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What is digital marketing?

What is digital marketing?

A step-by-step guide to help you understand what is digital marketing including the most important steps for launching a digital marketing 

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As a small business owner, you have big goals. You want to attract loyal customers, build a dedicated team, and become a leader in your niche. 

You’re looking for new ways to accomplish these goals. Maybe you’ve relied on traditional marketing methods like TV spots or newspaper ads, but ended up overspending for vague results. Maybe you’ve heard it’s essential to focus on digital marketing strategies, but found the term vague, overwhelming, and confusing, leaving you unsure of where to start and how it will actually help. 

We’re here to clear up the confusion. We know the ins and outs of digital marketing, and we’ve seen how it helps small businesses grow. With digital marketing, you can reach a massive audience, boost brand awareness, and increase sales — all while keeping your costs in check. Since digital marketing is relatively easy to measure and scale, you get a high level of control over your tactics and your results.

We also know that digital marketing can be time-consuming and require advanced skills. To help you overcome these problems, this guide also includes steps to outsourcing your digital marketing needs so you can keep your focus solely on growing your business. 

Ready to discover how this approach can work for your small business? Find out how you can grow your business with digital marketing and learn how to get started today.

Before you invest in digital marketing, it’s important to get a handle on the basics. In this guide, we’re going to cover the what, why, and how of digital marketing.

Here are the most important steps for launching a digital marketing campaign:

  • 1. Understand What Is Digital Marketing
  • 2. Understand Why You Should Invest In Digital Marketing
  • 3. Recognize How Digital Marketing Helps Your Business Grow
  • 4. Must Know Digital Marketing Terms & Definitions
  • 5. Understand What Are The Most Common Digital Marketing Channels Available
  • 6. Understand The Common Digital Marketing Mistakes You Should Avoid
  • 7. Digital Marketing Trends for 2020
  • 8. Understand Why Market Research Is Important
  • 9. Find and Hire The Right Digital Marketing Manager
  • 10. Digital Marketing Experts: Understand What Are Their Roles and Responsibilities
  • 11. Understand Which Marketing KPIs You Should Be Monitoring to Measure Success

1. Understand What Is Digital Marketing

What is digital marketing anyway?

Digital marketing refers to all the marketing strategies that your business executes using online channels. Your company’s digital marketing efforts can include everything from affiliates to social media. Most digital strategies include paid channels like PPC and non-paid channels like SEO.“Marketers need to build digital relationships and reputation before closing a sale.”Wendy Piersall, Author, Blogger and Artist

2. Understand Why You Should Invest In Digital Marketing

Does your company really need digital marketing to grow? In short, absolutely. Here are just a few of the advantages digital marketing offers:

  • Gives small businesses more opportunity to compete with big brands

For small businesses, competing with the big guys isn’t exactly easy. For example, if you run a mom-and-pop diner, it’s impossible to buy more TV spots than IHOP.

But here’s the thing:

Digital marketing lets you level the playing field, no matter how big your competitors are. With the right digital strategies, you can build a massive social media following, rank at the top of Google, or sell tons of products via email.

  • Targets your ideal audience

When you invest in traditional marketing like magazine articles or TV ads, you can target your audience to an extent. After all, you know who usually reads the magazine or watches the TV show.

But what if you really want to zero in on your audience and optimize your budget? It doesn’t matter if your ideal audience includes stay-at-home parents or high-powered CEOs. You can find and target your ideal buyer using digital marketing tactics, even if your audience is small or has niche interests.

  • Reaches your customers in the right places

Fewer people than ever before are reading magazines and newspapers or listening to the radio. In 2018, newspaper circulation in the United States reached its lowest level since 1940. Local news audiences have declined for more than a decade.

Instead, your customers are spending more time online. In fact:

  • 90% of American adults use the internet on a regular basis
  • Almost 70% use Facebook regularly
  • Nearly 75% use YouTube routinely

So what does that mean for your business? With the right digital marketing tactics, you can connect with your audience where they already are.

  • Makes tracking and monitoring easy

Tracking results from traditional ad campaigns isn’t easy. You might know how many times your ad appeared. Yet it’s impossible to know how many people actually responded to your newspaper or TV ad.

When you launch a digital marketing campaign, you can track virtually any detail. With a few clicks, you can find out how many people clicked on your ad and whether they bought something. You can even target the same group of people with another ad.

  • Allows you to scale and adapt your efforts

When you find a digital tactic that works for your business, you can easily scale it. After all, you aren’t tied to a TV ad or committed to a direct mailing months in advance. That means you can spend a bit more in digital and get exponential results, adapting to your needs as they evolve.

