DIY Digital Marketing Strategy – Part 2
In my previous post, 7 practical steps towards a digital marketing strategy, we explored 3 actionable prerequisites towards a digital presence. Before we move on to the next few steps, it’s time to look at important conceptual bedrocks of digital marketing strategy.
Key Performance Indicators & Customer Personas
You should be able to derive quantifiable performance indicators, from your business goals, so you can measure the progress of your marketing activities. Sales targets, number of email leads collected, number of conversions, are examples of KPI’s that allow you to gauge the success of your campaigns.
Refer to this post by digital marketing & analytics expert Avinash Kaushik, on how to create measurement models for your digital marketing strategy.
Once you have defined your KPI’s, identify the type of customers most likely to help you achieve those KPI’s. Knowing the character traits and motivations of your customer makes it so much easier to focus various digital marketing assets, towards effective customer acquisition and retention.
e.g: If you’re selling your original paintings of flowers, one ideal customer is probably a home owner (more likely to invest in original paintings), university educated (higher income bracket), female (allow me to indulge in stereotypes to make a point) and older (to account for time required to accumulate education and earnings).
Dig deeper to define other personal preferences like love for travel (which often comes with stable incomes and asset buildup), fine dining, reading, classical music, etc.
Try to put together, 3-4 such ‘profiles’, of customers most likely to need/desire, afford and buy your products or services. These profiles help create content like blog posts, that your target audience can relate to.
It’s a good idea to refer to Heidi Cohen’s well written post on creating marketing personas.
With the added perspective that comes from creating customer personas, why not revisit step 1(keyword research)? A university professor and a high school student may have strikingly different ways of using search phrases, especially long tail ones.
With that done, let’s pick up from where I left off in the previous post…
4) Content Marketing
As discussed in the earlier post, it is no longer sufficient to have static content like a 4-5 page site or even a multi-product catalog, if you expect customers (and search engines) to find your site relevant.
You need to build up interest for your site, over time. How?
By using inbound marketing tactics to give your customers reasons to return to your digital platforms.
An effective way of doing this is by consistently creating article posts, videos, photographs, ebooks, illustrations, audio podcasts; anything aligned to your product/services that target visitors will find helpful, relevant, informative & interesting.
Quality content can also help you retain customers, when you provide value-adds like educating them on complementary products.
The three C’s that define your content marketing strategy are
- Creation: Where you create the content yourself; like a blog post or an illustration.
- Curation: Where you identify content that is relevant to your business niche and share it, with your audiences. You may choose to build on the topic before sharing.
- Conversation: Where you interact with and enable your customers to create content for you. e.g.: Comments on your blog post, customer posts on your forums, photo contest on your site etc.
e.g.: Using breaking industry news to kick start a conversation on the blog or your forums.
- Create your premium content for digital assets that you own i.e., your self-hosted website/blog, your home base. Third party sites like facebook change rules often . It’s never a good idea to be over-dependent on digital channels that are beyond your control.
- Use a CMS that allows to easily add pages to your website. e.g.: WordPress, Joomla.
- Allocate resources to maintain a consistent content publishing schedule.
Tip: If publishing content 3 times/week, target one customer persona (out of the 3-4 previously defined) each time.
- Evaluate type of content your customer persona can relate better to.
e.g.: Teenagers often have short attention spans and will not be patient enough to read through a 2000+ word post, like this one. They’ll prefer attractive visuals instead.
- Identify existing in-house content creation strengths
e.g.: An artist could create a video or photograph log of a work in progress. Fairly easy to do without detracting from the process of creating the painting itself.
- Learn how to tell good stories. Vary the topics you write about, targeting different interests identified during the customer persona creation process. Most of us tire quickly of monotonous content. A variety in content can keep audiences interested in your digital activity.
e.g.: A fitness trainer would write about training methods, customer case studies, healthy recipes, create short training videos, etc.
- Look for opportunities to collaborate with others and prepare content for other sites. You will be able to leave links to your blog in the content of those guest posts.
- Look for ways to use existing content. Jennifer Kane has some good tips on repurposing content.
- Over extend yourself. Original content creation is often time-consuming and you run the risk of getting distracted from your core business activities. Once you have determined the content creation needs of your digital marketing strategy, investigate your content creation weaknesses.
Be honest in your evaluation so you can accurately identify if/what to outsource and when.
- Forget to focus on content creation processes that you enjoy.
- Lose control over quality, if outsourcing.
e.g.: Writing services often plagiarise existing content and make minor tweaks to spin them off as original work. That writer you paid $1 for a blog post may cost you much more in terms of credibility.
