5 Digital Marketing Must-Haves For Business Explained
At this moment, someone somewhere is chasing their dreams and starting their own business. Many of these new business owners realize the importance of having their company online. However, some may become overwhelmed at the plethora of different options available to boost their online presence, particularly when they have little experience with online marketing in the first place. This may be because those with little prior knowledge of online marketing have a steep learning curve to contend with.
If you feel like you fall into this category, you may have a few questions, such as:
- What are all the online marketing options available to my company?
- Why is each one important?
- Which are the most effective towards reaching my goals?
- How do I implement the best practices for each option?
- Where do I turn to for resources and to stay up to date with trends?
- When should I focus on my company’s online presence and marketing?
My goal is to provide a checklist of the current online marketing must-haves for virtually any new business. This is designed to be a starting point for those who know very little about online marketing, and will not only explain what each item on the list is, but also touch on why they are beneficial when used correctly. If you wish to expand your knowledge further on any topic, you may find a countless amount of information available on the internet with a simple web search. It’s important to keep in mind that there are individuals whose entire careers specialize in some of the topics on this list. This article will provide a solid foundation and get you started with an overview.
Social media platforms are websites and applications that enable users to share content and interact with others, and to find people with similar interests as themselves. This is known as “social networking.” A few of the most popular platforms at the time of this writing are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. Each platform offers a slightly different way of sharing content.
A business will use a social media account primarily in two ways: As a marketing platform and as a public relations platform. At this point in time, consumers will generally assume that a business will be present on social media, and it is recommended that you begin building a social media presence as soon as possible. Consumers will follow their favorite brands, and as a result will see posts from those companies. By interacting with these “fans,” businesses can build brand loyalty which holistically builds upon itself as fans share your business with others. All of this can be free if you do not wish to pay for advertising or other features.
From a marketing standpoint, social media is where you can share photos, posts, and promotions directly with consumers who have already shown interest in your company by following your page. From a PR standpoint, social media allows a business to express their “human” side and engage directly with consumers and fans. It is also where consumers may go to voice their opinions and attempt to troubleshoot any issues with a product.
To continue learning more on this topic, try searching “Social media marketing” and “Social media fundamentals” in a web search. You’ll find more resources than you may expect.
It’s important to know that how you design your website will determine the marketing impression it gives your viewers. The ease of navigating your site (on both a computer and mobile phone), the use certain color pallets, and even the choice and location of images will all have an effect on the user experience. All of these factors (and more) should be monitored and analyzed so that the website can be proactively updated to attract more visitors, which may result in more sales and conversions. The key things to keep in mind is that there is a direct connection between the design of a website and the user’s experience.
As a business, your goal will be to align your website with the expectations of your target market. You want your website to be easy to find, appropriately named, simple to navigate, and to represent the ideals of the company. For example, a company that sells party supplies may decide that a fun, colorful, and loud website is best for their brand and the demographic they wish to attract. On the other hand, a website for medical supplies will most likely wish to appear clean, secure, professional. The key is to invest the time to understand your target market, provide clear call-to-action, and to keep content fresh and consistent.
It’s important to understand that your website may be one of the most important assets of your business, and like a brick-and-mortar store it will benefit from careful construction from the foundation up. Failing to monitor analytics, not testing design layouts or implementing proper SEO (more on that in a moment) may cause you to miss out on growth and revenue. Take time to speak to a professional web designer with a solid portfolio to become more familiar with what your site will need. The potential benefits that a great website can bring to a company may far outweigh the original investment. That being said, this is not an area where you want to cut corners or risk making mistakes that cannot be easily undone in the future.
Want to learn more? Try searching “Beginner’s guide to web design.”
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of affecting where your website appears in search results on a search engine. The goal is to have your company appears on the first page of results when users search for certain terms. For example, if you sell camping supplies, you’re goal would be to have your company listed first whenever someone searches “camping supplies” or other related terms in a search engine such as Google or Bing. It’s in the interest of the search engines to provide the best results for what people are searching for so that they will continue to use the search service. The search engines accomplish this by assessing various different factors that allow it to weigh the quality, reputation, and influence of a website to decide if it is the best result for a given search query. Good SEO will reinforce the legitimacy and reputation of an online business, which in turn will increase its ranking and cause more people to find and visit that website.
There is a lot to learn regarding SEO. What should be understood outright is that it is not a one-time implementation or process. It will be maintained and continue to evolve throughout the life of the online business. Do not allow SEO to be a foreign concept to you because many facets of your online business will affect SEO, and it’s important to become familiar with the topic early on so that best practices are considered from the beginning.
Want to learn more? Try searching “What is SEO” and “SEO 101.”
An important part of an online marketing strategy is the creation of content to share with your audience on social channels. Why is blogging important? The answer is exposure, credibility, and lead generation.
The content should focus on a topic that relates to your business. If you’re a florist, you could write about the 10 easiest flowers to grow in certain climates. If you run a custom car shop, you may share the details of a recent auto project. These posts may benefit your company’s credibility, reputation, and exposure. You do not want the blog to sound like a sales copy. The goal is to write about something your company is knowledgeable about and will interest the reader so that it is shared by those readers with others, which introduces your business to new consumers.
There are a number of other reasons why blogging is important for an online business. For example, consistent blogging may increase the chance that your business will be found in search engine results, because each new blog post will create a new indexable page for search engines. You can also add a form or promotion at the end of a blog Beginning a blog is quite easy, and there are many platforms available that are simple to use that can set you up with your own blog in as little as a few minutes. The most popular of these platforms is WordPress.
Want to learn more? Try searching “Getting started with WordPress” and “The importance of blogging.”
Email and Newsletters
Emails and newsletters are an additional way to market and keep in touch with your consumers. It begins with collecting email addresses of interested parties, clients, and leads. This can be achieved using some of the methods described above (blogging and landing pages, for example). Once you have the addresses and the readers have opted-in to your newsletter, you can engage in conversation and interaction. The goal is to convert your leads into customers, and retain the loyalty of the customers you currently have.
Many marketing activities can be achieved via email. An email can be sent to greet a new lead and introduce them to a company. A newsletter with promotions and new opportunities can be sent monthly. A follow up email could be sent to thank a customer for their recent purchase and to provide support. The important part – as with all of these steps – is to become familiar and comfortable with the possibilities and options available to you through each marketing channel you use.
Want to learn more? Try searching “Email marketing guide” and “Email marketing strategy.”
It’s good practice to become familiar with these methods and to continue to update yourself on new marketing options because they are constantly evolving along with the landscape of the internet. Get in touch with others and connect with those who influence you. The resources are out there if you search for them. Good luck and welcome to the world of online marketing!