10 commandments of digital marketing success

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If you are a small business trying to navigate yourself around the world of marketing, it can be difficult to know where to start.

In the last article, we looked at the top things to avoid when formulating your marketing strategy.

This article will explore the essential elements you need in order to ensure you reach as many people as possible.

There can be no doubt that the world of marketing has changed. Print advertising, billboards and flyers are now called traditional advertising, while the younger platforms of social media, PPC, email and SEO are grouped under the banner of ‘online’ or ‘digital marketing’.

Of course, both forms of marketing have their place, but with the majority of consumers searching online for products and services, it is a form of advertising that you really cannot afford to ignore.

Below, we’ll look at the ten essential elements that make up the ‘holy grail’ of digital marketing. Without these, your efforts will be stunted before they even begin.

1) A website: The king of your online marketing efforts

The importance of having a website cannot be understated. Of course, the majority of companies know intellectually that they should have a website, yet many still underestimate just how essential this really is.

Neglecting an online website is a bit like setting up a high-street clothes store without a physical venue.

Your website is essentially your online sales document and it is the first thing that your customers will expect to see when they run a search for you online.

Be sure that your website is easy to navigate, professional, with clear branding messages.

2) Know thy customer

Knowing who your customers are is essential when it comes to online marketing. Of course, most businesses think they know who their customers are. But do they?

In order to ensure your content is laser-targeted to the right people who are more likely to invest in your service, you should conduct extensive research on their demographics, interests, the people they listen to, likes and dislikes and pain points.

Even if you do not have the time or resources to draw up detailed marketing personas or invest in market research, if you carry out the essential research at the very beginning, it can save you a lot of wasted time and money later on.

3) Set up social media channels

Social media is the kingpin of online marketing. Free to use, and accessible to everyone, it has revoluntionised the way businesses interact with their customers.Social networks have essentially created a level playing field where you no longer have to spend thousands on a billboard ad or have the marketing budget the size of the UK GDP in order to reach people.

Setting up on pretty much all of the main social platforms is free, and an easy way to get noticed.

Consider the following statistics:

Facebook is the largest social network in the world with more than 1.59 billion users, while more than 320 million use Twitter and 400 million use Instagram. LinkedIn commands more than 100 million users, Google+ has 300 million and Pinterest has 100 million.

In a nutshell: these are statistics you can’t afford to ignore. If all of your customers are on social networking sites, don’t you think you should be too?

4) SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimisation. It is the mechanism through which customers get to find you in the first place.

Certainly, it is essential to have a website. But it is even more essential to have a website that people can find.

High quality, well optimised content with relevant keywords will get you high on the points list when it comes to SEO.

Social networking sites also play an important role here – because seven of the top eight SEO factors are linked to social activity. So it is yet another factor that you can’t afford to ignore.

5) Branded content is king

Your brand is what separates you from other companies out there that are doing the same thing.

This is why branded content is so essential. Branded content can include things such as a blog, infographics, eBooks, pictures, posts – whatever represents your unique business identity.

To really stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to get creative and be unique in your approach.

6) Identify your goals

Setting goals is an important part of the digital marketing process. When setting goals, it is important to ensure that they are SMART goals. This means they should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time stamped.

So for example a goal to “achieve more profits” is not as relevant as a goal to achieve “a 62% increase in profits acquired through social media”.

The more specific and measurable you can make your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them.

Setting goals allows you to see exactly where you are heading as a business and forms a key part of your vision.

After all, if you don’t know where you are going, then how will you know how to get there?

7) Sharing is caring in the digital marketing world

Sharing is the key to social media success. This is why it is important to incentivise people to share. Some great ways of doing this include prize draws, offering discounts or exclusive content. You should encourage employees to share content as they can be the best brand advocates for your business.

8) Partner up

Forming strategic partnerships is another great way to promote your products and services.

By doing this, you and the other company can team up to do promotions and share the cost or set up mutually beneficial referral schemes.

9) Stand out from the crowd

Highlighting your unique selling points is one of the most important things you can do as an organisation.

Even if you are in a very niche industry, the likelihood is that you will have competitors. Therefore you will need to think about what it is that makes you unique, and ensure that this is conveyed in any digital marketing campaign.

10) Paid ads

Paid advertisements are more than just a promotion for your products and services. It is an investment into your company. It is an investment in your vision and goals as an organisation.

Of course, it is important to choose your channels carefully and ensure that your advertising projects are aligned with your budget.

The key to online marketing success is putting the right content in the right places.This is why it is important to have in mind an advertising strategy and ensure that you know who your target audience is and where they hang out online.

When you have this information, it becomes easier to target your content to the audiences you are trying to connect with.

By Janine Griffiths

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