What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing (also known as data-driven marketing) is term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.
As digital platforms are increasingly incorporated into marketing plans and everyday life, and as people use digital devices instead of visiting physical shops, digital marketing campaigns are becoming more prevalent and efficient.
Digital marketing techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), content marketing, influencer marketing, content automation, campaign marketing, data-driven marketing and e-commerce marketing, social media marketing, social media optimization, e-mail direct marketing, display advertising, e–books, and optical disks and games are becoming more common in our advancing technology. In fact, digital marketing now extends to non-Internet channels that provide digital media, such as mobile phones (SMS and MMS), callback, and on-hold mobile ring tones.
At a high level, digital marketing refers to advertising delivered through digital channels such as search engines, websites, social media, email, and mobile apps. While this term covers a wide range of marketing activities, all of which are not universally agreed upon, we’ll focus on the most common types below.
PPC or Paid Search
Paid search, or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, typically refers to the “sponsored result” on the top or side of a search engine results page (SERP). You only pay when your ad is clicked. You can tailor your PPC ads to appear when specific search terms are entered, creating ads that are targeted to a particular audience.
PPC ads are flexible, visible, and most importantly, effective for many different types of organizations. They are also contextual advertisements—ads that appear when a person is searching for a particular keyword or term.
So, when a user searches for ‘chocolate fountain’ on a search engine, the search engine results page (SERP: I feel this may be an acronym heavy article) reveals the following:
As you can see from the screen grab, the paid for search results are in the cream box at the top. This is a fairly standard sponsored results page.
Amazon paid the most for the search term ‘chocolate fountain’ and therefore Amazon appears at the top of this results box. It will cost Amazon more than the other listed companies if the user clicks on its link.
The other companies in the search box would have paid slightly less for the same terms.
The same applies to the Bing SERP:
Although this one’s green, and it features different companies from the Google SERP, Amazon is still at the top, but notably it doesn’t have top rank in the organic search results (the ones that haven’t been paid for).
CPM & CPC
Cost-per-click (CPC) means that you as an advertiser appearing on a SERP, pay the search engine for each user’s individual click on your ad.
Cost-per-impression (CPM) means that you as an advertiser appearing on a SERP, pays the search engine for every 1,000 times your ad appears on the page The user doesn’t have to click-through, it’s just about page impressions. If you’ve learnt nothing new from this, then the knowledge that the M in CPM means 1,000 is still a decent fact.
CPM is perhaps best for companies who want to raise brand awareness. CPC is best for sales.
AdWords is Google’s own advertising product. It offers PPC and CPM advertising as well as site targeted banner, text and rich media ads.
AdWords is also Google’s main source of revenue.
If you use its service you will be able show your ads on one or both of Google’s advertising networks:
- The Google Search Network, featuring the standard Google Search, Google Shopping, Maps and its various search partners.
- Google Display Network, which is any website that partners with Google, and other Google sites such as Gmail, YouTube and Blogger.
With AdWords, if you choose CPC, you can set your bid (the amount you’re willing to pay for each click) to manual or automatic. With manual you choose your bid amounts, with automatic Google chooses the bid amount for you within your budget.) With CPC and CPM you can set your maximum bid amount.
The Rules of Ad Ranking
Google’s PPC platform is called Google AdWords, and though it may seem a bit complex, it’s actually designed to provide maximum ROI to everyone involved: Google, your company, and searchers. The way it does this is by rewarding the most relevant, intelligently targeted pay-per-click campaigns by charging them less for ad clicks. So the more specific and useful your ads are, the better you’ll perform. You’re rewarded for drumming up interest in your own site.
Every time a search is initiated, Google digs into the pool of AdWords advertisers and chooses a set of winners to appear in the ad space on its search results page. The “winners” are chosen based on a combination of factors, including the quality and relevance of their keywords and ad campaigns, as well as the size of their keyword bids.
Keywords Are Key in Paid Search Marketing
The first step in any search marketing campaign, including paid search, is keyword research. In paid search, bidding on the wrong keywords is like throwing your advertising budget out the window. This is why specialized keyword tools can be so useful. Here are a few things to keep in mind when building your paid search keyword list:
- Use negative keywords to your advantage: Negative keywords enable you to filter out search terms that aren’t relevant to your products and services, so your ads won’t show up for those irrelevant searches. In the long run, this can save you a lot of money in wasteful clicks!
- Don’t go too broad: It’s also worth paying special attention to the long tail of search—that is, the longer, less frequent keyword phrases that actually add up to a greater volume of visits than the few most common keywords. Long-tail keywords tend to show a high degree of intent, so they can be excellent candidates for your paid search campaigns. For example, it’s a good bet that someone who searches on “organic dog food free shipping” is later in the buying cycle than someone who searches on “dog food” alone.
- Stay relevant always!: Another useful tip is to make sure your keywords match the text of the landing pagesyou’re linking to. Google keeps a close eye on that sort of accuracy (as they should) and keeps the least honest marketers from earning links to their carpet-cleaning service with ads reading “Lower Your Mortgage Today” or “Pictures of Brad & Angelina’s Wedding Here!”
