Simplifying Digital Marketing Strategy

digital marketing strategy

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I have written about marketing strategy many times in the past.  This topic is quite popular among my target audience, namely:  small businessmen, business/marketing managers, and aspiring entrepreneurs.

I have always discussed marketing strategy with this audience in a simple straightforward manner so they could easily understand and assimilate the concepts to their actual business operations.

Discussing digital marketing strategy, however, seems to require a different approach. It looks more technical and daunting for some, particularly small businesses, and easily misconstrued by others, mostly those who do not understand it, as simply having a website or posting on social media.

In this article, I will not attempt to discuss the details of digital marketing strategy.  I will present it in its broadest concept, how it relates to the overall marketing and corporate strategies, its accompanying marketing campaigns, and how these lead a business toward its online marketing objectives.

What is digital marketing strategy?

First, let us define strategy.  A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a goal. It defines what you want to do to realize your goal.

Digital marketing strategy is a series of plans of action aimed to achieve several marketing objectives using inter-related online channels and techniques.

Synergistic use of search engine marketing and email marketing to increase online sales by 50% is an example of a digital marketing strategy.

These plans of action are also called campaigns specially crafted to reach specific objectives. These are where you show in detail how you want to arrive at your objectives.

Both search engine marketing and email marketing are examples of campaigns each with specific objectives, like generating online inquiries and converting inquiries into leads and eventually into sales, respectively, designed to contribute to increasing online sales.

Attainment of such specific objectives adds up to clinching your overarching marketing objectives.

Why is it important to craft a digital marketing strategy?

Without a digital marketing strategy, you will not know where you will take your business in the online world, how your business will progress, what actions you will execute, what metrics you will monitor, and how you will know your investments are delivering an ROI.

Your business will be at a loss, moving from point to point in an uncoordinated manner, and nowhere to go.

How is digital marketing strategy related to corporate strategy?

Your overarching marketing strategy is a subset of your overall corporate strategy.

Digital marketing strategy, in turn, is a major function of your marketing strategy.

As an integrated function, the digital marketing strategy is made operational by a set of digital marketing campaigns as mentioned above, which in turn, have its respective objectives.

The confluence of the results of all digital marketing campaigns determines the total outcome of the digital marketing strategy.

The linear illustration looks like this:

Digital marketing campaigns => Digital marketing strategy=>Overall marketing strategy=>Corporate strategy.

How do we create a digital marketing strategy?

Digital marketing strategies are based on the sales lifecycle. Simply defined, sales lifecycle is the process that encompasses the different stages through which a customer passes through from being a total stranger to your product/service, to becoming a lead, to converting into a paying customer, and to becoming a loyal brand advocate.

Digital marketers also call this process as the marketing/sales funnel or the customer’s journey.

The process may be a short or a long one depending on how detailed you want to chart the customer’s journey. Some determining factors include the type of industry, nature of the business, product or service category, the target market, and the buyer persona.

Some marketers follow the most basic one which has three stages, namely:  awareness, consideration, action.

Others follow far more than three stages.

Always remember that it is your target customer that drives your marketing strategy and your client persona dictates the architecture of your sales lifecycle. This way, you build an online relationship with your potential customers. A good relationship builds credibility and trust.

Launching digital marketing campaigns to implement your strategy

For each stage of this lifecycle, there is a corresponding digital marketing campaign or a combination of campaigns that you must implement. Some campaigns may be repeated during the entire process.

Each campaign or a combination thereof is designed to move the customer through the lifecycle, journey, or funnel with the ultimate aim of generating sales and making the customer a brand loyalist.

It is important to note that your campaigns should present the right content or offer to your target customers at the right time and at the right channels. This is essentially how you move total strangers through the funnel and consequently convert them into paying customers and brand advocates.

The more common digital marketing campaigns are the following:

  • Content marketing

Publishing content on your website that your potential customers find useful and relevant.  Ensure that your product/service features and benefits on your website provide appropriate answers to your potential customers’ needs/problems. Your blog should be an authoritative article that directly addresses their needs/problems.

  • Search engine optimization

A good content amounts to nothing if your audience does not find your website or blog on the internet. Your website pages should be optimized so it appears on search engine results pages. This includes having the right keywords, meta title, meta description, internal links, alt text for images, and backlinks.

  • Social media marketing

Billions of people are on various social media platforms every day. It is no wonder that your potential customers likewise spend a significant amount of their time on their favorite social sites.

You must find out, however, what platforms they use to connect socially or to scan the latest news about their favorite brands. You then publish on these preferred platforms content that are informative and at the same time entertaining to keep them engaged with your page. Use also the most preferred format (videos, images, or links) and the most aesthetically pleasing color palette and typography to attract their attention and interest.

  • Email marketing

No, email is not dead. In fact, it is still the most effective channel for communicating directly with your potential customers about your value proposition and product/service benefits in a more customized or personalized way.

  • Online advertising

While organic or free promotions are still preferred by small businesses with a limited marketing budget, you can consider online advertising on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and others to complement organic promotions.

You can make a more accurate targeting for your marketing messages in terms of demographics, geography, and interests. You can also choose from a variety of creatives you can use with your messaging. You may select the schedule and duration of your ads and specify the budget that you want to spend for it.

