The web is filled to the brim with guides about digital marketing and its various aspects. Information about becoming visible online, making effective strategies, and optimizing them is almost freely available. This prompts many of us to DIY the digital marketing of our business. If you have the time, it is a brilliant idea. However, starting marketing a business online with no prior experience is a lot like walking into a dark cave with no source of light. Without guidance and light, you are bound to find yourself stuck. In many cases, your marketing efforts hit a plateau, in others, they never take off. If any of this reads familiar or relatable, you are reading the correct article.
The best way to market your business on the web economically and effectively is to simply get the basics right. Only when your digital marketing basics are taken care of, can you start implementing strategies with confidence.
What are these basics? Let’s find out:
If you have done your reading, you may have noticed one piece of advice appearing frequently in many articles about various forms of digital marketing like SEO and social media marketing- understand your audience. This happens because it is genuinely good advice.
One of the reasons digital marketing is so effective is that it allows businesses to laser target their idea prospects. This reduces the spend on marketing, in terms of effort, time, and money. However, in order to be able to target your audiences with social media ads or the right set of keywords, you must first fully understand who your audience is.
Creating detailed buyer personas is a great way to develop an in-depth understanding of your ideal customers. For those of who don’t know what buyer personas are, here’s a brilliant definition by Hubspot: "A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers."
As you can see, a buyer persona is not a hypothesis about who your customer is. Instead, it's a data-driven description of your ideal customer. With that said, if your business is just starting out and you don’t have any customers yet, it is a good idea to start with a hypothesis and test it in the market. As you get more information and data, you can make iterations to your hypothesis. So what information does a buyer persona include? Commonly, buyer personas include information about:
The above-mentioned pointers are only to get you started. Keep in mind that the more detailed your buyer persona is, the better it will be able to guide your marketing efforts. In fact, I strongly recommend taking the exercise of creating buyer personas a step further by combining it with another exercise called “a day in the life”.
As the name suggests, in this exercise, you will describe the day of your ideal customer, right from the time they wake up, until the time they go to sleep. Once again, making this description as detailed as possible is strongly recommended. To start, you can describe their day in 15-minute intervals.
Creating a detailed buyer persona will allow you to tailor every aspect of your marketing efforts for maximum efficiency. Think about it, when you know who you are talking to, you have a better chance at designing marketing messages that resonate with your audience. You will be able to decide the right platforms and channels to reach your audience. Identifying the right audience will also enable you to produce the right kind of content and target the right people with your social and search engine ads.
In the digital landscape, marketing is mostly divided into two aspects, paid and organic.
As you may have guessed, paid social media ads, search engine ads, and display ads fall in the paid marketing category. Since these are paid, and most of these ads offer at least some form of targeting options, when done right, these ads can bring quick results. However, these results come at a cost and you will get the said results only as long as you continue paying the cost of advertising.
As you can imagine, paid marketing, while effective, is an expensive undertaking. Usually, businesses that want consistent results from their paid marketing efforts must spend several thousand dollars every month.
In many ways, organic marketing is the opposite of paid marketing. To put it simply, organic marketing is marketing that generates leads and sales for your business naturally and gradually. Unlike paid marketing, results from organic marketing take some time to show. However, the results of organic marketing are usually longer lasting and more consistent than paid marketing.
So why is focusing on organic marketing better than focusing on paid marketing efforts? Before I answer that, I would like to make it clear that paid and organic marketing, while different, are not mutually exclusive. Instead, when done right, paid marketing can help speed up the results of your organic marketing efforts and at the same time, your organic marketing efforts can help improve the efficiency of your paid marketing efforts.
Now let's get to the part where I explain how focusing on organic marketing will help your digital marketing efforts be more effective and more cost-effective. To understand this, let’s look at the various ways you can organically market your business:
Search engine optimization is perhaps the most well-known organic marketing method. While there are many factors that search engines take into consideration to rank a website, and achieving a first page rank can take some time, all the efforts are well worth the results.
If you are doing your SEO right, it is only a matter of time before Google and other search engines open the floodgates of traffic to your website. Moreover, if you are doing it right, there is a good chance that all the traffic landing on your website is specifically targeted and a major percentage is of prospects that are likely to convert into customers.
SEO is so popular because the intensive efforts required to rank well on the search engine result pages (SERPs) are only effort-intensive and not cost-intensive. At the same time, once SEO starts showing results, they improve over time.
If you are producing your content yourself, SEO results can be virtually free of cost and yet, be more dependable and predictable than paid marketing results.
Here’s a definition of content marketing by the Content Marketing Institute: "Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action."
Once again, if you can produce the content yourself, content marketing is virtually free. When done right, the marketing approach attracts top-of-the-funnel customers and effectively nurtures them to become paying customers that love and trust your brand.
These are customer qualities that you simply cannot buy, regardless of how huge your marketing budget is.
Just like content marketing and search engine optimization, other forms of organic marketing like social media marketing also drive long term results and a relatively lower cost than paid marketing alternatives.
With that said, organic marketing is effort-intensive. For instance, link building is a significant part of effective SEO but it is very difficult and time-consuming to build links, even for experienced marketers. However, the good news is that you can outsource specific aspects of your organic marketing efforts to keep the cost in check, while also reducing your personal effort and still driving measurable results. Getting in touch with a blogger outreach agency is a great way to automate your link building efforts.
Traditional methods of marketing a business, be it the affordable distribution of fliers or the expensive TV ad slots during the Superbowl, all involve the same approach- telling prospects about your offering and hoping they will buy.
However, in this aspect, digital marketing is different, especially the organic marketing side of it.
Successful, long term organic marketing is built on the exchange of value for attributes like trust and brand recall value.
So how do you offer this value to your clients? How do you ensure that you are getting something in exchange for the value you are providing? Here are a few ways:
In the online world, content is the tool that your brand will use to communicate with its audience. Regardless of whether it is a blog post or a social media post, each piece of content you produce must add value to the lives of your audience.
While producing actionable and helpful content is perhaps your best bet, it is also perfectly fine if the value you add is in the form of entertainment.
Value-based content will enable you to create an online ‘tribe’ that always looks forward to the content you publish. If you are producing content that is relevant to your niche, there is a good chance that you will find some of your most valuable future clients in your online tribe.
To make this trick work, the only prerequisite is that you must produce a high-quality piece of content that you think your ideal buyers will be most interested in. Next, make this piece of content available for anyone, in exchange for their contact information. This is a very common marketing strategy known as building a lead magnet. The content you create is actually the lead magnet.
When you have collected the contact information of a few prospects, you can start sending them marketing emails. Then slowly nurture them into becoming paying customers. With that said, keep in mind that nurturing prospects will involve providing them with valuable content even after you already have their contact information.
When you start giving more and asking less, you will be able to forge a positive brand image in the mind of your prospects. Not to forget, producing genuinely valuable content will also enable you to attract tons of top-of-the-funnel prospects, even if your marketing budget isn’t humongous.
With the investment that goes into producing valuable and high-quality content, no aspect of digital marketing is free. However, by spending more time and effort, you can ensure that the you marketing is effective and your ROI is constantly increasing.
How do you currently market your business online? Where do you find yourself struggling? Share with us (and everyone else) in the comment section below.