Digital marketing. Just two little words that represent a whole world of ever changing evolving options for connecting with your customer. It’s no wonder it can sometimes feel like a dark art that only experts should handle, but in reality it’s only as complicated as you want to make it. If you’ve got a website or a social media presence for your businesses, that means you’re already doing digital marketing of a sort, which is great!
So what is digital marketing anyway?
Digital marketing covers any marketing you do using digital technology – so that’s everything from websites and e-newsletters to social media, text messaging, blogs, gaming and more. At the heart of digital marketing strategy is the drive to build a meaningful relationship between you and your customers, in their own digital space – be that their email inbox or their Facebook news feed.
The best digital marketing tactics – just like the best ‘traditional’ marketing tactics – will give your customers added value and really compelling reasons to engage with you and keep coming back for more, for example useful advice in an e-newsletter, a free game, an easy-to-use website or exclusive online offers.
One of the great things about digital marketing is the pace of development; it’s always throwing out new and clever ways of reaching your customers.
However, that can also be a drawback when it feels like there are too many tactics to choose from and you can’t keep up with the latest trends. Do you blog or vlog? Is content still king?
Well here’s the good news. You don’t have to tick all of the digital marketing boxes and you don’t have to stay right on top of the latest trends.
In fact, all you need for success is to start with the exact opposite.
Four very simple steps to digital marketing success
1. Understand how your customers use digital
This might sound pretty basic, but it’s often easy to forget when you start to delve into the complex world of digital marketing options out there.
Before you even start to spend on digital tactics, research as much as you can about how your target customers use digital in their daily lives – from the devices they choose to when and how they check email.
Do your prospects visit a certain news site every morning? Do they live on Facebook or operate more on Twitter? Do they visit social forums regularly? Are they signed-up to newsletters?
Use this insight to drive your digital marketing decisions and to target your customers really intelligently.
For example, if you know your customers are new mums you may want to consider advertising on a parental blog, or if they’re all on Facebook, put your resources into creating and growing a really engaging and active Facebook page.
2. Pitch it right
You’ll already know your customers’ needs pretty well (if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be in business). So you already know how to deliver on their expectations with your product or service, and you’re doing that really successfully.
Now think about how you can continue to give them what they need, plus more, using digital channels.
By adding value to your product or service through digital add-ons like a useful blog once a month, something interesting in their Facebook news feed or an e-newsletter featuring the latest products you know they’ll love (and with discounts!) you start to build a really positive relationship with them.
A big part of this will be about really understanding what kind of tactic or content your customer is going to buy into; some consumers like to mull over in-depth analysis and comment in a blog, others like their data as an infographic. The same goes with content like games or videos; they’ll really work for some people but turn others off.
A lot of your early tactics may end up a little trial and error until you get a feel for what works and what doesn’t, but don’t lose heart. If you can get it right and keep it relevant, useful and regular (without being too in their face), your customers will thank you for it and love you even more – and hopefully buy more from you, too. It’s a win-win.
We love Starbucks’ ‘Pick of the Week’ scheme, which is a great way of targeting in-store customers with something tangible (a card at point of sale) which then converts to digital (free download) and takes the customer online (to iTunes and the Starbucks website and app). Plus, by offering something new and diverse every week, customers stay interested.
3. Evaluate and learn
Digital marketing is no different to any other marketing in that there’s no exact formula for success.
You can give yourself the very best chance of success by following certain steps (research, segment and target, pitch it right) but even the most experienced marketers will tell you that digital is always going to be a learning curve.
One of the best things about digital marketing tactics is that they’re really easy to track and evaluate. So you can instantly see how well your new website is performing or how your email campaign worked out because the evaluation tools – from clicks to conversions – are all built into the technology.
Plough the same amount of effort into evaluating your tactics as you do planning each campaign, and learn from the insights you gather. Then adjust accordingly for your next campaign and start the cycle again.
4. Don’t forget the fundamentals
A great website is the cornerstone of successful digital marketing activity as it’s where you’re going to point your customers once they click your ad, open your blog or go to get that free game.
So if your website is poor, you’re heading for a digital marketing fail.
Make sure your website is the very best it can be by ensuring it’s well-designed, mobile responsive, easy to navigate, fast and regularly updated.
And don’t forget to make sure everything you do digitally is branded consistently with everything you do through your other channels.
Now go and get them!