Digital marketing is a complex ecosystem with a lot of moving parts where the rules are always changing and what worked yesterday may not work today. Small and medium-sized businesses that want to implement a digital marketing strategy can’t possibly keep up with everything. Yesterday it was Facebook and today it is Instagram or some other shiny object that will deliver the goods. What happens is businesses spend a ton of money and time chasing “the next big thing” only to see it change again before they can ever realize any success. There is a saner way to think about this. It comes down to 3 areas to focus on. If you focus on just these 3 areas your digital marketing strategy will continue to deliver results no matter what else happens.
Traffic is defined as the visitors that come to your website. In the early days of the commercialization of what we call the modern Internet, traffic just seemed to happen on its own. Eventually, with the growth in the number of websites, this became impossible. There are far too many sites going up daily and now traffic is something you must build. The novelty of just browsing any site because you can have been over for decades. Now people are after very specific information and experiences when they browse. It is your job to know what that information and/or experience is and provide it. Putting up a website and waiting for people to find you is not a strategy. Unfortunately, too many businesses do just that and wonder why they don’t get any new business. Here are the basic principles of traffic.
The first key thing to understand is that you don’t want just any traffic. You want and need focused traffic that meets certain criteria. No, I don’t care if your business can sell to anybody. That is not true, and you still need focused traffic. Focused traffic is defined as visitors that are willing and able to buy your product or service. They are interested in specifically what you are selling and actively shopping for or willing to buy it soon. We called this a target market in the original marketing lingo. In digital marketing, it is still called a target market or audience, but we define what members of that audience look like with a buyer persona. Sometimes you will hear this term also referred to as a customer avatar; two words that mean the same thing. In simple terms, a buyer persona is a fictionalized representation of your ideal customer. It details what types of companies they work for, their income, places they frequent online, problems they have that you can solve and other useful information. This is the traffic you want on your site.
Please don’t think if I suddenly dump 10,000 new and random visitors to your website tomorrow from that you will sell anything to them. You might through sure luck, but more likely than not you wouldn’t sell to any of them. You need to focus on exactly who your ideal visitor is, work up an avatar on that potential customer, and use that avatar to guide you in which traffic sources to focus on, how to find them, and draw them to your website. You may have more than one avatar for more than one type of customer. This is OK, but you need to have one for every type of customer you are trying to attract. Typically, I see clients have anywhere from 1 avatar to 5 as an average. Much above 5 and you start diluting your efforts at capturing them.
The next question many of you may be asking is what is a customer avatar and how do I create one? That could literally be an entire book on its own. We will cover the basics in a future article. For now, just focus on identifying your key customers. For example, IT managers of law firms or accountants at manufacturing companies. See how specific those targets are? You want to try and narrow it down as tight as possible. Using marketing managers at mid-sized companies isn’t really focused enough. You should add industry specifications and other details to make this more focused.
Next, focus on problems you believe this market has that you can solve with your products or services. Finally, try and figure out where on the Internet this potential customer frequents. Do they go to specific websites? Watch certain types of videos on YouTube? Do they belong to certain groups on Facebook or LinkedIn? In short, you are trying to figure out where they get their information so you can figure out where to go to communicate with them and what types of content they are interested in consuming.
Traffic is Multi-Tiered
This just means that quality traffic comes from a ton of different sources. You can buy the traffic with PPC ads (Pay Per Click) or you can get it organically by developing good content and allowing the search engines to deliver that traffic to you. You can also build up community sources of traffic on social media. The key takeaway for this point is that your website should be viewed as the hub of your digital marketing efforts. You control this space and all traffic should come to this spot. Think of a bicycle wheel with a hub at the center and spokes going out. Those spokes are all the traffic sources such as search engines (SEO), social media, PPC, etc. Here are some sources of traffic in no particular order of importance.
- Search Engines
- Social Media
- Backlinks from Websites & Blogs
- PPC (Pay Per Click)
- Email Marketing
Each of these sources is an entire traffic building strategy of its own with its own rules, strategies, and nuances. You will need to select one or more of these areas to focus on and build a strategy for that traffic source that is unique to your business. The rules for each of these areas change, sometimes rapidly. It is not advisable to “chase” these changes or jump on the “the next big thing”. It is a far saner practice to simply choose 2-3 of these sources and focus on just those. Master them, produce results with them and when and only when you are getting what you need from them do you consider adding something else.
As mentioned earlier your website is the hub of all your digital marketing activities. It is the final stop of all traffic building strategies and it should be the home of all your content. If you take nothing else from this article remember this: A social media presence or page is NOT a replacement for a website! I don’t care how “hot” you hear this platform is or how everyone you want to reach is using it. The hot social media site of the week is always in flux. Some come and some go. They rise and fall in popularity. Worse each platform is always changing its rules, interfaces, terms of service, and how they work, and you have no control over any of it. Does anyone remember MySpace? Yah, neither does the rest of the world, but at one time this was considered THE social media platform to be on.
