are plenty of digital marketing platforms out there and, with them, plenty of opportunities to spend money on ads. Before you commit to anything, here’s the digital marketing tutorial that most new business owners don’t have at their disposal.
Digital Marketing Begins with a Branded Website Design
Ok, before we even begin to outline what you need to know about a beautifully branded site, we have to address the elephant in the room.
There is some batshit-crazy notion out in “marketing guru-land,” inspiring a trend where businesses don’t think they need a website anymore. Digital whack jobs who suggest all you need are a few landing pages and a click-through funnel to grow your business need to sit back down. Don’t drink that Kool-Aid. You might siphon a few leads with your digital hopscotch, but you certainly won’t grow your business to its fullest potential. Those funnel pages won’t do shit for SEO, and they’ll reflect poorly on your brand.
Your website IS your brick and mortar in today’s world. Clean it up. Make it an inviting and pleasant place to visit. Make it easy to find with a few keyword searches and encourage guests to ask questions whenever they want. This is the new customer service reality. And only a well-branded website design can achieve success there.
Here are a few other aspects your website should do well:
- Enough, but not too many, quality landing pages
- User Experience (UX)
- Online forms for increased customer insights
- Opt-in paths (for newsletters, discounts and deals)
- Pop-ups later in the browsing experience (avoid having them pop up too quick when they first arrive)
- Online booking and scheduling options
- Installation of Google Analytics
- Online chat availability (only if your site can sustain the traffic and you work with a software that offers support, ex. Intercom chats for SaaS)
- Compelling, inspirational and engaging messaging centered around your WHY
Other Digital Marketing Channels Every Business Should Consider
Once you have a dynamic and engaging website built, how do you make sure your customers find it when they need your product or service? That’s where some of these other digital marketing tools come into play.
SEO or search engine optimization is the common practice of enhancing the quality and quantity of a website or web page’s traffic from search engines. SEO focuses on unpaid rather than paid traffic. A local SEO approach is a search engine optimization (SEO) technique that helps your company appear higher in Google’s local search results. The primary objective with local SEO is to appear within the first three results on the map, prompting searchers to identify your location. Traditional SEO (also known as national SEO, On-Page SEO, or onsite SEO) is a long-term investment that may set your firm apart from the competition. National SEO focuses on ranking for broader keyword phrases rather than particular geographical identifiers; however, it employs similar tactics.
Paid digital advertising can be costly and challenging to quantify the ROI for new businesses. While there are more effective ways to reach the masses at cheaper price points, it’s important to know how paid ads work. They can be incredibly useful tools for specific campaigns.
Pay-per-click, or PPC, is usually associated with first-tier search engines. The term pay-per-click is used to describe a method of advertising on the internet in which an advertiser pays each instance their ad is clicked.
The world’s most popular PPC advertising system is Google Ads. The Google Ads platform allows businesses to develop advertisements that appear on Google’s search engine and other Google properties. Users bid on specific keywords and pay for each click on their advertisements using the Google Ads platform, which is a pay-per-click model in which users compete for keywords.
Facebook Ads are paid messages that are written in the voice of the business and target the people most important to those businesses. Within that campaign, they’ll select pictures, text, and an audience that they believe will assist them in achieving that rise in page visitors.
The method for purchasing and using Yelp Ads is similar to Google Ads and Facebook Ads in that business owners may pay to have better ranks and placements. You have the opportunity to target potential clients as they are deciding which company they want to spend their money with using these ads. Other platforms exist, too, including Craigslist, NextDoor, and Thumbtack, where some businesses within certain niches can see some results.
Content marketing is marketing intended to cultivate an audience by building awareness, generating leads and traffic. Online marketing content may be in the form of blogs, podcasts, videos or social media posts. Depending on business objectives, content marketing can target specific people within a certain demographic region with messages tailored to their interests. These messages typically don’t directly intend to sell a product or service. Instead, content marketing engages potential customers by offering information and educating them with news or advice that they value. Ultimately, these value-driven components build trust that leads to greater buy-in activity.
Email marketing is, of course, marketing via email. It is a marketing strategy that entails sending emails, usually through automated software, to prospects and customers and tracking the success of each based on open and read rates. These types of campaigns generally include company updates, industry newsletters, blogs or details regarding the latest promotions and deals.
Email marketing is most effective when you avoid sending spam sales campaigns that become a nuisance to readers and instead focus on delivering educational and relevant messages. Offer direct benefits of your product or service and use a series of emails to explain how your business is uniquely positioned to improve their lives.