But how do you find what works?

You can rely on analytics tools to measure your results. Because you’re in complete control of your digital efforts, you can test out new ideas at any time. If you like the results you get, you can scale them up. If they don’t work out as well as you’d hoped, you can stop them before spending too much.

  • Your competitors are already using it

No matter your industry, there’s a good chance your competitors already have a head start with digital marketing. In fact, 70% of marketers are already using content marketing, and almost 75% are using social media. Almost two-thirds are investing in SEO, and nearly half are using email automation.

The six key points you must remember:

  1. Great way for small companies to compete with bigger rivals
  2. Targets your ideal customers
  3. Reaches your audience in the right places
  4. Makes tracking, analyzing and monitoring easy
  5. Allows you to scale and optimize your efforts
  6. Your competitors are already into it

3. Recognize How Digital Marketing Helps Your Business Grow

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Because digital marketing is so versatile, trackable, and scalable, it’s uniquely positioned to help you reach your business goals. Let’s take a look at some of the key ways digital marketing can build your business:

  • Decreases costs: Traditional marketing tends to cost much more than digital tactics. When you focus on digital marketing, you can lower your costs while still driving impressive results. Tweet This
  • Drives online sales: Since digital marketing takes place online, these tactics are naturally geared toward driving online sales and conversions. If you want to sell products online, digital marketing is essential. Tweet This
  • Increases revenue: Digital marketing campaigns can use both paid and organic strategies to drive revenue. No matter the size of your budget, digital marketing gives you the opportunity to boost your company’s bottom line. Tweet This
  • Targets with precision: Digital marketing channels allow you to target users by demographics, interests, and even devices. That means you can connect with the right person at the right time, making the most of your marketing efforts. Tweet This
  • Expands reach: No matter the size of your business, you need to expand your customer base continually. Digital marketing can reach customers across the nation and around the globe so you can expand to new markets and even trade globally. Tweet This
  • Builds brand reputation: Whether your company is new or seasoned, it’s important to increase brand awareness continually. Digital campaigns can introduce your brand to relevant customers and help you establish a positive reputation with loyal customers. Tweet This

4. Must Know Digital Marketing Terms & Definitions

You might have already decided to outsource your first digital campaign. Maybe you’re considering hiring a team member or two. Either way, you have to speak the language so you can join the conversation.

Here are 13 essential digital marketing terms you should know:

  • Inbound Channel

An inbound marketing channel is a platform where customers can seek out your business online. Your website, your social media pages, and your email list are just some of the inbound channels that let you attract and engage with customers.

  • Buyer Persona

A buyer persona represents your ideal customer and helps you understand your target audience’s needs and motivations. Market research and data shape buyer personas, which can outline everything from age and gender to interests and problems.

  • Conversion

A conversion is a specific action you want customers to take during a digital marketing campaign. For example, you might want customers to buy an item, sign up for an email list, or download a white paper.

  • Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

KPIs are the metrics or goals for your digital marketing campaigns. A successful campaign should reach or exceed your KPIs. To set effective KPIs, use the SMART goal method:

  1. Specific: Be as clear as possible about each KPI
  2. Measurable: Make sure your KPI includes numbers, such as sales figures or new customer signups
  3. Achievable: KPIs should be realistic, not impossible
  4. Relevant: Your KPIs should align with your overall business goals
  5. Time-based: Every KPI should include a timeline so you know when to start and stop measuring

  • Return on investment (ROI)

ROI calculates the revenue from a marketing campaign and helps you assess the overall value. To calculate ROI, subtract the amount you spent on the campaign from the revenue total. Then divide by the amount you spend on the campaign.

  • Cost per click (CPC)

CPC refers to the amount you spend every time a customer clicks on your digital ad. To calculate CPC, divide the total amount you spent by the number of link clicks.

Many digital ad platforms use CPC as a pricing model, which means you get charged for each click. By monitoring CPC, you can also make sure you’re spending the right amount to get customers on your website.

  • Cost per acquisition (CPA)

CPA measures the cost of converting a customer. To measure the CPA for a campaign, divide the total amount you spent by the number of conversions.

Like CPC, many digital ad platforms offer CPA as a pricing model so you can control how much you spend to land a new customer. When you optimize for CPA, you can also keep your CPA low and run more cost-effective campaigns.

  • Cost per install (CPI)

CPI measures the amount you spend for each app install. To calculate CPI, divide the total amount you spend by the number of app installs.

Like CPA and CPC, digital platforms may let you use CPI as a pricing model for your campaigns. Yet CPI applies only to app developers, since it uses app installs as its conversion metric.

