The year 2017 was a significant one for digital marketing. Year-on-year, online marketing spent increased by 12% from 2016 to 2017, growing from £141 billion to £155 billion annually.
With so much change in the industry, how can businesses of all sizes effectively compete and market their products online? We’ve put together a list of 30 top tips to help you master online marketing in 2017 and set your business up for success in the year ahead.
Set A Budget
If you’re investing your company’s money in online marketing activities, then you’ve most likely already set a budget for your digital marketing activities in 2016. Setting a budget for digital marketing isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. You should always set a fixed amount of money that you’re investing in digital marketing, rather than setting a ceiling on how much you can spend. This won’t leave you with much room for error if you run out of money before you reach your target audience.
If you’re serious about marketing your product online, then you’ll eventually need to consider investing in paid advertising to reach your audience. However, you should never, under any circumstances, agree to pay more than you can afford to. The temptation to plough additional funds into paid online marketing may seem tempting, but you’ll never know if it’s the right thing to do until you’ve tried it and failed.
Keep Your Target Audience In Mind
Your target audience is the audience you’re going to market your product to, and it’s important to remember that they might not always be your traditional buyer persona. Take Spotify for example. The streaming giant now encourages marketers to think of their customers as “music lovers.” And what are music lovers doing on their smartphone in the first place? Trying to find new artists and albums to discover. If you want to gain a significant share of the streaming market, then you’ll need to consider this new audience segment.
Including people who are unfamiliar with your product or service in your target audience can hurt your conversion rates. For example, if you’re selling fashion products and you include men in your audience, but your marketing material is specifically aimed at women, then it’s obvious that not all men are going to be interested in your product. Tailor your marketing strategy to suit the needs of your ideal buyer.
Understand Mobile Vs. Desktop
Desktop vs. mobile can be a tricky distinction to make. Does your product work on both platforms? Can customers find and use it easily on their phones? Once you’ve answered these questions, then you can start to build a strategy around which platform you’ll use for marketing. Let’s say you decided that your product is most useful on desktops, but you have a very engaged audience on social media. Your best bet would be to use your social media accounts to drive traffic to a mobile-optimised website. This way, you’ll reach your audience on the platform they prefer and are more likely to engage with your content.
You can use Google Analytics to track your website’s engagement and see which platform is helping to drive the most traffic. From there, you can work out which platform you should be focusing on for the best return on your investment. If you decide that mobile is where your product is going to resonate most, then you can prioritise your efforts accordingly.
Create Multi-Channel Marketing
Consumers today are much more sophisticated when it comes to their shopping experience. In an effort to reach them, marketers need to develop more sophisticated multi-channel marketing strategies. To really understand your audience’s behaviour, you need to look at the entire shopping journey – from first impression to conversion.
With the rise of the ‘influencer’ and the ‘vlogger’, creators of YouTube videos, Instagram and Snapchat stories can now reach large audiences directly from the platform. These digital influencers often have large followings on social media, which can be leveraged to drive traffic to your brand or product.
If you’re looking to sell a clothing product, for example, then you could consider creating an influencer-led content blitz, partnering with Instagrammers who have a large creative following. You might choose to work with a lifestyle vlogger who has thousands of YouTube subscribers, creating a series of sponsored videos, featuring your product, in their channel. The content may take the form of a documentary series, looking into the world of fashion, art or travel. The goal is to develop an entirely new audience segment for your clothing brand or product – a female audience, which may not have previously been reached by your competitors.
It’s important to note that not all influencers are created equal, and it’s crucial to consider the nature of your partnership. Just because an influencer has a large following doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for your brand. Sometimes, the reverse can be true; an influencer might not have the gravitas or creative voice that your brand is looking for.
Content Is King
In the world of marketing, content is everything. If you can’t create high-quality, engaging content that compels audiences to take action, then what’s the point of marketing?
The content you create doesn’t necessarily need to be lengthy news articles to be considered ‘high-quality’. Look to the content you’ve already created and the platforms you’ve established to see if there’s anything that can be repurposed and reused. Videos, infographics, blogs and social media content all have a considerable audience, which you can pull on to engage with your product. When creating content for marketing, identify the ‘right’ content to share for each platform.
For example, a video of a product in use, especially one that shows how the product can enhance people’s lives, is the best kind of content to post to YouTube.
Also, consider whether your product fits the ‘brand voice’ of the channel you’re posting to. If you’re posting to a channel that’s more tech-savvy or gadget-focused, then a product heavily focused on design, fashion and lifestyle might not be the best fit. Similarly, a fashion or lifestyle channel might not be the best fit for a product targeting businesspeople.
The best kind of content to promote your product or service online is the kind that draws attention and opens up the door for more business. With so much competition and so much reliance on search engines for traffic, content that draws attention is content that will retain its value and attract new customers. In the eyes of Google, content that’s highly engaging, visually appealing and well-written will all score higher in search results, making your content more discoverable and thus more effective. Think about high-profile websites like Apple, Google and Instagram, with their own in-house content creators. Platforms like YouTube, which bills itself as the “world’s largest social network,” are also the best places to grow and nurture a brand. They provide a steady stream of content that’s always interesting to watch, engage with and share. This content can be used to great effect by marketers, boosting brand awareness, generating leads and growing a business.
You should always have measures in place to know if your online marketing activities are having a positive impact on your business. Without accurate data, it’s very hard to know exactly what’s working and what’s not. Google Analytics can be a very powerful tool in this regard, providing you with data on your website’s visitors, their behaviour, demographics and much more.
If you want to see exactly how different marketing tactics are performing, then you can use Google Analytics to track and monitor the results of your different marketing channels. This will provide you with information on which methods are delivering the best results and allow you to optimise your efforts.
Think About Distribution Channels
The most effective, and arguably the most effective, form of marketing is direct sales, either by mail or telephone. However, with the explosion of digital marketing, especially as it relates to social media, direct sales via email and social media have become somewhat redundant. The way consumers discover and engage with content today is through online distribution channels like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube. Using these platforms, brands can publish content at any time, which makes them ideal for marketing.
These platforms exist to help businesses, brands and individuals connect with each other and share content.
To reach your target audience on these channels, you’ll need to consider using two platforms, one to drive traffic to and another to engage with and convert that audience into leads and customers.
Avoid Free Blogging Platforms
It’s always tempting to pick up a free blogging platform, such as WordPress, and throw up a blog to promote your product or service. However, these platforms, often associated with poorly designed blogs and generic content, are rarely the most effective means of marketing.