  • Search engine marketing

When your potential customers search online for the kind of product/service that you offer, you can have your website appear on the search engine results page by using search advertising through search engines like Google.

You must properly research, however, what keywords that your potential customers will likely use when they conduct the search and use these keywords on your ads and landing pages.

  • Conversion rate optimization

Upon visiting your website and browsing through your pages, you should be able to convert your site visitors into paying customers by incorporating into your content the words and creatives that will convince them to purchase your product/service. The selection of the appropriate words and creatives does not come in a single-step process but would require you to try different variables or combinations of these variables before you finally hit the magic one.

  • Outreach marketing

If you can reach out to influencers with sizeable and genuine followers on social media who are aligned with your buyer persona, you can request them to collaborate with you in promoting your product/service to their followers.

You can also connect with bloggers with a good number of followers and who write regularly and persistently along topics related to your product/service.

Corresponding to the basic stages of awareness, consideration, and action, the following campaigns may be used as follows:

Awareness

The potential customers may become aware of your product/service through:

  • Content marketing
  • Search engine optimization
  • Social media marketing
  • Online advertising
  • Search engine marketing
  • Outreach marketing

You may launch any one or in combination the above campaigns with the specific objective of creating awareness for your business. The launch can follow a certain sequence based on a pre-determined time frame.

Each campaign will be monitored and periodically evaluated using metrics relevant to your campaign objective, which in turn are calculated to contribute over time to achieve the strategic marketing objective.

Consideration

At this point, your potential customers have shown interest in your product/service.

Provide them with more information that will most likely heighten their desire to seriously consider your product/service. Customers back off if they do not find the right information that will answer their questions about how your product/service will address their needs/problems.

You may consider using the following:

  • Content marketing – giving additional and more specific information about your product/service like in the form of case studies.
  • Social media marketing – posting content about positive customer experiences
  • Email marketing – citing specific uses of your product/service to effectively address their particular needs/problems; highlight your unique value proposition.
  • Conversion rate optimization – using the most effective words and creatives to elicit the most favorable response to your offer.

Action

This is where a potential customer becomes a paying customer.

Be sure you have satisfied your customer with how your product/service can deliver the value much better than competitors particularly in terms of benefits, features, price, and customer support.

You can further induce the customer to make the decision to purchase by offering special deals like discounts, incentives (like buy two, take one free), easy payment terms, free online/onsite training, extended warranties, and the like.

Do these using the following:

  • Content marketing – a special landing page for the deals
  • Social media marketing – time-sensitive promo offers
  • Email marketing – supplying specific information tailored to their particular needs and highlighting time-sensitive deals

Final words

Plan well and systematically execute your strategies and campaigns. It is crucial that your campaigns have specific objectives that are clearly and deliberately monitored using realistic key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs, in turn, should all lead to the attainment of your periodic milestones and ultimately to your strategic objectives. Tweak and optimize your campaigns if necessary so these can be more effective in supporting your digital marketing strategy.

We welcome your questions, comments, suggestions.

Setting Your Digital Marketing Objectives

digital marketing objectives

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Like other marketing strategies, digital marketing must have a set of objectives which will keep you on track and guide you. Digital marketing objectives are in some ways unique but somehow show some similarities with offline or traditional marketing objectives.

Why is it necessary to set your digital marketing objectives?

Some marketers would say these are the beacons or guiding light that keep you oriented and guided toward where you want to take your business within a certain period of time.

For other marketers who have a shorter span of time to deal with, it is like the bullseye which when hit represents a significant achievement.

Whatever the way you look at it, a guide or a target, objectives pull you toward a goal that identifies and quantifies your digital marketing success.

Putting it another way, without objectives your digital marketing efforts will go nowhere or bound to fail.

How do you set your objectives?

Digital marketing objectives are a subset and a function of your business’ strategic, finance, marketing, and operations objectives.

Your digital marketing objectives are dictated by the various wider functions of your business.

These objectives are guided by your business’ short- and medium- term goals like being one of the top five companies in your industry five years from now.

You have to factor in your financial objectives as well. This could be something like a return on investment of 12% for the current fiscal year.

The digital marketing objectives are, of course, largely determined by your overall marketing objectives. Most of your digital marketing objectives would likely be a subset of the overarching marketing objectives.

These can be a percentage share of digital marketing to the total number of customers acquired, total leads generated, total customer engagement, total sales by product category, total sales by channel, total promotions cost, total advertising cost, total marketing costs, or returns on marketing costs or returns on ad spend for the current year.

Your operations objectives are also taken into consideration when you list your digital marketing objectives like improving specific efficiency or productivity level next year by at least 10%.

How do you present your objectives?

As you already know, the most popular approach to setting business objectives is to follow the SMART mnemonic – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Let us identify some of the more common objectives used for digital marketing and state these following SMART:

  1. 35% share of total sales generated until December 2019;
  2. 1,000 leads generated for the next 6 months ending June 2019;
  3. 100 customers engaged monthly;
  4. 1,000 average number of website visits monthly;
  5. 20% share of total marketing cost for the year ending December 2019;
  6. 40% share of total advertising cost for the year;
  7. 15% return on marketing spend for the year.

