Digital marketing encompasses all the ways a company connects with current and perspective customers online, including business websites, social media, blogs, video channels, etc. People do not make purchasing decisions the way they used to and traditional (offline) marketing is not as effective as it used to be. To connect with your audience, you need to meet them online.
Small and medium-size companies can be over-whelmed by the constantly expanding and evolving digital media options. With limited capital and resources, it is especially important for smaller companies to be efficient and effective online. The good news is that every business can conquer digital media! The key is to take a strategic, step-by-step approach:
- Set S.M.A.R.T. Objectives
- Perform a Digital Media Audit
- Develop a Digital Marketing Strategy
- Measure Your ROI Regularly
- Adjust the Strategy Accordingly
Every aspect of your digital media usage should align with clear objectives that support meaningful goals. Your goals can be broad and abstract, like “enhance our brand”, but your objectives must be S.M.A.R.T.:
SPECIFIC. MEASURABLE. ACHIEVABLE. RELEVANT. TIMELY.
S.M.A.R.T. objectives are integral to success in every business activity, including digital media. If you do not have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, your efforts will be scattered and inefficient.
For example, if you know your customers use Twitter, one of your goals may be to “drive sales and leads through Twitter”. This is a worthy goal but how will you know if you are achieving it? You need to set a S.M.A.R.T. objective like “average a 5% click-through-rate on tweets by the end of the year.”
Once you have solid goals and objectives in place, it is tempting to create a strategy ASAP and jump into action. This would be a mistake. To get where you want to be you must start by knowing where you are! Before developing a digital marketing strategy, you need to take a long, hard look at your current online presence.
A digital media audit assesses your current digital media use and how it is working for you. It identifies who is currently connecting to you via digital media, the quality and effectiveness of each platform, and how you compare to your competitors.
To ensure that the audit is thorough, start by creating an inventory of your digital content including website pages, blogs, videos, social media sites, etc. Record the information into a spreadsheet or text document by page titles or URLs. Ideally, the audit itself should be out-sourced to a third party who can be objective. It can be difficult for staff to objectively critique their own content.
All of this hard work – creating goals and objectives, and auditing each element of your existing digital presence – will enable you to develop a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. The strategy document should identify the best platforms, ideal content formats and target audiences. It should also address matters like who will create and manage digital content.
At this point, it may be necessary to provide training to staff members who will have digital marketing responsibilities. Key staff may need to learn more about creating great content, or about content management tools like Hootsuite or Google Analytics. Depending on the size and structure of your business, and your goals and objectives, it may be practical to out-source some activities, like social media, or to create an in-house position specific to digital marketing.
Remember that your digital marketing activities (like everything else you do) must match with the financial and human resource realities of your company. One of the great things about digital media is that there are so many things you can do on a limited budget. While a big budget helps (it never hurts!), creativity and good planning are worth more than dollars.
On the subject of dollars…
Your digital marketing strategy should identify how you will measure the return on your investment (ROI). There are two types of measurements: Quantitative and Qualitative. Both should match with your goals and objectives and measure specific progress.
It is relatively easy to measure quantitative things like traffic, conversions, and shares. Simple tools like Google Analytics and Hootsuite can show you who is viewing and engaging with your web pages and social media posts, and provide advanced analytics and reporting options. And social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter offer insights that show you when your fans are online, how many are seeing your posts, and who is viewing or responding.
It can be trickier to measure qualitative things, like brand awareness. You can use indirect forms of measurement, like how many new followers you have on specific platforms, or how many times content is viewed or shared, but you should also take a more direct approach periodically, like conducting a survey. Ask people how they heard about your brand, and what their thoughts were, based on what they heard. Direct feedback from customers can help you gauge how effectively your digital content is creating a positive, memorable connection between your target audience and your brand.
Your Digital Marketing Strategy is a living document. Update it at regular intervals. Make changes based on the results of your analyses. Do more of what is working well and revise things that are not working well.
Over time, by taking a strategic approach and aligning your online activities with clear goals and objectives, your company can conquer digital media and reap a multitude of rewards, including increased sales and greater brand recognition.
Article written by Kim Scaravelli, CEO, Trust Communications Inc.
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