Marketing has become a huge discipline over the course of the last decade. Where once we were all concerned with PR and print/TV/radio advertising, and perhaps a little SEO and PPC, now social media has changed the game further. As it’s a fairly new discipline, social media marketing and indeed any kind of inbound marketing can be difficult to gain a budget allowance for within a company.
This is due to a lack of understanding from executives, more than anything else. Many still feel that social media is frivolous and blogging is pointless. And for the marketing manager that can be hugely frustrating as it means that an effective marketing avenue can be cut off. However, bosses are coming around now – after all, it’s not difficult to see that if all of the big brands are in on the action, there must be something in this inbound malarkey.
For the marketing manager that’s always worked with more traditional outbound marketing, knowing where to start when it comes to digital can be quite daunting. After all, how are you supposed to choose the right platforms for your brand with no comparative experience?
At Xen, we’re here to help, so here’s our tips for getting started integrating digital marketing into your activities.
What is Digital Marketing?
There’s often confusion between the terms digital and online marketing. In a nutshell, digital marketing refers to the use of digital channels, whether they are online or off, to promote a business. It’s an encompassing term and one under which online marketing – which depends on real-time online advertising – comes under.
For example, if you run ad campaigns in mobile apps, through an ad network, then the device that your ad appears on may or may not be connected to the internet. However, it’s still being delivered by digital means and as such, is a form of digital marketing.
Digital marketing channels might include:
- Social media
- Blogs/content marketing
- Mobile marketing (SMS, MMS)
None of these necessarily have to be live and connected to the internet in order to reach the audience. Online marketing however does. So you would consider PPC the latter as ads appear as the audience is searching for something specific.
Getting Started with Digital Marketing
When it comes to digital marketing integration of channels is key to success. This means that it’s wise to put planning and strategy into place if you want to achieve the best results. The first step will be to choose the channels that you will be using and to put into place your content, social media and advertising strategies. The social media channels you choose will depend on your business – some work better for B2C, whilst others work best for B2B. You should plan this carefully. Whilst there are a lot of tools available to help you cut time when working with social media, it can still be very time-consuming. With that in mind, plan how much time you can devote to each channel, as well as who is responsible for what.
You should consider using:
- Facebook – 1 billion is a big audience and some of your customers are bound to use it. Facebook’s advertising is also very powerful and the targeting function is amongst the best out there.
- Twitter – my personal favourite, Twitter is especially good for B2B and for getting your content out there.
- LinkedIn – more of a B2B platform, LinkedIn allows you to advertise and showcase content and your company page, as well as use sales tools to gather leads.
- Instagram – growing at an incredible rate, if you have visual products, then it’s worth signing up.
- Pinterest – I’ve always found that it drives a fair amount of traffic, so again, if you have visual products then it’s worth checking out.
- Email marketing – is a must for all businesses as it allows you to effectively link all of your channels in one place to present to the audience.
- Video – is swiftly becoming the marketing tool of choice and absolutely can’t be dismissed, especially when it comes to Facebook.
- Content – a good blog will drive traffic, feed your social media and showcase your industry knowledge. Other forms of content can be used to grow your email list and act as a CTA.
- Mobile – growth in smartphone usage has meant that you’d be crazy to ignore the opportunities mobile advertising offers.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and you should carry out your own research to determine which channels your audience frequent. However, you should produce a blog, use email marketing and at least a couple of social platforms as a minimum. You can also of course use Adwords and social advertising too.
As well as the above, you should familiarise yourself with web design and development language. By this, I don’t mean that you have to learn to code, but communicating with web professionals in this space can be fraught with difficulties if you have no idea what any of the terms used mean.
In order to be able to communicate effectively, you should learn the basics of:
- User Experience (UX) – a good user experience can be the difference between a successful website and campaign and failure. It’s a wide-ranging discipline, so I wouldn’t recommend that you delve too deep (unless you want to) but you should understand how the performance and layout of a site can affect conversions.
- HTML/CSS – knowing the very basics of what these do and mean is useful, but not essential. HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the language of the web, whilst CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) determine the look/style of a site.
- Landing page – this is a specially constructed page that is usually set up to capture email addresses or push targeted offers.
- Meta tags – these are used for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and are not visible to the user. Meta information includes a description and name of a web page which is crawled by the search engine in order to determine what the site is about. Keyword tags are no longer crawled by Google, so many leave them out of a site, but they are by Bing, so are worth including.
