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Digital platforms dominate modern marketing. More old-fashioned methods of marketing your business are still used and very often highly effective, but the emphasis is placed far more heavily on websites, social media, online advertising and mobile technologies.
If you want to build a successful business, you need to understand what these digital technologies can do for you, and how to use them to your best advantage. You also need to be ahead of the game where your competitors are concerned, to ensure you have a strategy that sets you apart from everyone else selling the same products or services.
To achieve this, you need to be aware of the key factors that will determine whether your business gets the exposure it needs.
It’s not all about your website
Your website is the foundation for your digital marketing, and it’s important to get the design and content right. After all, this is where you want people to end up. However, they find you in the first place. Your social media accounts are tools for drawing people to your website, so your posts need to link back to the relevant landing page for the topic you’re writing about.
Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways of bringing potential customers to your site, and again this is a tool for directing people to your website. One of the most exciting developments in digital marketing is the growth of SMS marketing services.
People who sign up for text messages from you are highly likely to open and read your messages – around three times more likely than they are to read your emails – so this could be a very effective tool for engaging with customers.
Search Engine Optimization
This is the factor that many people are seeing as being most important for making your mark online; designing your website to fulfill the criteria set by search engines so that their algorithms place you as high up the results rankings for relevant searches as possible.
There’s no doubt that good SEO practices can boost your rankings, but there’s far more to it than ticking a list of boxes to say you have x number of backlinks or keywords in all the right places and with the optimum frequency. Metrics for visits to your landing page are only useful in so far as they will tell you if you are getting your SEO strategy right; it’s what happens after this initial contact that determines the success of your marketing.
People make up their minds about whether they like the look of your page and wish to explore further within a few seconds of viewing your landing page. If the page is poorly designed, out of date, lacks the information someone expects to find, or fails to engage with prospective customers, they will go back to their search results and try the next site.
With so much choice, no-one is likely to hang around on your site unless they like what they see and can immediately access what they’re looking for. There are plenty of guides to website design available if you wish to do the work yourself, or you could employ an agency to do the design work for you. The latter option may be more expensive initially, but if it brings you more leads and sales, it will be a worthwhile investment.
The importance of quality content
Content is the term for all the information, photos, and graphics you publish on your site. Having gotten prospective clients to click through to your site and given them the incentive to stick around, you now need your content to deliver what they came for.
That means having well-written posts, useful information that will answer the needs of visitors to your site, and an understanding of how to compose the content to facilitate visitor engagement.
- Good writing doesn’t have to be perfect writing but must be sufficiently error-free to convey your knowledge and professionalism. If you need to work on your writing skills, take a course, read some books on the subject, and practice until you get it right. Or alternatively, find a suitably qualified freelancer who specializes in your field to write your content for you.
- Visitors to your site are looking for answers to their questions, a solution to the problem they are experiencing, or advice to help them make a choice. They aren’t interested in the inner workings of your business, and yet many companies seem to think that boasting about their achievements is what will make people buy from them. This kind of information may be useful for customers if they wish to check your credentials later in the process, but initially, all they will be interested in is what you can do for them. If they don’t get the answers they’re looking for swiftly and easily; they’ll be off.
- When you compose your content, it has to fulfill the needs of the reader to be effective, and the best way to achieve this is to tell a story. Storytelling in marketing means presenting the information you wish to convey in a manner that engages your reader and that they find compelling. You could use stories from your own experience to illustrate a point, have examples of how what you’re talking about has been applied in real life, or use humor and/or empathy where appropriate. People like to make connections with other people, so if you can make them laugh, have them nodding their head in agreement, or describe an experience so vividly that it comes alive, they will feel that connection with you. You’ll become a real person, rather than a faceless representative, and for small businesses selling yourself to your customers is key to building relationships with them.
If you want to make digital marketing work for you, remember that there are several aspects to your digital presence, and it is the combination of these aspects that build a successful strategy. SEO, content, design, and using a variety of methods to draw people onto your website all contribute to your digital marketing strategy.
Most important of all, remember your focus should be on giving customers what they need – which is true of all aspects of marketing.