Creating a comprehensive and effective digital marketing strategy is not a walk in the park. It’s a complex and never-ending balancing act of maximizing user experience, growing brand awareness, following new trends, standing out from the competition, generating revenue, and staying on budget. For anyone looking to start or revamp their digital game plan, I’ve outlined the Bootstrap Business 10 Pillars Of Digital Marketing (in no particular order). Enjoy this list of top online advertising priorities my fellow inbound marketers and entrepreneurs!
1) Company Website
This is an obvious one but you certainly need to make a company website a cornerstone of your digital marketing strategy. It needs to be descriptive, dependable, secure, quick to load, responsive, mobile-friendly, and with a clear Call To Action. There’s nothing more frustrating to me than an expensive trendy website that doesn’t explain what the company actually does.
Depending on what your business model is, you may actually be able to get away with a free or nearly free blog as your website. WordPress is usually the best option in this case, and the custom templates are pretty versatile these days.
Many websites can also benefit from systematic A/B Testing to determine which version of a website or landing page drives the most conversions. A few tweaks on an E-Commerce website could literally be the difference between thousands (or millions) of dollars. That’s the difference between crushing failure and life-changing success.
2) Business Blog
As I mentioned briefly on point #1, a business blog should be included on your website if it isn’t already a dominant portion of your website. A company blog will provide value to customers, allow you to promote your company, enable discussion, drive website traffic, and improve overall SEO. Not everyone has the motivation or resources to post new content every day, but just remember that they don’t say “Content Is King” for nothing. Business blogging will lead to more opportunities such as lead generation and revenue earned than you think.
In addition to building up your own business blog, you should also write guest blog posts for other websites in your niche to help drive even more traffic and SEO benefits to your pages.
3) Social Media Accounts
You can’t (or shouldn’t) have a digital strategy without making social media marketing a cornerstone. Social media has changed how people communicate and it has proven to be one of the biggest game-changers in the world of advertising and branding. Social platforms allow you the opportunity to reach targeted prospects or customers from around the world and amplify your brand’s message.
Social media platforms that you probably need to focus on will be Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Other secondary / niche (but equally as powerful depending on your business model) include Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, Reddit, Yelp, Foursquare / Swarm, Medium, and the very often underestimated Quora.
I personally feel that you should cover all your bases and utilize all or nearly all of these social selling options, but that depends on your time availability and budget in some cases.
4) Social Media Paid Advertising
Social media marketing is a fantastic tool to utilize for growing your brand online, but some paid advertising will go a long way. It’s also a necessity for most companies since Facebook only shows posts organically to just 1% of your page’s audience. A similar trend has taken place on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and most other services. If you want to reach even a small portion of the audience you’ve built up over the years you’re going to have to pay the piper. The sooner you come to grips with that reality, the sooner you’ll set some realistic expectations from your social channels.
Obviously each digital platform has its own pros and cons. From personal experience I’d say that Facebook has the best ROI of all social networks but it depends on your goals. If you are a B2B company then LinkedIn may make the most sense for you. They can be expensive to use but they send out some free $50 advertising credits here and there each year. If you’re targeting Gen Z or Millennial users, Snapchat and Instagram will be your best bets.
5) Mobile Applications
No all companies need mobile apps, but they can certainly play a role in digital marketing success. A mobile application could very well be the basis of your business, in which case you should have the very best. Other business models may prefer to utilize a mobile app over the mobile version of their website. And still other businesses like to complement their overall digital strategy with the added functionality or convenience of a mobile app.
It’s great to have a presence in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. It’s even better to be able to mine user data and send Push Notifications to customers. Having your company logo or graphic of choice on the home screens of customers’ phones and tablets alone can help keep your brand on top of mind.
One thing remains clear: mobile apps can be quite expensive. If you aren’t a mobile app developer and can’t build your own then you could be looking at $10,000 – $100,000+ costs to develop and maintain it. There are some affordable DIY platforms, but they are usually pretty limited with their capabilities. If it’s not a necessity for your business, this one option might not be for you.
