The growing importance of digital marketing
Claire Rason and Joanne Bayliss
Unsurprisingly the importance of having a strong digital presence has risen up the agenda of most firms, big and small, in 2020. Pre Covid-19, firms approached digital in many different ways. While most will have had a website, and possibly also a social media account, digital marketing strategies were perhaps the preserve of those with large internal marketing teams.
In the new normal, most firms will instinctively know that digital should be somewhere in their marketing mix but knowing where to start can be daunting. Whilst SEO and PPC might be mentioned in some marketing budgets, for others those terms will be alien and not something they feel they need concern themselves with. Then there is UX, digital PR, inbound marketing, content marketing and social media to contend with. The list of confusing digital marketing jargon can seem endless.
What is digital marketing?
At its most basic level, digital marketing it is a way of using online tactics to deliver marketing strategy. It is a channel that organisations can use to communicate with their chosen audiences and can offer fantastic value for money when used effectively.
To ensure the best return on investment it is important to understand where digital marketing fits within your broader marketing strategy. What are you offering your clients? Who is your target market? What do you want to be perceived as? And what messaging do you want to deliver?
It is vital to have clarity in your marketing objectives, once achieved a digital marketing strategy can then work to help you achieve those. When digital becomes overwhelming, coming back to basics and asking yourself how and why your digital communications will help you achieve your goals can focus intentions. Not only will keeping sight of the fundamentals help you navigate your way through, it will also enable you to make smarter decisions.
What should a digital marketing plan contain?
A strong and cohesive digital marketing plan should always contain clear goals. Think SMART. A lot of what makes a digital plan successful is monitoring - regular tracking and measuring of your performance against your goals can then inform future activities. If you don’t know what you are looking to achieve, then you will never get there!
There are many digital tactics and tools that you can use to achieve your goals. These goals are likely to map into a traditional sales funnel; from goals which help you raise awareness of your brand, through to those which help you convert leads from digital channels. It is important to remember that digital can also be a way of delivering your service to your clients, at present it could be the only way available to you! A well thought out digital marketing plan with clear objectives can help you in achieving that.
Here, we set out an overview of what you should think about when pulling together a digital marketing plan.
If you ask people to think about their digital communications, then a company website is usually top of the list. Having a website ticks many boxes. Some might use it as their calling card, others a means of verifying that they are what they say. Many businesses use their website as a means of attracting and winning work. However, a strong, effective website can be so much more. To truly realise its potential your website needs to have clear messaging, targeted content, strong SEO and a well-developed user journey. Particularly if you rely upon the site to drive enquiries or generate sales.
Here are our six top tips to get the most out of your website:
1. Go back to basics Think about who you are trying to talk to on your site. Who is your audience? This will clearly include your target market, but it might also need to attract new employees. Having them at the back of your mind whenever you write for the site will help you create a compelling story for them. What do you want your site to achieve? What do you want your user journey to look like? What do you want visitors to your site to ‘do’?
2. Ensure clarity of message What are the key messages that you want visitors to your site to take away? Are they clearly articulated on your site? If your service/message/aim isn’t clear, then this can have a huge impact upon the success of your site.
3. Consider your tone of voice
Now that you have your target audience, goals and messaging clear what is your brand’s tone of voice? Does this come across in your messages? Are you formal? Friendly? Something else? Getting this right on your website can help with all your digital communications.
4. Drive traffic
The saying ‘build it and they will come’ sadly doesn’t apply to websites. Creating a flashy, visually stunning website and then spending time on messaging and user journey doesn’t guarantee visitors. It would be a shame to go to all that effort, and expense, to then not get the level of traffic you were expecting – or need if your site needs to be revenue or lead generating. A successful website has traffic ‘driven’ to it. You can do this through ensuring strong SEO, considering paid advertising such as PPC or LinkedIn ads and delivering regular, relevant content through your digital channels such as a blog and social media profiles. All these activities will make your site more visible and make it far more likely that you not only get visitors but the right kind of visitor! 5. Monitor Performance As previously mentioned clear goals with ongoing monitoring are key to success. Do you have monitoring such as Google Analytics in place? Are you using it? It is important to understand what ‘success’ in these metrics looks like so you can monitor your performance against it and adjust your activities accordingly.
But what about other digital channels and media?
A website will only be truly optimal when used in conjunction with other digital channels and available media. Other areas of digital such as chatbots, social media ‘Stories’, video, voice search, artificial intelligence and personalised email can help to support your business. Remember that all these tools can engage your audience and help you meet your objectives – but without clarity on what you want them to do, they can also be a distraction. Ask, what are they doing for my audience?
The area that tops most business’ lists of digital tools is social media. Businesses often struggle with what social media they should have. Should they be present on LinkedIn, or should they be using Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Should they be advertising and/or using ‘Stories’?
Where to start? Yes, you guessed it, your audience. Where are they and do they want to be having a conversation with you there? B2B businesses are probably best sticking with LinkedIn and Twitter. B2C might have more success on Facebook or Instagram.
The trick to social media is consistency. If you aren’t posting several times a day on Twitter, and you aren’t engaging in any conversations, you might be better off on LinkedIn where you can be less frequent but where you can achieve visibility. A social media profile with no activity is worse than no profile at all!
Making your content work harder
A constant worry about social media is what to post. This brings us to our last piece of the digital marketing puzzle - content. A digital marketing plan should coordinate all your efforts and make your content work harder for you.
A strong digital plan will look at what you want to be found for and include a plan of key words that link back into that. Content should be written that will be attractive for the audience, but also for search engines. That same piece of content can then be used across social media channels and it can also be included in newsletters or in personalised emails to key contacts and stakeholders.
One piece of content should work hard, after all, you have spent a lot of time producing it.
Finally, remember that content doesn’t just have to be in writing. We have already spoken about video, but you can also include podcasts and webinars as ways of producing content that can be shared and distributed across various digital channels.
What about all that jargon?
SEO – or Search Engine Optimization - describes the process of increasing the visibility of a website to search engines. Getting your SEO in order (and maintaining it) will mean that when a web user types keywords relevant to your business into a search engine your site comes up high in the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages). SEO refers to the improvement of unpaid results and is both an alternative and a complementary activity to paid placement such as PPC. Building SEO involves, amongst other activities, creating relevant content on your website with clear signposts for search engines, improving your domain authority and building relevant backlinks with other reputable websites.
PPC – or Pay-per-click – is internet advertising where your business creates adverts which are shown to web users searching for specific keywords. You pay a fee if the user clicks on an advert and essentially ‘buy’ traffic to your site. Search engine adverts are a popular type of PPC.
Keywords – these are the words that you want to be found for. Part of ensuring strong SEO and implementing a successful PPC campaign is understanding what keywords your target audience are searching for and ensuring that your website is delivered in the paid or un-paid results.
Backlinks – many descriptions of SEO will reference the important of backlinks. These are links from other relevant and trusted websites that help boost your trustworthiness (and therefore SEO) in the eyes of search engines.
Domain authority – this is a search engine ranking score from 1 to 100 which looks at numerous factors including backlinks and on-page links. The higher your domain, the more likely your site is to be ranked highly in SERPs. A domain authority between 40 and 50 is average, 50-60 is good and anything over 60 is excellent.
Need some help getting started? Client Talk can help you think about your strategy and carry out a digital audit to help provide you with recommendations to make the most from your digital marketing. Contact us to find out more.