So, you want to grow your online business, but you have no idea where to start. You've heard people talk about digital marketing, but you're somewhat confused as to which tactics you should use. Well, no need to panic, below are 10 ideas and strategies you need to know about.
When I began my online business venture way back in 2004, "digital marketing" was nothing compared to what it has become today.
In fact, I doubt that the word digital marketing was even around. For starters, Facebook and Gmail were only just taking off.
WordPress didn't really have a website up until 2005, and there was no YouTube! Imagine that, not YouTube!
Google and SEO were in the spotlight, for sure, but PPC was kind of just picking up traction.
And as for social media?
Well, it was in its very primitive stage, and we were very limited as to what we could actually do with it.
I can tell you now that as marketers, we did things a little differently back then, mainly because the internet marketing landscape was just completely different, or should I say "in its infancy".
Today, we're inundated with so many ways to grow our businesses online, and offline.
We're forever being swamped by the latest and greatest tools, apps, services, and various technologies.
We're also constantly being bombarded by new marketing tactics, methods, ideas, strategies.
Marketing gurus ever where forever preaching and claiming they've found the best marketing tactics that can create results quickly for any business.
It can be totally mind-blowing at the best of times.
And here's the thing, you just can't ignore the changes and hope you can grow your online business using tired old text-book marketing ideas.
You can't just brush under the carpet the next big thing to happen online, because you simply don't want to be left behind, right?
As Jacky Lovato accurately wrote in this post:
If you don't keep up, you'll get left behind.
To some extent, every business owner, marketer, or entrepreneur that is armed with a website sees themselves as some kind of internet marketing guru.
Including myself, that is. I'm not a marketing expert by any means, nor do I have a degree in digital marketing, but I have a boatload of experience in the field, especially online.
Additionally, every other internet marketing guru out there, like myself, is preaching about some cool amazing new method or tactic that you've simply got to use in order to stay ahead of the game.
It can be freaking overwhelming at times, I can tell you.
I remember starting out in this very niche many years ago and thinking, I'm never going to get to grips with any of this stuff.
And you know what?
Even though I feel that I know a great deal about how to market my businesses online today. I'm still learning every single day.
Every day's a school day in the online world.
So, one of the questions I get asked a lot as a "digital marketer, especially from startup businesses and new bloggers, is this one -
Do I really need to learn digital marketing, or can I just build a website and wait for people to find it in Google, like most people do?
And yes, I know what you're thinking -
But Fabrizio, everyone knows how to use the internet to market their business, it's 2020 nearly, for heaven's sake.
You would be extremely surprised.
I have worked with dozens of successful business owners that don't have a clue what to do when it comes to growing their business and increasing brand awareness online.
Even something as simple as creating a Facebook business page is an effort.
For most of us internet marketing gurus who spend the majority of our time online, we're savvy enough to know a thing or two about how digital marketing should be done and what works for us, right?
But to assume that every business owner knows about running a website, marketing, doing social media, launching email campaigns, doing PPC, and all the rest of it, is thinking narrowly.
I thought the same thing once too. That everyone knew how to do this sh*t.
Here's the reality:
There are thousands of individuals and small business owners who have no idea where to start when it comes to online marketing.
Heck, most of these folks don't even have a website to start with.
So, think about those brick and mortar based businesses that have been long and well established 'offline', they simply hit a brick wall when it comes to the online world. Excuse the pun.
So, to finally answer the above question - Do you need to know digital marketing?
Heck yes, is the short answer.
Interest in digital marketing has certainly continued to grow over the last five years.
It's now critical for any business getting online to get to grips with good internet marketing practices.
Internet marketing methods are somewhat different from conventional offline marketing tactics.
For starters, most offline or traditional marketing techniques are based on "advertising" and, or "cold hard selling".
The internet, although share similar values and principles, primarily with regards to advertising and emails, is still a very different landscape altogether, and navigating it can be challenging, but not impossible.
Advertising is just one "tiny" piece of the online marketing puzzle. The rest of the puzzle is made up of other types of internet/digital marketing tactics.
So, finally, in this post, I will share with you just 10 of the best digital marketing ideas and strategies you really need to know about.
Of course, there are hundreds of other ideas and tactics out there you could learn about, but you need not worry your head about any of those just yet. Especially if you're new to all of this.
For now, let's focus on the ones that really matter for increasing brand awareness and growing your business online.
Let's finally, dive in!
If you're reading this and you already understand the importance and significance of having a website for your business, then move on. This post is NOT for you.
If you don't have a website for your business and think not having one isn't such a big deal, then please read on.
According to GoDaddy's 2015 small business survey, they found that 60% of small businesses do not have a website.
Here in the UK alone, it's estimated that 2 million businesses still don't have a website. (Source)
That's quite alarming, I think.
Those numbers might be less now as we approach 2020, however, many small businesses don't bother with a website because they feel it's either too expensive to build one, or too time-consuming to manage one.
Or, they simply just don't understand how much of an impact a website can have on their business and customers.