A website ideally works in tandem with any search advertising that you carry out. For example, often, an Adwords score will require that the title, description and target page of the website makes sense alongside the advertisement that you create in that they contain the same keywords.
A large part of a digital marketer’s job is to understand where the traffic to the website is coming from and what actions the user takes once they arrive on the site. It takes a little while to get to grips with using analytics properly, but once you do it informs your marketing decisions and allows you to tweak campaigns so that they are more effective.
To get started with Google Analytics, check out the Kissmetrics Beginner’s Guide.
Social media is now a huge part of digital marketing and as discussed, can be very time consuming. However, happily there are plenty of tools out there to help you to cut the time and streamline your social campaigns. Scheduling tools allow you to schedule posts for the future and these can be set to go out as often as you like, depending on the tool.
Take a look at my previous posts to discover what you should be measuring for effective social campaigns and how to provide ROI. Social media is a powerful means of reaching your audience and building relationships. With that in mind, you should ensure that you don’t automate every part of its marketing and should be prepared to answer questions and reply to comments as quickly as possible – personally (or using a staff member).
When it comes to what and when you should post, that will depend on your industry. Study the inbuilt analytics for each platform that you use to determine when your audience is most active and aim to post at these times, primarily. You should mix posts up when it comes to content and include blog posts, images, memes and video. Don’t send out purely promotional messages as these tend to go straight over followers’ heads.
Every marketing manager knows that content has become valuable as an inbound marketing tool. You should create a blog and aim to post at the same time every day/week. This will bring visitors back and will ensure that the site is crawled by search engines more frequently – search engines love fresh content.
Many marketers are put off creating content, or setting up a regular blog, due to time and budget constraints. However, it’s possible to carry out content marketing on a budget, so do read around and consider how you can work it into your overall digital strategy.
Video marketing is becoming huge. YouTube has always been the most popular channel until recently when Facebook overtook it for desktop views. With this in mind, you should, if your budget allows, be creating videos and making use of video advertising.
Creating your own videos needn’t be hugely costly. And they should not be the dreary corporate videos that should have died off a decade ago either. Videos can be graphical in nature and get your message across visually and effectively.
Check out Visme to see how you can create video graphics easily with little graphic design experience.
Integration is the Key
The key to successful digital marketing is to integrate all of the channels that you use so that they work in harmony.
Branding is important too – this should be uniform across all of the channels that you use.
When it comes to how to integrate, you should work this into your strategy. For example, if you’re about to launch a new product, then this should be obvious across email, social media, advertising and landing pages. Or, if you are about to launch your social media presence for the first time, then what better way to announce it than in your weekly newsletter.
If this doesn’t work in tandem, then trust can be reduced in the customer. I read an example the other day where a chap had clicked through on a search ad as it displayed shoes that he had wanted for some time at a certain price. However, when he clicked through the shoes were out of stock. A few days later, another ad appeared from the same company on another platform, with a different price. Again, when he clicked through the shoes were not only out of stock, but were also the original price he’d seen on the first ad.
That’s a great example of how non-integrated (and ill thought out) digital campaigns can work against a brand rather than in favour of it. Following that experience, the customer won’t trust that if he clicks through on another ad, he will get the information or product that he was promised and so is unlikely to trust the brand at all in the future.
Digital media by its nature is a massive subject because it encompasses so many different things. The key is to choose your platforms carefully, plan out your strategies thoroughly and measure the results closely. Research has shown that strategy is a key part of digital marketing success and this makes sense. Without a plan, carrying out digital marketing is a little like trying to hit a moving target, if it does hit your intended audience then it’s likely to be a happy accident that you’ll be hard pushed to replicate.
Digital marketing is, however, extremely powerful when done right. Print advertising is on its way out and could already be considered something of a dinosaur as it has now been overtaken by digital advertising. The latter is the present and the future and for the marketing manager, it’s essential to jump aboard the digital train, if you haven’t already.
· Marketing Profs: Maximize Your Digital-Marketing Mix: 10 Ways to Integrate Social, Mobile, and Email
· Smart Insights: Achieving Integrated Digital Marketing
· CIO: 7 Ways to Create a Successful Integrated Marketing Campaign
· Techopedia: What is Digital Marketing
· Smart Insights: Definition of Emarketing vs Internet vs Digital Marketing