By Abhijit Gogoi/ Your Story
It is no exaggeration that you live in a digital world and from that perspective it is imperative that your business has an impressive presence in the digital space. In essence, digital marketing is the future of marketing in the world with the added advantages that it is cheaper than traditional marketing and is measurable.
Let’s list the different ways you can use the digital medium to popularize and drive conversions for your startup or business.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – In layman’s terms, Search Engine Optimization or SEO is essentially tweaking your website so that it comes up naturally or organically for search results in Google, Yahoo Bing or any other search engine. Google updates its algorithms regularly so that only the relevant results come up. From that perspective, many experts say that SEO is dead and the effort is futile. However, the truth is that Google tries to prevent algorithm manipulation and filters sites that don’t deserve to be on the top of SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). So there is no doubt you should invest in SEO work. Your website should address the technicalities related to content and query matching, spidering, indexing, and interpreting non-text content. Remember, it is the most cost-effective marketing strategy that will bring organic traffic to your business.
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – Search Engine Marketing or SEM is the comprehensive strategy to drive traffic to your business, primarily through paid efforts. Hence it is also called Paid Search Marketing. The universe of SEM is diverse and complicated. Based on your business structure, you may choose PPC (pay-per-click) or CPC (cost-per-click) model, or CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) model. There are different platforms for SEM. By far, Google AdWords (on Google Network) and Bing Ads (on Yahoo Bing Network) are the most popular. SEM also includes Display Advertising, Search Retargeting & Site Remarketing, Mobile Marketing and Paid Social Advertising.
You may choose a single-point strategy like PPC, or go for a complete SEM strategy, including Display and Retargeting. But whatever you do, make sure your work is managed by experts as wrong planning may make your costs go haywire.
- Content Creation –Research shows that content creation is a definitive method of marketing in 2014.All recent changes to Google’s algorithm – be it Panda, Penguin or Hummingbird – point to the fact that content is the most important metric while filtering search results. Content can be presented in different formats, including blogs, white papers, e-books, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, forums, news and updates, images, banners, infographics, podcasts, webinars, videos, or content for microblogging and social media sites.
You can be creative and create content on any topic and then skilfully link it indirectly to your business. You may like to read our article on how to include content and market your startup or business free of cost. Also, you need to customise your content for different platforms. For example, the content for mobile phones should be crisp and short. Remember, an effective strategy will engage your readers and leave them interested in more information from you. Good content is shared and is the best way for branding your business.
- Social Media Marketing (SMM) – Social Media Marketing or SMM is an offshoot of your SEM efforts. It involves driving traffic to your sites or business through social sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Linkedin, etc. As we mentioned above, good content is shared and liked. So create and customize content for different social media platforms. Remember to be prolific and original; you need to engage with users on a daily basis, at least four to five times a day. Your SMM efforts can be especially helpful for branding and driving sales.
- Digital Display Advertising – This again is a subset of your SEM efforts. You may use a variety of display advertising formats to target potential audience – be it text, image, banner, rich-media, interactive or video ads. You can customise your message based on interests, content topics, or the position of the customer in the buying cycle. However, note that Digital Display Advertising is relatively costly. You need experts to drive good ROI for your business.
- Retargeting and Remarketing – Essentially, Retargeting or Remarketing is a strategy to target customers who have already visited your website. It is based on cookie technology. Retargeting has emerged as a preferred strategy as you target customers who have already shown interest in your business; and hence the conversion rate is high. You may engage in Retargeting on your site, or on social network or on the mobile. Visualise your strategies based on the customers’ buying cycle.
- Mobile Marketing – According to a report, Mobile Marketing will be worth $400 billion by 2015 in the US alone. We strongly recommend you try out Mobile Marketing. Remember, the website, apps and content should be customized for mobile devices. By 2016, mobile devices are expected to reach 2.6 billion units worldwide. So as more people use smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, the potential of mobile market continues to grow.
- Interactive Marketing – Make sure your advertising strategy engages the potential customer in a conversation. According to a survey by ExpoTV.com, 55 percent respondents preferred to have ongoing communications with the companies they buy from; and 89 percent felt more loyal to the companies if they were invited to provide feedback. Use tools like widgets and opt-in features to make your website interactive, solicit feedback and track user behaviour. Engage with the customers actively and customize offers based on their preferences and browsing activities.
- Viral Marketing – Viral Marketing is a strategy where a unique content spreads exponentially online, because the content is appreciated, shared and liked immensely. This is a great way to brand and drive traffic to your website. The content can take any format; all you need is to be creative.
- Email Marketing – When you send a commercial message through email to a list of potential customers, the strategy is called Email Marketing. With an effective email marketing software, you can maintain email lists that are segregated based on several factors, including customers’ likes and dislikes, and spending habits. Remember to send personalized emails; this helps to develop trust. However, note that Email Marketing may also be considered as spamming and there are laws against it in some countries.
- Affiliate Marketing – Affiliate Marketing is a performance-based marketing program, where you pay publishers who bring you customers. The performance may be based on conversions – promotions, leads or simply sales. You may like to be part of the affiliate programs of different publishers. Essentially, the publishers will give you space in their pages to advertise your business and help you drive conversions; and you will pay them based on the compensation model.
You may avail the help from an Affiliate Network, which will give you a large base of publishers, and other benefits like tracking and reporting technology. Affiliate Marketing is especially useful for startups, as it will bring in more traffic to their business through high-traffic sites. In essence, Affiliate Marketing is a win-win situation for both the merchants and publishers.
Sites like Amazon, eBay, LinkShare and Flipkart run Affiliate Programs. In fact, most online businesses with appreciable traffic have their own affiliate programs.
- Digital Media Planning and Buying – When a media agency researches and makes a comprehensive strategy framework, we call it Digital Media Planning. Be it in driving sales or conversions, launching a new brand or promoting an established brand, or changing customer behaviour, the media agency plans different platforms and formats to reach the desired audience. It studies reach and frequency of different web-based and mobile applications. The agency works with different partners and buys relevant space and ideas. This is called Media Buying. In essence, Media Buying and Planning entails all the strategies that we have discussed above.
- Web Analytics – Perhaps, the most important aspect of your Digital Marketing is Web Analytics. Essentially, Web Analytics helps you to collect, measure, understand, analyse, plan, report and predict the web activities for your business. Web Analytics should not be confused with Web Statistics. As opposed to simple reporting, Web Analytics gives you analyses and different angles to ponder vis-à-vis your business. Some of the important Web Analytics tools are Google Analytics, Spring Metrics, Woopra, Clicky, Mint and Chartbeat. It goes without saying that every advertiser should use Web Analytics to understand his business and improve the ROI and conversions.
Conclusion –It is important that you use different marketing strategies for your business and then find out which work best. In most cases, it is the combination of many strategies that will serve your objectives.
Digital Marketing is a dynamic medium and you should always be adapting to the changes. Use a Web Analytics tool to track performance and plan your next move.