  • Click-through rate (CTR)

CTR refers to the percentage of customers who click on a link in your marketing campaign. To calculate CTR, divide the total number of views by the number of clicks.

Although CTR doesn’t measure cost, it can still help you assess your campaign’s success. A high CTR shows that a large percentage of people who saw the link were interested enough to click.

  • Remarketing

Remarketing is a strategy that targets customers who have already interacted with or shown interest in your business. Using this strategy can help you lower your digital marketing costs since it guides customers through the sales funnel.

  • Bounce rate

Bounce rate refers to the percentage of people who visit your website and then exit quickly. To find your website’s bounce rate, check your Google Analytics data.

Ideally, you want your bounce rate to be as low as possible, and you want it to decrease over time. After all, the lower your bounce rate, the more value customers get from your website.

  • A/B split testing

This tactic involves experimenting with two versions of one campaign. For example, you can run an A/B test with two ads that are identical aside from the graphics, button color, or other variable. Digital marketers typically use tools designed specifically for A/B testing to effectively run these tests. It’s imperative that you only test one variable at a time to truly understand the impact of the change you are testing. 

After you test the two versions, you can compare to find out which drives the best results. Then you can invest more of your budget into the top-performing version.

  • Call to action (CTA)

CTAs are prompts that encourage customers to do something. For example, “Shop now” and “Sign up” invite customers to take the next step after visiting your website or reading your ad.

Choosing a strong CTA is important to any campaign’s success. Leaving out the CTA can mean fewer conversions. Adding an enticing CTA can lead to more sales or signups.

5. Understand What Are The Most Common Digital Marketing Channels Available

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Digital marketing includes over a dozen channels, each with their own strategies and tools that you can use to help you meet your business goals. To help you understand these channels and how they can benefit your business, here’s an explanation of some of the most common—and most effective—types of digital marketing.

  • Content marketing builds trust and improves brand awareness

Content marketing refers to the creation and promotion of all types of content, whether it’s written, audio, or visual content. Content marketing assets include blog posts, case studies, videos, podcasts, and more. A successful content marketing strategy attracts and guides customers through every stage of the sales funnel.

How can your business benefit from content marketing?

  1. You can build trust. When you create helpful content that solves customers’ problems, you gain credibility. Over time, you can establish trust, which can lead to sales.
  2. You can improve brand awareness. The more high-quality content you create, the more chances you have to introduce your brand and rank with search engines.

“85% of marketers say improving content quality has made their marketing strategy more successful.”Content Marketing Institute

  • Email marketing keeps costs low and ROI high

This channel connects with customers directly in their email inboxes. An email marketing strategy can include everything from sale announcements to monthly newsletters to remarketing messages. An email service provider (ESPs) like MailChimp or ConvertKit can help small businesses execute these strategies more efficiently, but email marketing specialists may also use other tools or methods to craft a profitable strategy. 

The secret of email marketing success is writing compelling headlines and high converting copy that makes people want to take the next step. The more relevant your emails are to what potential customers need, the better they will work to build your relationship with them, so they think of you when they’re ready to buy.

How can your business benefit from email marketing?

  1. You can get impressive ROI.Email marketing has an average ROI of 3800%. That means email can generate $38 in revenue for every $1 in ad spend.
  2. You can keep costs low. Email marketing lets you get right into inboxes, so you don’t have to pay for an ad every time you want to connect directly with customers.

Insider tips for email marketing

  • Be aware that there are strict guidelines for email marketing. Users must be able to opt-in, so you know they want your emails before you send them anything; otherwise, they’ll see you as a spammer.
  • When writing headlines for emails, avoid email spam trigger words or anything that seems overly promotional. These affect email deliverability. If they end up in the spam box or, in the case of Gmail, in the “promotions” tab, people may not see them at the right time – or at all
  • Ensure that your email marketing is relevant to the users that you are selling it to. It will increase both your open rates and account credibility.

  • Social media marketing builds relationships and provides customer service

There are almost 2.8 billion social media users worldwide, around one-third of all internet users. That means you can’t ignore social media for marketing your business. Social media is a great tool to give customers a personal connection with you.

In addition to the huge audiences, most social media sites have the added advantage of analytics, giving you more data about your audience’s composition and preferences than ever before. In short, social media is a major vehicle for business growth.

With social media marketing, you can connect with customers on their preferred platforms. You can use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, or other social media platforms to grow a loyal following and sell products.

How can your business benefit from social media marketing?

  1. You can build relationships. Social media is ideal for making connections and growing a community. Over time, social media can help you improve customer loyalty.
  2. You can offer customer service. Since social media allows for public commenting and private messaging, you can rely on this channel for simple, cost-effective customer service.

