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Introduction

Digital marketing can make all the difference to your business. With the evolution of marketing technology in the last decade, you have a choice of many tools and platforms to help you stand apart from the competition and get noticed. In this article, we’ll cover some of the most effective digital marketing techniques along with tips on how to make the most of them.

A Digital Marketing Strategy That's Actually Strategic

Are you approaching it in a way that’s right for YOUR business?

Identifying buyer personas and creating marketing funnels are crucial aspects of your digital marketing strategy. It’s easy to confuse tactics with strategy. Tactics are the actions you take for a particular end, such as an ad campaign.

A strategy, however, refers to the big picture, an all-encompassing vision for your business. The real point of digital marketing is finding the techniques that allow you to connect better with your customers and prospects.

Set Clear Goals

An effective strategy requires goal-oriented actions. With every campaign, set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Keeping this formula in mind helps you stay focused on choosing tactics that have specific objectives such as building your email list, increasing brand awareness, or making sales. Download our free SMART goals template.

Integrate Your Platforms

Your digital marketing should be a well-oiled machine with parts that work in harmony. An omni-channel approach is one aspect of this. Your website, social media marketing, ads, and offline promotions should be seamless. Always maintain brand consistency. Make sure all of your channels and even offline promotions have the same voice and style.

Never miss an opportunity to link from one channel to another. Link to your website in tweets, Facebook posts, and videos. Remember to link strategically as well. You don’t always have to link to your homepage. Send people to blog posts, web pages, and other content that’s relevant to what they’re looking at.

Segment Your Customers

As mentioned, you may need to create multiple buyer personas. You’ll need distinct marketing funnels for different types of customers. This is part of segmentation, which means separating your customers into the appropriate categories rather than treating them all the same.

Email lists are fairly easy to segment. Create distinct lists for subscribers based on purchase history, interests, and demographics. Segmentation, however, applies to all aspects of your marketing. You’ll create different ad campaigns for different types of customers. If you target very different audiences, you might even create separate blogs, Facebook pages, or YouTube channels for each.

"49% of organizations do not have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy"

Smart Insights, 2017

How to Measure the Success of your Digital Marketing Strategy

If you’re not defining clear KPIs, how will you know what is working?

To know whether or not you’re succeeding, you have to measure as many variables as possible. You can measure almost anything nowadays, but you have to make sure your analytics are aligned with your goals. Before you start any kind of campaign, make sure you set a goal. For example, you might plan to get a certain number of new subscribers, Facebook followers, or orders from a certain action.

Focus on Conversions

A conversion occurs when someone takes the desired action, such as filling out your opt-in form, buying a product, or ordering a free sample. We’ve already looked at some ways to improve conversion optimization. You always have to measure your conversions and test variables to improve your conversion rate. 

Analyze Website Behavior 

While traffic is a vital metric, you also have to pay close attention to what your visitors do once they land on your site. 

  • Time spent on your website. Measuring the time visitors spend on your site lets you know how engaged they are.
  • Time spent on specific features. Heat maps can pinpoint exactly what visitors are doing on your site.
  • Bounce rate. A high bounce rate indicates visitors aren’t finding much of interest or value on the pages they land on. 
  • Page views per visit. This lets you know which pages your visitors are clicking on.

Tools to Track the ROI of Your Digital Marketing

Before you can increase your ROI, you need to measure it. Here are a few key tools that help you do this.

  • Google Analytics – In addition to SEO, you can use GA to get lots of information about website visitors.
  • Heat maps – Heat maps are color-coded visual tools that let you track visitor behavior.
  • Social Media Analytics – Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics and other tools provided by social media sites let you track your followers.
  • Bitly – Known mainly as an URL-shortener, this service also lets you track links and learn when people clicked on your link, where they clicked on it from, and other helpful data.

Conversion Rate Optimization

While many metrics such as traffic, bounce rate, and engagement are important, what really counts is conversions. Conversion Rate Optimization (commonly known as CRO) is necessary for getting better results from your website and increasing conversions. Here are some guidelines for optimizing your conversion rate.

  • Compelling and relevant titles and headline. People decide whether or not to read a page or post based on the headline. Make sure that you’re using keywords that are compelling for your audience. Additionally, your content must deliver on what your headlines promise.
  • User Experience (knows as UX). UX refers to anything that improves visitors’ experience on your website, including easy navigation, fast page-loading speed, and engaging content.
  • Mobile-friendly. With so many users on mobile devices, you have to make sure that you use responsive web design so all of your pages and features are mobile-friendly.
  • Build trust. People want to feel secure before shopping or sharing personal information on a website. Trust badges such as VeriSign and an URL that begins with https make your visitors feel confident on your site.
  • Social Proof. Testimonials and reviews on your website provide social proof and make it easier for people to trust you.
  • Clear Call-to-Action (CTA). Place CTA buttons and links on every page of your website as well as in emails.