There are more digital marketing objectives you can choose but all of it depend not only on the type of industry or business category you are in but also on your specific business needs and requirements.

A business engaged in the marketing of physical products may have a different set of objectives from those involved in services marketing. Businesses catering to the B2C sector have different objectives from those in the B2B sector.

How important is identifying and assessing your digital marketing objectives?

You manage the performance of your business by looking at key performance indicators (KPIs) for each major functional area such as finance, marketing, operations, and others.

These are targets and measures you set when you make the annual plan and budget for your business. These are reviewed periodically to monitor progress as you move toward your annual performance targets.

Your digital marketing objectives are part of these periodic reviews. As subsets of the major functions, you must monitor on a more frequent basis how actual performance is doing versus your various digital marketing objectives.

At this more specific level of performance, you will know in advance whether or not you will attain your bigger KPIs for the month. You will then have enough time to change tactics to mitigate the situation and improve periodic results.

It is also advisable to know the digital marketing objectives of your major competitors. Pursuing a more relevant and more crucial objective than your competitors can give you a competitive edge. You may consider some objectives as more critical than those being pursued by your competitors.

Final words

Your objectives keep you on track with your digital marketing efforts.  You go nowhere without SMART objectives. It is important to keep in mind that your digital marketing objectives are largely derived from the overall strategic, finance, marketing, and operations objectives of your business.

Please feel free to let us know your questions, comments, or suggestions.

Competitive Analysis: An Indispensable Aspect of Digital Marketing

competitive analysis

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Without a good competitive analysis, you cannot expect your digital marketing efforts to put you several steps ahead of the competition.  Unless you know your major competitors’ resources, capabilities, and marketing activities, you cannot effectively compete in the market.

 

What is competitive analysis?

Identifying your competitors and evaluating their strategies, activities, resources, and capabilities through research with the end in view of determining their strengths and weaknesses in relation to your own business and product/service.

A comprehensive competitive analysis can give you a macro view of the market landscape that you must deal with accordingly to come out ahead and successful.

Competitive analysis, which is also part of strategic planning, is the foundation of formulating your own strategy to identify and take advantage of opportunities as well as to discover threats and mitigate its effects on your business.

By knowing your competition well and continuously updating your knowledge about them, you will have a pretty good idea what probable decisions and actions they will take.  This puts you steps ahead of them.

 

Your competitors’ corporate strengths and weaknesses

Here are some key areas of strengths and weaknesses:

  • Product/Service – features, advantages, and benefits

Take note of the benefits that your competitors highlight in their marketing communication.  Do the actual features support the benefits they claim?

  • Corporate culture – values upheld, management and leadership styles

What values do they believe in and upheld – integrity, leadership, innovation or change? Do they practice professional business management?

  • Strategy – short-term and medium-term corporate strategies and goals

Do they have a well-crafted strategic plan? Check where they want to be 1, 3, or 5 years down the road.

  • Finance – capitalization, funding availability

Are they adequately capitalized? Take note of how they finance their day-to-day operations. How do they secure additional funding if necessary?

  • Human resources – selection, hiring, and training programs

In selecting and hiring personnel, especially marketing and sales staff, do they give due consideration to character or skills?  Investigate what kind of skills they put a premium on – technical or soft skills? Do they conduct continuing training for their personnel particularly their marketing and sales teams?

 

Your competitors’ marketing assets and techniques

Some marketing assets and techniques you may look at:

  • Product/Service innovation and development – new product/service development program, research and development capabilities, product lifecycle management

Do they have a program in place that includes research and development of new products/services? What do they focus on and do to find/develop new products/services? Determine the lifecycle stages of their current products and what they do, if any, to extend it.

  • Pricing – pricing policies

How do they normally price their products – skimming or penetration pricing?

  • Distribution – methods and channels

Do they distribute directly to the target market or do they use distribution channels? Check what consists their channel of distribution.

  • Promotion – offline and online promotion

Check their advertising and promotion campaigns. Do they focus more online or offline? What media do they use? Try to determine how much budget they allocate for advertising and promotion.

  • Customer value – value offering, customer experience

How do they deliver customer value? Do they prioritize quality, price, or customer service? Check how customers perceive and experience their product/service at various touch points.

  • Digital channels and techniques

Check the kind and quality of content they are publishing on their website, blog, newsletter, social media posts, videos and other visual content, and online ads.

Any gap, weakness, or failure in their content will be a good opportunity for you to capitalize on. On the other hand, you can improve on what you find as good content published by your competitors.

Do their content attract, engage, and drive customers to positive actions on their brand?

Find out how they distribute their content. What social media platforms are they using? Take note of customers engagement. How do customers react to their content?

It is also important to know what keywords your competitors are ranking for and what SEO techniques they are using.

Check also available online reviews about your competitors.

 

How do you go about competitor research?

You can obtain information about your competitors using either online or offline sources.

  • Online
    • Search engine
    • Competitor websites, blog, case studies
    • Social media posts
    • Newsletters
    • Online ads
    • Press releases
  • Offline
    • Government agency filings
    • Industry data
    • Newspapers
    • Customers
    • Distribution intermediaries
    • Salesmen
    • Other competitors

 

Why is competitive analysis critical to beating the competition?

