If you’re still trying to separate traditional from digital marketing – stop. Thanks to its scalability, efficiency, and responsiveness, digital has already taken over.
In fact, Forrester estimates that by 2021, US marketers will be spending over $119 billion in digital marketing. That’s an 11% yearly increase from 2016. However, even as digital marketing budgets continue to grow, so does the percentage of marketers who don’t know if their money is well spent.
If you’re looking for ways to maximize your digital marketing budget, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s 19 tips for adding value to your online presence, organic and otherwise.
1. Reflect on “who” your business is:
What problem do you solve for your audience and how can a digital presence get them closer to a solution/you? Keep in mind 82% of smartphone users consult their phones on purchases they are about to make in-store and 45% read reviews before making a purchase. Even if you aren’t in retail, potential clients are doing research before they commit to your product or service – so plan accordingly.
Earning people’s business could be as easy as maintaining an educational blog, having a responsive twitter profile, or offering free trials/samples. Ask yourself what doubts keep people from buying into your business and use digital to solve them.
2. Claim your digital presence:
Almost nothing hurts a business’s credibility like an unclaimed or out of date online presence. Even if you only have a physical storefront, information about your business will be sought out (and most likely found) online. Make sure that information is correct by claiming ownership of that Yelp profile, Google Places page, or other online directory account.
We suggest you Google your business, see what you find, and start making moves accordingly. (For example, claim your business on Yelp, update your hours, respond to reviews and questions on local pages, etc.)
3. Know the difference between inbound and outbound:
Know the difference between inbound and outbound marketing and find a ratio of both approaches that works with your business goals.
Broadly speaking, outbound marketing uses more traditional media to bring a brand to its audience. Point of purchase displays and online banner ads are good examples of outbound marketing vehicles.
On the other hand, inbound marketing brings targets to the brand, by enticing them with content strategy, SEO, and other similar approaches.
Test out different combinations of the two in order to identify a ratio that your customers are responsive to. In general, outbound is best at boosting traffic and awareness, while inbound helps with engagements and conversions. Keep their respective strengths in mind so you can create content that works best for each.
Wilton Cake Decorating has masterfully used inbound marketing in the form of DIY Instagram videos to refresh a formerly stale brand.
4. Sell benefits, not features:
Sometimes we get too close to our brand, forgetting the problem we solve for our consumer. Let’s not look over one of the oldest rules in the advertising book: to give our audience solutions, not product descriptions.
A classic print example of copy that sells benefits rather than features.
5. Keep an eye on your competition:
Keep an eye out for what your competition is doing. If their content is working well, don’t waste your time reinventing the wheel but rather try to anticipate what comes next, and give it your own spin.
Notice where they’re lacking and use it to your advantage. A scroll down their webpage might reveal their UI isn’t friendly, or maybe their consumers are dissatisfied about pricing – identify their Achilles heel and improve on it to get a leg up.
Remember the Snapchat boom? Instagram “borrowed” their disappearing story idea, building on where their UX lacked, and it was only a matter of months before Instagram overtook Snap in both users and revenue.
6. Don’t social media for the sake of social media:
One can get really excited when curating a brand’s online presence, but trust us – there is no need to get your brand a MySpace profile.
Figure out your target audience’s preferred social media channels and create quality content that works within them. Pew recently published a great article detailing where different demographics live on social media.
7. Go for the sale:
The hard sell approach of the broadcast media era may be on its way out but it is sad to see great content without purpose. That being said, don’t forget a strong and relevant call-to-action at the end of your messaging.
8. Find new targets based on the clients you have:
Use Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences feature to find targets that look and act like your current customers.
9. Keep it custom:
As stated by Campaign Monitor, personalization increases email opening rates by 26%. Tailoring communications by individual is easier than it sounds. Free features such as mail merge on Google Docs and Outlook allow you to send mass emails addressed by first name.
10. Find your niche:
It’s always better to have a smaller but specific group of loyalists than a large, amorphous blob of people who don’t know who you are. Know your place and nourish it.
Lefty’s Left Handed store, for instance, has developed a small but cultlike following for their left hander only mugs.
More often than not, people will look into your business multiple times before handing over their credit card info. Make sure you don’t neglect your website’s first-time visitors after they navigate away – their upcoming visit could be your next sale.
12. Prioritize mobile:
According to Statista, “In 2018, 52.2% of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones.” You can make your digital presence easier to navigate on mobile by:
a. Making sure your website and/or app are phone and tablet friendly.
b. Adding closed captioning to all your video content.
c. Using mobile-specific email templates.
13. Don’t ignore analytics:
Be mindful of your brand’s historical benchmarks in terms of cost per clicks, engagements, leads, etc. Such metrics can help you gauge the efficiency of your marketing channels, so you can faze out the ones that aren’t bringing in enough ROI.
14. Follow up with old customers:
Don’t get so caught up in acquisition that you forget about retention. Post-purchase emails, exclusive coupons, and social media community management are all great ways to keep your existing customers coming (and referring new ones).
15. Evolve or perish:
It’s true that failing to plan equates to planning to fail. We encourage you to set and pursue objectives using smart digital strategy. But — be wary of commitment bias: the irrational “need” to stick to a decision or plan once it has been set forth on. The digital landscape changes fast, make sure your strategy transforms with it.
16. Squeeze Organic Growth to its full potential:
You don’t always have to spend money to make money. There are easy ways to make sure you don’t miss out on any organic reach and engagement. These include: a simple social media handle and profile picture, keyword-savvy descriptions, and direct interaction with your followers.
Keep in mind that failing to keep up with your organic content might lead your paid efforts to fall flat.
Charmin uses Twitter polls to engage with its followers, giving its toilet paper brand a “charming” personality.
17. Look into influencers:
It’s easy to write off a middle-aged man reviewing toothpaste on Youtube – till you find out how much money he’s making off his channel.
The right influencer can lend credibility to your brand, and refer you to hundreds (or thousands) of his or her’s trusting followers. When considering influencers, remember, bigger isn’t always better: The reality is that the larger the following an influencer has, the lower their engagement tends to be.
Note: Don’t pick an influencer by the size of their following, rather go by those that have an engaged following. For example, if you hire an influencer that averages 700 likes per post and has 1000 followers, you can bet they have an engaged fan base. If you hire an influencer that has 100k followers but only gets 5k likes per post, you can bet some of those followers have been bought online.
18. Use AI to outsmart your competition.
Artificial intelligence is more widespread and accessible than you’d think. For example, Bright tests your creative assets, identifies the most responsive audiences, and then automatically updates your campaign combining the most efficient variables. It uses machine learning to turn data into insights, and you can use it now for as little as $200 USD.
If exercised wisely and consistently, the practices above can turn your marketing expenses into a marketing investment. Take advantage of them to further establish and grow your business before your competition does.