Download a Free S.M.A.R.T Marketing Goals Template

Buyer Personas & Marketing Funnels

Identify you ideal buyer, to make sure your marketing message is not only consistent, but contextual

Before you think about advertising, content, marketing automation and other digital marketing strategies you need to identify your target audience. Creating an accurate buyer persona is the first step. What’s interesting about buyer personas is that they’re imaginary yet still provide you with lots of useful information.

For example, if your buyer persona is a 35-year-old IT professional with a college degree who lives in the suburbs, this won’t describe all of your customers perfectly. Yet it gives you a good general idea of your target audience.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Buyer Personas

  • Do research about your products and industry. Find out who buys what you’re selling based on demographics such as geography, age, gender, income, and lifestyle.
  • Engage with your customers. Ask questions on your website and social media pages. Conduct polls and surveys.
  • Focus on the right details. You don’t need to know everything about your typical customer. But do focus on the needs or problems that relate to your products and services. 
  • Create distinct buyer personas. Most businesses will have more than one type of customer. For example, if you sell pet supplies, you may cater to both dog and cat owners. If you own a gym, your clients may want to lose weight or build muscle. 
  • Name your persona. Once you’ve identified one or more buyer personas, you can visualize them as people. Give them a name and maybe even find a stock photo to represent them.
  • Learn their language. Think of the best ways to engage with them. What kind of tone, style, and images do they prefer? Keep all this in mind when you create content, whether it be emails, ads, blog posts, or videos. 

Don’t take buyer personas too literally as they only represent an average. Also, keep in mind that they may change over time. That’s why it’s important to continually engage with your customers consistently. Once you have at least one buyer persona, you can start creating a marketing funnel. 

How to Create a Marketing Funnel

A digital marketing funnel usually starts with an opt-in page and offer. However, anything that lures prospects into finding out more about your business is part of your funnel, whether it’s a paid ad, social media post, video, webinar, or another type of content or platform. 

Marketing funnels can be divided into three main parts: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion. These correspond to the phases of the buyer’s journey. For all stages, make sure you’re addressing your buyer persona. Think of a pressing problem that he or she is eager to solve. 

  • Awareness: Top of the funnel. This is where you get the prospect’s attention. This is also known as the Awareness phase. You might raise awareness with an ad, a blog post, or a video. Lead magnets, free gifts in exchange for an email address, are a common way to get people into your funnel. 
  • Consideration: Middle of the funnel. At this point, the prospect is aware of you but is still considering multiple options. Your job is to woo people with helpful information. You might do this with an email sequence, a webinar, an e-book, or a free trial of your product (or trial membership, as with Amazon Prime). 
  • Conversion: Bottom of the funnel. This is the stage when you want to convert prospects into customers. A clear call-to-action is essential. You can make your offer more compelling with discounts and reminders of time or product scarcity. 

In practice, of course, the stages may overlap. In a sense, consideration begins the moment someone learns about your business. Some people may buy immediately. Others, even at the bottom of your funnel, won’t be ready. 

While modern technology in some ways makes it easier to get customers into your funnel, there are also certain tech challenges that make it more difficult. For example, some of your visitors may use apps or secure browsers that let them visit your site anonymously without cookies. That’s why it’s more important than ever to create effective marketing funnels that motivate people to engage with you. 

Not sure how to start with creating Buyer Personas? Then download our Free Guide:

HOW TO CREATE BUYER PERSONAS

Landing Pages - How to Turn Traffic Into Revenue

These are the entry into your marketing funnel, so don’t neglect them

Landing pages are essential for your marketing funnel and for your entire digital marketing strategy. As part of the top of your funnel, they’re often the first interaction your customers have with your business. As such, you need to put a great deal of thought into making your landing pages exceptional.

Strong Call-to-Action 

Landing pages are laser-focused pages designed to get visitors to take a particular action. Make sure there’s a highly visible button to click on. Don’t divert people with any other links. 

Fast-Loading

If your landing page doesn’t load quickly, you’ll lose traffic. Make sure your page isn’t weighed down by large images or other elements that slow it down. 

Mobile-Friendly

Today’s customers are likely to be arriving at your landing page from a mobile device. Make sure all features are easy to access on smartphones and tablets.