Without competitor research and competitive analysis, you may have a lack of factual understanding that is crucial to creating an effective and sustainable competitive advantage.

Many businesses rely on random and raw bits of information in assessing their competitors which normally lead to wrong assumptions and decisions.

 

How do you conduct a competitive analysis?

A competitive analysis starts with a well-structured competitor research and the end product is an evaluation of the overall relative strength of competition.

Below is a process you can follow:

  1. Identify your major competitors (at least seven direct competitors).

 

  1. Classify your competitors. You may categorize them as direct and indirect competitors. Direct competitors are those that sell the same product/service as yours to the same market. Indirect ones are those that offer substitute or alternate products/services to the same market.

 

  1. List down their corporate information such as head office and branch location, principal owners/stockholders, executive officers, capitalization, number of employees, and other businesses.

 

  1. Determine their distinct strengths and weaknesses. These are relative to your business, i.e. how these directly affect your market performance.

 

Their strengths are what will negatively impact your business. These may be a strong financial asset or a solid strategic plan for the next five years.

Their weaknesses are areas where you believe you have a clear and current advantage over them. These may include an inexperienced management or sales team.

 

  1. Enumerate their marketing assets and techniques. Identify which ones will directly affect your market performance. These may include a progressive R & D program that can churn out new products/services within a short time frame. It can also be a dynamic pricing strategy. An aggressive offline advertising campaign that stretches for the whole year. A comprehensive and well-financed digital marketing campaign.

 

  1. Evaluate and rank their over-all strength. Again, this is dependent on your perception as to how each factor above affects your business. You may use a scale, say from 1 to 10, to grade each factor. This is an attempt to put a numerical value on each factor. The total number you reach for each competitor will serve as their competitive ranking relative to your business.

 

One good way of presenting the competitive analysis is to use a matrix. On the left column you can list and group all the factors cited above and on the succeeding columns, you can show your various competitors. In each cell, you can indicate the grade you give for each factor per competitor.  The last cells below can show your competitors’ respective total grades.

Review and assess periodically depending on the diversity and intensity of competition. You can update your competitive analysis at least every six months to take into consideration new factors that come into play.  A new strong market entrant, expansion program of an existing competitor, new product/service launches, aggressive promotion, introduction of new product, service, or marketing technologies – all these will continuously change your competitive analysis.

 

Final words

Competitive analysis gives you a sustainable competitive advantage. You cannot get ahead of your competitors without it.

 

We welcome your questions, comments, or suggestions. Feel free to check out more information/ideas about competitive analysis.

Driving Digital Marketing Campaigns with Unique Value Proposition

unique value proposition

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What could be a more powerful force in any digital marketing campaign than your unique value proposition? Nothing.

Your unique value proposition sets you apart from the competition.  It puts you several notches above them.

What is a unique value proposition?

A unique value proposition or UVP is an unequivocal statement concisely summarizing how your product or service can solve your customers’ problems or can satisfy their needs in a peculiar manner and cannot be equaled by your competitors.

UVP is created based on the analysis and understanding of what benefits that your product/service can offer your customers. These benefits should be distinctly unique and clearly differentiated from your competitors.

Your product/service benefits should be perceived by your customers to be providing net value to them that is much better than the competition.

Using again our office chair example, their UVP may be stated this way:

“Would you rather have a low-priced office chair or our office chair that provides long-term employee comfort and productivity?”

Yes. It can be expressed as a question directed at their target market.

The power behind every digital marketing campaign?

UVP is a business’ survival tool. You have to set up and operate your business based on your UVP.

Can you think of any other way to convince your customers to buy your product/service?

If your product/service offering is just about the same as anybody else, there is no compelling reason why customers would prefer it rather than your competitors’.

And, if nobody buys your product/service, what happens to your business?

Your UVP states that your product/service is better than those of competitors and this is the reason why customers should buy from you.

Your product/service may be of higher quality as defined by its features giving the customers long-lasting utility value, or yours may have the lowest price in the market for the same features resulting in significant savings for the buyers, or yours have unique features providing end-users higher productivity they cannot obtain from anywhere else.

Whatever your UVP is, it is the driving force that makes customers buy from you instead of your competitors. It is the foundation of your marketing success.

A sustainable UVP ensures the long-term survival of your business.

How do you create a UVP that boosts your competitive edge?

A good UVP is a result of the following:

  • A thorough understanding of your target market and your buyer persona

You must identify and clearly understand your target customer’s specific problems to be solved and particular needs to be satisfied. With such clarity of understanding, you can adapt your product/service to effectively address these problems/needs.

You must get an insight also on what affects their perception as to how best these problems/needs are addressed and what influences their decision-making in choosing a solution.

  • Proper crafting of your product/service benefits

Knowing how to address your target customer’s problems/needs, you can then determine what benefits they can obtain from your product’s/service’s utility value.

You can then express these benefits in a way that strongly appeals to the beliefs, interest, behavior, and preferences of your target customers based on the demographic and psychographic data gathered during your market study.

  • Accurate analysis of the competition

You cannot say for sure what distinguishes your product/service from your competitors if you do not know with a high degree of accuracy their product/service features, advantages, and benefits, their marketing strengths and weaknesses, and strategic company resources and capabilities.

