We are living in the era of online marketing. This sort of marketing is growing to epic proportions.
To be able to get ahead of your competition, you must have the ability to think critically, judge objectively and act independently.
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People rely on the digital space for nearly every important aspect of life today; from entertainment to education, information to shopping.
It is their source of news and medium for socialising.
As a marketer, you must find a way to meet your audiences where they hang out. Today, marketers leverage all the nooks of the online world to meet and convert online communities into customers.
Consumers now depend not just on what you have to say about your products, but more importantly what others say about the same.
These may be fellow brands, customers or the media. Their say always has more weight on customer appeal than your own say.
Simply, people want brands they can trust.
Companies have to know their customers and show that they do. Show off your brand’s personality and human touch. Communications is not all about repeatedly throwing content at your audience.
It is important to personalise, be relevant, unique, polite and smart, so it does not come across as if you’re only to trying to promote something.
Also, don’t automate your updates every time. All these are essential for successful online marketing.
Understanding Digital Marketing
Digital marketing refers to the targeted, interactive and measurable marketing of products and/or services using digital technologies with the aim of reaching and converting leads into customers and retaining them.
The whole point is to promote your brand, shape customer preference and increase your sales through various online marketing tools and channels.
As opposed to traditional marketing, digital marketing involves the use of channels, methods, and tools that enable marketers to analyse their marketing campaigns and understand what is or isn’t working – normally in real time.
As a digital marketer, you can monitor parameters such as
- What audiences are viewing
- How often or how long they stay
- Sales and conversions
In essence, you can monitor practically every element to get the desired results.
Digital marketing cuts across wireless text messaging, mobile apps, mobile instant messaging, podcasts, digital television, electronic billboards and radio channels.
But, the channel that is most closely associated with digital marketing is the internet.
Online Marketing Channels
You must employ a sound digital marketing strategy for successful outcomes.
But before you get too enthusiastic about your “marketing strategy,” you need to understand the various channels in digital marketing you will be using.
Identify what channels will work best for your brand.
But always remember that success won’t come overnight. Learn to manage your expectations. You need to work on your strategies step by step to help propel your business to the next level.
1. Display Advertising
Display advertising is one of the many forms of paid channel advertising that have long been used to find new customers.
It is thought of as one of the most effective and easiest of the paid channel ads that reach consumers by way of pushing out information – often in little fragments.
Display ads can be in the form of texts, videos or digital banners.
They often appear in sections of a site that are distinctively reserved for paid ads and are mainly targeted at selling to the consumer and generating quick conversions.
Businesses pay billions of dollars for these ads.
Their conversion is fast and their impact is often measured to quantify success. The money spent can be assessed from the ROI, on a yearly basis.
Paid channel advertising is something that you have probably come across in one form or the other.
While browsing the internet or going through your emails, you may often meet various types of advertisement. That is precisely what display advertising is.
Other popular terms used to refer to paid advertising include
- Online advertising;
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM); and
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing
The terms are often used by marketers interchangeably to describe the same concept – they buy traffic through online ads.
Although this marketing option can be costly, paid advertising is an effective means to market your brand.
With display advertising (also known as Cost Per Mile advertising) a specific number of impressions are guaranteed by the amount you spend on the ad.
Note that impressions refer to the number of times your ad is displayed, whether it is clicked on or not.
Other types of paid ads do not provide a guarantee that your ad will show.
2. Social Media Marketing
There is more you can do with your social networks than just have a Twitter feed and a Facebook profile. Social media has a great potential to create powerful customer engagements and drive web traffic.
There are dozens of social channels today. It is easy to be drawn into creating a profile for each.
But that is not advisable.
Rather, you should evaluate your business beforehand and identify what is likely to work for your brand before settling on the social channels to use.
We have Social networks like MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Then, we have micro-blogging websites such as Twitter, wikis, encyclopaedias and forums.
Plus, there are content communities like YouTube and Flickr as well as podcasts.
All of these platforms have a lot of followers. But not all of them are the same.
Focus only on social networks that are likely to connect you with the highest number of people that are most relevant to your brand.
Social media involve the sharing of opinions and participating in discussions. This makes the networks a rich source of feedback from the market.
People also engage with one another in real time.
Evidently, social media marketing is hands down the best way to promote a brand and connect with customers.
It may take time to build an effective profile, but consistency and relevance will help accelerate brand popularity and follower loyalty.
Approach social media with a willingness to engage.
That means communicating continuously by posting information and commenting on other people’s posts.
Meanwhile, use every interaction as a chance to learn what people say about your products, services or brand.
These are your sources of information that help you finetune your offerings.
Most importantly, review your content before posting. A little slip may cause unforgivable damage to your brand.
Have some social media etiquette so you are not taken for a spammer.
3. Email Marketing
Email marketing is just what the name suggests: marketing your products, services or brand via electronic mail.
Email marketing suffers from one big blow ‑ spamming.
In several cases, emails dispatched to mass audiences for these purposes are sent to the spam folder. This is either because of less targeted audience selection or a few other reasons.
But when properly executed, email marketing can be highly effective as a marketing tool. This is because the message can be tailor-fitted to your audience’s needs.
This is the secret.
If your priority is purely to sell and promote, then you may easily lose the personal touch that stands between your email and the receiver’s spam button.
Let the communication retain that personal touch with the sale aspect subtly disguised.
A proper balance of the sale, the social and personalised contact is the key to driving an effective email marketing campaign.
These campaigns are particularly suitable for small businesses with a low marketing budget. It allows them to also effectively promote other marketing channels such as blogs. You can always include a link to your YouTube video or blog post in the email.
The way your email content is structured may determine whether customers will flag them as spam.
One thing is certain.
As long as you keep sending useful and engaging content your audience will keep coming back for more.
