Digital Marketing Demystified: Practical Tips for Entrepreneurs

by Melanie Boylan
Social Media How To’s and Top Tips
Business Mindset

Read about the practical ways you can create a Digital Marketing Strategy for your business and develop useful habits. #business #digitalmarketing

For a long time now, businesses have no longer needed a physical storefront to reach customers worldwide. What I hope to put across in this blog - is the more practical elements that YOU the business owner, can put in place to make your online presence more useful to you and of course, to your customer.

Understanding Digital Marketing

Digital marketing covers a lot of tools that are capable of these three things. They must be:

·       targeted,

·       measurable

·       interactive

Most people think digital marketing only uses social media, but it should extend much further. In my opinion, I think it should start with your website first. This is the only online presence you have that isn’t “rented”. It’s the one platform that you have a lot of control over and can be immensely powerful when used properly.  Your website is also the three points mentioned above and ultimately your online shopfront.

Your digital marketing should use multiple channels (online and offline) and technologies that allow you to analyse campaigns, content, and strategy. It’s only then that you can understand what's working and what isn't working in real time.

You will need to build strategies that help you build your presence online and attract the right type of customers. To do this you need to understand what your goals are. Some typical objectives / goals could be wanting to increase revenue, competing in the online marketplace, improving return on investment, increasing brand awareness and reach, and so on. With these aims in mind, you’ll want to build mutual and long-term relationships with customers and supporters.  This will improve customer loyalty and engagement and should also build online authority and increase brand exposure.

For example, a company that is making effective use of their digital marketing can measure the ROI of any aspect of their strategy. One of the ways this is done, is by ensuring you regularly monitor your customer avatar and circle back frequently to keep track of your current audience.  As you know them better over time, you can better offer them something in return, such as signing up for a newsletter, downloading a document or PDF, or of course, making a purchase.

Key Strategies for Digital Marketing Success

There is so much that you can do to build and improve your digital marketing but let’s go through the top 6 just to get you started.

It’s an oldie but a goodie…

Email Marketing

It’s transformed a lot over the last few years, and I feel its transformed for the better since 2018.  Now the only people allowed on your email list are the ones that put themselves there. The trick is to keep them there and the only way to do that is to give them consistent value or they will simply unsubscribe.

The days of the long email are over, they need to be short, informative, and personable. So, no more languishing over pages and pages of text and links, share out short and more frequent emails and don’t forget to add the odd call to action to keep them engaged and monitor your ROI.

Video Marketing

This does exactly what it says on the tin. Using video in any format is the way to go now. Even if it’s only infrequently.  You’re likely still doing it more often than a lot of your competitors are.  

You need to know why you’re creating a video and make sure to again leave clear calls to action.  Are you trying to create awareness, consideration or conversion? Can you repurpose your videos for other platforms?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

This can be a big job to do but there are always ways to get around it without costing you big bucks. Simply by updating your website once a month and remember to add keywords that your audience will be searching under (can you work out which ones I amusing 😊) you have already improved your chances of being found in a search.

There are two types of SEO, on page and off page SEO and these can be performed either by yourself or if you wish you can pay a third party to do this for you.

I have performed both in the past with the aid of my website designer and a bit of forward planning. Digital marketing is a skill set that covers many areas and unfortunately this is another one you must find time (at some stage) to build your skillset.

Influencer Marketing

It’s surprisingly easy to do this. You maybe thinking we have to get some large influencer in our field of expertise, pay them a tonne of money and have your five minutes of fame. OK, in some instances this is exactly what happens, but not all the time. A surprising amount of people enjoy talking about themselves, even when it’s helping you.  You may want to start a podcast, as long as your audience is the right ones for the “guest,” nine times out of ten, as long as present with the correct “hook”, you’ll snag that influencer.  

All business owners want the opportunity to meet new people, find new followers and potentially and successfully collaborate with others. If there is a clear expectation and goals created and met, these sorts of relationships are some of the most successful.

Here in Ireland, I would always recommend speaking with Sinead Carroll of the Irish Blogger Agency. She has built up a phenomenal agency for brands and micro influencers that has made such a difference to small businesses.

Paid Advertising

It is understood you need to “pay-to-play” these days. Without doing paid advertising you will reach considerably fewer people and very likely the wrong people as well.