It takes a serious competitor analysis. Failure to do this consequently results in costly mistaken assumptions and downright embarrassment. You must have contingency plans in case your competitors try to take down your competitive advantage.

How do you communicate your UVP to your target customers?

Your UVP must be communicated unambiguously to your target customers.

It should be easy to understand without a need for further explanation.

The UVP should be stated in a single sentence as concise as possible but clearly conveying unique benefits instantly.

It should be prominently shown on your marketing channels and all customer touch points.

The copy of your UVP may include a headline (the UVP itself), a sub-heading that briefly explains the unique benefits, and some bullet points to identify the features.

Then you must develop a creative visual representation of your UVP. It can be a picture, drawing, animation, or video presentation.

Your written and visual content should be in agreement and support each other for a distinct delivery of your UVP. How you present your UVP should in itself be unique to your business.

Final thoughts

Your UVP is a promise you are making to your customers.  It is your brand promise. As such, your product/service should deliver as promised. A promise appeals to your customer’s sense of trust and integrity.  It creates a strong bond with your customers to the exclusion of your competitors.

We welcome your questions, comments, or suggestions.

Digital Marketing: How to Boost Sales Through Proper Features and Benefits Presentation

product features benefits

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It is important in crafting a digital marketing strategy and in its effective implementation that a businessman or marketer understands the relevance of the product/service features and benefits.

Let us discuss how product/service features and benefits affect the effectiveness of digital marketing.

What are features?

The features of a product or service are its physical and palpable characteristics that highlight its usefulness to potential consumers or users.

Such characteristics include its design, components, operations, and individual and overall functions. Essentially, as a whole, it describes what a product/service can do.

Usually described in technical terms, features or combinations of features are intended to provide specific benefits to the users of the product/service.

To illustrate a product feature, let us take an office chair. Its features can be an ergonomic design with pneumatic height adjustment.

What are benefits?

The benefits of a product or service are more complicated to define as these are relative in application and subject to individual users’ or consumers’ perception.

Benefits are fundamentally what a product or service can achieve or deliver in relation to the needs or problems of its users.

Such accomplishments are relative in the sense that needs satisfaction level are different among consumers. These are also interpreted based on the mental impression and emotional response of individual users.

Let us again take the office chair example above to illustrate a product benefit.

Users may or may not give importance to its ergonomic design (relative application).  What is important for some users is that it is a functional office chair and looks nice (mental impression). It is comfortable to sit on and relaxing (emotional response).

Other related discussions may take up the subject of product advantage, which explains what the product/service feature does which consequently result in benefits delivery.

In the case of the office chair example, its marketer should explain what an ergonomic design is and how it contributes to an efficient and comfortable work environment.

Why are features and benefits critical to customer acquisition?

In marketing and in sales, it is critical to emphasize the benefits rather than the features.

Customers buy benefits, not features.  As mentioned above, benefits are perceived and felt.  Benefits tap into the mental and emotional faculties of the consumers/users as to how their needs or problems are addressed.

As with the office chair example, what matters to the users is a comfortable and relaxing working environment. The users care not about ergonomic design but do care about what the particular office chair can do for them while working.

While benefits are crucial in the successful presentation of a product/service, the features, as well as advantages, should always explain clearly and in a verifiable manner the claimed benefits.

How do you present features and benefits that lead to sales?

All marketing messages and sales presentation should highlight the benefits in a direct, concise, unequivocal, and compelling manner that is aimed at the emotion of the target consumers.  It should make an emotional connection.

The creatives (drawing, picture, video, graphical representation, color scheme, and the like) and the text (headlines, sub-titles, message) should create a pleasant mental picture and evoke positive emotion among the target audience as to how their needs and/or problems are addressed by the product/service.

Marketers should be able to present their product/service benefits in a way that creates desire and drives action among the target customers.  Features should clearly and convincingly support it.

Digital marketing will be more effective if marketers know, understand, and implement these concepts well.

Digital Marketing for Small Businesses: Important Things to Consider

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Marketers and business people in many parts of the world are talking about digital marketing. Businesses – startups, small businesses, and big brands – are seriously considering or have been using digital marketing.  Many of them are looking for or hiring digital marketers or digital marketing agencies for professional help.

Can digital marketing deliver the desired results? Is it really an effective marketing strategy for various categories and sizes of business?

The answer to both questions is yes.

There are, however, crucial things to consider before any business implements a digital marketing strategy.  Three of such considerations will be discussed below.

Marketing and sales functions

But before anything else, it should be pointed out that digital marketing does not comprise the whole marketing function.  It touches on one just one element of the marketing mix – promotion.

Digital marketing largely covers the sales function.  It can generate both marketing- and sales-qualified leads, it can help prospective customers navigate the buyers’ journey – from the awareness stage, to consideration stage, and finally to the decision stage or sales closing. It can do other direct and indirect sales functions.

Having pointed these out, let us proceed to the critical considerations in digital marketing. We can call these the 3 C’s of digital marketing:  customer, content, and communication.

 

Customer

When we talk about the customer, we always discuss the buyer persona.

Let us go back to the definition of buyer persona. A buyer persona is a hypothetical representation of the ideal customer embodying the target market’s most critical, relevant, and common demographic and psychographic characteristics, and how these influence their perception of a value proposition that consequently results in either a positive or negative consideration.