Yahoo Bing Network
Adwords’ nearest rival is the Yahoo Bing Network (YBN). It claims to be a ‘combined advertising marketplace’ made up of Yahoo, Bing and many syndicated partners such as Facebook, Amazon and Monster.
In the US, this network accounts for 29% of online search, and according to its own data, searchers on the YBN spend 23% more in the same sites found on other search engines.
Worldwide there are 489m unique searchers on the YBN, 94m of who don’t use Google. These searchers spend 137% more than the average searcher and 76% more than Google searchers worldwide. YBN isn’t suggesting you need to run campaigns on Google AND its own network, its suggesting that you run your campaigns solely on its network because users spend more money there.
According to AdGooroo, AdWords dominated most areas in Q3 2012 (shopping, travel, education, computing and B2B) in terms of impressions, however YBN displayed more impressions for financial services.
In fact 9.5% of the financial service companies who used both AdWords and YBN achieved higher click-through-rates (CTRs) on YBN. 5.7% of companies in the shopping category who used both search engines also had higher CTRs.
These aren’t exactly mind-blowing stats, but it does prove that there is justification in weighing up whether to advertise on either or both.
Why should you use paid search?
The most important positive here is your company’s appearance at the top of the SERPs. With organic results decreasing rapidly further down the screen, it’s vital that your company appears within the top five results in order to stand a chance of click-through.
If you have enough investment, PPC is the fastest way to get to the top.
If you know your way around the platform, you can set up a PPC campaign in less than an hour, and appear immediately in the sponsored results.
Tracking is a lot easier using SEM. You no longer have to take a gamble on ads you’ve paid for in advance in other media, with little way to measure how successful they are. With SEM every ad, keyword and penny spent can be tracked, allowing for a more accurate ROI. This also means it’s a lot easier for an advertiser to test campaigns too.
All of this, along with access to the respective search engine’s network sites and platforms included in its packages, and the ability to schedule ads and target them to specific locations and times, means that paid search is an almost essential part of your marketing strategy.
You can do things organically. If you run a small business, that either has a tight marketing budget or if you just don’t want to jump into bed with the major search engines, you can still do many things to raise your profile and compete with the big brands.
Make sure you have the very best product or service available, use social media, create evergreen content, engage, personalise and be relevant to your consumers. It does work.
Search Engine Optimization
Simply put, search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing the content, technical set-up, and reach of your website so that your pages appear at the top of a search engine result for a specific set of keyword terms. Ultimately, the goal is to attract visitors to your website when they search for products, services, or information related to your business.
SEO can almost be viewed as a set of best practices for good digital marketing. It enforces the need for a well-constructed and easy-to-use website, valuable and engaging content, and the credibility for other websites and individuals to recommend you by linking to your site or mentioning it in social media posts.
SEO also stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.
All major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo have primary search results, where web pages and other content such as videos or local listings are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users. Payment isn’t involved, as it is with paid search ads.
Differences Between the Major Search Engines
Although the basic principle of operation of all search engines is the same, the minor differences between them lead to major changes in results relevancy. For different search engines different factors are important. There were times, when SEO experts joked that the algorithms of Bing are intentionally made just the opposite of those of Google. While this might have a grain of truth, it is a matter a fact that the major search engines like different stuff and if you plan to conquer more than one of them, you need to optimize carefully.
There are many examples of the differences between search engines. For instance, for Yahoo! and Bing, on-page keyword factors are of primary importance, while for Google links are very, very important. Also, for Google sites are like wine – the older, the better, while Yahoo! generally has no expressed preference towards sites and domains with tradition (i.e. older ones). Thus you might need more time till your site gets mature to be admitted to the top in Google, than in Yahoo!.
Why does my website need SEO?
The majority of web traffic is driven by the major commercial search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. Although social media and other types of traffic can generate visits to your website, search engines are the primary method of navigation for most Internet users. This is true whether your site provides content, services, products, information, or just about anything else.
Search engines are unique in that they provide targeted traffic—people looking for what you offer. Search engines are the roadways that make this happen. If search engines cannot find your site, or add your content to their databases, you miss out on incredible opportunities to drive traffic to your site.
Search queries—the words that users type into the search box—carry extraordinary value. Experience has shown that search engine traffic can make (or break) an organization’s success. Targeted traffic to a website can provide publicity, revenue, and exposure like no other channel of marketing. Investing in SEO can have an exceptional rate of return compared to other types of marketing and promotion.
Why can’t the search engines figure out my site without SEO?
Search engines are smart, but they still need help. The major engines are always working to improve their technology to crawl the web more deeply and return better results to users. However, there is a limit to how search engines can operate. Whereas the right SEO can net you thousands of visitors and increased attention, the wrong moves can hide or bury your site deep in the search results where visibility is minimal.
In addition to making content available to search engines, SEO also helps boost rankings so that content will be placed where searchers will more readily find it. The Internet is becoming increasingly competitive, and those companies who perform SEO will have a decided advantage in visitors and customers.
What are the main stages of the Search Engine Optimization process?
SEO is not a static process but rather a framework with rules and processes. For simplicity though SEO can be broken down into 2 main stages:
On-site SEO: What rules to apply on your site to make it search engine friendly
Off-site SEO: How to promote your website or blog so that it can rank better in search results.
