Remember the “good ol’ days” when you took out an ad in the local paper to do a bit of marketing? And that one time when you made a local TV ad with a jingle? It made your business famous in the neighborhood.
It might sound a bit drastic to say that those days are long gone, but those days are long gone. According to Pew Research, print magazine and newspaper subscriptions are falling and viewership of local television continues to fall. Meanwhile, according to the Institute for Public Relations, U.S. adult online usage went from 52% to 88% in the last 16 years, smartphone usage rose from 35% to 77% in the past 7 years, and social media usage has gone from 5% to 69% in just over a decade. There is little to no evidence to give us an inclination that these numbers will go anywhere but up.
All this means that your potential customers are spending more time on digital platforms and much less time using traditional media. Consequently, your marketing efforts need to shift to match these tendencies.
In a nutshell, digital marketing means to use an internet-based strategy as a channel of communicating with customers, partners, and stakeholders. It may include content, social media, community relations, corporate positioning, customer communications, B2B and B2C communications, media relations, data collection, and e-commerce.
If you feel like your marketing strategy isn’t living up to current requirements, these are the three most important questions you must answer to move forward.
1. What would be the best focus of your digital efforts?
With a general idea of digital marketing channels at your disposal, it’s necessary to analyze which ones you already use and which ones you believe you should be taking advantage of. The answer to the latter depends on the type of business you run and your vision for its brand.
A small manufacturer of commercial landscaping equipment probably doesn’t need a very robust social media presence across all of the social networks. However, a sleek and easy-to-use website aimed at wholesale customers as well as targeted B2B email marketing would be a fruitful strategy.
On the other hand, an urban fashion designer would definitely want to take advantage of Instagram and have a robust B2C communication campaign via almost all social media channels because positive interaction breeds brand loyalty online. A blog that includes posts from local fashion micro-influencers would also be a great strategy.
2. What does my audience want to hear and see? And how often?
The size and industry your company is in, and whether you sell to consumers or other businesses, will help determine the type of content you should be sharing.
It’s best to think about each digital channel one-by-one and then create a content calendar detailing the type of content and frequency of content that is appropriate for each channel. For example, your content calendar may have a section for each social network, website update, blog posts, newsletter topics, etc. By having all of the information organized in one central calendar, it is easy to get a holistic view of your company’s online activity and the messaging you are putting out there.
Once your company is actively posting online, it’s best to review key metrics monthly (and take a deeper dive quarterly) to analyze which posts are resonating best, and which aren’t, and change your future content strategy accordingly.
3. Can you do it alone?
After considering the channels that you need to focus on to succeed in the digital marketplace you must then decide if you can handle it alone. It’s not uncommon for businesses to take on more than they can handle and end up alienating their audience through mediocre online marketing.
To truly master digital marketing you have to immerse yourself in it. If you have the requisite time or the in-house staff to handle that level of dedication then you’re one of the few. If not, then the only way to keep from falling behind the competition in marketing to your shared audiences is to hire an outside marketer. If you’d like to hear about our experiences helping clients with their online marketing, don’t hesitate to reach out for more information.