Running a small business is hard. You are pulled and pushed in a million directions. Traditional marketing channels are getting more expensive and less effective. Digital marketing looks like it will work, but it’s all very confusing. So how can you manage a plan that delivers effective online marketing?
It’s hard, but it’s not impossible.
You can hire a reputable resource, give them clear direction, and let them manage it for you. Depending on what you have them do this can cost from $200 per month to $750 per month or more.
Or you can do it yourself. We’re going to present a strategy that we know works and propose a place to start that we’re sure will work for you.
A Strategy for Effective Online Marketing
“Selling your winners and holding your losers is like cutting the flowers and watering the weeds.” – Peter Lynch, Billionaire Investor
In a word, focus. Focus your time and budget on a few things and watch your results improve. Focus on what’s working, eliminate what’s not.
It’s not rocket science, clearly, but this doesn’t make it easy. There are many distractions. Beware the new shiny thing. It’s the same for marketing. Effective digital marketing comes from doing a few things well and then building on successes.
Don’t try to do too much. It’s a known fact that boiling the ocean isn’t possible. Learn how to say “No.”
“No, we’re not going to try that. Someday, we might add it in, but for now, we need to improve what we’re doing before we add something else.”
If you plan to use content marketing and generate traffic through SEO then that’s what you should be focused on. Everything else you do is in servitude to this plan.
Where to Start?
Blogging is Still a Valid Way to Deliver Valuable Content to Customers and Propsects
Blogging has been around since 1994. That’s almost thirty years. Well, its longevity is a testament to its value. A lot has changed in 27 years but the ability of blog posts to create value has contributed to the form’s long life. Creating value that goes beyond the transactional benefits of your product or service is a vital component of relationship marketing. Blogs are an excellent way to do this.
Blogging is also important to organic search. Ranking blog posts brings visitors to your website. These are highly qualified prospects who now have an opportunity to experience the solutions and value you offer. You can invite these visitors to join your list. There’s more on email marketing further into this post.
Blogging is an efficient way to build a relationship with your customers. Go for quality over quantity. Create value by exploring the issues that are important to your target audience. For example, this blog is focused on digital marketing tips & tricks. The business sells business websites, but our customers understand that a website is just part of their online marketing strategy. An important part, it’s the hub in the hub and spoke strategy but it’s not the only part. Blog posts are the manifestation of this strategy. They give you your best chance to reward your customers with information that they value.
Blogging is also important to building brand authority. One of the most challenging things faced by marketers is breaking through all the noise that exists and is created by our modern online world. It’s estimated that the average consumer is exposed to 10,000 ads per day. That’s a lot of noise. Blogging and blog posts are a way to break through by providing customers and prospects with high-quality content that lifts your brand authority. It also lifts your website’s domain authority, which improves your SEO rank and increases organic traffic.
Blogging, when executed as a key part of your digital marketing strategy, contributes in many ways. But this raises the question, how do marketers tell customers and prospects about all this great content that’s being created?
Enter email marketing, another grizzled digital marketing veteran.
It’s not Fancy, but Email Marketing Still Works
It takes some work, but if you put an hour or so a day into it, Email marketing can take you a long way. It’s a great way to reach your current customers and remind them that your products and services are what they need. It’s a proven fact that your current customers are much more likely to buy from you again. Use email marketing to reach them.
We use and recommend MailChimp. Many others also work well. We like MailChimp because it is reasonably priced and relatively easy to use. We’ve invested time and effort into learning how it works. For effective online marketing, focus on what works, learn how to use it well, and you will be better off. Don’t chase technology.
Use the automation tools available from most Email Service Providers. Automation will simplify your efforts. It takes a bit of work to set up, which may be a place where investment in support will pay off, but once it’s in place, it runs itself. Then, spend your time monitoring the results and making adjustments to messaging and offers.
The Social Media 70:20:10 rule also applies to email marketing. 70% of your content should be information that creates value, content that shares what you know and helps your customers use your products and services more efficiently. 20% of the content should be curated content, information that you’ve found that your customers will value. The final 10% can be sales-oriented. By focussing on value creation in the bulk of your messages, you’ve earned the right to make an offer, to sell your stuff.
Here are a few automation ideas. Some are focused on e-commerce but you can adapt them to other situations and business objectives. For example, a lead funnel connected to email marketing is a powerful solution. Over time you will refine things to best suit your needs.
Be consistent and stay focused.
- Use a popup with a lead magnet to drive newsletter signups
- Include a limited time offer in the double opt-in confirmation
- Send a thank-you email with a related product cross-sell after the first sale
- Use reminder emails, send one if a user hasn’t logged in for a month
- Periodic, non-sales emails to purchasers are a good idea. Design the content to add value to the business relationship
- You can also send targeted sales-oriented emails to purchasers based on past purchases
- Send periodic sales-oriented emails to nonpurchasers
- You get the idea
Finally, if you are going to focus on what works, then you need to test. Test everything, but test big things. Blue versus green is not a big thing. Offer A versus offer B, now this is a big thing.
As your experience and comfort with digital marketing improves
Effective Online Marketing – Conclusion
Focus on a few things, do them well. Start with blogging and email marketing. A content strategy that’s focused on solving customer problems and delivered using email marketing will work very hard for you if you work on it. Commit the time and resources and watch your results grow.
So what’s working for you? Are you already using your website as a fulcrum? Are you maximizing its leverage?
Author: James Hipkin
Since 2010, James Hipkin has built his clients’ businesses with digital marketing. Today, James is passionate about websites and helping the rest of us understand online marketing. His customers value his jargon-free, common-sense approach. “James explains the ins and outs of digital marketing in ways that make sense.”
Click here to book a meeting with James