Staying competitive in today’s world often depends on your ability to use digital media to reach potential customers and clients. Developing a strong digital marketing strategy and then following through on it can be the difference between turning a profit, or turning in your keys. Consider the following guidelines when working to develop your digital marketing plans for this year.
Know Your Target Market
The first thing you need to know is who your customers are and the best way to reach them. There are huge differences between people in their early 20s and people in their late 20s in the way they use and interact with digital media and advertising. The gap grows even larger when dealing with people in their 30s, 40s, and the over 50s. For example, teens tend to use visual platforms Snapchat and Instagram to communicate, while the over 40s are more likely to use text-based Email and Facebook. Professionals and small business owners tend to be more active on LinkedIn and Twitter. Figuring out exactly who your target market is will help you determine the best way to reach them.
Ask Your Team Members for Input
You may think that you know your customers inside and out, but if you’re more involved in administrative or management duties, and other employees are spending more time interacting with your customers, they may have better insights. Your tech-savvy employees or co-workers - particularly those who happen to be the same age as your target market - are in a good position to share tips on what will work and what won’t. Tap into the resources of your entire team for greater insight and more creativity.
Hire a Professional
While many small businesses baulk at the cost of hiring someone to handle their marketing activities for them, it usually pays for itself quickly with increased sales volume and net profitability. Find someone who is knowledgeable about current social media and digital marketing trends and task them with preparing a digital marketing strategy and plan to increase your visibility and bringing in the customers you want. Unless you already have someone with a marketing background on staff, the knowledge and capability they provide is invaluable.
Don’t Skimp on Your Website
Your website is your most important digital asset and the hub for all your activity, so it’s important to make sure it’s working for you. Hiring a web designer / developer to build or revamp your website so it provides a good user experience is a sound investment. Having more visitors is of no value if they have trouble navigating or understanding your site when they get there. While the initial costs may seem prohibitive, consider the long-term return on investment of more traffic, more customers, positive reviews and more sales.
Spread Your Message over Multiple Platforms
While the future is gearing up to be primarily about online media options, don’t discount your other advertising and marketing activities. If you’re a small, local business, investing in local radio is still a great way for people to find out about you. Likewise, see if you can purchase advertising space on your local TV station or newspaper website. There are plenty of people who read local news and happenings online. Similarly, consider other local advertising options like small print publications (think Creative Loafing), letterbox drops, posters or even grocery cart or public transit advertising. Remember to consider your target audience: grocery carts might work well for suburban moms, but transit ads will work better for urbanites in their 20’s.
This also applies to digital and social-media platforms. Make sure you’ve covered Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and any other platforms that are frequented by your target audience. When you limit the reach of your advertising, you also limit your potential sales.
Stay Up to date
After you’ve put time and effort into your marketing plan, the last thing you want to do is let it stagnate. If someone logs onto your website and sees the same ‘news’ they saw last time, they’ll surely consider just closing the browser. Make sure you are offering new and creative content on a regular basis and consider adding a blog that will keep customers informed about what is going on in your business. Stay on top of Search Engine Optimization, and figure out how to include keywords that will attract new traffic to your site. Remember - each visit to your site is a potential sale, and the best way to increase sales is to increase visits.