First let me clarify something. Digital marketing is not a separate discipline from the traditional marketing. It just makes the performance more transparent. Digital marketing is about approaching new technologies and integrating these new techniques with the more traditional approaches to market your company to the right audience correctly. Rather than some traditional methods, there are no dirty tricks within digital marketing.
To put it simply, we have to market online because everyone is there. By “everyone” I mean your target audience. You may be new at digital marketing but you have to create your digital strategy. Don’t get stressed it is not such a huge report and it can be summarized in at most two or three hours for beginning.
Well, if you still don’t have a digital strategy, let’s try to create one for you together.
Specify your target audience
The biggest mistake that beginners usually make is targeting the wrong audience. Try to find out who are your possible customers and think about where they spend their time online. Focus on location, age and gender to make your audience more specific. It will help you to avoid useless areas and audience in the future and will save your money.
Set up your goals and objectives but be realistic
You need to think about what your short and long term goals are. Specify if they are based on numbers of customers, sales that you mad, hard revenue benchmarks, etc. Figure out which is the most important one and set a realistic goal. It is better to keep it simple and focus one or two goals for the beginning. You can ask for help from someone in your industry as well.
Chose suitable Performance Metrics and KPI’s
Every business is unique and performance measuring is different for each one. Figure out what are the most important metrics and KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) for your business. KPI’s must be measurable and objective, not mysterious and subjective. For example if you target to gain $100.000 for the first year, your metrics can be revenue, sales, cost per sale, etc. After identifying your metrics don’t forget to research to see if they make sense.
Generate a realistic budget
This is one of the most important parts of the process. You may want to start with a low or a shoe-string budget. And it is quite ok and normal. But you have to devote enough to make sense. Unfortunately working hard is not enough by on its own, you have to support it. Budget preparation may be very difficult if you have no experience in digital marketing so you can get consultancy from an industry professional.
Figure out the channels that make sense for your business
Internet has many channels but they don’t effect in the same way. For example if you don’t have the budget to support the media cost, pay per click won’t be useful for you at the beginning. Or Foursquare won’t answer your needs just because your business is strictly online. So, in the beginning, it will be much about the best use of time. Figure out what channels (Search, Social, Email, Video, Display) make sense for you about costs and time limits. It is always better to start with small and scale up.
If you don’t have experience or a degree in digital marketing it is hard to realize how to manage all of the necessary parts of the jobs. Do you have a graphic designer? Do you have a webmaster to handle your site? A photographer for professional photos? Now you realize you need to get help. According to your budget you can hire a employee or an outside consultant. List out all the possible components that could be required to support your marketing.
Employees or Contractors
There are number of considerations of deciding between hiring employees or external contractors. Responsibility and the cost are the outstanding metrics about this situation. Hiring an employee brings you a cost of taxes and benefits. On the other hand contractors are just bring the cost for their services, taxes and benefits are their own responsibility. Having employees give you more control and quick access. Contractors give you their broad experiences. Of course, if you already have employees and this is a new initiative for you can hire a consultant and train your current employees to get some speed. Figure it out and see what makes more sense financially. Don’t underestimate the time factor.
Measuring and Reports
You need to realize how important this is, marketing without measuring is a death end. Google Analytics is the most common way for this and it is free. You can keep everything you do online including e-commerce tracking. If you have HTML experience it is very easy to set up otherwise you will need just a little expert help. Prepare your plan to track everything. E-mails, social links, newsletter subscriptions, ads, everything. And get their reports for sensible time periods. If the standard metrics don’t require your need fully, you can customize them according to your needs. Most of the companies use weekly reports and this is also the most recommended period. Go back to your KPI’s and make proper decisions. Be sure about the reported data is in a useful manner.
Now it’s time to use all of the data that you get to make decisions. Plan to see where your customers are coming from. Look at the sources to determine quantity, cost, geography, etc. Most important channel sources are paid, direct, organic and social. Regular review of your analytics will help you to figure out trends in behavior and conversion. That helps you to make smarter decisions. You can focus on the channel which has returned the most conversion. Or you may see the Twitter is the first channel that returns the most e-mail subscriptions and you can drive more registrations to Twitter. Don’t forget that campaigns don’t optimize themselves. They need an experience to get better and useful.
Digital Marketing needs patience to reach its max effect and it’s not easy to manage it on your own. Actually it is nearly impossible. Focus on your strengths and let people help you with their experiences and abilities. I hope it will be an amazing and successful journey for you.