Also, remember not to make them too long. Few people will have the time to read lengthy texts.
4. Affiliate Marketing
An affiliate programme occurs when a website owner agrees to put an ad on his or her website and is rewarded when a sale or an agreed action takes place.
Affiliate marketing is a form of performance-based marketing whereby a business compensates an affiliate for every customer or website visitor brought by the marketing efforts of the affiliate.
Marketing is considered performance-based since no reward is provided to the affiliate if the intended action such as making a sale does not occur.
The affiliate owns a website which they use to place ads to market the business owner’s brand or products in exchange for a percentage of profits.
Businesses that run affiliate marketing campaigns generally enjoy mass coverage at no additional costs.
They also get additional exposure when more websites are affiliated to them. This is, therefore, a good idea to consider for your own company.
Unlike paid advertising, you only give out what you have sold with the efforts of another person, which is the affiliate.
Affiliates accept to run these programmes because they also earn money in different ways:
- Pay per Click (PPC);
- Pay per Lead (PPL); or
- Pay per Sale (PPS)
All this is decided on mutual consent.
As the business, your brand is advertised for free.
The only cost you incur happens when the agreed action ‑ a click, a lead or a sale ‑ occurs.
Some merchants host their own affiliate programmes. Others choose to distribute these offers through one established network or more.
Some of the most popular affiliate programmes include:
- Commission Junction – an affiliate network primarily for big consumer brands. To join this network, publishers can go in for lead generation, pay-per-call or international solutions.
- Amazon Associates – this involves bloggers, large networks or large content sites that choose products from Amazon to market directly to their customers.
- LinkShare – the affiliate network works with consumer brands such as Chase, Walmart, Macy’s, Sephora and Starbucks.
- ShareASale – is an affiliate network that features opportunities for business to business (B2B) arrangements.
Affiliate marketing is also another perfect alternative for businesses with limited resources since you only spend money on marketing when you make it. It is a suitable strategy for small businesses that are typically affected by any significant spend on advertising
5. Content Marketing
Articles, webinars, guides, blogs and videos all make up content marketing. Google algorithms today put a lot of importance on content. A website or blog that has a lot of facts is likely to rank better, even if it tends to perform fairly poorly on other ranking factors.
Content marketing is not just about blogging. It involves building trust by constantly posting information that is relevant to your site visitors.
When executed appropriately, this form of marketing can serve as a powerful growth driver for your brand.
Consistency plays a central role in content marketing.
It takes time for people to identify your content, develop an interest in it and keep coming back for more. After some time, however, people will develop trust in the content you post as being dependable.
Such levels of trust can go a long way in establishing a profitable business.
Think about what people may want to know about your products or services. Build your content on your area of expertise. Your content could surround your product, its uses and benefits.
Customers may want to learn about the quality, where to buy and how to use the product.
Always focus on building trust by providing remarkable value. The content should be able to generate return on investment (ROI) and capture the right metrics.
The aim of content marketing is to attract and engage potential and current customers. Most successful content marketers identify and target specific markets with the purpose of driving particular actions.
Digital Marketing Strategy
Every successful digital marketing campaign for startups begins with an effective strategy.
You must have an effective digital strategy first thing to help you take the right decisions that will make your business successful online. Your online marketing strategy should provide a framework with a logical sequence that you can follow through.
It must include all key activities from strategy development to implementation.
Here are some of the few things you should consider in your digital marketing strategy.
Focus on Customers
Customers are the lifeblood of any business.
Your prospects are equally significant. Consider them as the market in waiting.
The strategy you use to approach your prospects can determine whether or not they are going to be converted into buying customers.
Build a marketing strategy around retaining your current customers and converting prospects or leads.
If you don’t, someone else will. This can be extremely intimidating if you are not certain about what makes a perfect strategy.
Never worry about perfecting your strategy. Just figure out what your customers want as a starting point.
Certainly this will not be easy in a typical market where the audiences are diverse. But it can always be done.
One fact holds true: You cannot succeed by just looking at the customers’ needs in isolation.
You are the business, and you must consider these alongside your company’s own needs and goals. Then you can establish a focal point.
You don’t want to get to a certain point and stay there. Every business looks at not only good revenue, but incremental revenue. That is the essence of business – to grow.
But how do you achieve such growth?
Mediocre marketers will think in terms of their campaigns. But don’t be that kind of a marketer.
Think in the line of growth frameworks.
Identify how you can position your marketing strategy into an ROI generating and sustainable revenue engine.
Today’s corporate landscape does not favour shallow branding, but those who can leverage strategic metrics to form a solid revenue stream.
Build your Brand’s Story
All the above elements are based on the business. But the only conduit through which you can give them a useful functional shape is through a means of communication.
You have to get in touch with your audiences.
This involves turning prospects into customers and then retaining them.
This is only possible through a solid brand story that inspires brand loyalty.
Customer Acquisition in the Digital Space
You may notice that the marketing strategy and all the efforts already mentioned are intended to help acquire customers.
Customer retention goes hand in hand with their acquisition.
It all begins with goal setting.
It is what gives you direction.
Without a direction, to where do you run? You waste two of the company’s most important assets:
- Time; and
With a clear goal, you can then move to the next phase. This involves building and driving traffic to your business website.
The methods you can use to drive traffic include
- Organic traffic – acquired through such means as content marketing; and
- Paid traffic – acquired through paid channels
Converting Traffic into Customers
Traffic is converted into customers by the use of three major components:
- Effective communication;
- Relevant content; and
- Product value
Offer an excellent product to draw leads to your brand. Relevant content is another form of value and all these should be communicated effectively.
All marketing goals are achieved easily if properly approached.
The bottom line is every successful digital marketing starts with a plan.
Put in place a good digital marketing strategy for your startup and follow it through.