Include Social Proof

Since a landing page contains a CTA, it’s a good place to include social proof such as testimonials and reviews. These have a powerful effect on visitors.

Keep Testing

Landing pages are among the most important items to continually test. Remember that when you test ads such as AdWords or Facebook ads, you also need to test the landing pages these ads point to. By split-testing each element, such as headlines, CTA buttons, layout, or the offer itself you can improve your results.

A Beginner's Guide to Lead Nurturing

Turn leads into customers with multiple touch-points

Every business needs a steady supply of leads. However, even the best leads need nurturing. We already looked at marketing funnels and landing pages, which are part of the lead nurturing process. Now let’s take a more comprehensive view of making the most of your leads. 

Lead Scoring

Not all leads are equal. In fact, their quality varies widely in terms of your ROI. Lead scoring is a process that lets you rate prospects on a scale, helping you to decide which are most likely to become customers. You can use advanced software and services such as HubSpot for lead scoring or you can come up with your own methodology. However you do it, make sure you learn how to assess your leads so you know which are worth investing in. 

Follow Up Consistently

When prospects express interest in your business, it’s crucial to follow up promptly and multiple times. Most people don’t buy right away. They need to interact with your business at multiple touch points. Marketing automation tools such as autoresponders and social media tools can help you do this. Don’t overlook personalized follow-ups (phone calls, personal emails, in-person meetings) when appropriate. 

Relevant Content

There’s a close relationship between lead nurturing and content marketing. Targeted content helps you attract prospects’ attention in the first place (i.e. get them into your funnel); it’s also powerful for nurturing leads.

If you want to convince your audience that you have the best solutions for them, you need to establish your credibility, trust, and expertise. There’s no better way to do this than to produce strong content such as long-form articles, videos, webinars, e-books, white papers and other materials. To nurture leads, you must target your buyer personas, addressing their specific needs. 

Engage at Multiple Touchpoints 

It’s safe to assume that your prospects are active on many devices and platforms. You can’t expect good conversion rates if you’re only engaging on a single touchpoint such as email or Facebook. While an email list is an essential marketing tool, open rates for email messages are often low, often between 20 and 30%. Click-throughs, of course, are considerably lower, usually below 5%.This doesn’t mean you should neglect email marketing. The point is you can’t rely on a single touchpoint. 

"Lead generation, sales, and lead nurturing are the top three organizational objectives for content marketers."

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Most buyer’s journeys start with Google. Make sure you’re found

Your website is only a valuable asset if your customers can find it. While you can get targeted traffic with paid ads, it’s also necessary to optimize your site for the search engines. SEO is one of the most effective inbound marketing strategies. 

There are a lot of great resources out there to help you understand more about SEO, and to help you get familiar with SEO terminology.

Image Source: Medium

Tools for DIY SEO

If you want to improve your search engine rankings on your own, there are quite a few SEO tools to help you. 

Google Search Console – Formerly called Webmaster Tools, this is another essential free SEO tool from Google. Some of the data overlap with Google Analytics but many people find GWT easier to use. 

Yoast – Anyone who uses WordPress should install this free SEO plugin. 

Bing Webmaster Tools – Many of the best free SEO tools are offered by Google. Since it’s the world’s #1 search engine, it makes sense to use the company’s own tools to help you rank. However, it’s a mistake to ignore Bing, as many businesses do. BWT helps you rank on the #2 search engine, which gives you an edge over those who only focus on Google. 

Screaming Frog – This imaginatively-named site is great for web-crawling your own (and your competitors’) web pages. There are both free and paid versions. The free version lets you crawl up to 500 web pages. 

Top 10 Tools for Keyword Research: The Key to Unlocking Better SEO

Identifying the most profitable keywords is a fundamental aspect of SEO. The above SEO tools are related to keywords but the following ones are specifically for keyword research.  

Keyword Planner -Another Google tool, this one created for AdWords but also very useful for SEO.

Wordtracker Scout – A browser extension that helps you find keywords. 

Soovle –  A creative keyword tool that collects autocomplete suggestions from Google and many other sources. 

KWFinder – Specifically designed to find long tail keywords. 

Ahref’s Keyword Explorer – Includes information on ranking difficulty. They offer a free 7-day trial. You have to sign up for paid plans if you want to continue using it.

Ubersuggest – Created by SEO guru Neil Patel, this often brings up keywords not found by Google.

Wordstream – A popular and well-regarded keyword tool that’s free for the first 30 searches. 

Keyword Explorer – A creation of Moz, which also offers a host of other SEO tools and services. 

Keyword Magic Tool –  From SEMRush, a leading SEO service. You can try the tool for free but have to sign up with SEMRush to continue using it. 

