Digital marketing is all about driving your brand, your product or your message through digital means. Whether it be a small corner store adjacent to the public school or a large multinational corporation that has annual turnover in the billions of dollars, the same principles apply.
The electronic channels made available to retailers and businesses have changed down the years. Whereas billboards, radio commercials and printed advertisements in newspapers were the go-to option, the Internet has forever flipped the power balance. This is not to say that those avenues are not valuable in the current climate, just that a business has to be more adaptable and present in more locations.
This bears out in the sheer statistics and figures. By the end of 2016, there were approximately 13.5 million citizens online in Australia according to the ABS, a 4.7% increase on the previous calendar year.
With a global footprint mimicking that domestic rise to a total of 3.74 billion Internet users, the tide has turned. The bottom line is this – if you do not have an online presence in a digital world, you are essentially invisible to your potential customer base.
That is why it is so important to understand the basics of digital marketing. Rather than handing off this responsibility to an employee or a third party, it is inherent upon running a business that you as the owner have a general grasp of the basic principles that underline the modern domain of marketing.
The central objective is to drive eyeballs, readership, clicks, views and sound bytes higher to ensure that sales and revenue is heading further into the green. Individual targets and goals can be altered as the enterprise surpasses particular landmarks, but digital marketing is aimed to generate growth.
The fundamentals of digital marketing can be broken down into 7 key categories:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Video Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Offline Marketing
Should a business have a solid presence and understanding of each of these departments, then they are well on their way to mastering the basics of digital marketing.
Here is the content hub for everything about your operation. Various studies have illustrated that up to 50% of small enterprises do not have any website at all, demonstrating two things in particular. One is that this domain is taken for granted and not completely understood. The other is that there is a tremendous opportunity to get ahead of the competition just at the establishment phase.
What a website should address is the following:
- Who you are
- What you do
- Why you are important
- What the customer needs to know
- What you offer over competitors
- How and where to find you
It will present the business in the most professional light and give the customer a clean, safe and user-friendly experience. The website is meant to act as a reflection of the business and if this is neglected, it will reflect poorly on the whole operation.
Every website must ensure they tick these 3 boxes:
- Content – articles, images, video, threads, news, announcements, deals. Any piece of content that is applicable to your business, even if it is industry related and not a direct link to something you offer – include it anyway. Ensure that your customer is the most informed.
- Speed and efficiency – quick loading page that can operate equally well on desktop, tablet and mobile devices. Customers who are on the fence about making that phone call do not have the patience for a page that is muddled, incomplete or slow. They will move on to a competitor.
- Response turnaround – offer a contact page portal where emails, social media messages and calls are responded to within moments. Even if you cannot make that first hand contact immediately, inform them that their inquiry is being addressed.
Websites can be created from a variety of sources, with the best requiring a certain degree of investment. Peruse templates from these domains to grasp a design that might suit your business needs and aesthetics. First impressions are everything, so make this one count!
2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The target for your niche has to be securing the number one page on search engines. From landscapers to hair stylists, electricians, theatres, plumbers, restaurants, clothing retailers, jewellers, pet shops or an accountancy firm – being the on the top page for a potential customer means big business.
The two main engines that are used online today are Google and Bing, although the latter can be addressed at a later date. Essentially you want to be the chief ranking for either a local, regional or global genre and in order to do that, you must satisfy a particular set of criteria.
- Keywords – must be narrowed down and specific. Consider what your potential customer would search for and where they would search for it.
- Meta description tags – this is a paragraph or so made up of approximately 150 characters that describes what your business does and what you offer to the market place. Failure to fill this section in will result in an automatic tag that could easily misinterpret your demographic.
- Links – SEO pages that rank well are those that showcase other sites in the same niche. Referencing others builds rapport in this domain and the more it is done effectively, the higher your business will rank.
- Content – consistency is the key. Vary what customers can see and inform them about anything that is happening with the enterprise. New content reigns supreme in SEO.