It is a better idea to collaborate with trusted freelancers or partners like Brandbyte Media Inc., to identify optimized content creation opportunities and workflows.
- Forget that your content has to connect with your customers so that they can convert to paying customers (or help you achieve your predefined KPI’s).
5) Social Media Marketing
Creation, curation and conversation are the foundations of any social networking activity too. It often takes time to build quality audience for your own site. Social networks offer the advantage of having a built-in audience for your message (and potentially, your site). It’s also easier to setup and manage social profiles compared to a self-hosted blog or site.
‘Conversation’ enabling features are the most useful part of social networking. To be effective on most social networks, participate in conversations instead of using them as a soapbox to pimp product and services.
Be interested in others and be interesting yourself. Your defined customer persona is who you are primarily trying to connect with.
Maybe you have to start building audiences from scratch because your friends and family may not be your target audiences. The advantage then, is that you have a blank canvas to build a product/service centric audience
e.g.: A business Facebook page.
- Keep in mind that third-party digital channels like Facebook are outposts that can be used to direct customers to your main site (digital HQ). Use your social networks as a distribution channel for the content on your home base.
- Try to use your outposts to collect customer data, that you control.
e.g.: Encouraging customers to sign up for your mailing list.
- Make sure your target customers (persona) are on the social networks you pick as part of your digital marketing strategy. Your business may not have to be on Facebook if your customers are on Stumbleupon, Youtube, or Linkedin.
Tip: Pull up your keyword list. Use a free service like icerocket , socialmention and Twitter search to look for chatter around those keywords and/or your brand, on popular social networks and blogs.
You can use these tools to ‘spy’ on your competition as well. Determine the social networks they leverage and learn how they do it.
- Prioritize your digital outposts to focus on those important to your business
e.g.: If more of your potential customers are on Twitter, optimize your digital resources to leverage Twitter over other outposts.
- Use the three C’s of content to drive your social interactions. Curation and conversation take up a big chunk of social sharing. This fact makes it easier to provide value to your audience without having to create the content yourself.
- Use your keywords to optimize your ‘searchability’. Your target keywords are potential hashtags for Twitter. Include keywords in Facebook page updates, when possible. Also optimize the headings and descriptions of Youtube videos so that relevant keywords are present. Always include links to your main site.
- Look for opportunities to connect with customers and partners.
e.g.: Guest blogging opportunities on popular blogs in your niche. Or identify a collaborator to guest post on your blog or even reciprocal posts.
Tip: Set up automated alerts that will notify you when your brand, blog or niche is mentioned. Google alerts and Socialmention alerts are a couple of tools to help you with this.
- Participate in conversations on channels run by others, like Youtube video comments, forums, blogs, Facebook pages, Linkedin forums etc.
Helpful, in-context comments can help establish authority and thought-leadership. Astute comments often lead potential clients and partners to you when they follow links that you leave behind (often in your signature or user name). Some of these links provide SEO benefits as well.
- Look for opportunities for customer service & product development using your social presence. Listening to your customers is a great way to customize your service for their needs.
- Participate by curation. Share and promote others and they will be glad to promote you too.
- Vary the type and tone of content in your stream.
e.g: Occasional rants and motivational quotes are fine as long as they are not the only content populating your stream. Also make sure your customer persona can relate to those quotes if not rants.
- Measure the results of your social activity. Tools like hootsuite tell you the number of retweets, click-throughs etc. Similarly Facebook insights provides information like the engagement level on your Facebook page.
- Talk only about yourself or your business. If you do, you are probably going to be tuned out quickly.
- Completely automate your activity. While some automation is OK, you need to be there to identify and establish connections.
- Simply duplicate your content over all your social networks simultaneously, all the time. Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are different types of networks.
Casual chatter and photos may work to leverage your Facebook activity, links may do better on Twitter and Linkedin forums are a good way to leverage that platform. Learn the difference between platforms, in order to use them effectively.
- Fall for the ‘buy 10000 followers for 10$’ for your page or twitter account. There’s really no point if none of the 10K care about your product. In fact, it may reflect badly to have 10K followers who do not interact with your brand.
Focus on building your followers based on your target personas, for the most part. These are the ones who will engage with your posts, buy your products and help spread the word.
- Be overly dependent on any one outpost. Explore lesser known networks too when possible.
- Ignore interacting with others. It’s called ‘social’ marketing for a reason.
- Get distracted by trends that may not mean much to your business objectives.
e.g.: Social ranking metrics may be irrelevant to KPI’s in your niche.
6) Email Marketing
While we have all seen those ‘email is dead’ statements, email is still an important, direct connection to customers. Some demographics like boomers, may still prefer email over other forms of digital communication.