There are two key advantages of using email campaigns to reach your audience. It’s easy to set up and incredibly affordable, even with software automation investments. If you’re able to cultivate mail lists over time, those contacts can become invaluable as a consistent pool of potential customers to engage. So, in a way, you have two pivotal perspectives with email marketing – cold outreach and existing client base marketing. In either arena, the best way to really gain traction is to leverage personalization like, using names of the recipients or key points off their LinkedIn profile.
Social Media marketing, as the moniker implies, refers to using various social media platforms to promote your services or products. Businesses should establish dedicated pages or presences for each and use those profiles to share news, deals and information.
As a general business rule, we recommend starting small. Facebook, Instagram, Linked In and YouTube tend to be the big four in terms of reach and frequency capacities. TikTok, Pinterest and Twitter tend to be popular, as well. New businesses shouldn’t worry about leveraging more than four and should focus on dominating the few chosen platforms.
Social Media marketing tends to work best when there is a steady outreach of messaging based on scheduled posts and campaigns. Because these platforms present a more conversational environment, don’t be too salesy. Instead, share local community support news, charitable contributions, industry news and plenty of tips and advice that readers will find valuable.
Because so many individuals and business entities flock to social media platforms, it’s easy for your posts to get lost in the “noise.” Stand apart by posting pictures, videos and the occasional live stream. To further complicate the noisy space, there are bots out there simulating traffic. There are many Instagram users who buy followers to create the appearance of presence. It goes without saying, this is NOT the way to grow your following. Authentic engagement is the best way to see growth and scaling with every social media platform. Just remember to have patience, since it takes time.
Affiliate marketing is another method of marketing in which individuals (affiliates) promote your company and refer potential customers in exchange for a commission. They use referral links and discount codes to drive visitors to your website.
Think of Affiliate Marketing as more of a strategic alliance with another individual or business for purposes of sharing audiences. There can be significant benefits to such partnerships, including software sharing, lifetime deal sharing and service trading.
However, Affiliate Marketing isn’t for everyone. And aligning with the wrong affiliate can adversely affect your brand. Before exploring your affiliate options, make sure to do your homework to ensure the individual or business has a clearly defined WHY as you do. Examine audience demographics to verify you’re able to increase your exposure to the right people. Again, this is only going to be effective if you take a strategic partnership approach to vetting potential affiliates.
How to Decide Which Channels Will Work for Your Business
Is your head spinning yet? With so many marketing channels and platforms out there, how are you supposed to know which will work best? Getting your website launched is only the first step.
The ultimate goal of your marketing, especially as a new business, is to identify only the few digital marketing methods that reach the bulk of your target audience for the least amount of upfront investment. Email marketing and content marketing tend to be the most affordable ways to engage and introduce your brand. Both can attract new buyers directly. But they can also be pivotal in driving more traffic to your newly developed website and funneling potential buyers to your products and services. Both strategies are customizable, too, allowing you to change and personalize your messaging over time.
Paul’s Used Car Dealership: Paul starts by developing his website. So many consumers today begin their car searches online, so he invests in a site design that allows him to upload new inventory whenever vehicles become available. Paul also knows that his discount vehicle pricing is ideal for those who are maybe credit challenged and need special financing. To cater to that audience, he makes sure his site also has an easy-to-use “Get Financed” call to action step. Since he also has been selling quite a few cars to middle-class parents looking for great deals on teen cars, he creates a “Teen Car Corner” landing page on his site. To help promote his new website, Paul also explores Facebook and Instagram and thinks it may be engaging if he creates a few vehicle walk-through videos to share. He’s also asking for his audience to subscribe to his newsletter to help create an email marketing base and strategy. Ultimately, he wants to be able to send customized email blasts regarding newly available vehicles and trade-in offers. In a perfect world, Paul envisions having one mass email list of credit-challenged buyers and another for those parents hungry for a teen car deal.
Paul’s off to a great marketing start. He’s focusing on those few tools he needs first, a user-friendly and stunning branded website, two social media profiles, and a plan for email marketing lists. Like Paul, you can begin with those core marketing channels that make sense to reach your audience without breaking the bank.
Every business is going to be uniquely different, and what makes sense for selling cars or cleaning services might not be suitable for what you’re offering. E-Commerce, brick-and-mortar and home-based service businesses all share the same need, – to reach as many potential customers at the lowest cost possible. And in any business, the best strategies begin by developing the essential pillars, including your website.
Invest in the website and software needed to build a strong foundation. You can then sprinkle in the digital marketing efforts to develop a robust overall marketing strategy. If you’re ready to take that first digital marketing step, schedule your FREE consultation with Awareness Branding & Consulting today! And stay tuned. In our next conversation, we’ll explore the non-digital marketing methods businesses can’t live without, even in today’s digital world.