From the inception of my company I have always helped entrepreneurs gain a better understanding of what makes a business successful and how to implement proven strategies for growth and profitability. However, the days of simply offering a better product at a fair price are over. Social conversation and digital marketing in general, have brought in dynamics that are not only intangible, but can have a lasting effect on your business without your knowledge. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to examine what a proper digital marketing strategy should include and to help business owners make sense of all of the changes in how customers consume information.
As part of the Baby Boomer generation I am traditional in my purchasing habits with many brand loyalties and product traditions that I have passed on to my children. That being said, the Internet has given me the ability to make better purchasing decisions on those items that I do not buy on a regular basis. My usual strategy is to Google the company name to see if there are complaints or legal actions pending, I visit websites such as CNET and You Tube to see product comparisons, and then visit the social media community for opinions from current and previous users.
What we as business owners have to realize is if we aren’t a part of the strategy I just described, we are losing out on potential sales without even being aware. Below is an illustration of what a proper digital marketing strategy would be comprised of and we will cover the “must haves” shortly. I know my esteemed colleagues who are digital marketing specialists will say I am only scratching the surface in this analysis, but I believe in having strategies that are understandable and actionable.
As small business owners our greatest challenge is leveraging resources to accomplish our goals. We understand the importance of digital marketing, but have not had the time (too busy peddling the bike) to research how it’s done well. What I’d like to offer is the perspectives of one who is also “peddling the bike” but has found implementing certain strategies have lowered the amount of hills in the journey.
#1 – Website – Although the various social media platforms provide us with avenues to get to know our customers, they cannot replace a website. Your company website is where you set the foundation for the relationship between you, your customers, and prospective customers. It should explain who you are, your company’s core beliefs, how your products and services add value to your customers’ lives, and how they may obtain your products and services. Your website should also be the central point of your digital footprint (blogs, social media, articles, and reviews). Customers should be able to access your presence in all forms and that access should be easy to find. Finally, keep you website fresh, add pictures, testimonials, videos, and press releases to maintain relevance and make sure your website is formatted for viewing on mobile devices.
#2 – Social Media – I am still amazed at the number of businesses that do not use social media. While it is true that most of the reluctance is among Baby Boomers, I have seen some Gen Xers who were weaned on the traditional business model and have not embraced the new reality. Working with these companies, I have noticed most do not use social media because the fail to see the relevance in driving sales; so I have posted a graphical representation that I hope will create an “aha” moment.
What social media is best used for is driving data. The success of your efforts can be measured by the amount of traffic that is directed to your website by the various social media platforms. You may use videos and specials to drive engagement, but it is the analytics of who responded that you are looking for. The better you are at determining which platform energized which segment of your target audience, the easier it will be to create products and services that are more relevant to those segments, which will hopefully lead to increased sales.
Social media is also of great value in gauging your brand experience; what are customers saying about your products and services and how can that information be used to increase brand loyalty? Finally, if you are in a highly competitive industry or market, social media can be used to find opportunities among the customers of your competitors. If there are shortcomings within your competitors’ strategies, your company can gain market share by simply offering those desired services and using social media to get the word out.
By no means am I down playing the significance of mobile marketing and content marketing (blogs, articles, etc.). I recently ran a campaign for a client and 83% of the response was on mobile. My company is in the final stages of developing a mobile app that will provide entrepreneurs with a mobile knowledge base. Instead my purpose was to give small business owners who are overwhelmed by the daily machinations of running a business, a perspective that may lighten the load and drive a few more dollars.
I look forward to your thoughts