What is the difference of SEO and Internet marketing?
Some people often ask “Is SEO the same as Internet Marketing?” The simplest answer is that SEO is one of the tools available in your Internet Marketing arsenal.
It is not Internet Marketing as such but it can be part of your overall Internet Marketing campaign which normally includes other things like social media promotion, content strategy etc.
Can I do SEO for myself?
The world of SEO is complex, but most people can easily understand the basics. Even a small amount of knowledge can make a big difference. Free SEO education is widely available on the web, including in guides like this. Combine this with a little practice and you are well on your way to becoming a guru.
Depending on your time commitment, your willingness to learn, and the complexity of your website(s), you may decide you need an expert to handle things for you. Firms that practice SEO can vary; some have a highly specialized focus, while others take a broader and more general approach.
In any case, it’s good to have a firm grasp of the core concepts.
Have you heard the expression, “Content is king?” If not, you have now. Great content is the fuel that drives your digital marketing activities:
- It is a key pillar of modern SEO
- It helps you get noticed on social media
- It gives you something of value to offer customers in emails and paid search ads
Creating clever content that is not promotional in nature, but instead educates and inspires, is tough but well worth the effort. Offering content that is relevant to your audience helps them see you as a valuable source of information. On top of that, resourceful content makes it less likely that they will tune you out.
Today, the buyer is the expert and the one proactively reaching out to brands and businesses for help. For example:
- The average buyer guides themselves through 60% to 90% of the traditional sales funnel before ever contacting a brand or salesperson.
- 81% of shoppers research online before setting foot in a store.
- Consumers spend an average of 79 days conducting online research before buying.
There is an answer to this buyer-driven environment: Content. Content marketing is the process of creating high-quality, valuable content to attract, inform, and engage an audience, while also promoting the brand itself. Buyers and consumers are already searching the web for answers that your brand is uniquely positioned to offer.
It’s benefits are three-fold:
- Increased brand awareness: As prospects and buyers search the web for answers to their questions and solutions for their problems, your brand continues to show up.
- Increased brand preference: Content marketing helps to further establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry, which strengthens relationships with buyers.
- Greater reach at lower cost: It is not a short-term strategy, but over time, a library of great content will continue to reach more qualified leads and interested buyers.
Content marketing is the savvy marketer’s response to the new, relationship-based, buyer-driven, digital marketplace.
Content marketing is used by leading brands
A research shows the vast majority of marketers are using content marketing. In fact, it is used by many prominent organizations in the world, including P&G, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and John Deere. It’s also developed and executed by small businesses and one-person shops around the globe. Why? Because it works.
Here is just one example of content marketing in action:
Content marketing is good for your bottom line — and your customers
Specifically, there are three key reasons — and benefits — for enterprises that use content marketing:
- Increased sales
- Cost savings
- Better customers who have more loyalty
Marketing is impossible without great content
Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, content marketing should be part of your process, not something separate. Quality content is part of all forms of marketing:
- Social media marketing: Content marketing strategy comes before your social media strategy.
- SEO: Search engines reward businesses that publish quality, consistent content.
- PR: Successful PR strategies address issues readers care about, not their business.
- PPC: For PPC to work, you need great content behind it.
- Inbound marketing: Content is key to driving inbound traffic and leads.
- Content strategy: Content strategy is part of most content marketing strategies.
Content Marketing and SEO
In the same way that you take a couple extra steps to help your content succeed on social, take a couple more to help your content succeed with search engines. Weaving some SEO best practices into your content will help make a good impression with Google and move your website up the rankings list.
- Use keywords (naturally): Identify your main keyword for the content, a few synonyms, and a few related keywords. Then make sure you’re actually using them in your content, headers, and page content. Don’t over-do it, though. Search engines have been cracking down on content that is “stuffed” with one or two keywords. Write for the reader, but do make sure those important words are present.
- Earn natural links: Links from spammy sources can actually hurt your site with search engines. Build relationships with industry professionals who will share your content, and link to their primary resources in return. Links from high-quality websites will give yours a boost.
- Media: Include images and video (with descriptive titles and alt text) on blog posts and landing pages. They improve the user experience, which decreases bounce rates and improves your standing with Google.
- The strength of a good content marketing strategy is in providing the information and answers that your target audience is looking for, but your hard work is all for nought if they can’t find it! Make sure you’re creating content for the user, but that search engines will also favor.
Five Content Marketing Examples
There are as many types of content marketing as there are types of content–far too many to cover here. My intent is to give you an introduction to content marketing and get you thinking like a content marketer so you’ll see the opportunities all around you. Soon you’ll be coming up with 50 content marketing ideas every day. You won’t be able to stop seeing opportunities to create content. Here are five examples to help your mind start percolating.