A mobile-responsive website is monumentally important for your business to grow and prosper. Especially when you factor in that 60% of internet access is occurring on mobile devices.
SmallBizTrends made an interesting point in one of their articles here. It said -
With a website, your business stops being invisible.
There's no better way to put it in my opinion, especially in the digital age we're in. Because without a website, your business is virtually invisible to those trying to find your products and services online.
If your business does not have a website that is mobile friendly and easy to find by your prospects, then I recommend you start here immediately.
Oh no, not the "you've got to start a blog" advice again... I hear you say.
Blogging has been around for some time now. Almost every internet-based business manages a blog of some type.
Back in 1999, a list was compiled by Jesse James Garrett where there were only 23 blogs in existence on the internet (Source).
According to this infographic, as of 2013, the number of blogs in existence exceeds 170 million.
That very article also states that there are somewhere in the region of 170,000 new blogs added to the internet every day.
Those are astonishing numbers, right?
So, why should you even care about using blogging in your business when there's already a bunch of them around. And, how can you use blogging to help your business grow anyway?
Glad you asked. Let's take a closer look -
If you want to learn how to set up a blog for your business properly, check out this post.
Having a great looking website is all well and good.
Creating useful, compelling, and problem-solving content is all well and good too.
You might also have some amazing products or services on your site that people really need and love using.
But what good is all of it if no one can find it?
Here's a website marketing strategy you can't ignore:
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short. I'm sure that you've definitely heard the 'SEO' term being thrown around in the internet marketing world.
I speak to many small business owners, marketers, and bloggers every single month, be it online or offline.
I often ask them, "What do they do to drive traffic to their website?"
Most of them immediately respond with either - "doing advertising, locally" or "running PPC campaigns".
OK, so there's nothing wrong with doing either of those things, but then I ask, "What about SEO?"
The response I usually get is this - "SEO is too technical, too time-consuming, and doesn't provide immediate results".
I get it, you're in business now and you can't wait around for Google to give you some free traffic. So, I both agree and disagree.
Here' the thing:
I've heard countless stories of small businesses spending ridiculous amounts of money, sometimes their entire annual marketing budget, every single month on tools like Google AdWords and Facebook Ads.
So that they can make sure their website can be seen at the top of the search engine search results, or in the news feed of their social followers, for their desired keyword or search term.
Again, there's nothing wrong with doing this, however, there is a much better and more cost-effective way.
Yes, you guessed it. It's called SEO.
Whilst doing SEO is free when you learn how to do it yourself, it has some disadvantages over PPC.
I've created dozens of marketing content and blog posts that struggled to rank for many months myself.
That said, doing SEO can provide your small business website with free traffic, and lots of it too, when it eventually does.
Don't believe me?
Try searching for "digital marketing ideas" in Google and see where this blog post ends up in the search results list. I should definitely be on page one.
This post is one of my biggest traffic generators and has converted many readers into leads and customers for design services.
And for the record, I'm not saying that PPC is bad in any way. I know a lot of great marketers out there who know exactly what they're doing and getting from their PPC campaigns.
However, I am saying that if you're just starting out, you may not want to blast your entire marketing or advertising budget on PPC.
When you implement simple but effective SEO practices into your website marketing strategy, sure it takes some time to see any worthwhile results, again especially if you're just starting out with your website.
And the best thing is?
You don't have to drain your marketing budget.
Search engine traffic is free, and on top of that, it can last for a very long time if you know how to do it effectively for your website.
If you run a WordPress website, consider installing a powerful SEO plugin. I recommend something like Yoast SEO, which is free. Or, something like SEOPressor Connect for more site-wide and on-page optimization options.
Guest blogging is nothing new, I know. And only a few years ago it was considered to be a very effective way to build backlinks and traffic.
Sadly, these days, if you try using guest blogging for link building in an unethical way, you could get a nice big fat slap from Google.
Guest blogging, however, is still a very powerful way to do the following:
I want to highlight that brand promotion and credibility goes a long way in helping you to establish your website or blog online with guest blogging.
I've made plenty of new connections and friends just by guest blogging on a handful of relevant blogs in the past, so I know it works.
As for getting backlinks and driving referral traffic?
Well, it kind of works. From my own experiences with writing guest posts, guest blogging has not always been the best tactic for doing this.
I'd like you to check out the graphic below taken from an incredibly insightful and data-driven case study article over on BloggerJet by Tim Soulo.
Tim gathered data from some 239 guest posts from around 400 bloggers and proves to a certain degree that guest blogging is not often the best strategy to use for driving referral traffic.
Do check out the post here, it contains some other valuable information, tips, and ideas to help you get the most from your guest blogging marketing campaigns.
Here's another thing that I find quite interesting.
Throughout 2019, I have been fortunate enough to have connected and worked with some of the most amazing clients I've ever had to work with. I guess I should feel lucky.
Anyhow, I discovered that a number of those clients did not have an email list for their business. In other words, they hadn't bothered building an email list.
That's just crazy because an email list is probably one of the most valuable and responsive assets you can have in your business.
