Pop icon Madonna may have been “living in a material world” in 1984, but today we are truly living in a digital world. Moreover, any business that wants to succeed must give “proper credit” (see long lyrics) to digital marketing. Digital marketing is simply utilizing the worldwide digital information space to advertise your company’s products and/or services.
With internet users growing in number and hours of daily usage, digital marketing is not only the future of marketing, it is the NOW. Also, digital marketing is cheaper than traditional marketing methods (print, billboard, media, etc.) and is infinitely more measurable and scalable. Let’s examine several different ways you can make digital marketing work for you and your business. The following are progressive, beginning with the simplest measures and moving toward more complex and costly efforts.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is designing and optimizing your website so it appears naturally or organically in search results by Google, Bing, and other search engines. This is the simplest and quickest way to ensure your business website can be found by internet users. Including relevant keywords, links, images, and content within the front end and back end of your web pages provides search engine ‘crawlers’ topics under which to index your site in their databases.
While some insist that SEO efforts are futile due to Google’s constant algorithm updates, this is not true at all. Google modifies its algorithms regularly so only relevant results are presented to users. Their efforts prevent unethical site builders from manipulating the system to get their sites listed high in search results. Therefore, SEO is worth your investment in time, or in cost to have a professional optimize your site.
Every year, research continues to demonstrate that content is king. Content is the currency of the online marketing realm. Even the most recent enhancements to search engine algorithms continually stress content as a top metric when determining search results. This content can be in a variety of formats, including blog posts, images, banners, infographics, videos, podcasts, webinars, Q&A forums, white papers, eBooks, case studies, how-to guides, or social media communications.
Tap into your creative side and generate content on any topic and then link it directly or indirectly to your business. Regardless of the type of content you choose, interactive measures increase user engagement. In today’s consumer-centric world, users prefer to have ongoing communications with the companies with which they do business, and feel increasingly loyal if their feedback is welcomed and acknowledged.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Social Media Marketing involves driving traffic to your business website through social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, and others. Content is custom created for each platform to attract users’ attention and incite a response, usually a click on the link provided in the message that takes the user to a specific place on your site.
In addition, good content is liked and shared by users, further spreading your message across numerous other social pages, and increasing your possible reach and engagement. With social media, it’s best to share at least four or five times a day and reply promptly to personal responses.
Optimizing your site for mobile is just a small part of mobile marketing. Mobile internet users are growing exponentially each year with no slowdown in sight. Therefore, it not only makes sense to be sure your website is viewable and usable on mobile devices, but also to consider what kind of mobile app your company could develop for mobile users. According to a report from Flurry analytics, 90 percent of consumers’ mobile time is spent in apps. Or, according to frequent app users and developers, It’s an App World – The Web Just Lives in It.
This 90% figure is a vital metric to remember as you decide whether to develop a mobile app for your business. Apps don’t fit every industry or business. For some, it may be best to focus on a mobile-optimized site. Either way, mobile marketing makes sense as the potential of the mobile market continues to grow.
Email marketing is sending commercial messages through email to past, current, or potential customers. By using email marketing software, you can maintain email lists that are segregated based on a variety of factors. Sending personalized emails develops trust and makes you sound like a real person meeting real needs, and not just an uncaring automation.
In some opinions, and in some countries, email marketing is considered spamming. Some countries have laws prohibiting unsolicited emails with stiff penalties for violators. The safest route is to only send commercial emails to those who have signed up for your emails and given permission to receive them. Even then, email marketing should be used strategically so as not to antagonize recipients and compel them to opt not to receive them in the future.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing is a comprehensive strategy to drive traffic to your business through paid efforts. It is also sometimes called Paid Search Marketing. Essentially, you are renting traffic for a price in order to get business. The two major models of SEM are PPC (pay-per-click) or CPM (cost-per-mile). With PPC, you only pay a fee for every time a user actually clicks your ad to go to your site. With the CPM model, you pay a fee for each 1,000 impressions (1,000 impressions = 1 ‘mile’), which can be simple views of your ad.
SEM is difficult to keep up with while running a business and almost exclusively requires someone to manage it. There are a variety of platforms for SEM that perform basically the same service. Two of the most popular ad services are Google AdWords and Bing Ads.
Retargeting / Remarketing
Retargeting is a preferred strategy because you are targeting users who have already shown interest in your business. This means conversion rates are usually high. Retargeting works on websites, social networks, and on mobile devices.
With Affiliate Marketing, you pay people who display your ads (called ‘publishers’) to bring you customers. The performance can be based on promotions, leads, or sales. Publishers provide space on their site to display your ads to help drive conversions. You pay them based on a compensation model. Affiliate Networks provide a large base of publishers, along with benefits like tracking and reporting technology.
Affiliate Marketing is a win-win for businesses and publishers. Sites like Amazon, eBay, Link Share and Flipkart, and most large-traffic online businesses, have Affiliate Programs.
The digital marketing strategies that work best for you will vary. Different industries have different objectives, as well as smaller and larger businesses. In most cases, a combination of several digital marketing strategies will serve to drive traffic and lead to conversions for your company. What are your favorite or most profitable strategies for digital marketing? Share your wisdom or suggestions with our readers in the comments below.