Check how your page is operating with SEO through looking on these websites:
- SEO Site Checkup
- Site Analyzer
3. Video Marketing
This category overlaps a number of other topics. From social media use to email and website content, video is rising at a more rapid rate that other types. Around about 50% of marketing professionals globally see video marketing as the best return on investment (ROI), drawing people in with informative and entertaining productions that attract those who might otherwise ignore your message.
Yet it is not a field that has been perfected or capitalised on, with 43% of people desiring more video content from their marketers than print or audio materials.
Social media and websites are the channels that filter through the majority of online videos, but these are not grand features that require months of planning. Over 50% of videos in this domain are 2 minutes or under, with 37% of all videos retaining attention from beginning to end.
Free video application software:
- Pexels Videos
Paid-for video application software:
- Make Web Video
4. Email Marketing
It is hard not to separate the idea of email marketing from spam. Every time an email comes across from a party that you are not aware of, the first instinct is to send to the trash. This is why it is important to grab the attention of small business owners who will be using their email far more than they would be for social media or other online avenues.
Before proceeding, it is worth checking the 2003 Spam Act to ensure that the receiver has consent, that your identity is explicitly made clear and that the recipient has the opportunity to unsubscribe if they wish to.
Email marketing template software is available from the following outlets:
- Campaign Monitor
5. Social Media Marketing
This is all about creating and developing a social footprint where communities can be built. For many businesses, it is not enough to just have a website and contact details listed. If you own a popular night spot in the CBD or a hair salon that does a roaring trade with a collection of locals – there is an opportunity to cash in on a positive vibe.
According to Social Media Statistics Australia, 7 in 10 citizens use Facebook with 1 in 2 doing so on a daily basis. Throw in a 50% domestic population usage rate for YouTube, 20% for Instagram and even 1 in 6 using Snapchat, and it is clear that you should be fishing where the fishes are.
If juggling a Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram account is too daunting on the surface, then sign up to Hootsuite where you can manage all of these through one location. Consider it a one-stop-shop for social media, linking all of the programs at once. This can be thread through onto your website and help with SEO, allowing your customers/followers to be kept up to date on industry news and hear about your deals, accomplishments and events.
6. Offline Marketing
Contrary to many beliefs, digital marketing is not confined to the Internet. The tried and trusted domains of print advertisements, television commercials and radio spots are still an effective way of reaching your consumer based.
The figures still bear this out, with many from who are considered in the Baby Boomer and Gen X categories sticking to modes of media that they have grown up with all of their lives. Old habits die hard.
According to a recent study instigated by Roy Morgan, 17 million Australians listened to the radio in some capacity over the course of the working week in 2016. That makes up 86% of the overall population, a staggering percentage when compared to other types of behaviours.
That same company discovered that 1 in 7 Australians watch no commercial television, meaning that 6 in 7 do. While that trend will head towards the non-commercial end, that will still take another generation or so to come to fruition.
Digitisation of media has meant a greater shift towards independent sources for businesses to engage with. A personalised website with social media accounts and email marketing campaigns are important, but that is only helpful once a relationship between the owner and consumer has been established.
Research the most popular outlets for local or regional citizens and get your message out there. That will make the process of digital marketing all the easier down the road.
So you have established video content, produced an online commercial, written a well-crafted article and begun a social media campaign. How is it performing then?
This is where analytics comes into play, deciphering how much of this content is being viewed, listened to or read by the end user, how they respond to it with follow through clicks or enquiries, and how much of it they are genuinely engaging with.
If potential customers are logging off 95% of the time before your video hits the halfway mark of a 2-minute production, then there is something seriously wrong.
What has to run through every single one of these domains is a consistent message. If you run a bakery that hires local people and sources from local produce, make that your catch-cry throughout every element of the brand.
Digital marketing has to be an extension of what people see when they come in store or who they meet when they request a service in person or online.
What are your thoughts on digital marketing? Have you found a tactic that has worked for your business for a particular niche that does not quite apply to a different market? Let us know in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you.
Lucas is the Managing Director and the Head of SEO Strategy at SEO Shark. He has over 15 years of experience in achieving SEO results for small and medium businesses as well as multinational and ASX-listed brands. He is also an author of multiple publications about digital marketing.