YouTube

The latest research from the Content Marketing Institute shows that 60% of marketers use video. Online video is insanely popular, with 60% of people preferring it to live TV, according to Google. Google’s research also shows that in less than 10 years, half of the viewers under 32 won’t use a pay TV service. No marketer can ignore YouTube’s user base, which was more than a billion people at last report.

Owned by Google, YouTube is the world’s second biggest search engine and is great for getting your videos seen, as they show up in search results. Even people who know nothing about your business can stumble across it when they’re searching for information about a topic.

Overall, YouTube is an excellent platform to use to engage your customers. You can do lots of different types of videos, but there are two that are particularly useful for businesses: explainer videos and educational videos.

Instagram

Built around photos, Instagram is an excellent platform for visual marketing. It’s very popular and now has more than 600 million active users. For businesses, consider reposting customer images that relate to your company, as well as providing an inside view of life at the company. Quotes, memes, images of nature, and cute animals also work well.

To use Instagram effectively, make sure you get a business account. That will give you analytics so you can track which content does best – and post more of it. Like most social media, Instagram works best when you are active and responsive. You’ll need to install the app on your phone, but you can also use a tool like Later or Grum to schedule posts.

Instagram works best when you are active on a daily basis. Use it effectively and you’ll soon reach more of your potential customers.

Insider tips for using Instagram for advertising

  • Use hashtags extensively – Instagram users love them, and they help people find relevant content. The more you use, the more engagement you’ll get.
  • Like and reply to comments to increase engagement.
  • When you first use Instagram, use keywords or hashtags to find relevant people to follow and then like and repost relevant content.

Facebook

Facebook is one of the most powerful social media tools you can use. With more than a billion users worldwide, the chances are that most of the people that you want to reach are on Facebook. According to Pew, 79% of all internet users are on Facebook. That means your digital marketing strategy must include Facebook.

There are lots of Facebook tools you can use. As well as your personal profile, there’s Messenger, Groups, and Live Video. But the tool you’re likely to use most as a business is Facebook Pages. Around 50 million businesses are using them. Pages have many of the same features as profiles, allowing you to share images, videos, and status updates. But having a page gives you access to analytics, and you can also promote posts and run ads.

To use your Facebook page well, you must engage with the page daily, either by posting original content or sharing something useful and responding to messages and comments. Like other companies, you can afford to be a bit playful on Facebook.

You’ll also want to launch or participate in groups, which Facebook says are used by 850 million people. Be useful and helpful and you will grow your audience, and lead a lot more people back to your page. Group owners are usually happy when you share relevant content within the group and may even share it to their own external networks. It’s like a partnership where your content helps to keep the group interesting to members while you get a bigger audience.

As mentioned earlier, Facebook is also an advertising platform. You can create your own ads or “boost” existing content that’s starting to get attention. This can be a cost-effective way to reach your audience, especially since Facebook has excellent demographic targeting and audience segmentation features.

There’s a lot to master with Facebook, but don’t feel overwhelmed. See which Facebook services our sellers offer to help you market your business effectively.

LinkedIn

Though LinkedIn members are certainly consumers, this network is more useful for B2B marketers. It’s the largest professional network in the world, with a membership of 467 million across 200 countries. To use LinkedIn for digital marketing, you’ll need to create a killer personal profile, as this will help you use other services more effectively.

The most popular LinkedIn content is industry insights and company news, so if your company produces research, it’s a good starting point for marketing with LinkedIn. If you post at least 20 times a month, you’ll get great engagement.

Identify influencers who have an audience similar to your target audience. Selectively share content with them that they can share with their contacts. Don’t overdo it, but if you have a high-quality resource, they will be happy to do it.

Groups are a powerful feature on LinkedIn. You can join existing groups in your niche, using LinkedIn’s built-in search to find active and relevant groups. Once you’re in, be helpful rather than promotional for best results. This is an excellent tool for showing your expertise.

Alternatively, start your own group. Invite everyone in your company to join the group and help to share content widely. Post regular discussion starters and respond to all comments. You’ll find that if you have a vibrant group, even people who aren’t personal connections will want to join. This can be an excellent place to connect with potential customers, find out what their questions are and answer them, and get ideas for product and service development. Since it’s your group, you’re free to promote your services, though be warned that too much overt self-promotion will make your group unpopular.

You can also start a company page to share company updates and showcase pages for particular products or services. Again, encourage everyone in your company to add these pages to their profiles.

LinkedIn also includes an advertising platform. Again, its search features mean you can target your audience by occupation, location, level of seniority, professional experience, interests and much more. This is an excellent way to get the attention of people relevant to your niche.