Longtail Pro – Another useful tool for finding long tail keywords. 

"61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority."

Content Marketing vs Paid Online Ads

Both work well in their own way. Here are some Pros & Cons

One of the most basic distinctions in digital marketing is between content and paid marketing. There are pros and cons to each.

Content Marketing

Includes articles, blogging, videos, social media, and publishing/posting/broadcasting on other platforms such as podcasts and webinars. Content marketing is one of the best low-budget inbound marketing strategies. 

Pros

  • Builds trust and authority. As you post authoritative content, you brand yourself as an expert in your industry.
  • Good for SEO. The more content you publish, the more chances you have to rank in the search engines.

Cons 

  • Labor intensive. You need to create content or outsource it. 
  • Takes time to see results. 

Advertising

Includes PPC (pay-per-click) ads such as AdWords, social media advertising such as Facebook and Twitter, display ads, banner ads, video ads, and retargeted ads (targeting customers who’ve already visited your website).

Pros

  • Fast way to generate targeted traffic.
  • An effective way to get new prospects into your sales funnel. 

Cons

  • Requires a financial investment.
  • Requires careful testing. This is also true of content marketing, but in this case, you’re spending money so it’s even more crucial. 

Tips to Get the Most Out of Both Content Marketing and Paid Advertising

Don’t think you have to choose between them as you’ll get the best possible results by using both. 

  • Use paid ads to send traffic to quality organic content. This is great for brand building and introducing people to your business.
  • Native advertising and sponsored content are a kind of hybrid between content marketing and advertising. You are paying to get more traffic to your content. 
  • Focus on content marketing when your budget is limited.
  • Try different types of ads such as Facebook, Google, and others to determine the best way to reach your audience. 

A Simple Guide to Social Media Advertising

Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn help you engage with your customers and attract new ones. While there are benefits to organic social media tactics such as posting regularly, paid advertising are one of the essential pillars of social media marketing. 

Facebook Ads

Because Facebook is, by far, the largest social media site with over 2 billion users worldwide, all businesses need to establish a presence here. Facebook marketing technologies go far beyond its advertising platform. Look for ways to leverage your business page, Facebook Live (live streaming video), groups, and other tools that can make your ad campaigns more effective. For example, you can use Facebook ads to promote your page or call attention to a Facebook Live session. Facebook Audience Insights is a powerful analytics tool to help you learn more about your audience and target your ads with precision. 

Instagram

Instagram is the leading social media site for visual content such as photos, memes, and short videos. Because it’s owned by Facebook, you can set up advertising campaigns through Facebook Ads. With Instagram, you pay for sponsoring your content. One of the limitations of organic Instagram posts is that you can’t embed hyperlinks into them. With paid ads, you can include links as well as reaching a wider audience. Another tactic worth pursuing on Instagram is influencer marketing, where you pay popular users to promote your business.  

Twitter: Promoted Tweets and Followers Campaigns

Twitter, while not as popular as Facebook (300 million+ monthly active users), is still huge and has an extremely diverse user base. It also fills a unique function with its format of very short tweets. Finally, Twitter is influential even beyond its numbers as celebrities tweets’ are constantly quoted in the media. Because of its influence, you can use Twitter to gauge the latest trends. Promoting your tweets is the simplest way to advertise on Twitter. You can also create a followers campaign to grow your following. 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is essential for anyone who does B2B marketing. With over 500 million users, it’s the best way to reach business owners, executives, investors, and job seekers. There are several options for LinkedIn advertising. Sponsored content lets you promote your articles on LinkedIn, which is good for building brand awareness. You can also buy text ads and send sponsored emails. 

YouTube

YouTube is also a social media platform and one you can’t afford to overlook. There’s no questioning the importance of video for reaching your audience. In addition to creating and posting videos on YouTube (as well as your website and other social media sites), YouTube advertising lets you promote your videos and get more views quickly. 

Pinterest

Often overlooked by businesses, Pinterest can be effective for promoting physical products, food, destinations (e.g. hotels, resorts) real estate, and anything where visuals are crucial. It’s worth noting that the majority of Pinterest users are female and have higher than average incomes. Promoting your pins with Pinterest advertising can be a good addition to your social media efforts. 

Choose the Right Platforms 

If you want to get a solid ROI on social media advertising, you need to invest in the platforms where your audience is most active. Facebook and Twitter are used by almost all demographics. It takes research and testing to identify which other platforms are right for your purposes. 

"The average conversion rate in AdWords across all industries is 2.7% on the search network and 0.89% on the display network."