Digital marketing now represents the lifeblood of the marketing campaigns of many businesses. Even if you don’t love it, it’s well past time to commit to it. By 2021, U.S. businesses will be investing $120 billion in digital marketing efforts. Think digital marketing is overrated? It’s not, but the good news is that it’s not too late for your business to increase its capacity for online marketing efforts.
Digital marketing scales well. You can start with some basics, like a Facebook page and a website, and grow from there. While a professional digital marketer should net you the best return on interest (ROI), many business owners begin with those simple steps, and it’s more crucial to some industries than others.
Before you start (or consider hiring an expert), it’s vital to know about the crucial components of digital marketing and how you can assess its value to your business.
Engagement Is Everything
This isn’t a new marketing principle, but it’s one that lends itself well to digital marketing because it’s easier to track online. As a business owner, you understand that if you’re broadcasting traditional ads, like print ads, to the wrong audience, you’re not going really stir a conversation about your product or service. You’d certainly do better if you reached your core users or prospective customers.
Digital marketing works similarly. With targeted pay-per-click ads and content focusing on a specific niche, you’ll attempt to reach your intended audience. With digital advertising, though, you can get super specific. You can even target people at certain companies with the right Facebook ad parameters. Jobseekers do it all the time to make sure prospective employers see their resumes or websites.
Digital Marketing Relies on Data and Analysis
Effective digital marketing doesn’t mean taking a shot in the dark with your content or advertising. It should be informed by data and analysis. To make the most of this data, data scientists work with marketers to tailor a campaign to the right audience. Think of it as telling the ideal story to the people hoping to hear it.
Data science is a growing field with 2.7 million new data science jobs projected to open per year by 2020. Since the metrics themselves prove ROI for marketing efforts, many business owners see data science as a safe investment.
Data scientists track multiple data points for each website and marketing campaign. They can help marketers segment email lists so the right messages reach the right audience. Data scientists also use tools like Google Analytics to determine how website visitors use business websites, what content is the most popular, and even what types of interests your users have.
Google Analytics is a free tool from Google. If you’re not already using it to capture data about your website visitors, you’re already behind the competition. Data can have an extremely positive impact on your company’s bottom line, and this free resource should be your first stop for insights about site visitors.
Data scientists can make specific recommendations too. Let’s say you’re selling men’s shaving products. Your Google Analytics data may reveal that your audience happens to love ice hockey. You can use this data in a few ways:
- Create content or feature ice hockey in your ads.
- Place content on an ice hockey-related website.
- Interview an ice hockey player for your blog, even if it’s not directly related to your shaving products.
Your data scientist would then help you track the success of your content and make further recommendations to increase the value of your messaging.
Content Rules Digital Marketing
As you can probably tell from our example, having relevant content is key to digital marketing. Gone are the days when your strategy consisted of faxing a press release to the local newspaper. Everyone is online — even the aging population, with the quickest growing Facebook demographic being senior citizens. It’s time to get out of that newspaper and onto a computer screen with your content.
Many marketers in the digital age rely on an inbound marketing strategy. The idea behind inbound marketing is simple: Identify what kind of content people want to read, create content around it, and let customers come to you via search engine traffic.
Going back to our men’s razors example, if you interview a hockey player for your blog, it could potentially bring more customers to your site. At the close of your post, you should use a call to action (CTA), asking your readers to do something such as sign up for your newsletter. You can count this as a newsletter conversion.
Some of the most successful content is evergreen, meaning it’s continually useful. For example, a blog post like “how to teach your son to shave” might perform well over time. It’s something people will always need to know.
Remember that effective digital content doesn’t try to fool the user. It makes them feel more positively about your brand. Your customers like digital content and products that make them feel closer, more connected, and part of a community.
If the idea of digital marketing still makes your head spin, consider retaining a high-level view of your marketing efforts. Start with just one thing: one Facebook page, one targeted ad campaign, or one piece of content on your blog per month. Over time, your efforts will lead to growth.