Twitter

Twitter has 319 million monthly active users and is an excellent network for discovering and breaking news and other content. That’s why it’s the right place for you to share all the content you create. You can share links, images, and videos on Twitter, and can collect them into Twitter Moments, which are like the stories features on other platforms. Twitter was also the first social media site to use hashtags, and they are an important tool to help people to find content.

Insider tips for using Twitter for advertising

  • Update your Twitter account daily with content suitable for your target audience, including inspirational quotes, useful posts, relevant images and more. You can always hire someone to help you find and post this content.
  • Grow your Twitter community by producing content that your followers want to retweet and getting mentioned by Twitter influencers.
  • Use Twitter Analytics to understand your audience and flesh out your buyer personas. Then you can use Twitter Ads to target promotions to the right customers.

  • SEO establishes authority and improves visibility

SEO refers to techniques and strategies that make your website more visible in Google search results, ideally ranking in the top 10 results for search queries that are important for your business. This can include changes and optimizations to the content on the site; the structure of the site including navigation, links to and from site pages, and even some behind-the-scenes code; and links from external websites to your own because of the merit of your content. 

Of course, that’s not all there is to SEO. In fact, there’s a long list of search ranking factors. In a nutshell, Google wants to know your business is trustworthy and it looks for signals like:

  • External reviews of your business
  • Brand mentions from trusted external sources
  • Social media sharing

And more. The more positive these signals are, the better your pages and your site will rank.

How can your business benefit from SEO?

  1. You can win new customers. SEO increases the chance of customers finding your website when searching for queries related to your company. Whether customers are just researching or they’re ready to buy, getting them to your website is the first step in winning their business.
  2. You can establish authority. When you rank high for popular search queries, your business can become an expert on key topics. Over time, you can increase your credibility and drive even more business.

Insider tips for SEO

  • Perform an in-depth keyword research to find out what are your users main “pain points” so you can address them as part of your content marketing strategy. Make sure the keywords you select have the right intent to your business.
  • Make your URLs short and generally speaking include your target keyword in the URL
  • Also include you target keyword (or that are semantically-related to the page’s topic) within your page title, headings (h1,h2) and within the first 100-150 words of your page to help search engines understand what your page is all about
  • Create unique and valuable content answering the most important questions people have about your business and niche.

  • SEM generates leads and offers valuable remarketing options

The focus of SEM, or search engine marketing, is about buying ads that appear in search results. You’ll also hear people talking about pay per click (PPC) advertising. Either way, you’ve probably noticed that a few ads – appear at the top of the search results.

These ads are served by AdWords and your SEM strategy aims to ensure that your ad comes up at the right time to target the people you most want to reach. These ads also appear on mobile devices. Because of the positioning, these ads get a lot of clicks, which means more traffic, sales, and leads for your business.

How can your business benefit from PPC?

  1. You can generate leads and sell products. Since PPC ads can target customers at any stage of the sales funnel, they’re ideal for driving sales and collecting contact information from warm leads.
  2. You can remarket to customers. PPC ads can also target existing customers or warm leads who haven’t purchased yet.

Insider tips for SEM

  • Make the purchase process as simple as possible, so your ads result in more paying customers. Remember, you are paying per click.
  • Increase your return on investment (ROI) by taking advantage of the built-in AdWords testing features.
  • Vary titles and descriptions on a rotating basis to determine which are the best performing ads for your business.

  • Affiliate marketing improves revenue and drives endorsements

With affiliate marketing, you authorize others to broaden your audience, scale traffic, and drive sales for your business. Then you pay a commission for each sale. Your business can join large, established affiliate platforms like Amazon Associates or Mhbserv Freelancer affiliates or you can set up your own.

How can your business benefit from affiliate marketing?

  1. You can increase revenue and scale traffic without doing extra work. Since you rely on affiliates to promote your products and drive more prospects to your website, you can get more sales with minimal additional work.
  2. You can get valuable endorsements. Affiliates often create in-depth reviews or write endorsements to drive sales. Since almost 90% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, affiliate marketing can offer incredible value.

  • Direct traffic generates recommendations and develops loyalty

Direct traffic refers to customers who get to your website without clicking on a link. Most direct traffic comes from bookmarks, messaging apps, or hearing about your website and typing the URL directly into a browser.

How can your business benefit from direct traffic?

  1. You can get personal recommendations. When you get direct traffic from messaging apps, you benefit from word-of-mouth-marketing, which can drive sales.
  2. You can develop loyal customers. When you get direct traffic from customers clicking on bookmarks, you generate repeat customers, who can be more valuable to your business.