6) Pay Per Click Advertising
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising most commonly comes in the form of Google AdWords for search engine results, display advertising, mobile application advertising, and video pre-roll ads. Knowledge and experience are crucial when it comes to PPC ads because you can easily spend a lot of money and only end up a bunch of random impressions and clicks that lead to minimal revenue. You have to determine which channels to focus on, which websites will be most effective, what keywords you should bid on, and how much you should bid.
Google Analytics and other data tracking software programs are critical for PPC to determine how well your ads are running and what needs improvement.
7) Email Marketing
Email marketing is still one of the most effective forms of digital advertising. The talk of email marketing’s demise has been greatly exaggerated for the last decade, even in the wake of social media and mobile devices. Almost everyone has email, most people have smartphones, and the average person checks their email several times per day. Many people check their email several times per hour! Email addresses are cheap to get (usually through a contact form, checkout cart, account setup, or mobile application) and easy to segment by location, purchase history, user behavior, age, and plenty of other factors. Free or affordable options like Mailchimp and Constant Contact provide your business with excellent ROI.
Just don’t “kill the goose that lays the golden egg” by sending out too many emails too often. Keep in mind that annual attrition rates are around 25% and can easily be higher if you send too many or don’t segment your lists properly.
8) Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization is increasingly important in an increasingly competitive digital world. There are trillions of web pages out there now and your website has to stand out against the competition. You need to make sure your website has a user-friendly design, loads quickly, has accurate meta descriptions, contains plenty of appropriate keywords, and contains unique high quality content. Driving traffic to your website from social media and advertisements will help your SEO strategy, as will building backlinks to your sites on other reputable web pages.
9) Blogger / Influencer Outreach
Blogger and Social Media Influencer outreach is another opportunity to reach a wide audience of prospects. Working with well established bloggers, vloggers, and social media influencers helps to build brand equity and credibility with your audience. You may be able to get these influential online figures to post about your company just by conversing with them or providing them with a free sample / trial / product. Many of them know that it also helps to build their own brand exposure so it really is a mutually beneficial arrangement.
More often than not though you will need to pay for these types of posts with influencers that have tens or hundreds of thousands of followers. Influencer marketing can be a little bit risky but often times there is a lot of upside to balance out that liability.
10) Additional Miscellaneous Digital Content
Depending on your business model, budget, and abilities you should also include other digital content such as white papers, ebooks, slide decks, videos, infographics, and anything else you think will help add value to your brand. Any one of these media formats can easily be a game-changer for your business. It’s up to you what kind of wild-card digital tactics or platforms you can utilize to make your brand stand out from the pack.
If there was an 11th Pillar” it would certainly be market research. A lot of businesses and marketers (myself included sometimes) are quick to dive right in to marketing campaigns and content creation without adequately researching the market, industry, and technology. Before you spend countless hours and significant sums of money on your marketing campaigns, you first need to check the data and make sure that there is a market for your product or service. Analyze your competition and make sure your company fulfills a need that is currently under-served. Do you have the budget, technology, or technical expertise to run your marketing strategy for the necessary length of time? Utilize hard data when possible for all of these considerations and not just your own (often times biased) opinion.
Social media monitoring can also provide you with additional insights on your prospective customer base and the competition. Listen to your potential market to get a gauge of what they’re saying about current solutions and areas of focus. You can use CRM or social update programs to monitor hashtags, keywords, usernames, links, follower growth, and all of the data associated with these metrics.
Often times businesses don’t have the time, resources, or expertise to give each of these ten pillars the full attention they need for optimal digital performance. There’s nothing wrong with hiring a top digital marketing agency to implement the necessary improvements so you can focus on your company’s core competencies. Hiring a reliable agency can really project your business, Bulldog Digital Media are a trusted digital marketing company, that have improved so many other companies around the UK.
I hope you’ve found these suggestions and experiences to be of value to your business! Stick with these 10 pillars of digital marketing strategy and watch your brand awareness and revenue generation soar!