It is generally accepted that an integrated approach to marketing, and by integrated I mean both offline and online marketing efforts, works best. However, for many small online businesses and start-ups with modest budgets and resources, the reality is that digital marketing remains one of the most cost-effective ways of marketing.
Diversify your online marketing efforts
If you are prepared to put in time and effort then online marketing can help you climb up the search engine rankings, drive more traffic, build customer relationships and increase conversions. However, it is essential that you don’t focus your efforts in just one area, rather diversify your online marketing to cover different activities. For example you may excel in your social media efforts, but if you are using social media in isolation then it just isn’t going to bring in the traffic you need to make your online business successful.
Of course, it is also about striking the right balance between undertaking a variety of online marketing activities and not spreading yourself so thinly that you are unable complete any activity to a professional standard. I would therefore suggest you focus on some key areas and do them well.
Content should underpin everything you do.
Content should be the constant in all the activity your undertake. Your customers want to see relevant, fresh and valuable content and consequently this is what Search Engines want to see too – up-to-date, relevant and quality content. Good content is absolutely central to whether your digital marketing will be effective.
Key areas to consider:
Your website is so important – so focus your initial efforts on getting it right. You may have a great product or service and traffic may be flowing in however, if your website isn’t up to scratch then no sooner than a visitor arrives, they’ll leave – without hanging around to see all the great things you may have on offer. You should be looking at your website’s navigation, usability, accessibility, credibility and of course, content. Take a look at our post 7 website essentials for a successful online presence for some helpful tips and advice to making the most out of your website.
Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing involves two areas – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising (think Google AdWords). Search engine optimisation focuses on improving your website’s position in the search engines natural listings – using on-page optimisation, keyword and keyphrase analysis and link building. With PPC advertising you pay for an advertisement to appear at the top and to the right of relevant search engine pages.
It’s best to take a two-pronged approach – especially when you are starting up. Don’t forget it takes time for you to climb up the natural search engine listings through SEO so driving traffic through PPC as well is a good idea.
Email has suffered a bit from bad press over recent years however I think is it an excellent and very cost-effective way of keeping in touch with customers. Email is a great channel of communication, it’s so quick and flexible you can (and indeed should) use it to communicate all sorts of information. Such as marketing offers and promotions, product and service updates, informative newsletters and customer service correspondence. Focus on building a great database of customers and targeting your emails appropriately to each segment.
As we’ve already mentioned, keeping your website up-to-date with fresh and relevant content is essential. Setting up blog on your website is a great way of doing this. Not only are you helping keep search engines happy, you are also giving something back to your customers (which is great for relationship building) and enticing in new customers looking for information on a particular subject. Try and keep the blog relevant to your target audience and online business.
And of course we can’t finish without the growing phenomenon of social media. Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram – are one of the best ways to give your brand personality and build relationships with customers through two-way dialogue. In a 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 89% of marketers said that social media had generated more business exposure with benefits including:
- Improved sales
- Increased exposure
- Grew business partnerships
- Generated leads
- Improved search rankings
- Increased traffic
- Market place insight
It will take both time and effort in all these areas for you to reap the rewards of digital marketing. However having a diverse and integrated approach goes hand-in-hand with creating fresh and relevant content. Stick with these digital activities and you will see your search engine rankings improve, traffic to your website increase and relationships with your customers develop.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic, so do please take a moment and leave a comment.
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