  • Referral traffic drives warm leads and enhances visibility

Referral traffic means customers who clicked on a link on another website to get to your website. Referral traffic often comes from blog posts that link to your business or company listings in online directories.

How can your business benefit from referral traffic?

  1. You can get warm leads. Customers who clicked over to your website have shown an interest in what your business has to offer. As warm leads, they’re easier to convert than cold leads.
  2. You can improve SEO. As you build more referral links, search engines assign more value to your website. Over time, you can boost your SEO, which improves your rankings in search results.

6. Understand The Common Digital Marketing Mistakes You Should Avoid

When you run a digital marketing campaign, you want to get the best results without wasting money or resources. To improve your ROI, watch out for some of the most common mistakes before, during, and after a campaign.

  • Before launching a digital marketing campaign

When you research and strategize beforehand, you won’t have to scramble to fix your campaign later. By planning ahead, you can avoid these blunders:

  1. Not defining your buyer persona: Without a buyer persona, you’ll struggle to write copy and develop creatives that target the right audience. Map out your buyer persona in advance so you can appeal to the right people.
  2. Using incomplete research: Just because you want to promote something doesn’t mean your customers are ready to buy. Use surveys and customer feedback to make sure you’re marketing the right message at the right time.
  3. Having an unclear strategy or goals: Use the SMART goals method to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based objectives. When you’re clear about your strategy and goals, you know what to expect and can identify issues easily during a campaign.

  • During a digital marketing campaign

The work you do to set up a digital marketing campaign is just as important as what you do to plan for it. Don’t make these mistakes during your next campaign:

  1. Targeting the wrong audience: Always take the time to set up the right audience targeting parameters. Not only will you market to an interested audience, but you’ll also get less negative feedback — which can improve your overall results.
  2. Measuring the wrong KPIs: If you track the wrong KPIs, you’ll never know whether your campaign was effective. Align your KPIs with your goals and strategy so you’ll know if the campaign is a success.
  3. Ignoring the power of social media: Even if you’re focusing on another channel, be sure to leverage social media, too. As you build a social media following, you can use this channel to share blog posts, email signups, and more.

  • After running a digital marketing campaign

As you wrap up a campaign, it’s easy to assume that the tough part is over. Yet some of the most important work happens at the end. After a campaign, avoid these slip-ups:

  1. Failing to analyze your results: The data you collect doesn’t automatically have meaning. Instead, you have to analyze your results to find out where and why you succeeded or fell short. This will help you create more effective digital marketing campaigns in the future. 
  2. Failing to compare results to initial goals: Your results might look great, but how do they measure up to what you expected? As you analyze your data, always review it against your original objectives.
  3. Neglecting to adjust your online marketing strategy: One of the biggest benefits of digital marketing is its adaptability. You might choose to end a poorly performing campaign early, but you should always use what you’ve learned to adjust your strategy going forward.
  4. Giving up: One lackluster campaign doesn’t mean digital marketing isn’t for you. Identify the main problems with your campaign, and apply your new knowledge to future efforts.

Whether you’re planning to outsource your strategy or handle it in-house, it’s important to stay on top of the latest digital marketing trends. Naturally, when you know what’s new, it’s easier to stay ahead of the curve. Get to know some of the top trends for 2020 so you can build successful digital campaigns.

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) streamlines your workflow

AI is quickly becoming important in almost every digital marketing channel, especially when it comes to customer service. With AI, you can program digital software to handle automated tasks. For example, chatbots are programs that automate customer communication and support on your website or other platforms. What’s in it for you?

AI software like chatbots saves you time and money. After all, with a chatbot, you can spend less on customer service staff and streamline your support workflow.

In 2020, it’s easier and smarter than ever to install a chatbot on your website. According to Backlinko, 80% of businesses plan to use chatbots on their websites in 2020. This year, chatbots will also handle 85% of customer support needs.

  • Automated Ad bidding gets you more bang for your buck

For years, PPC platforms like Facebook and Google have offered increasingly automated ad bidding. In 2020, EMarketer projects that automated channels will buy over 85% of digital display ads. What does that mean for you?

Facebook and Google are stepping up their automated bidding options. That means you can drive more targeted results. For example, you can optimize for your target CPA or your target return on ad spend (ROAS) to get the most bang for your buck.

  • Video marketing increases website traffic and sales

Like automated ad bidding, video marketing has also been gaining steam for years. Yet in 2020, video is no longer optional. It’s essential.

According to HubSpot, 85% of businesses already use video for marketing. Nearly 90% report a positive ROI from video marketing. Opt-in Monster reports that for 87% of marketers, video leads to more website traffic, and 80% attribute increased sales to video.