- Infographics. These are generally long, vertical graphics that include statistics, charts, graphs, and other information. If you need some examples, here are 197 infographics on the topic of content marketingcurated by Michael Schmitz, head of Content Lab at Publicis, Munich. Infographics can be effective in that if one is good it can be passed around social media and posted on websites for years. You can get a professionally designed infographic by hiring a contractor on a site like oDesk or if you want to remove some of the risk you can go with a company like Visua.ly. A decent infographic will usually cost you at least $1,000 to have designed, but can cost several thousand dollars if you are hiring a contractor or agency to include strategy and planning, research, copywriting, and design. There is also the matter of promoting that infographic to bloggers and the media. Or you could set up a board on Pinterest and curate infographics on a topic related to your business. That is also a form of content marketing, and it costs nothing but your time. Hey, it worked for Michael.
- Webpages. What’s the difference between a normal webpage and a webpage that is content marketing? Consider The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz, a provider of SEO related tools and resources. This resource, offered for free, has been viewed millions of times, bringing in countless customers who otherwise might never have stumbled across Moz and the services they offer. Or take a look at a case study from the design firm Teehan+Lax. Most case studies are boring. Their case studies are fascinating. That’s the difference between simply putting content on your website, and content marketing.
- Podcasts. Michael Hyatt, author of the best-selling book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, practices what he preaches. His “This is Your Life” podcast is downloaded 250,000 times each month. As Hyatt elaborates on his blog post 4 Reasons You Should Consider Launching Your Own Podcast, “A podcast gives you visibility in a completely different world—primarily iTunes. I have had scores of new people say they had never heard of me until they stumbled onto me in iTunes.” Hyatt gives valuable information and advice in his podcast–all for free. But that podcast leads to more sales of his books, signups for his courses, and requests for him as a speaker.
- Videos. Gary Vaynerchuk is a master of content marketing using online video, just take a look at his YouTube channel. He got his start creating videos to promote his family’s wine store and through those videos and other online marketing he eventually grew it to a $45M empire. Videos and podcasts are a largely untapped form of content marketing because people think it’s expensive and hard. But with the falling cost of professional grade equipment creating high quality video and audio content is easier than ever. Amateur video content marketing has been used to sell blenders, launch new dental products, and market Hong Kong visa consulting services. What video could you throw together for your company that might change your fortunes overnight? It might be easier than you think.
- Books. Like movies, people often think of books as selling themselves, but savvy marketers don’t sell books just to sell books, they sell books as marketing tools. Michael Port’s sales manual Book Yourself Solidis a great read for entrepreneurs, salespeople, and marketers, and while I’m sure Port enjoys selling his book, the book is a tool for driving customers to his coaching and speaking services. Although with self-publishing it’s easier than ever to publish a book, there is still the perception that it’s difficult and that only reputable professionals can publish a business book. Publish your own, and even if people don’t read it you can still use it as a form of content marketing every time you’re introduced as “Author of…”
Those are just a few examples of content marketing. I could also have mentioned white papers, ebooks, apps, public speaking, presentations, and blogs. Entire books have been written on using each of these in content marketing efforts.
How Do I Get Started?
There are many firms that offer content marketing services, often paired with SEO or PR. If you’re simply too busy to do it yourself and aren’t ready to manage it in-house, then hiring a firm may be your best option. But if you want to jump in and do your own content marketing the easiest way is to start blogging. It will likely be hard at first, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Following tips from websites like Copyblogger you’ll quickly learn how to craft content for your website or blog that will engage readers and turn them into customers or clients. But while technically good writing and the right headlines can help, it’s not the key to creating great content that is the best form of content marketing.
Today, anyone can use content marketing to their advantage.
Before long, we will all have to, if we want to remain successful because the world gets noisier each day.
Those who focus their energy on telling good stories, no matter on which platform or in what context, will win in the long run.
Yelling louder won’t help you anymore, only yelling better things.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is the fastest growing trend in the history of the world.
People aren’t just watching cat videos and posting selfies on social media these days. Many rely on social networks to discover, research, and educate themselves about a brand before engaging with that organization. For marketers, it’s not enough to just post on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. You must also weave social elements into every aspect of your marketing and create more peer-to-peer sharing opportunities. The more your audience wants to engage with your content, the more likely it is that they will want to share it. This ultimately leads to them becoming a customer. And as an added bonus, they will hopefully influence their friends to become customers, too.
Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging.
Your customers are already interacting with brands through social media, and if you’re not speaking directly to your audience through social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, you’re missing out! Great marketing on social media can bring remarkable success to your business, creating devoted brand advocates and even driving leads and sales.
Even though the world population has grown to over 7 billion, by now, 1 out of every 5 humans on this planet has a Facebook account.
If Facebook were a country, it would be the biggest country in the world.
It surpassed China and beat my home country, India, in terms of “population numbers.”
The number is also based on who is active on the platform at least once a month, therefore it’s not artificially blown up and gives a realistic estimate.
Needless to say, if you’re not using social media marketing already, you’ll have to learn it – or lose in the long run.
You gaining traffic is only the result of social media marketing. What do you do to get that result? Create content that works well on each platform.
Of course, everyone wants their content to go viral, if possible.
But, to do that, it has to be engaging, so that people want to share it. Your content must be so good that it makes the user want to tell all of his or her friends about it.
Otherwise, your social media strategy will fail.
No shares, no viral content, no traffic back to your site.