The buyer persona is the bull’s eye of all marketing efforts.  Strategies, plans, and campaigns are built around it. The buyer persona provides the all-important insights into how customers think, feel, and act.

 

Content

In the case of digital marketing, contents of website, blog, social media post, newsletter, and ad copy are developed and published with the buyer persona in mind. We develop content that we consider useful, relevant, and engaging to our target audience based on the buyer persona.

Delivering content that is most appropriate to the different stages or milestones of a customer’s journey will not only help the customer make an informed decision but also make that decision favorable to our company.

These contents are promoted to reach, to engage, and to elicit a positive response from potential customers.

 

Communication

Unless a good content is communicated to a potential customer nothing happens.

To reach potential customers, we must know first where they are or where they normally spend their time. As almost everyone knows, potential customers are found on social media. In 2019, it is estimated that there will be about 2.8 billion social media users worldwide (or one out of three people on Earth).

Contents can be communicated on social media platforms organically (free) or as a sponsored content.

Contents of websites, blogs, and other online articles are also promoted to a target audience organically through search engine optimization.

 

Always remember the 3 C’s in digital marketing.  We welcome your questions, comments, or suggestions,  particularly about digital marketing.

Is Digital Marketing Effective for Small Businesses?

digital marketing

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Most businesses worldwide have used digital marketing either in its full spectrum or in some limited form. Many have allocated the bigger share of their marketing resources to digital marketing. A good number of them have grown their brands using it. But some have failed to achieve expected results due to misconceptions about what it can do for businesses.

 

What is digital marketing?

Let us come up with a simple definition that is easy to understand especially for small businesses and startup entrepreneurs including those who are not technically or digitally savvy.

Digital marketing encompasses all business activities related to reaching and communicating with potential and existing customers using electronic devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones that are connected to the internet.

The essence of digital marketing is connecting to a target market where and when they are in a position to receive and to engage with a marketing message.

 

What can digital marketing do for businesses?

Unlike offline marketing, digital marketing can enable businesses to achieve the following:

  • better focus on their target market in terms of demographics and psychographic profiling;
  • deliver their marketing message through internet channels frequently used by their target market; and
  • do so at a time frame when their potential customers are online.

 

How does digital marketing work?

In digital marketing, there are content and digital channels.

Content may be a written form of communication, a picture, an illustration or graphic design, a video recording, a voice recording, or a live video/audio feed used to communicate the marketing message. These contents are published on the following digital channels:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Social media post
  • Email/Newsletter
  • Online ads

Then there are digital techniques used to promote these contents online such as the following:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)

Optimizing a website to rank higher in search engine results page.

  • Social media marketing

Promoting a brand or content on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and others to increase awareness, drive traffic, and generate leads.

  • Email marketing

Using emails to promote content or promotional offers.

  • Search engine marketing (SEM)

Using search engines like Google to show ads through paid bids when someone searches online for similar product/service.

  • Native advertising

An advertisement that is content-focused shown on online publications alongside other related non-paid content.

  • Affiliate marketing

Advertising on other websites paid through commissions when a sale is made through said websites.

  • Influencer marketing

Using popular personalities on social media in marketing by influencing their followers to eventually become potential customers.

  • Mobile marketing

Adapting online marketing campaigns in unique formats to personal mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

In using the above digital techniques, various key performance indicators (KPIs) are used to gauge how effective each technique is in contributing to the overarching marketing objectives.

In small businesses, usually one person or the owner himself is responsible for the KPIs of most of these digital techniques.  Bigger organizations usually hire specialists to handle specific digital techniques like an SEO specialist, social media specialist, and others.

 

Can small businesses make effective use of digital marketing?

Small businesses and startup entrepreneurs can use digital marketing to effectively achieve their marketing and business objectives.  Some of these are:

  • Creating awareness, driving engagements, and boosting sales
  • Determining the most cost-effective marketing tactics
  • Monitoring and evaluating marketing ROI

Use of digital marketing to attain the above objectives are the same for all types of business.

While big businesses can allocate more resources, small businesses can likewise achieve good results even with a smaller budget.

The key here is to have a clear buyer persona, that is, knowing the demographic and psychographic characteristics of their ideal customer.

For B2C businesses, having a clear understanding of their customer’s needs/problems including gender, age, location, and other demographic data plus their interest, behavior, and other psychographic data will ensure good targeting.

For B2B businesses, knowing exactly their customer’s needs/problems, decision-making process, stakeholders and decision-makers, budget, timetable, purchasing history, and other relevant data will certainly contribute to good lead qualifying.

Equally important is developing useful and interesting content appropriate to the stage of their buyer’s journey.  Are they in the awareness, consideration, or action stage of their buying decision process?

Finally, a small business can also achieve good returns on its marketing investment.

In digital marketing, a business can monitor real-time results.  There are standard metrics and various analytical tools that can be employed.

With these data and analysis, only the most cost-effective content, digital channels, and techniques can be retained and iterated to deliver the highest ROI for the business.

It is about time that small businesses take up digital marketing in promoting their brands.

Writing Blogs for Effective Digital Marketing

blogging in digital marketing

Image credit: geralt/Pixabay

Your blogs help build your authority, credibility, and reputation in the industry or field where your business operates. These achievements contribute significantly to boosting the effectiveness of digital marketing.