  • Content marketing leads SEO efforts

Google routinely updates its algorithm, which affects how your website ranks. In late 2019, the search engine launched BERT, which focuses on natural language processing (NLP).

How does that affect your business?

In 2020, content is the key to telling search engines what your website is about and when to rank it at the top. That’s why content marketing continues to increase in importance. Since content marketing costs almost a third less than traditional marketing while generating three times the number of leads. That means investing in this strategy should be a no-brainer.

  • SERP features dominate SEO

Search engines like Google regularly introduce new SERP features. Visually rich image packs and information-loaded local packs enhance users’ search experiences. They also give businesses even more opportunities to rank at the top of SERPs.

How will that impact your business?

HostGator reports that new SERP features are a major factor in decreasing CTRs. More than a third of desktop searches result in no clicks because users get all the information they need from the SERP feature. On mobile, more than half of searches end with no clicks.

That means it’s essential to master SERP features. To rank at the top of Google in 2020, it’s more important than ever for businesses to understand SERP features work and how to rank for them.

8. Understand Why Market Research Is Important

Before you start your digital marketing campaign, it’s important to understand your industry, your competitors, and your customers. The knowledge you gain will help you to market more effectively. Here’s how you get started.

  • Analyze your industry

Don’t waste your time doing any marketing until you understand your industry. You don’t just need to find out if your business idea has potential; you also need to discover whether there’s really a market. Most importantly, you need to ensure that your business idea will be profitable. If not, then move on.

Industry analyses usually include:

  • An industry overview
  • Overviews of different sub-sectors
  • Information about typical customers
  • An assessment of technology if it’s relevant the market
  • Past and future trends

It’s a good idea to hire someone to collect all this information for you. Once you get it, go through the data like your business depends on it, because it does. The information you gain will tell you what businesses in your niche usually earn so that you can estimate how much profit you can make. It will also help you understand the context your business operates in so you can run a more effective digital marketing campaign.

  • Get to know your competitors

Another key part of market research is knowing your competitors. That’s because your digital marketing campaigns will need to make it clear how you are different from them and what your unique selling proposition (USP) is. You’ll have to find out:

  • Which specific market segments they are targeting
  • What products and services they offer
  • What their strengths and weaknesses are
  • Where there might be an opportunity for you to win business

You’ll want to get intimate knowledge of:

  • Their target audience and customer profiles
  • Their pricing strategy
  • Their revenue and profitability

And to help you target your own marketing strategy, you’ll need to understand who their customers are, how your competitors reach them, and what keeps their customers loyal to that brand.

While some of this information is publicly available, it can be worth hiring experienced researchers to dig deeper. You’d be surprised what they will find out.

  • Find your buyer persona

The final part of your market research is understanding your customers. To do this, you’ll need to create buyer personas. Also known as customer avatars, buyer personas are an essential part of any digital marketing and sales growth strategy.

They go way beyond simple demographic information about age, location, gender, and age. The best customer personas read like descriptions of actual people, including marital status, employment, education, values, interests, and more.

Buyer personas will help you to find out:

  • what matters to your customers
  • how they think
  • where they spend their time
  • which of your services and products they need and why
  • what values are important to them
  • what they expect from your company

They will also help you understand what will persuade them to buy products and services from you, which is essential to your marketing success.

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9. Find and Hire The Right Digital Marketing Manager

If you don’t have an online marketing in-house team yet or if you don’t have the knowledge on how to build an effective online marketing strategy, that’s the right time for you to find and hire a digital marketing manager.

  • What does a digital marketing manager do?

A digital marketing manager has a complete understanding of all digital channels. This specialist is responsible for doing research to identify opportunities and developing campaigns to meet business goals. A marketing strategist also knows how to track outcomes, ROI, and KPIs and analyze this data to inform future marketing campaigns. 

  • Why do you need a digital marketing manager?

A digital marketing manager helps you understand the best options for growing your business through digital channels. Since digital marketing is a complex and ever-changing field, you need an expert to understand these changes and how they impact your business goals.

As a small business owner, you’re busy with negotiating partnerships with suppliers, developing products, and other key tasks. Hiring or contracting a marketing strategist frees up your time while putting your digital campaigns in the hands of a capable expert.

  • The three must ask digital marketer interview questions

Not all digital marketing managers are created equal. Ask these questions to make sure you’re bringing on the best possible team member or freelancer:

  1. Can you tell me about a successful marketing campaign you’ve run? Ask how expectations and results compared. Find out how your candidate contributed to the campaign’s success.
  2. What do you do if a digital campaign doesn’t succeed? Ask how your candidate identified the problem and applied those findings to future campaigns.
  3. Which digital channels are most important for our industry? Make sure any candidate you hire monitors trends, as an informed strategist can help you succeed.

