This piece will discuss eight of the most common digital marketing tactics everyone should investigate and how they could benefit your business.
What is digital marketing?
Before discussing specific tactics. it’s important to nail down exactly what digital marketing is: advertising delivered through digital channels. This includes the internet, and encompasses channels such as search engine marketing, banner advertising and social media, amongst others.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of increasing the visibility of your business by implementing tactics which enable your website to appear as high in the non-paid (organic) search engine results as possible for searches related to your business and its activities.
All search engines rank websites according to their own algorithms, which have been created to critically assess websites, with the aim of providing users with the most relevant information from websites which are safe, technically sound and easy to navigate.
Although search engines take hundreds of variables into account when deciding where to place a website, many of these can be grouped into three distinct areas: technical, content and external signals.
Technical: focuses on ensuring that your website is sound from a technical point of view, this includes but is not limited to: ensuring your pages load quickly; all links are active and relevant; and your site has no 404 (broken link) errors or similar.
Content: analyses the content on your website to establish if it’s relevant to the topic at hand, has sufficient detail and is well-written.
External signals: the main external signal search engines will look at is the links pointing into your website. They will look to see which websites are linking to you, how relevant they are to your sector and how trustworthy these websites are.
A well-implemented SEO campaign will boost your visibility in the search engines, ensuring that you are discovered by more people and your business grows at a faster pace.
However, with SEO it’s important to remember that search engine updates and subtle algorithm changes are constant, whilst your competition is always looking for an edge; so you can’t simply rest on your laurels once you ‘hit page one,’ if you want to maintain your position.
It can take time to see results from your SEO efforts, so it’s important to be patient when you first start out. You won’t go flying up the rankings overnight unless you’re extremely lucky.
Typically referred to as PPC, this type of advertising is most visible as the results which appear above the organic results on search engine results pages (SERPs). In essence, you only pay when someone clicks on your advert. Quite recently, Google decided to both top and tail its search engine results with PPC ads, in a bid to make them appear even more natural to users.
The cost-per-click (CPC) in this arena can vary dramatically depending on the sector you’re in, from just a few pennies per visitor to tens of pounds. This means that you should endeavour to research the costs in your sector before making the decision to invest in this area. For example, if your maximum budget is £10 per day but the average CPC for the terms you will need to target is £9, you’d be far better off looking at alternative channels, since your daily budget would be spent after just one site visit!
However, if you have the budget to fund PPC, you’ll reach people who are specifically seeking the products or services you provide. The ability to drive immediate results from PPC is compelling.
Google AdWords and Bing Ads are the two most popular platforms for PPC advertising – and both serve adverts via keyword triggers. For example, if your business sells household white goods, one of your keywords could be ‘washing machine.’ The ad tied to your nominated keyword would potentially trigger when someone searched for ‘buy washing machine,’ provided your bid was sufficiently high versus that of your competitors.
Adverts appear based on an auction process, which is performed in the background each time someone makes a search. This auction is based on the amount you’re willing to pay for a click, alongside other factors such as advert relevancy and your landing page experience.
Arguably the most well-known digital marketing technique, email marketing is an underestimated tool which could take your digital marketing efforts to considerable heights if implemented well, having by far the best ROI of any marketing channel.
Of course, you won’t be able to achieve impressive results by simply firing out a promotional email every so often. Instead, you’ll need to create a detailed strategy, contacting customers regularly, providing value and using all the unique benefits email marketing brings.
Product promotion is typically the most common thing you’ll see in email marketing campaigns: you’ll gain some traction by emailing your previous customers and prospects about a sale or a new product. You can take this one step further by segmenting your list, thereby providing people with personalised offers based on their current spending habits. This will significantly increase uptake.
Alongside this, emails can be used for a range of other promotional activities such as highlighting customer testimonials to prospects, or sending useful tips and information relating to their interests for current users.
