In today’s business environment we’re fortunate to have access to a variety of marketing tools that let us communicate easier with our customers and prospects, observe competitors, and scrutinize the market. Many small business owners are competing more effectively using digital media (and extending the value of their traditional marketing efforts). These newer digital tools foster greater competition by enabling our businesses to reach interested prospects with highly relevant real-time communications and get measurable feedback almost immediately.
Successfully acquiring new customers through digital marketing is best handled by employing inbound marketing channels to obtain visibility and leads. These channels include search, social media and email marketing, all fueled by content marketing.
This post outlines the best types of tools and the most popular tactics in each category based on our experience.
We’ll start with a concept known as Content Marketing. Content marketing is the primary focus for business owners seeking to use digital marketing to increase reach, leads and sales. So, what is Content Marketing? Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and well understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Content marketing fuels:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Event marketing (in person events as well as Webinars)
- Paid media including Pay per click and display advertising
- Lead generation and conversion rate optimization (through landing pages)
How do you go about developing a content marketing strategy?
Here is a quick checklist to get you started:
- Define business opportunity for content marketing
- Define key segments or target audiences
- Review current content marketing
- Review competitor content marketing
- Define your content marketing strategy
- Define content marketing plan
- Prioritize audiences and personas
- Prioritize content assets for audience
- Define content marketing resources
- Create communications timeline
- Implement and manage your content marketing strategy
- Update your editorial calendar
- Manage social media distribution
- Manage email marketing distribution
- Manage SEO effectiveness of content marketing
- Review analytics for content effectiveness
Great. Now what? Time to consider the tools.
One of the tools your likely to be using in your content efforts is social media. In our case, we strongly recommend Facebook as the starting place, but use the platform you are most confident in to get started. (More on social media selection in an upcoming post).
Why focus on social? Leverage social to help find ideal prospects and accelerate list growth. The adage that birds of a feather flock together sums it up nicely. People with similar issues, concerns, challenges, and life experiences typically are connected to others much like themselves. Social is all about connections. Go on, engage your audience.
But remember, you must craft content that does more than just ask contacts to buy. Your customers aren’t always in the market to purchase. If all they hear from you is “buy this,” can you blame them for tuning you out? To avoid this predicament, try creating content that helps your contacts solve problems, buy better, and even find interesting things they wouldn’t have uncovered any other way.
Here are a few topics to talk about besides “buy this”:
- Present information that helps customers use your products correctly.
- Go behind the scenes by introducing customers to key employees. Show off your offices or factories. Talk about your company philosophy.
- Add customer voices to your emails by featuring reviews, endorsements, photos and other user-generated content (UGC).
- Become the authority in your market niche by sharing “insider” news and information.
- Improve onboarding for new customers with information that helps them find what they want faster or navigate better around your website.
What about email?
Do you collect email addresses? From whom – everyone that you meet, just customers, all appointments, third parties? Think it through. Why not collect them all if they’ll share them with you? Above we discussed the use of social media to interact and extend the reach of your audience. Those names are gold, email address gold to be exact.
Now that you have defined the ways you’ll collect email addresses, let’s turn to what to do with them. First, and this is a critical component, you have to keep track of where the names came from! Two reasons for this – first, to be CAN-SPAM compliant you must have permission to use the addresses (if you’ve been given the information freely, you’re good here – no buying or renting email addresses!). The second reason is more practical, since you absolutely want to tailor your messages to each type of audience you identified in the first step of the checklist.
What emails will you send? You really need to ask yourself what messages will resonate with the audience I am targeting. What do they want to know, what is important to them? This is not about your agenda, it must be content that is relevant to them first – then when you have their attention you can ask them to act a certain way, or react to your content. The opportunities are endless, and they are similar in nature to the list of content topics we explored for social media. This is all very connected. In fact, the more connected the content and media, the more effective you will be.
Time to jump in
That’s enough to get started, but remember, the foundation of any digital marketing plan is your website. All of the other digital tools and efforts rely on your website as the central element for customer and prospect communication and an informational base. Don’t overlook the importance of investing time and effort into shoring up your website from the content perspective!
Consult YHN Marketing has turnkey programs and solutions to get you started, just give us a call and we’ll review your situation with you and offer recommendations to get you digitally marketing in no time.