The digital landscape is changing, and so is marketing. More and more companies are realizing the importance of a digital presence, and as a result, marketing budgets are rising. According to HubSpot Blogs research, only 16% of executives think that marketing spending will decrease in 2020, compared to 39% who think it will increase and 36% who think it will stay the same.
Since much of marketing’s job is to attract and fulfill customers, businesses need to figure out how to do that in an online world. Luckily, the tools that we have at our fingertips allow us to adapt and continue delivering value to customers even when they’re not in the office.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to market your business online, how digital marketing has changed, and what you need to do to stay relevant and make an impact in the industry.
How to Market Your Business Online
If you’re reading this, I assume that you already have a website for your business. (If not, why not? You should have a website. Now.)
Even if you do have a website, though, it’s not enough to have a presence in one place. Your website isn’t the only place you need to be in order to attract potential customers. In fact, let’s say that you’re trying to sell bedsheets, and you’ve established yourself as a reputable company that can be trusted to deliver high-quality products. Now you have to start thinking about marketing on social media. Where should you be spending your time?
You should be using all of the major social media platforms, not just your website, to establish yourself as an authoritative voice in your industry. (If you’re curious, here are the most popular social media platforms as of 2020: YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.)
You should also be participating in online forums like Reddit and Quora as well as checking out online communities like Grow Twitter and CollectiveBrain (which, interestingly, is a curated list of the best online marketing communities). The more places that you show up in, the more opportunities you create for customers to find you. (Not to mention that Google is now prioritizing content that is consumed most frequently and effectively in social media platforms in its search rankings.)
The goal of your social media marketing is to consistently attract and engage with potential customers, supporters, and stakeholders. You accomplish this through a combination of online chatter and behind-the-scenes content. (Behind-the-scenes content is content that is unrelated to your product or service, but nonetheless valuable in informing your audience about your business. Think of things like independent research, industry analysis, and so on.)
Why Social Media Marketing?
In 2020, nobody is an island, and neither are businesses. People want to connect with companies that they like and trust, and those companies that can provide value in some way. (This is known as the “wisdom of the crowd.”) When someone hears about your company through an acquaintance, they are more likely to click on your website and find out more information because they like what they hear. (This is called “word of mouth” marketing.)
If you’re looking for a way to cut through the noise and gain more credibility with your audience, one of the best things you can do is to gain enough social media followers that your content reaches a large audience. You can then use your social media to engage with this audience, answering any questions that they may have about your industry and business model.
Why should you do this? Well, if you have a thousand followers, but your content only reaches a small handful of people, then you’re losing out on the opportunity to connect with a lot of people. On the other hand, if you have ten thousand followers but no content to speak of, you’re also losing out on the opportunity to engage with your audience and prove to them that you’re a reliable source of information in your industry. (This is also why having a blog is so important – it gives you the opportunity to write and publish content on a regular basis, providing more opportunities for you to connect with potential customers and gain credibility.)
The Importance of SEO
Since the beginning of time, search engine optimization (SEO) has been a major part of any successful marketing plan. After all, if you can’t be found when potential customers search for the products and services that you offer, then you’re losing out on a lot of business. (This is also why we have SEO specialists – they help businesses get found when potential customers search for the products and services that their business offers.)
The fact is that people are increasingly relying on search engines to find the products and services that they’re looking for, and having a SEO-friendly website makes a lot of sense for anyone trying to build a business.
However, in an age when customers can instantly discover any product or service they want without having to leave their couch, the question becomes, “How do I get found when potential customers search for my product or service?”
The answer is a combination of SEO and social media marketing. Instead of just having a website, you need to have a strong social media presence, including a YouTube channel, Instagram account, and so on.
Why? Well, as we’ve established above, having a website isn’t enough – you also need to have a Twitter account, an Instagram account, and so on. These platforms allow you to engage with your audience on a regular basis, proving to them that you’re a reliable source of information in your industry (and a company that they can trust).
Your YouTube channel can serve as an authoritative voice in your industry, whereas your Instagram account can function as a more informal space to engage with your audience, providing an opportunity to showcase your product’s or service’s lifestyle benefits.
Additionally, both of these platforms can help you establish yourself as an expert in your industry. If you’ve never really made it a point to study marketing, there is a lot of information available to you online – you just need to know where to look for it. (Incidentally, if you’d like to build a brand voice and establish yourself as an expert in your industry, here are a few places that you can find tons of information: YouTube, Twitter, and Blogs.)
Building a Reputation as an Authoritative Voice in Your Industry
If you’ve been around for more than a few years, you know how difficult it can be to gain credibility in an industry. In many industries, there is a lot of scepticism around brands that are trying to build up their reputation as an authoritative voice. (After all, if you can’t back it up with evidence of some sort, then how can they believe you?)
Thankfully, the digital landscape has made it much easier to prove your credibility – at least in theory. With every new piece of content that you create, you are giving your industry or brand some degree of credibility. (Think of the blog post that you just read – it’s adding a new piece of information to the discussion, which hopefully helps the reader understand your industry or brand a little bit better.)
When you write a blog post, you are effectively “reproducing’ content that already exists. In most cases, this content will have been curated by someone else and will therefore have some credibility behind it. (This is known as “crowdsourcing’ content – using other people’s knowledge to inform your own.)
As a business owner, it’s your job to continuously educate yourself about your industry – the more that you know, the more that you can contribute as an expert. To do this, you can use your own personal blog to share your expertise with the world. Alternatively, you can join online forums like Reddit and Quora, where you can share your knowledge with people who are also looking for advice. (A good rule of thumb is to find the “chatter’ in social media platforms – people who are discussing similar topics and sharing relevant information.)
In summary, if you want to be taken seriously as an expert in your industry, you need to put in the time to educate yourself about the subject, establish yourself as a reliable and authoritative source of information in your industry, and then prove it through your actions.
How Has Digital Marketing Changed?
If you’re looking for a way to cut through the noise of the digital world and get straight to the point, here are a few interesting trends that you need to know about.