The 3 benefits of hiring a digital marketing expert

  • Get a competitive analysis: A competitive analysis identifies your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats while clarifying your unique value proposition.
  • Select the best digital marketing channels: By focusing on the most effective channels for your business, you won’t have to waste money on channels that won’t help you meet your goals.
  • Develop a solid inbound marketing strategy: A capable strategist can create a comprehensive digital marketing plan for your business. The best plans usually include organic channels like SEO as well as paid options like PPC.

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10. Digital Marketing Experts: Understand What Are Their Roles and Responsibilities

You got your digital marketing manager on board, now it’s time to build your team of experts to start implementing all the online marketing strategies you have planned for your business. However, there are different job roles in digital marketing and it’s important that before moving forward you fully understand who are the freelance experts you can consider for hiring, but above all what are their roles and responsibilities.

  • Email marketerDesigns automated sequences, newsletters, and sales emails so you can connect with customers and drive conversions.
  • Social media marketerCreates and publishes social media content so you can grow a loyal audience and provide customer service.
  • Content marketerDevelops blog posts, case studies, white papers, videos, and other content so your website can attract and convert customers.
  • PPC specialistDesigns ad campaigns for Facebook, Instagram, Bing, and Google so you can boost brand awareness and drive sales.
  • SEO expertIdentifies keyword ranking and backlink opportunities so you can improve website visibility and attract more customers.
  • Affiliate managerHandles your platform, creates promotions, and reaches out to new affiliates so you can promote your business and generate sales.
  • Retention specialistOversees customer loyalty programs and develops repeat customer initiatives so you can increase revenue and customer lifetime value.
  • Data analystProcesses and reviews data from all your digital channels so you understand where you’re succeeding, where you’re failing, and how you can reach your goals.

11. Understand Which Marketing KPIs You Should Be Monitoring to Measure Success

Use this checklist to understand what are the fundamental KPIs you should track within each digital marketing channel

Content marketing

  • Number of comments: A larger number means you’re attracting more customer engagement.
  • Time on page:  An increasing number means customers are spending more time reading and gaining value from your content.
  • Social shares: A higher number means more customers found your content valuable enough to share.

Email marketing

  • Open rate: A higher number means more customers opened and read your email.
  • CTR: A higher number means a greater percentage of subscribers clicked a link in your email, such as a link to a product page or a blog post.
  • Conversions: A higher number means your email generated more conversions, such as revenue or website visitors.

Social media marketing

  • Likes: A steadily increasing number means your social media audience is growing organically, or without paid promotion.
  • Active followers: A larger number shows that more people are engaging with your social media content.
  • Shares: A higher number means more users shared your social media posts.

SEO

  • Keyword rankings: A number as close as possible to one means you rank closer to the top of the search engine results page (SERP).
  • Page-views: A steadily increasing number indicates that people are visiting more pages on your website.
  • Number of backlinks: A steadily increasing number of natural backlinks means more sites are linking to your website, which can improve your rankings.

PPC

  • CPC or CPA: A lower number means you’re spending less for each conversion.
  • CTR: A higher percentage means more customers are responding to your ads.
  • Quality score: A higher quality score means your ad is more likely to win the automated bidding process.

Affiliate marketing

  • Average order value: A higher number means customers spent more on each purchase.
  • Referral traffic: A larger number indicates your affiliates are broadening your audience.
  • New customers: A larger percentage shows that your affiliates are driving more new than returning customers.

Referral traffic

  • New users: A higher number means that more new customers are clicking through to your site, possibly due to successful SEO efforts.
  • Source: A wider variety of sources means that more websites are linking to your site.

Digital Marketing Helps Build Your Business

No matter how big or how quickly you want to build your business, digital marketing is key. From PPC to social media, digital marketing strategies let you connect with your customers online and stay competitive in an increasingly digital economy. With its customizable, versatile, and scalable nature, digital marketing can drive traffic and target conversions, ultimately allowing you to reach your business goals.

If you’re sold on why digital marketing will benefit your business, pick the channel(s) that you feel will be most beneficial to your business and start looking for a marketing expert to help you build, launch, and test your campaign. You can find digital marketing experts on Mhbserv Freelancer, or post to job boards explaining your needs. It’s okay to start small—pick one channel, one expert, and launch one campaign and start to see digital marketing in action and watch your business grow.

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Author Since: July 13, 2020