Even though you hear about the same few social networks all of the time, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any others out there.
Wikipedia alone lists over 200 of them.
This great graphic, called “The Conversation Prism,” gives a good overview.
(Image Source: The Conversation Prism)
While this list is fairly up to date, it may come as a surprise to you that it’s entirely different from the first version of this graphic created back in 2008.
All versions aggregate around 200 services, but from version to version (usually updated every 2-3 years), the creators remove over 100 social media platforms and add another 100 in.
The world of social media is changing incredibly fast, so when you’re just starting out, start with the ones that have been around for years.
Betting on “the next big thing” can pay off, if you’re right. But, if you’re just getting started on a social media strategy, you can’t afford to miss having a Facebook page or a Twitter account, which are proven and well established.
Let’s look at some key social media terms.
Content: Content is whatever you are posting. It can be a Facebook status update, a photo on Instagram, a tweet, to pin something on a board on Pinterest, a video on Vine, etc.
The graphic already showed you that content comes in many different forms and it needs to be custom-tailored to each platform. What’s even more important than content though, is context.
Context: Gary Vaynerchuk said that if content is king, context is god. You can have a great joke, but if you place it somewhere inside a 3,000 word blog post, it’ll probably go mostly unseen. On Twitter however, that same joke, as a tweet, might crush it.
And, the opposite is also true. Packaging your entire blog post into one tweet is hardly possible, so try a good call-to-action with some relevant hashtags instead. Speaking of which…
Hashtags: By now, they’re a very common form used to add meta information on almost all social media channels. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Pinterest all use hashtags to let you describe the topic of your content or mark them as part of current trends.
They make your content easily discoverable and, thus, more likely to be shared.
Share: The currency of the social media world. Shares are all that matters on social media. People will keep talking to you about impressions, click-through rates and potential reach. But, none of these tell you whether people actually pass on what you have to say.
When people engage and interact with your content, that’s good. But, when they share it, that is the time when you celebrate.
A great tool to measure shares and the overall impact of content is Buzzsumo:
The more shares, the more people love your content. It’s the best form of engagement that people can make with it.
Engagement: A general term meaning people interact with the content that you produce. It can be a like, a recommend, a comment or a share. All of these are good, but the shares are where it’s at.
How Are Search & Social Media Marketing Related?
Why would a search marketer — or a site about search engines — care about social media? The two are very closely related.
Social media often feeds into the discovery of new content such as news stories, and “discovery” is a search activity. Social media can also help build links that in turn support into SEO efforts. Many people also perform searches at social media sites to find social media content. Social connections may also impact the relevancy of some search results, either within a social media network or at a ‘mainstream’ search engine.
Social Media and Marketing: Start With a Plan
Before you begin creating social media marketing campaigns, consider your business’s goals. Starting a social media marketing campaign without a social strategy in mind is like wandering around a forest without a map—you might have fun, but you’ll probably get lost.
Your business type should inform and drive your social media marketing strategy.
Example of a drone company doing social media marketing on Instagram
For example, an e-commerce or travel business, being highly visual, can get a lot of value from a strong presence on Instagram or Pinterest. A business-to-business or marketing company might find more leverage in Twitter or Linkedin.
How Social Media Marketing Can Help You Meet Your Marketing Goals
Social media marketing can help with a number of goals, such as:
- Increasing website traffic
- Building conversions
- Raising brand awareness
- Creating a brand identity and positive brand association
- Improving communication and interaction with key audiences
The bigger and more engaged your audience is on social media networks, the easier it will be for you to achieve every other marketing goal on your list!
How to Choose the Best Social Media Platforms for Marketing
Here’s a brief overview about how to use social media for marketing according to each platform’s unique user base and environment. Different social media marketing sites require different approaches, so develop a unique strategy tailored for each platform.
Using Facebook for Social Media Marketing
Facebook’s casual, friendly environment requires an active social media marketing strategy.Start by creating a Facebook Business Fan Page. You will want to pay careful attention to layout, as the visual component is a key aspect of the Facebook experience.
Facebook is a place people go to relax and chat with friends, so keep your tone light and friendly. And remember, organic reach on Facebook can be extremely limited, so consider a cost-effective Facebook ad strategy, which can have a big impact on your organic Facebook presence as well!
Using Google+ for Social Media Marketing
Google+ entered the scene as a Facebook competitor, but it now serves a more niche audience. It won’t work for everybody, but some communities are very active on Google+.
On Google+ you can upload and share photos, videos, links, and view all your +1s. Also take advantage of Google+ circles, which allow you to segment your followers into smaller groups, enabling you to share information with some followers while barring others. For example, you might try creating a “super-fan” circle, and share special discounts and exclusive offers only with that group.
You can also try hosting video conferences with Hangouts and experiment using the Hangout feature in some fun, creative ways. Some social media marketing ideas: if you’re a salon, host a how-to session on how to braid your hair. If you own a local bookstore, try offering author video chats. If you’re feeling adventurous, invite your +1s to your Google+ Community. Google+ Communities will allow you to listen into your fan’s feedback and input, truly putting the social back into social media.