Important points to consider in blogging

When you write a blog post, it is important to consider the following factors to ensure attainment of the abovementioned achievements:

  • Objective
  • Audience
  • Content
  • SEO
  • Distribution

Objective

Why do you write a blog? It is basically to inform your target audience about important developments or trends in your industry or in your product/service categories.

A blog is not a sales pitch.  It is intended to answer questions or to address problems or issues of your target audience that are related to your industry or business.

For example, if you are in the furniture business, you may write an article about the latest trend in design, materials, or colors of furniture in your country. Or, you may publish articles about restoring old furniture.

Audience

What consists your target audience?  Your target audience would be the same as the target market of your business.

Here it is important to have a clear buyer persona. You have to know their demographic and psychographic profiles, their interests and behavior.

If your target market is in the high-income household category, you may develop content that describes and visually show (more of images or videos) what furniture currently appeals to this demographic. It might be worthwhile to write also about hardwood furniture for people who might have a preference for this kind of furniture.

Content

Again, your blog should aim to inform your target audience.  Do not drive them away with a sales pitch.

It is important to remember always that you have to provide the content that answers questions or help solve problems.  Do this persistently. Eventually, you become a go-to authority for your online readers about your niche of expertise.

SEO

SEO or search engine optimization gets your content read. It is disappointing to note that after writing a good blog, you discover that nobody has read it.

Using good SEO practices such as using well-researched keywords, proper titles and headings, good meta description, appropriate alt tags and links, will boost your blog ranking in search engine results page.  Thus, when someone searches for your product using the keywords you selected, your blog would have a good chance of getting found and read.

Distribution

Aside from organic traffic through SEO, you can also drive traffic to your blog through other online channels like social media and email marketing.

You may publish posts on appropriate social media platforms about your blog and provide links to your blog post.  You can use emails to inform your contacts about your blog and likewise giving links to it.  Or, you can simply put a follow button on your blog post so your readers can follow your subsequent blogs.

 

There are other factors to consider in writing good blogs.  Those discussed above are the essential considerations to ensure that your blogs contribute significantly to your digital marketing success.

Digital Marketing Overview For Small Businesses

digital marketing

Image credit: Pixabay/905513

 

Digital marketing will stay as long as the internet is there.  Businesses will continue to use it to market their product and service.

But is it suitable and effective for small businesses?

The answer is a big YES.  Let us see why it is effective for small businesses.  But before doing so, we need to know what digital marketing is and what its components are.

 

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is the marketing of products and services using digital channels and techniques to reach target customers.

 

What are the components of digital marketing?

Digital channels

Digital channel is a medium for communication or passage of information intended for target customers using digital techniques.  It includes the following:

  • Website

This is the collection of web pages dedicated to specific subjects and purposes.

  • Blog

A website or web page that discusses specific topics.

  • Social media post

User-generated and interactive content posted on social media platforms.

  • Email

Written messages exchanged over the internet.

  • Online ad copy

Marketing promotional messages addressed to target customers and delivered through the internet involving a publisher (the website content owner) and an advertiser (who provides the advertising content).

  • Video

An electronic medium used for recording, playback, and display of moving images.

  • Webinar

A seminar, lecture, or presentation delivered over the internet using video and which has interactive capabilities.

  • Podcast

A series of digital audio files that can be downloaded and listened to using a computer, smartphone, or other electronic devices.

  • Infographic

Graphic visualization of information intended for mass communication.

  • Long-form online articles – ebook, white paper, case study, research report

Lengthy written articles based on detailed research and studies intended to inform and help readers understand specific topics, subjects, or issues.

 

Digital techniques

Digital techniques encompass all methods, tactics, and systems used to reach target customers online such as:

  • Search engine marketing (SEM)

The process of gaining website traffic and improving visibility in search engine results page through paid online ads.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)

The process of improving traffic to a website or web page from free or organic search results on search engines.

  • Content marketing

A type of marketing intended to attract, acquire, and retain customers by creating, publishing, and distributing contents that are useful, relevant, and engaging for a target online audience.

  • Social media marketing

The use of social media platforms to promote a product/service, create awareness, or gain website traffic.

  • Email marketing

The use of electronic mail in promoting a product/service and acquiring, converting, and retaining customers.

  • Inbound marketing

A type of marketing that focuses on attracting, converting, and retaining online customers through useful content which is relevant and appropriate to each stage of a buyer’s journey.

  • Marketing automation

Use of software or web-based solutions to manage and automate marketing tasks and processes.

  • Online (or digital) advertising

A form of marketing and advertising using the internet as a medium to deliver promotional messages to a target audience.

  • Mobile marketing

A multi-channel online marketing activity directed at a target audience on their smartphones, tablets, and other handheld electronic devices via website, email, SMS, MMS, social media, and mobile applications.

  • Online PR

Influencing targeted audience through online content much like traditional PR but on online space.

  • Influencer marketing

A type of marketing in which a popular, reputable, or authoritative person is engaged to drive a brand message to a target market over which the said person has a recognizable influence.

  • Affiliate marketing

Performance-based marketing in which affiliates or network members market a product or service and get paid usually in the form of commission.

