The growth of online marketing is undeniable; according to HubSpot Blogs research, online marketing is now the second largest marketing function within organizations, increasing from 10% to 12% between 2017 and 2018. Even more strikingly, the percentage of marketers who say their primary strategy is “online marketing” increased by 23% in the last year.
The rise of inbound marketing—and the increasing role of content in digital marketing—is further proof that the lines between offline and online marketing have blurred.
With few exceptions, traditional marketing methods—such as radio ads, billboards, and magazine spreads—all have the ability to be carried out online. What’s more, many marketing tactics—from SEO to content marketing—can be optimized to work in tandem with online marketing methods.
While SEO, content marketing, and email marketing form the backbone of most online marketing efforts, many marketers are looking to make additional strides with digital marketing. As a result, online marketing techniques and platforms are evolving to keep up with the changing demands of savvy marketers.
Here, we’ll discuss how to market online—from brand awareness to lead generation—so that you can successfully navigate this ever-evolving digital marketing landscape.
Online Marketing Strategy
Before you begin any type of online marketing activity, you must develop a plan to carry it out. This strategy will form the basis of your digital marketing activity, and it should be comprehensive and cohesive.
From the outset, it is essential to define what you are trying to achieve. Too often, marketers fall into the trap of launching a vaguely-defined campaign with the hope that it will generate results. Defining goals and objectives will form the backbone of your strategy.
To develop an effective strategy, you must ask yourself :
- What am I trying to achieve?
- How am I going to achieve it?
- With what resources?
- Based on what metric?
- Who’s the target audience?
- What do I need to do to gain maximum traction?
To answer these questions, you must research and observe your competitors. By analyzing your competitors’ success rates and discovering which strategies they are employing to gain a competitive edge, you can identify potent areas of effort that you can replicate or improve upon.
This is also the stage at which you should begin to form your ideal buyer persona. This is a persona that you will use to determine which strategies will be most effective for your brand. Once you have a clear idea of who your ideal buyer is, you can craft specific messaging that will make them feel recognized and valued. As a result, you will improve your chance of winning them over as customers.
Setting Up Shop
If you are a new business, the first thing you need to do is establish yourself as a reputable entity in your industry. To do this, you must set up shop online.
Establishing a website that is relevant to your niche is the ideal way to begin. If you are tech-savvy, you can even establish a fully functioning e-commerce store with the potential to generate sales.
The key to establishing an effective presence online is to develop a recognizable brand voice and style that will make your site distinct from your competitors. To do this, you can find and utilize templates that help you set up a professional looking storefront in no time. As an entrepreneur, launching a business in a competitive niche, or even a new industry, can be tricky. Having a functioning e-commerce store, or even a professionally designed website, will give you a platform to promote your business and establish trust with potential customers.
Now that you have a website up and running, you can begin creating content. As with any marketing effort, content creation should be guided by a clear strategy. Before you begin, ask yourself these questions:
- What am I trying to achieve with my content?
- Who’s the target audience?
- What do I need to offer them?
- How can I provide maximum value to my audience?
- What’s my budget?
- What is my timeline?
- What’s my key message?
Your first step towards creating content should be to analyze the type of content that is already working for you. Your website might already host blog posts, and those blog posts might already incorporate a case study, how-to, or other types of content.
The next step is to determine the type of content that you will create. To do this, you can examine your target audience and determine what would be most valuable to them. From there, you can create content types, such as case studies, how-to articles, infographics, or webinars that will assist them in making the leap into action, or help them solve a problem.
To begin executing your strategy, it’s important to measure the results of your efforts. To do this, you must track metrics and observe the effects of your content marketing in real time. Before you begin, define a few key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will track to determine the success of your campaign.
These KPIs should be easy to understand and should align with your established business goals. Some examples of these metrics include :
- New customer acquisition
- Brand awareness
- Product recall
These KPIs should not be confused with website traffic, which can be extremely difficult to measure. Instead, focus on measuring the effect of your content—particularly your digital content—to determine its success.
Website traffic is, generally speaking, the total number of visits to your site, regardless of whether those visits resulted in a conversion or not. For example, if you have 1,000 visits to your site with no conversions, your website traffic might be 1,000.
Conversely, brand awareness is the total number of people who are familiar with and/or recall your brand. To measure this, you can use tools like Google Analytics to identify the percentage of people who have heard of your brand, or individuals who have interacted with your brand (e.g., purchased a product, applied for a job, signed up for a newsletter, or taken some other action that represents a potential conversion).
Similarly, product recall is the percentage of people who have been, or are potentially, in the middle of, a recall. The easiest way to track this is via Google Analytics; simply set up a new measurement, such as “Product Recall”, and track its performance over time.
Content Marketing Key Takeaway
As a business owner, hiring a digital marketer to create content for your website might not be the first step that you take. Instead, you might consider creating content yourself, or at least approving the content that your DM creates.
If this is the case, the above points—strategy, planning, and creating content—will become even more vital.
To ensure that your content is both relevant and interesting, you should follow the KPI framework. This framework helps you measure the effective content, and allows you to easily identify content that is producing results. Additionally, creating and following a content strategy will form the basis of your entire content marketing effort—from creating content to analyzing the results of your efforts.