Using Pinterest for Social Media Marketing
Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media marketing trends. Pinterest’s image-centered platform is ideal for retail, but anyone can benefit from using Pinterest for social media purposes or sales-driving ads.
Pinterest allows businesses to showcase their product offerings while also developing brand personality with eye-catching, unique pinboards. When developing your Pinterest strategy, remember that the social network’s primary audience is female. If that’s your demographic, you need a presence on Pinterest!
Using Twitter for Social Media Marketing
Twitter is the social media marketing tool that lets you broadcast your updates across the web. Follow tweeters in your industry or related fields, and you should gain a steady stream of followers in return.
Mix up your official tweets about specials, discounts, and news with fun, brand-building tweets . Be sure to retweet when a customer has something nice to say about you, and don’t forget to answer people’s questions when possible. Using Twitter as a social media marketing tool revolves around dialog and communication, so be sure to interact as much as possible to nurture and build your following.
Using LinkedIn for Social Media Marketing
LinkedIn is one of the more professional social media marketing sites. LinkedIn Groups is a great venue for entering into a professional dialog with people in similar industries and provides a place to share content with like-minded individuals. It’s also great for posting jobs and general employee networking.
Encourage customers or clients to give your business a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations makes your business appear more credible and reliable for new customers. Also browse the Questions section of LinkedIn; providing answers helps you get established as a thought leader and earns trust.
Using YouTube for Social Media Marketing
YouTube is the number one place for creating and sharing video content, and it can also be an incredibly powerful social media marketing tool. Many businesses try to create video content with the aim of having their video “go viral,” but in reality those chances are pretty slim. Instead, focus on creating useful, instructive “how-to” videos. These how-to videos also have the added benefit of ranking on the video search results of Google, so don’t under-estimate the power of video content!
Location-Based Social Media Tools
Social media platforms like Yelp, FourSquare, and Level Up are great for brick and mortar businesses looking to implement marketing on social media. Register on these sites to claim your location spot, and then consider extra incentives such as check-in rewards or special discounts. Remember, these visitors will have their phones in hand, so they will be able to write and post reviews. A lot of good reviews can significantly help sway prospective visitors to come in and build your business!
Using Reddit for Social Media Marketing
Reddit, or similar social media platforms such as Stumble Upon or Digg, are ideal for sharing compelling content. With over 2 billion page views a month, Reddit has incredible social media marketing potential, but marketers should be warned that only truly unique, interesting content will be welcomed. Posting on Reddit is playing with fire—submit spammy or overtly sales-focused content and your business could get berated by this extremely tech-savvy community.
If you have content you believe the Reddit community (majority is young, geeky, liberal, and internet-obsessed) would enjoy, you could reap tremendous benefits and earn valuable traffic.
Using social media in marketing does more than improve site traffic and help businesses reach more customers; it provides a valuable venue for better understanding and learning from your target audiences.
- Sprout Social
Email has been around for more than two decades, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s still the quickest and most direct way to reach customers with critical information. The reason is simple: Consumers are very attached to their emails. Just ask yourself how many times you have checked your email in the past hour…See what we mean?
But great marketers know that not just any email will do. Successful email campaigns must be engaging, relevant, informative, and entertaining. To succeed, your marketing emails should satisfy these five core attributes:
- Be coordinated across channels
Email marketing enriches business communications, targets specific key markets, and is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
Email marketing occurs when a company sends a commercial message to a group of people by use of electronic email. Most commonly through advertisements, requests for business, or sales or donation solicitation, any email communication is considered email marketing if it helps to build customer loyalty, trust in a product or company or brand recognition. Email marketing is an efficient way to stay connected with your clients while also promoting your business.
With email marketing, you can easily and quickly reach target markets without the need for large quantities of print space, television or radio time or high production costs. Thanks to effective email marketing software, you can maintain an email list that has been segmented based on several factors including the length of time addresses have been on the list, customers’ likes and dislikes, spending habits and other important criteria. Emails are then created and sent out to specifically target members of your email list, providing them with a personalized email detailing information that they are interested in or have requested. This helps promote trust and loyalty to a company while also increasing sales.
Email marketing can be more than just text, rich media formats can provide images and give your product or service texture and flavor. In email marketing, you have the complete attention of the potential customer. Pop-up ads or other internet advertising often get in the way of what the potential customer is looking at: The content. But with direct email marketing the advertising is the content.
Why Email Marketing Still Matters?
An astounding 1,876 companies across 43 different marketing categories, including SEO, social, video marketing, sales enablement, mobile analytics, and dozens more exist according to a recent “supergraphic” from VentureBeat. What’s more, many of the categories didn’t exist in the report just one year earlier.
But, just one category continues to persist over time: email marketing. The reason is clear–for ten years in a row, email is the category generating the highest ROI for marketers. For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI and gives marketers the broadest reach of all the channels available to them. Despite the plethora of tools available to marketers, email marketing is simply the best bet for business growth. Here are a few reasons why email marketing is a must-have in your digital marketing strategy.
Email is an easy way to reach mobile customers.