Further, take something more modern like Facebook. This is still a huge and well-respected social media platform that many people are familiar with, but even that platform is starting to focus on certain demographics and types of people. Generally, the demographic for this group is older. If you are trying to reach Millennial’s or a younger audience this may not be the best platform.
Another point to drive home at this point and that is the use of Facebook business pages as a replacement for having your own website. Don’t. period. Facebook has changed its platform more times than most people have changed their underwear and every time they do this it creates total chaos and disruptions for the businesses using this as their web presence.
Instead, build all your digital marketing assets on your own website. You control this and you never have to worry about some senior organization coming along and changing the rules or user tastes tomorrow. Again, your website should be your hub. Social media is simply a spoke supplying traffic to that hub. The key things to focus on in building your website include:
- Sales Funnels
As with traffic sources, each of these areas has an entire set of rules and strategies behind each. You simply want to make sure you work with a digital marketing expert that understands each of these areas and how to implement them on your website. If you choose to ignore all of these items and simply hand your brochure over to a web designer and ask them to put it up as a website, you will likely have wasted any amount of money you paid to do it. In the industry, this is called “brochureware” and is a complete waste of time for you. You will get nothing from this.
As a business when you are evaluating which web designer to hire, and you have multiple quotes from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars you need to ask which of them truly understands the principles above and can deliver. Putting up A website is easy. Putting up an EFFECTIVE website is a different matter entirely.
Your website needs to be generating leads or sales, if it isn’t doing this you don’t have an effective site. Lead generation sites will often utilize lead magnets and sales funnels, both of which are critical to lead generation. Sales come in the form of eCommerce type websites, but often still involve the use of sales funnels, good copywriting, possibly video, and effective sales pages. If you ask a web designer about any of this and they look like a deer in the headlights, warning you are about to blow a bunch of cash and get zero results.
Back End Processes
The third and final area of your digital marketing strategy you need to focus on is what I have named the backend. This is everything that happens behind the scenes that visitors to your site don’t see. Once a visitor comes to your website and chooses to buy something (eCommerce) or request a lead magnet (Lead Generation) then a whole host of things happens behind the scenes that you need to focus on occurs. Those items may happen on your website or in conjunction with your website or completely off it, but each of those things is just as critical as every step that led to this moment. If you are running an eCommerce site these items might include:
- Order Management
- Credit Card Processing
- Inventory Management
- Customer Service & Communication
- Security (Orders, Customer Info, Website)
If you are running a lead generation website where you are attracting leads for products or services such as coaches, consultants, real estate brokers, CPA, attorney, and retail stores, etc. then your back end may include items such as:
- List Building
- Marketing Automation
- Lead Nurturing
- CRM System
- Marketing & Sales Integration and Communication
- Security (Visitor Info, Website)
All of these happen once a person visits the website and takes some kind of action. Too many businesses think that action, whatever it is, is the end of the culmination of all you have worked for, but the reality is it isn’t. As with all the areas discussed in this article each of these components has a set of guidelines, rules, and strategies to implement them effectively. A digital marketing strategy and an expert will understand each of these items and be able to guide you through the setup and implementation of them.
Focus on Analytics & KPI’s
There are a few key takeaways from this entire article. First, digital marketing has 3 key areas to focus on…
- Traffic Building
- Effective Website
- Back End Processes
Each of these areas has several sub-areas that are critical to the success of the whole. As the owner or manager of a company, you shouldn’t focus on the minutiae of each area. A good digital marketing agency can provide you good analytics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that show you the big picture for each of the 3 areas. If they can’t you need to find another agency or expert.
Digital Marketing Strategies – Change is the Only Constant
The next key takeaway is that while the sub-rules in each of these areas may always be in flux and changing staying focused and disciplined in a few areas will bring results. Constantly changing your strategies and going after the new shiny object will lead to failure.
Digital Marketing Intersects Technology – Marketing – Management
The final takeaway is that digital marketing is a complex ecosystem. It is the intersection of technology, marketing, and management. To implement an effective strategy, you need an expert that understands all the different areas and components that make up digital marketing. They should understand the strategies that go into them and know how they all work together.
As you might imagine having your brother-in-law’s son or daughter build you a website for $300 bucks because they are “techie” is way different than hiring an experienced and knowledgeable digital marketing expert. The former may be cheap, but the later will get you results.
If you would like to have a free 45-minute consulting session about your business and digital marketing strategy that will yield a minimum of 3 actionable steps you can take immediately to improve your business simply click on the button below and schedule your consultation today.