Capturing email id’s of current and potential customers via your digital assets should be an important tactic in your digital marketing strategy.
When your targeting and content marketing is accurate, you will not have trouble with voluntary subscriptions to your email list.
Services like mailchimp and aweber facilitate email collection and campaign executions. They also provide tools that help measure the effectiveness of email campaigns including conversion rates, open rates and clicks throughs. Information that allow you to segment your audience according to their interest level.
e.g.: Someone who clicks on a link in an email campaign is probably further along the conversion funnel than someone who opened the email but did not click any links. The former may convert to a client if targeted again with a ‘sweeter’ deal.
- Look for opportunities to capture emails on all your digital channels.
- Provide special access opportunities like first access to promotions, for customers on these email lists.
- Use these email lists to keep customers interested in your brand by providing occasional updates and other useful information related to your products and services. Blog updates can also be sent via email campaigns.
- Use A/B testing to test variations of message in your campaigns. Headers, landing pages, subject etc.
- Segment your lists according to their position in the conversion funnel. Existing customers may be interested in complementary products or value-adds to their existing purchases.
- Spam or email people without their permission. Subscriptions to your list should be voluntary. If too many people assign your email to their spam folder, your domain risks being blacklisted as a spam domain. It’s against the law to send mass emails to those who have not consented to receive them.
- Use only images without accompanying text content. Your customers will probably not see the images by default since images are initially disabled by most web mail and email providers.
- Overwhelm customers with daily emails, unless this is an expected part of your sales cycle. Find that comfort zone, between reminding your customers about your business activities and being annoying.
- Send emails without an unsubscribe link. Always give recipients the choice to opt out. Letting go is probably a better alternative to landing in a spam folder.
7) Digital advertising
While growing a digital presence organically is ideal, it is sometimes necessary to gain traction quickly. A short term promotion is one such reason.
Digital ads can help you draw considerable attention to your business, relatively fast. Ideally, digital advertising should be another tactic in your digital marketing strategy arsenal. Once your ads bring visitors, an extended digital presence should help connect with them and convert these visitors to customers.
Most digital platforms, including social networks, now allow you to buy advertisement space to target their users. The increased visibility boost you can achieve, from such ads, can be quite significant to your KPI.
Depending on your strategy, you can also phase out advertising (cpc/cpm) campaigns while phasing in your inbound marketing (social, content etc) strategy. Earlier, I wrote a related guest post on using google analytics to develop a social media strategy.
- Research digital platforms your target customer is likely to use. Purchase ads on platforms that maximize KPI attainment.
Tip: Google analytics can help show you which platform (sources) most visits to your site are coming from.
- Monitor and analyse your campaigns often. Optimize your ads for conversions on a regular basis. Daily is good.
- Segment your audience. A/B test variations of ads.
- Learn how to create effective landing pages (the pages that customers get to when they click on your ads).
- Conduct tests to find out if makes more sense for Cost per click (CPC) or Cost per 100 impressions (CPM) in specific campaigns, even segments within the same campaign.
- Determine the type of ads which work best for your niche. Text-based, video, and images are the various options you have available, depending on the platform.
Tip: Banner ads on Google’s content network may be cheaper (cpm/cpc) than text, and may give you better value in branding opportunities.
- Use the increased visibility as an opportunity to leverage other objectives of your digital presence like capturing email Id’s, increasing social reach etc., as part of your ad campaign.
- Test the effectiveness of your keywords in the ad campaign. This is an opportunity to find out quickly, which keywords lead to better conversion rates. Adjust on/off page SEO tactics accordingly, if appropriate.
- Bid too high to start with. Start lower than the suggested price, observe the response before increasing ad spend.
- Expect immediate conversion unless you are experienced in cpc/cpm campaigns. Allow for a couple of weeks to analyse the data and optimize campaigns.
Your digital marketing has to be aligned with your business goals. You can implement and execute a digital marketing strategy yourself, most of the tools are easily accessible. All you need to do is to practice and learn.
Strategize, implement, measure, segment and measure again. Adapt.
There is no free lunch, digital marketing can be very time consuming. It can be cost-effective allocation of resources, to bring in specialists to help implement and execute an effective digital marketing strategy.
If you need help, contact us for a free customized digital marketing strategy. We’re happy to help you get started.
I know it was a long read but there’s so much more to say. I’ll be putting together an extended 🙂 version, with checklists, more tips and tools suggestions, for a DIY digital marketing strategy. Subscribe to the newsletter and we’ll send you an email on when and how to download that free digital marketing ebook.