In the world of business development and branding, going digital is all the buzz. So just what is digital marketing and how can we use it to grow our businesses?
Digital Marketing Defined
Digital marketing is the advertising and promotion of businesses
and their brands through digital media channels. Digital media, at the moment, includes websites, social media, radio, television, mobile and even forms of traditionally non-digital media such as billboards and transit signs. Essentially any marketing media that is delivered electronically is considered digital marketing.
This leaves only various forms of person-to-person (P2P) marketing, print advertising and direct marketing outside of the digital marketing umbrella. Even then, print ads, direct mail, print directories, billboards and posters are all starting to connect to their digital counterparts.
With items like URL landing pages, QR codes, web banner advertising, online directories and text codes, traditional marketing and advertising almost always has a digital marketing connection.
Why the Focus on Digital Media?
The shift to digital media is being driven by marketing agencies, business owners and consumers alike. The ever-increasing demand to show quantifiable results makes going digital a dream for the digital marketing agency. Most digital media, including websites, social media and mobile advertising is much easier to track than traditional marketing media such as print advertising.
For business owners, many forms of digital advertising are very low cost. Having a web presence, engaging customers in conversations through social media and e-mail marketing are low cost alternatives to print advertising and direct mail.
These digital channels are available to businesses of any size, and help to even the playing field for start-ups, small businesses and independent consultants seeking new business.
For consumers, the fast pace of life makes digital advertising a must. When consumers are in need of goods and services, gone are the days of thumbing through a phonebook to find them. Now, we whip out our mobile devices or head to our computers for answers - and we find them fast.
Using Digital Media to Build Your Business and Brand
No matter what size your business
is - large or small to medium sized business / enterprise (SMB or SME) - you can effectively market your business through low-cost digital channels. The foundation of your marketing efforts will be your website. Invest wisely in your website, and be sure that it does the following:
Adequately represents your business and brand (look and feel, messaging)
Adequately speaks to your target audience
Can be found by searchers on top search engines
Is up-to-date and easily navigable
Provides multiple channels for customer communication
Connects to other marketing efforts
It is recommended that you work with a professional web design firm that is skilled in web development and search engine optimization. Because your website is the foundation to and from which all other digital channels will lead, it should be considered one of your top business investments.
Once you have your website complete, the next steps would be to launch regular monthly or bi-monthly e-mail campaigns, and connect with customers via social media. If you are truly on a shoestring budget, these are efforts that can be done in-house (by someone with the proper knowledge) or for a low cost by an outside digital marketing agency.
Be sure that all of your efforts lead customers back to your website where they can fully engage with your business, products and services, and choose the channels through which they contact you.
If you're interested in getting aggressive with search marketing, you can set aside some digital marketing dollars for search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising. Many businesses
today rely heavily on being found online to gain new customers. A common misconception among business owners is that simply having a website means that customers will find it. Not so. Your site must be built with specific key words and phrases, meta data, page content and linking strategies that will help it reach top search rankings.
Because many key words and phrases have stiff competition for top search rankings, you will need to supplement your organic search engine optimization efforts with pay-per-click advertising. Getting established with pay-per-click advertising campaigns can be a little daunting, but with a little time, effort and instruction, that too can be accomplished in-house, or for a reasonable cost through an outside digital marketing agency.
Beyond e-mail, social media marketing and search engine marketing, you can venture into a host of other digital marketing efforts. Mobile advertising, radio, television, electronic billboards and much more are available as marketing outlets. Whatever digital efforts you choose, they should all connect and tie into your foundation - your company website.
Digital marketing agencies play a big role in helping personal brands and businesses make their mark online. Without the help of digital marketing, it would be difficult for a business to achieve its full potential - in terms of customer reach, relevancy in the industry, and branding.
Brands do not grow overnight. They require marketing and advertising to establish their presence in the industry.
Growing Your Brand with Effective Digital Marketing Agencies
Similar to traditional marketing strategies, results from campaigns from digital agencies can be dramatic. Blogging can bring in 67% more leads compared to brands that choose not to do so. Conversion rates are also higher through online marketing efforts compared to traditional advertising campaigns.
Effective Digital Marketing Agencies are Adaptive
Most brands invest in digital marketing agencies looking for immediate results. Afterall, they are paying for such services to improve their lead generation and brand recognition. However, a true effective digital marketing agency does not only deliver fast, they can also deliver accordingly even during changes in the marketing environment.
A responsible agency will immediately adjust their marketing campaigns and inform their clients during significant changes in the digital marketing climate. They continuously test their own assumptions and provide high value to their clients, helping them get ahead of the competition.
They will never stop testing and reworking campaigns and strategies to boost your brand's ROI and maintain a balance between the marketing efforts and the results that come together with these campaigns.
Creates a Balance Between Advertising and Content Creation
Advertising is an effective marketing strategy to connect to people for your business.
However, advertising involves cost. The more people you want to reach out to, the higher your expenses will be. Although it is an essential factor required to market your business, there are other options in generating organic traffic and leads to your website without having to pay for advertising - content marketing and link building.
If a marketer fails to mention the importance of link building and content creation for your brand, you can say that you are with the wrong partner to help you with your business. Content marketing is an essential area in digital marketing that fuels brands with "free organic traffic" from the web.
In a generation that relies on the internet as its main source of information - for news, brands, ideas, and knowledge, failure to tap into content marketing is a waste of resources. Getting listed in search engines, for free, is only possible through content marketing and link building efforts.
Successful online marketing agencies do not limit themselves with regular reports that they facilitate to their clients. On top of the reports that they do, they communicate regularly with clients, informing issues that require immediate attention or approval from the client's side.
A partner agency will have a hard time running a campaign for a client if they are not equipped with the right methods in communicating with their client. There should be a personal rapport between the team and the clients to ensure a smooth flow in the whole marketing processes. Communicating through digital means can be complicated at times, thus building and establishing relationships that would remove these communication barriers is a must.
Digital Fluency and Strong Problem Solving Skills
Different clients require different types of marketing campaigns and strategies.
Fluency in digital marketing, in all its aspects, whether in print, television and social media is a must. Mastery in the use of technology, together with the latest tools of the trade should also be one of the prerequisites brands should look out for when dealing with internet marketing agencies.
The people behind a digital marketing agency should be able to adapt changes in the internet scene as well as technological changes in marketing and advertising efforts. If your digital marketing partner fails every time Google releases a new update, you might want to re-evaluate and consider looking for a different team to help your brand.
Working within deadlines, recognizing and dealing with problems as they develop and quickly placing things in order during unexpected issues are strong points every successful marketing agency poses. Without problem solving skills, it would be difficult to help a brand achieve their goals and build a strong online presence for the brand.
As a brand, take time to find the right people to trust for your digital marketing needs.Working with successful digital marketing agencies helps fast track your goals as a brand. Find one similar to your work culture to easily build a good working relationship and rapport with their team. With due diligence, you'll be able to find a digital marketing agency that works for you.