Every single platform offers a paid-for element, and when you utilize this correctly it not only expands your reach and your impressions, but it also builds your brand recognition and reputation. However, not every business will set aside a sizable marketing budget, and without that budget or the right sized amount, the success of the process falls short.

When most business owners think about paid ads, they think about social media alone. Too many business owners neglect traditional media, and when they do remember to do it, they don't provide a sufficient budget or allow enough time to do it for.

We’ve all heard it before, consistency is key! If you don't keep doing your promotion and tweaking and updating and monitoring your KPI’s, you will end up wasting most of your marketing budget.

Unfortunately, most small business owners don't have the scope to “lose money” and doing a trial-and-error marketing campaign is simply not feasible. Most small business owners will believe that having a large marketing budget is really the scope of corporate business.

After being in business for over 10 years, I now realize that you don't have to be a corporate business with a sizable budget to manage a marketing budget - to promote your business successfully. The method I have been using over the last 6 to 8 years is to “Sponsor and Speak” for one year and the following year I “Watch and Grow”. This gives me time to build up my coffers again and to monitor the success or not of the previous year. Over the years, I have found my tribe (other businesses like my own and supporters) and I have found my audience. If I hadn’t set aside that time to see what is or is not working the previous year, then I wouldn’t know what to spend for speaking and sponsoring the following year.

Doing paid advertising is a very personal thing. You must keep and maintain your business in the black without costing your personal life a fortune. I will admit I have supported my business at the beginning with a Directors Loan and paid it back a year or two later. You just have to be comfortable with what you can manage and afford.

Content Creation / Curation

I want to make it clear; nobody gets this right! Even me at the beginning of my business. Creating content for your website, social media, your online presence in general, is not just about creating a picture or a graphic and putting a bit of text over it. What you're meant to do is have a strategy for your content that makes the customer journey easier for your audience.

You’ll find that content isn’t just photos, graphics, and blogs - they can also be videos, Lives, polls, infographics and podcasts. But nobody does all of these in the first year or even in the first couple of years.

Your audience consumes information in various ways. Most customers need more than one touch point to know and understand what you offer, and understand what pain points you solve for them. You can speak to your audience by selling your product or service, however by having a “conversation”with your customer and talking about the things that matter to them from your business page or your website means they can see you care about them and not yourself.

You'll find that some of your customers prefer to read blogs, others will listen to audios, and some would prefer to watch videos to get the answers they're looking for. This is where repurposing comes into play. Create one thing and repurpose it into others.

Leveraging Social Media Platforms

Now we know how digital marketing works, and the diverse ways to direct information to our customers, we now need to deliver it to them on the platforms they are situated. Selecting the right platform to build awareness is essential for a successful digital marketing campaign.

If the goal is brand awareness, focus on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. If the goal is sales, consider the platforms used by potential buyers. Using the wrong platform can lead to missed opportunities for your product / service exposure and getting reliable feedback.

A large majority of your audience is likely to search for your business or businesses like you in a Google search. I would actively encourage you to create and update your Google Business Profile as a means to being found in these searches. You can do ads if you wish but just by being active on your Business Profile is enough to get found (a long side other off page SEO).

Again, being consistent matters here. Make sure you post regularly with a strategy and leveraging these platforms for free will make a difference. Relevant and powerful content is crucial, and monitoring the popularity of these platforms is important for adjusting marketing strategies. Social media platforms can drive traffic and improve search engine rankings, but success takes time and strategic planning.

Measuring and Analysing Digital Marketing Results

There are a lot of tools that can help you measure and analyse. I appreciate when you begin doing this for your own business or for clients, you’ll likely consider the free version of a tool, and they are truly better than not monitoring any thing at all! If you really want to save yourself time and money though, I would look at getting a paid-for platform as they really do offer a lot more value and time saving tools.

What you want to be aware of is your return on investment, your ROI. The whole point of this is so you know what is or more importantly, isn’t working for your customers / followers.  At the beginning I would be looking every week and check through insights and analytics that are available “natively” (through the social media platforms) and chart them down somewhere.

You need to work out what KPI’s you want to monitor. These KPI’s or key performance indicators could be website traffic, conversions, or customer engagement. By interpreting these metrics and making data-driven decisions, you can perfect your short- and long-term marketing strategies.

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