Integrated marketing has become a business buzzword, taking in advertising, public relations, direct marketing, digital and social media marketing – all as a unified force, making it a cost-effective and consistent promotional strategy.
Market research has shown time and time again that customers check out products and services online before making a purchase. Having an online presence not only increases trust in your brand – vital for small businesses without a big marketing budget – but also reaches a wider, cross-generational audience. Research by BT revealed that many young Britons don’t own a TV but rely on the web to watch TV through catch-up services and download films, music, games and videos, bypassing high-street stores.
So here are eight steps to create an effective digital marketing campaign from scratch and boost your ranking in the process.
Step 1: Create a keyword strategy
Any internet search starts with typing a few words in an engine, so the trick is to find which keywords can best describe your products or services. Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner can list the most popular searches at local and global level – all you have to do is pick the high-ranking words that suit your business.
Step 2: Optimise your website
To optimise your website, once you have identified your keywords use them in your website’s source (i.e. where the html code is) and sparingly in your website’s copy as keyword stuffing is penalised by search engines. Use your keywords judiciously in body copy, headings and picture captions.
Step 3: Create a blog and other content
A national digital marketing conference recently proclaimed that “content is king”, meaning that quality copy, pictures, videos and infographics all contribute to making your website rise in search engine rankings – the top-five currently being Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask and AOL Search. Your website should be worded with your customer in mind and allow for the short-span attention and time-poor behaviour of internet users. It should be brief, to the point and allow easy navigation – if potential customers cannot find the information they require, they will click away. More in-depth information can be conveyed through a blog, ebooks, videos and podcasts.
An Infograph by Chris Heiler
Step 4: Promote your content with social media
Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest are the main social media platforms. More specialised platforms include YouTube for videos, Digg and Stumbleupon for web links, and Instagram and Flicker for photos. As a rule of thumb, Twitter and LinkedIn are mostly used for B2B interaction, while Facebook is more B2C. However digital divides often blur, with companies using all platforms and most getting onto Pinterest’s bandwagon – a picture (or infographic) is indeed worth a thousand words. There is plenty of free information online to keep you up to date with social media trends – Mashable and Search Engine Watch offer excellent e-newsletters.
Step 5: Convert your website’s traffic into leads
Your website is ranking well, you have plenty of visitors, your blog is well received, but how can you turn your followers into customers? Don’t spread yourself too thinly, keep up with social media platforms and engage with your customers by giving away free advice, samples, consultations – whatever it’s suitable for your business to offer as an incentive to close the deal.
Step 6: Nurture your leads with email marketing
Email marketing is the 21st century answer to junk mail – but not as we know it. Customer engagement is key – your registered users want to hear from you and are keen to receive your e-newsletters via email. Focus on their problems and offer solutions – a pull rather than push strategy involving building a relationship and earning trust. For instance, if you sell gardening products, potential customers could get emails with gardening tips, short tutorials for easy makeovers and seasonal advice to showcase how your products can enhance their lifestyle.
Step 7: Be mobile friendly
Portable internet and wifi mean that some of your customers might be surfing the net from a mobile phone, so check with your designer that your website displays well on mobile devices. Google Analytics can give you a helping hand by indicating how mobile impacts your business – you can get free reports showing how your visitors are accessing your website, whether from a smart or a basic phone.
Step 8: Analyse and refine your marketing strategies
Many businesses still think that once their optimised website is up and running and they have one social media campaign under their belt, they are there… Yes they are, but not for long. In the fast-changing digital world, new platforms are constantly created and trends come and go at the speed of lightning. Your competitors won’t be standing still either. Small businesses should review their website at regular intervals. Refresh your content, keep up with social media, regularly monitor your visitors with Google Analytics and use all the free tools and information available to improve or maintain your ranking