  • E-commerce marketing

E-commerce marketing is an activity of generating sales of an online store using digital marketing techniques.

 

How does digital marketing help small businesses?

Digital marketing can be effectively used for any business big or small in any industry catering to both the B2B and B2C sectors.

Digital marketing is very suitable for small businesses.  Having a working knowledge of the above digital channels and techniques can enable a small business to market its product/service in a cost-effective manner.

What are important to consider are the creation of a business’ buyer persona and creation of content appropriate to each milestone in the buyer’s journey.

A good understanding of the buyer persona can enable a business to anticipate the needs, problems, or pain points of its customers.

It is crucial to publish content that suits the customers’ need to address their challenges and to make an informed decision as they move through the awareness, consideration, and action stages of their buyer journey.

Using digital marketing, businesses can monitor results of their online marketing efforts in real time like how many people have visited its website, what pages were viewed, where website traffic came from (devices and location), what actions were taken (or not taken), or what touch points contributed to driving website visits and closing the sale.

Considering these data, a business can immediately know which is working and which is not and then make the necessary adjustments to make its digital marketing more effective.

Businesses can also collect (with the website visitors’ explicit consent) information which can be used for other or future marketing efforts.

Online metrics include the number of people reached, out of this number how many clicked to visit the business website, and out of those who visited the website how many were converted into paying customers.  Correlating online revenue, profit, and expenses for a particular campaign, a business can compute for its return on investment in digital marketing.

Businesses can see and analyze the results of its digital marketing in real time and much faster than offline or traditional marketing.

A small business can implement digital marketing even on a shoestring budget.  What matters most is the investment in time and effort plus a determination to learn digital marketing.

Buyer’s Journey and Content Marketing

buyer journey in content marketing

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Content marketers will do well to recognize the buyer’s journey milestones in their strategy.

Just like a physical journey, a buyer’s journey also has milestones.  The journey can be long with many milestones or short with few milestones.  In all buyer’s journey, however, there are three milestones that will always be there:  awareness of need or problem, consideration of options to address the need or problem, and desired action or preferred solution.

 

What is a buyer’s journey?

A buyer’s journey is the process that a buyer goes through starting from awareness of need/problem until finally satisfying such need or solving the problem.

The journey can be a short 3-milestone journey as in most B2C single-person journey.

It can also be a complicated and circuitous journey as in some B2B cases involving several stakeholders and decision makers stretched out on a long time frame.

 

What happens at awareness, consideration, and action milestones?

  • Awareness

At this stage, the buyer becomes aware that he/she has a need, problem, or pain point.

  • Consideration

Once the buyer has identified the need/problem, he/she naturally searches for solutions.  In most cases, the buyer turns to the internet for answers.  The buyer knows that the needed information is just a few clicks away. Some buyers though would turn to relatives or friends for solution or information.

In the effort to look for answer or solution on the web, the buyer certainly misses companies that are without online content which addresses the buyer’s need/problem at the time of the search. Marketers with relevant and useful content online at this point of a buyer’s search would have the edge by potentially engaging with the buyer. These companies become authoritative sources of information for the searching buyer.

The buyer eventually comes up with different options to solve the problem, satisfy the needs, or address the pain points.

  • Action

Reaching this milestone, the buyer has a clear and specific idea of how to address the problem/need/pain point. He/She has a set of criteria, budget, and timeframe in choosing the best solution.

 

Why is a buyer’s journey important to content marketing?

Recognizing at what milestone the buyer is in the journey will enable the marketer to provide not only a useful and engaging content but also the most relevant one.

The timing of appropriate content with respect to the buyer’s journey makes content marketing more effective.

 

What kind of content is appropriate to each stage of a buyer’s journey?

  • Awareness

At this point, content should focus on helping the buyer clearly identify or define his/her problem, need, or pain point.

For example, if you are in the resort business and if a buyer is preparing for his/her next holiday vacation, you can publish content about what vacationists are usually looking for in a resort destination like accommodation, food, in-destination activities, and so on.  Relegate your brand to the background.  Be genuinely informative and helpful.

  • Consideration

When a buyer reaches the consideration milestone, he/she has the basic information needed to enable him/her to make a decision that will address the problem.

The buyer by this time has several options that are perceived to offer appropriate solutions.

Companies that are included in these options can publish content that conveys how they can effectively solve the buyer problems.  They can highlight their product/service benefits, features, and unique value proposition.

The comparison is done at this stage.

Following the resort business example, the resort company can zero in on their room amenities, food choices, or unique resort activities in their content.

  • Action

When a buyer reaches the action milestone, he/she is ready to make a purchase decision.

This is the point where companies will have to prove why they are the best choice. Clinching the deal will depend largely on the content deemed most relevant based on previous information given by the buyer and/or interaction that happened between the buyer and the vendor company.  The more information and interaction that a company has, the more relevant will be the kind and quality of content it can present, and the greater its chance of closing the sale.

Glowing reviews, for example, from previous resort guests can convince a buyer to make a decision favorable to the resort company.

 

Delivering content that is most appropriate to the different milestones of your buyer’s journey will not only help your buyer make an informed decision but also make that decision favorable to your company.

I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.  We can also discuss your other marketing and business concerns.

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