I don't wish to sound like a broken record and tell you - hey man, you've got to build your email list, over and over again. You know this already if you haven't already started.
Instead, I want you to digest some of these interesting email marketing stats below in the Slide Share.
Yes, you can. But there's a big problem with doing only this -
Building an email list for your business is unlike building a following or network on social media.
Yes, you can have 50k followers on Twitter. Or you can have 20k fans on Facebook, and 70k on Instagram, but here's the thing, you'll never, ever own those fans and followers. Ever.
By building your email list, building your own network of loyal fans, you will always own your list no matter what.
Even if you can only muster a few subscribers each day, it all goes towards building your power list.
I'm sharing with you a screen capture below of how my email list growth per-month started to trend over the course of two years.
Not impressive by any other standard, but as you can see it's been growing, right?
So please, don't put all of your focus on social media just because you heard Gary Vaynerchuk say you've got to, focus on also growing your email list. It's cost effective and it can be very profitable for your business, later on, so get on the case.
Recommended reading: How I Exploded My Email Growth By 400%
OK, so I just told you not to place all your focus on social media, now I'm going to tell you not to ignore social media.
It's impossible to ignore social media anyway because it's not going to go anywhere fast soon. Social media is here to stay for a very long time.
And, as more people flock to sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, you need to start thinking of new ways to get your business noticed, and in front of your target audience, using social media marketing.
Easier said than done, right? So how do you do it?
The aim with social media is not to be on every single f**king platform you can find, but to dominate the platforms that give you the most back in terms of engagement, conversions, etc.
In other words, be where your audience is engaging with you and your content the most.
For instance, if people are reacting to your shared content and interaction on Facebook, that's where you need to be spending most of your time. If it's Twitter or LinkedIn, you know what you have to do.
Be where your audience wants to engage with you, again.
If something isn't working, maybe you've been trying to make Instagram work for your business for months and months. Clearly, your strategy isn't working so either change it up or don't bother with it if your audience isn't there.
A lot of businesses just plod along on every social platform they can find, month after month, wasting time, money and valuable resources.
This is a useless and expensive tactic, so don't fall into this trap, especially when your target audience could be somewhere else entirely.
If you want to learn how to make the most of social media for marketing your business, I urge you to check out this amazing book on Amazon.
Content marketing is the big trend these days, and it doesn't have to be complex or complicated at all, not to begin with anyway.
So what is content marketing anyway?
In a nutshell, content marketing is simply creating and using useful, compelling, problem-solving online content to attract and convert prospects into paying customers.
Content can be created using a variety of mediums and platforms such as video, audio, eBooks, and white papers, webinars and live-stream video, presentations, blog posts, and more.
Blogging and social media can be included in your content marketing strategy even.
If you want to learn what a content marketer is actually responsible for, I recommend you check out this post on CopyBlogger to get a batter insight.
The most important thing to remember with content marketing is that you're not trying to sell anything, but moreover, trying to provide value and resource in order to educate and inspire your customers to take action, and hopefully, lead them down your marketing funnels.
Influencer marketing is a tactic, again, that hasn't been around for very long, but boy is it taking off.
Its growth in popularity has been phenomenal in the digital marketing world, and when done correctly, influencer marketing can be very effective for any type of business online.
So what is this influence marketing anyway?
According to this source: Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire/hire/pay influencers to get the word out for you.
So, just in case you're still at a loss with this, it means using industry leaders and established experts to catapult your message about your business, products, and services to a wider and already keen audience.
Here are some useful tools to help you with your influencer marketing and outreach campaigns -
OK, so if you have a business you'd like to improve online visibility for, the most basic thing you can do to ensure your customers can find you online, is to add your business to Google Maps through Google My Business (Previously known as Google Places).
With your business firmly placed in Google Maps, your customers can find you easily, and even leave valuable feedback about your business, which will help you boost trust, credibility and attract even more customers.
I couldn't leave PPC out because it's a great strategy for businesses when the time is right.
Again, if you're just starting out with your business, don't be tempted to blast your entire marketing or advertising budget on PPC, especially if you don't know how to use it effectively yourself.
OK, so PPC is probably the quickest but not the most cost-effective way to get traffic to your website.
If you're smart, you can create a very relevant and compelling offer, along with some great content and use targeted PPC ads to get people flocking to your offer.
I would not recommend you start using PPC with the mindset that you're going to convert cold prospects into buyers immediately. That's not going to happen I'm sorry to say.
I would recommend, however, that you use PPC to build your customer base, by offering a valuable incentive that is in line with your business offerings.
You can use PPC to grow your email list for example. You can then think of ways in which to convert your email list prospects into buyers later on.
Check out this book on Amazon if you need an introduction to Pay Per Click. It's a fantastic read.
So there you have it, 10 best digital marketing ideas and strategies to grow your business in 2020 and beyond.
I'd like you to remember that internet marketing doesn't have to be costly nor does it have to be a minefield. All of the strategies I've outlined above can be cost-effective through proper planning and execution.
I want to wish you the very best of luck.
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