Digital marketing is no longer an afterthought for successful businesses. In fact, budgets for digital marketing continue to grow, and according to eMarketer, spending on digital advertising has eclipsed television advertisement spending in the US for the first time – and this gap is expected to only get larger.
But too many businesses still make the mistake of spending their precious digital marketing dollars on tactics, rather than first developing a robust, business-driven digital marketing strategy with measurable goals.
How Does a Business Develop a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy?
Business Goals: Before you or your organization spends one dime on revising a website, developing an app or launching a pay-per-click campaign, stop and ask: What is the goal of our digital strategy? If you can’t clearly articulate your goal, the right marketing agency can help determine and define it.
Some possible digital marketing goals might be:
- Increased sales
- More applications to your school
- Higher brand awareness
- Expanded readership
- New clients
- More donations
Then determine what each sale, application or visitor is worth to your business. This is often the most challenging task, but getting it right will help calculate how much to spend on digital and how to measure your return on investment (ROI).
Website: Once you’ve determined the goal(s), build or rebuild a website that makes it as easy as possible for visitors to accomplish your business goal. Many digital marketing initiatives fail because the website has not been designed with the user experience in mind. This is especially true of sites that are not easily viewable or usable on mobile devices. All websites today should be built with responsive design so that they render equally well on mobile, tablet or desktop.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The best, most cost-effective way to drive traffic to your website is through organic search results. Search engines are the primary method of navigation for Internet users so it’s critical to keep web pages easily indexed and found by Google (Yahoo and Bing should be secondary considerations for SEO).
It’s also important to keep up with the latest changes in SEO strategy.
In the past, keyword density was considered very important. But recent changes to Google’s algorithm suggest that the best strategy is to create quality content that is useful to your users and to focus on their intent. You can match a user’s intent by offering webpages that meet the searcher’s need to Do Something, Know Something, or Go Somewhere.
And now, ranking “first” in Google doesn’t even mean your page is the first result users see on Google. It’s important now to consider writing featured snippets that can appear at the top of search results (known as “position zero”) and are pulled from relevant websites. The snippets usually include a summary and the details of the web page from which the answer came, including the URL. In short, these featured snippets are a supremely valuable but difficult place to occupy in search.
Social Media: Selecting the proper social media channels for your business is important, and it’s vital to consider the different audiences each one reaches most effectively.
- Some factors to consider:
- LinkedIn is the top rated social network for lead generation
- More Americans now use YouTube than any other social media channel – even more than Facebook
- One out of every four verified Twitter users are journalists or media organizations
- Teenagers are leaving Facebook in favor of Instagram (which is owned by Facebook)
Rather than trying to use every social media outlet to reach future and current customers, think carefully about which ones can best reach your target audiences.
Online Advertising: Even after using organic search and social media to drive users to your site to meet your business goals, there may be key audiences who aren’t visiting your website or engaging with your social media.
For example, there may be a particular keyword phrase that simply isn’t ranking high enough in organic search. That’s where pay-per-click advertising (mostly conducted via Google) comes in. It allows you to target select words and phrases to show searchers text-based ads at the top of their search results.
Or, you may be trying to build awareness of your brand in a particular geographic area. Buying digital display ads via the Google Ad Network, Facebook or other platforms allows marketers to directly target “digital billboards” to distinct online audiences.
Analytics: The final element in any digital strategy is to analyze your efforts. Your digital strategy should be aligned with measurable business goals, which can then be compared to your digital marketing spending to determine ROI. If you’re not measuring ROI for a digital marketing campaign, you’re not seeing the full picture.
In sum, having a successful online presence takes more than just tactics. Businesses and organizations of all kinds need to develop a thoughtful digital strategy that supports clearly defined and measurable business goals. Selecting the right marketing agency to partner in this development is often the best first step.
If you’d like to learn more about how to develop an effective online marketing strategy for your business, contact us today.