One reason email marketing has value for business owners is that it’s an easy way to start reaching consumers on mobile without investing a lot in new technology or software. According to a report from Pew Research Center, 52 percent of US cellphone owners access their emails from their phones. Email marketing also works with other mobile devices. Forrester Research released a study that found 42 percent of retailers’ email messages were opened by consumers on their smartphones and 17 percent were opened on tablets. This means that nearly three out of every five email marketing messages doubles as a mobile marketing message. Using email is better for mobile marketing than SMS because:
- It works on mobile devices other than phones
- Emails are free for the consumer, whereas texting may incur a charge
- Emails have far more space for content than text messages, allowing for better marketing pieces.
It’s an effective way to keep customers informed.
Email marketing isn’t something marketers do just because they can and it’s easy. The tactic is very effective at helping business owners and consumers stay connected. In fact, consumers often seek out email marketing campaigns from their favorite brands and local stores. This goes beyond coupons (which we’ll discuss next). Nielsen reported that 28 percent of US online shoppers subscribe to store or product emails in order to stay informed. A study from Loyalty 360 stated that 59 percent of US moms would sign up for email updates from brands if rewards were offered. And email marketing can be used as a way to deliver content to consumers. A 2013 study by the Relevancy Group noted that marketers who add video to their email campaigns see an average rise in revenue of 40 percent. There is a real value to staying connected to customers and email marketing makes that easy to do.
Email coupons drive online and in-store sales.
The Nielsen study mentioned above also found that 27 percent of US online shoppers subscribe to store or product emails in order to save money. This conclusion is backed up by recent data from Deloitte that found 65 percent of consumers say email coupons are important when grocery shopping online. Similarly, Shop.org reported 64 percent of US Internet users have printed a coupon from an email. Though consumers are looking to save money, it can turn into increased revenue for the retailer. E-coupons are big business, and email marketing is at its heart. The number of mobile coupons used is estimated to double over the next five years to reach 1 billion people. Email marketing is a good way to start reaching the growing number of online bargain hunters. The big brands are already using this tactic for that purpose. BIA/Kelsey reports that 36.6 percent of national businesses use email marketing for local promotions.
It’s easy to customize and integrate into other marketing tactics.
The versatility of email marketing is another reason marketers should keep the tactic in their marketing toolbox. Depending on the depth of the email database and the skill of the crafter, email marketing messages can range from simple to very complex. Emails can be personalized to include the name of the user and even more. A small study of 139 marketers from Retention Science found that websites use several kinds of personalization tactics that can easily be applied to email. Nearly half of US online retailers used personalized product recommendations (44.9%), about a third added the customer’s name and/or a unique welcome message (31.5%), and a quarter of the respondents reported adding shopping cart reminders (27.6%) to cover all of their personalization bases. Email marketing can also be utilized with just about any other marketing tactic, which makes email an important part of any integrated marketing campaign.
Email marketing is inexpensive.
To sum up the best reason to use email marketing: It’s easy, effective, and inexpensive. Email marketing allows business owners to reach a large number of consumers at a rate of pennies per message. For small-business owners on a budget, this makes it a better choice than traditional marketing channels like TV, radio, or direct mail. You don’t have to take my word for it. A joint study from Shop.org and Forrester Research found that 85 percent of US retailers consider email marketing one of the most effective customer acquisition tactics.
Email has larger reach
With Facebook boasting over 1 billion active users and Twitter boasting 255 million, it’s tempting to believe that social media is the most effective way to reach the masses. These are impressive numbers, but what isn’t so frequently shared are the statistics on email usage. The total number of worldwide email accounts was 3.9 billion in 2013, and projected to reach 4.9 billion by 2017, according to Radicati.
While this might seem surprising at first, think about your own online behavior: When you sign up for a website (like an online store), you have to enter your email address to create the account. You even need an email address to create a Facebook or Twitter account. What’s more, Facebook and Twitter use email to notify users of activity like when someone is tagged in a photo.
Email is the currency of the web, and anybody who is online has an active email address. So when it comes to connecting with your prospects and customers, there’s no channel with a wider reach than email.
There are 3X more email accounts than there are Facebook & Twitter accounts combined.
Email delivers your message
If marketers have to choose between adding a subscriber to their email list, or gaining a new Facebook fan, they should go for the email subscriber every time, says Forrester Research.
There are two key reasons why:
First, 90% of email gets delivered to the intended recipient’s inbox, whereas only 2% of your Facebook fans see your posts in their News Feed. This is because Facebook limits the number of times your posts appear in the News Feed in an attempt to drive brands towards their paid advertising options.
This is a big deal when it comes to getting your messages seen.
On Facebook, if you post an update to your 10,000 fans only about 200 of them will even have a chance of seeing it in their News Feed. Alternatively, if you send an email campaign to 10,000 subscribers at least 9,000 of them would receive it in their inbox.
This means your message is 45 times more likely to be seen using email than Facebook.
Secondly, your email subscribers have explicitly told you they want to hear from you when they signed up for your email list. There are strict laws and regulations around SPAM laws, so if you’re emailing a prospect or customer, it is because they gave you permission to. Now think about the ads in your Facebook News Feed – did you ask those companies to market to you? Probably not. More than likely, you performed a Google search or visited their website. That’s decidedly different than proactively signing up from an email newsletter.
