Running a business is stressful enough without having to worry about growing it. Needless to say you can’t scale your business without having to face the marketing side. Many companies will employ marketing managers, but there are many more who can’t afford such a privilege, so the weight of business promotion falls on the shoulders of the Director/CEO of the company.
As with anything requiring professional proficiency, marketing can be a minefield and its easy to get lost. It gets more confusing when you add digital marketing to this. Hopefully by the end of this article, you will be able to understand some jargon as well understand the complex landscape that is digital marketing.
It would be remiss of me to discuss digital marketing without first discussing some fundamental principles. From experience, I find people dive head-first in to the ‘act’ of marketing, but a little analysis will benefit in a huge way.
The first thing I would recommend is ‘know your customer.’ This means, focus on what your target customer looks like. When thinking about your customer go over their gender, age, location, position in house, marital status and much more. The goal is to have around 3-5 types of customer where you map out so much detail that you feel you can recognise them on the street.
Next, for any form of marketing to succeed, a solid marketing plan is a necessity. Asides from providing structure, it will help provide an overview of your short-term and long-term strategies and also act as your ‘to-do’ list. I came across one (can be found here) recently which I found to be detailed and covers a lot to help you really analyse your business and potential customer.
Now that we have the basics covered, we can look further into digital marketing specifics.
Digital Marketing consists of long-term and short-term actions which form part of your strategy. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will normally fall under the long-term, while Social Media Marketing can be seen as a hybrid because it caters for both. Although the acronyms seem daunting, a lot of the work is only understanding what each does.
SEO is a good place to start. SEO optimises search engine (Google/Bing/Yahoo) results so that the searcher finds what they want as quick as possible. The practice of SEO ensures the search engines are given the pertinent information about your website, so that they can store and call upon it when someone searches for something related to your offerings. Though long-term, one shouldn’t rule out the importance of SEO. SEO best-practices change often so staying abreast of the updates is important, otherwise you could end up harming your campaign. Some of the work required as part of your SEO campaign is technical so you may need a hand from your web developer.
SMM is a popular choice because it offers an enormous target market. As mentioned, it can form a part of your long and short term strategy. Most businesses will already have some form of Facebook Page or Twitter handle, so growing the user base by regular, relevant posts and engaging your followers can work wonders in increasing your business. On the other side, sponsored posts or tweets offer ad-spots to potentially all the users of the respective platforms. Paying for these ad-spots can sky-rocket your conversions. A conversion can be anything from wanting to sign someone up to a service or a sale, it all depends on what you want to measure a conversion as. Referring back to the earlier point on ‘knowing your customer’ — this now comes into play as the more you have narrowed your potential customer, the better spent your money will be.
As an example, if you operate a business in Lahore, you can set the target area to your city. This would mean anyone using Facebook in Lahore may see your advert. The problem with this scenario would be that a lot of people not requiring your services/product would see and possibly click on your advert wasting your money. On the flip side, if you know your customer will be from Lahore, and is aged between 19-30 years and is interested in shopping and shoes, you can cater to target just people who fit this criteria. This would mean if your budget was PKR 1000 a day, instead of dividing this amount between all the people of Lahore, you would only spend it on those who fit the bill. Needless to say, your spend is much wiser.
It can be tricky to understand the things mentioned and navigate the digital marketing territory, but research on your customer is a great way to start. It is advisable to try different types of marketing and seeing which yields better results — putting all of your eggs in one basket has never been a good idea. With experience, you will learn to analyse the detailed reports to see what is working and what needs tweaking. Remember to always refer back to the marketing plan and update it if required. The key is to measure the ups and downs, learn from them and update the marketing plan as required, hopefully with each circle you will see steady improvements.
For those interested in solidifying their knowledge on Digital Marketing, Google offer a free course which covers the basics in an easy-to-understand manner which can be found here.