Despite recent controversies, social media is here to stay, with companies such as Facebook transforming from bedroom start-ups to ever-present corporate behemoths in just a few short years. With this incredible growth came businesses, who saw a new opportunity to get their messages across to consumers and develop their brand personalities. And as more platforms released, so businesses followed, jumping head-first into each new opportunity.
However, to truly reap the business rewards of social media, you should instead take the time to carefully analyse whether each platform is right for your business and prioritise your time and budget accordingly. Not having a presence on a platform is better than having a poorly executed presence across too many.
Once you’ve established which platforms are right for you, you should ensure that the content created for each is appropriate and presented correctly. Each platform is engaged with differently, by different audiences in different mindsets, and your content should reflect this.
Today, all social media platforms now have comprehensive paid elements, which you’ll be required to use if your aim is to maximise the reach of your content. It’s therefore vital that you familiarise yourself with the different paid options available on your platforms of choice and work to utilise them to their full capabilities.
Linking with everything we have discussed so far, content marketing encompasses everything from a white paper created by a SaaS company to educate prospects, to the company blog or promotional images which are used across multiple channels. In short: it’s anything you create to put out to your audience.
When creating a piece of content, it’s important to have a defined purpose in mind. Are you creating this to be shared and increase brand awareness? Would you like it to bring in leads or direct sales? It’s vital that this purpose is kept at the top of your mind when developing a content plan. Creating content because everyone else is will simply serve to waste time and ensure you never achieve the results you desire.
Once created, your content requires promotion through the most appropriate channels. As the saying goes: ‘content is King.’ But just as a King is nothing without his subjects, so a piece of content is nothing without its viewers.
A particularly popular method in the world of eCommerce, affiliate marketing is a classic method of marketing: other people promote your products or services for you and receive a cut of every sale in return.
Engaging in affiliate marketing allows your business to be promoted across different avenues by a range of people who have access to a trusted audience you may otherwise be unable to reach, providing a great avenue for sharing your message further. The fact that you only pay for confirmed conversions also makes for a low-risk attempt with negligible upfront costs. This has seen affiliate marketing evolve into the forefront of so-called ‘performance’ or ‘pay-per-result’ marketing in recent years.
There are still risks involved, however: first and foremost, the entities you choose to be affiliated with, alongside their audiences, will impact how your business is viewed by the public. Choosing poorly could cause serious damage to your reputation.
You can work to avoid this by properly vetting all affiliates and laying clear, specific rules as to what is and isn’t allowed to be discussed when promoting your brand. If your product is aimed toward young teens you probably won’t want it placed next to an offer for gambling, for example.
Other problems exist on a more technical level: procedures need to be in place to recoup commission from returned orders, de-dupe ‘fake’ clicks from robots. Then there’s the age-old question: ‘is the traffic incremental?’ i.e. has the affiliate cannibalised visitors that you could have captured, commission-free, from other channels?
Above all, it is important to remember that your affiliates are partners. Any deal needs to work well for both parties if it is to be as fruitful as you want it to be.
Technically falling under the content marketing remit, is still woefully underused by brands in promoting their messages. This seems to derive from worries about production costs or the view that video belongs on the TV.
Video marketing, however, has spread further than just our televisions, with people now spending one-third of their time online watching video content providing ample opportunity to meet consumers via a new channel.
While the other marketing methods discussed here mostly focus on bringing in new customers, community building is specifically focused on the people who have converted and currently use your product.
The aim of a community manager is to build a group of people who like what you’re doing, are interested in your sector and are enthusiastic about discussing it.
A community could be formed in a number of ways: a forum on your website, a private Facebook group, or a Redditt board, for example. This work will cultivate a loyal group of fans, who are happy to engage with and promote your business to friends and colleagues because they feel part of something bigger.
The team at Moz, who provide leading SEO measurement software, practise what they preach when it comes to community management and wider content marketing. They’ve successfully built up a forum of people who visit regularly to discuss SEO and help each other out. This same group of people will also quickly watch any videos or read any articles created by the brand’s content team, making each piece as close to a guaranteed hit as you can possibly get.
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