Email is the proven marketing channel to ensure your audience gets your message.
Email has a higher ROI
Given email’s unmatched ability to drive conversions, it would make sense that email is also the most effective marketing channel to drive ROI. Email marketing yields an average 3,800% return on investment for businesses and for every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return on investment is $38.
It’s clear from these statistics that email is cost-effective channel for marketers, but why does it outperform other channels so significantly when it comes to ROI?
It comes down to delivering highly personalized and relevant messages. Unlike social networks where you send status updates to every follower regardless of their location, interests & purchase history, email allows you to be hyper-targeted with your communications. The more data you have about your customers in an email marketing tool like Campaign Monitor – including insights pulled in from integrated systems like your CRM, customer service solution, etc – the more targeted you can be.
Email is an open platform
Over the past few years, many brands have invested millions of dollars into buying large social followings in order to be able to communicate and engage with an audience.
But while businesses are investing in various social media platforms, Facebook has frequently updated its algorithm to reduce the amount of followers who will see a brand’s post, unless those posts are paid advertisements. This has become so prevalent that 98% of brand followers will never see the posts in their News Feeds. Similarly, Twitter seems to be moving in a similar direction with the announcement it will introduce an algorithm-controlled feed as well.
The issue with channels like Facebook and Twitter is they are owned and controlled by third parties and marketers are at the mercy of changes they make to their platform.
Email, on the other hand, isn’t owned or controlled by any one particular entity. It’s an open communication platform and there are a multitude of services that provide access to send and receive email.
The diverse array of companies involved in email marketing ensures that no one party can make changes that are going to have a widespread effect, and unlike Facebook or Twitter, if you invest the time and money into building a great email list it’s an asset you will own and be able to leverage without the threat of someone limiting its effectiveness.
Email will be around forever
Remember MySpace? What?
The once-hot site was the largest social networking site in the world between 2005 and 2008, and in June 2006 surpassed Google as the most visited website in the United States. Yet where is MySpace now? All those users eventually moved on to other social networks, and the site is now the 1,500th most popular website in the United States.
Imagine if you’d invested significant amounts of time and money building an audience on a platform, only to find it a ghost town just a year or two later. The impact on your ability to reach and engage potential customers would be catastrophic.
Email on the contrary has a long history of stability. The first promotional email campaign was sent in 1978 to a total of 400 people, and email has been growing consistently since. Interestingly, the email space itself has evolved from a time where you needed a developer to build an email, to today where tools empower the modern marketer to create and send beautiful branded emails. This shift has put the power of business email into the hands of more people.
Building your email list, unlike building a social media following, is a stable long-term investment that will pay off for many years to come.
The point of all this is that email may be an old tactic, but it remains a vital one. It’s relatively easy to get started with email marketing, so there’s no excuse for business owners to not be taking advantage of the tactic. Understandably, business owners may be too busy to handle the email marketing on their own, but this is something that any Web marketing professional (wink, wink) can help with.
What the marketing experts say
Many of the top marketers from some of the most successful companies in the world believe email is the #1 channel for growing your business.
Here’s what they had to say:
Out of all the channels I tested as a marketer, email continually outperforms most of them. Not only does it have a high conversion rate, but as you build up your list you can continually monetize it by pitching multiple products. Just look at ecommerce sites like Amazon, one way they get you to continually buy more products from them is by emailing you offers on a regular basis.
So many brands and companies build their audiences on Facebook and Google+, which is fine, but we don’t own those names – Facebook and Google do. If we are thinking like real media companies, the asset is in the audience. Getting an email address is the first critical step to figuring out who my reader is, and hopefully in the future, my customer of some sort. If our goal is to drive sales or keep customers happy in some way, we first need to get them as part of our audience. If I have one regret as a business owner, it’s not focusing on building our email list earlier in the process.
If you rely on Facebook or Twitter, you are at the mercy of them allowing you to talk to your customers. When you email it gets in your customers inboxes. Then it’s up to you to make sure you are sending things your customers want to receive. Email is the most scalable way to make sales with new customers and build deeper relationship with deeper customers. AppSumo.com is a 7 figure business and 90%+ of our revenue comes from emails.
As mobile devices become an increasingly integral part of our lives, it’s vital that marketers understand how to effectively communicate on this unique and extremely personal channel. Mobile devices are kept in our pockets, sit next to our beds, and are checked constantly throughout the day. This makes marketing on mobile incredibly important but also very nuanced.
From SMS and MMS to in-app marketing, there are many ways to market on mobile devices, so finding the right method for your particular business is key. Beyond the mechanisms to deliver your message, you also need to think about coordination of your marketing across digital channels and make sure mobile is a part of that mix.
Marketing automation is an integral platform that ties all of your digital marketing together. Without it, your campaigns will look like an unfinished puzzle with a crucial missing piece. Marketing automation software streamlines and automates marketing tasks and workflows. Most importantly, it measures the results and ROI of your digital campaigns, helping you to grow revenue faster.
When used effectively, marketing automation will help you gain much-needed insight into which programs are working and which aren’t. It will give you the metrics needed to speak confidently about digital marketing’s impact on the bottom line.