Digital Marketing – Where Do You Start?

where_do_you_start_with_digital_marketingYou know you’ve got to build an online marketing presence, but when it comes time to actually sit down and develop a digital marketing strategy, it can truly seem overwhelming. Should you try to promote your business on social media first, or should you focus on getting search engine traffic to your website? Should you build an email opt-in list, or would it be better to try and boost your popularity with videos on YouTube? There are dozens of potential paths you could take, each of which will have its good points and bad points, so where exactly should you start? There are a few keys to the digital marketing puzzle you need to have in place first – so read on! 

1. Create a clean, informative and user-friendly website.

Having a solid website is the bedrock of any digital marketing strategy. And by solid, we mean a website that’s attractive, uncluttered, easy to navigate and highly informative. Your website copy should be simple and visitor-focused, with the main emphasis of every page being how your product or service can benefit your target audience.

Functionality is another crucial element. Many sales have been lost and many online shopping carts have been abandoned because a website was simply too difficult to navigate, took too much time to load or was just too complicated overall. Aim for a clean look and intuitive navigation, with minimal fluff and filler.

2. Make your website mobile-friendly.

As of April 21st, 2015, Google has made a sweeping change to their search algorithm, and mobile-friendliness is now a highly important ranking signal for all websites. Simply put, if your site is only geared for desktop usability, it’s going to be very difficult for you to rank highly in Google’s search results. Make sure that your website is constructed to render properly on mobile devices, whether that means using a responsive design or building a separate mobile site that visitors will be directed to when they’re accessing your site from a mobile device. You can check the mobile-friendliness of your website using Google’s “Mobile Friendly Test” tool.

3. Wade into the social media waters; don’t dive in.

If there’s one thing that can derail a good digital marketing strategy quickly, it’s spending too much time on unproductive social media activities. Your social media participation should be limited to the platforms where your prospects are frequently hanging out. If your target demographic regularly uses Twitter, don’t spend all your time setting up a Pinterest account.

Social media is a beast, so your most valuable asset–time–should be spent generating activity and interest where your efforts will get the most traction. Once you’ve narrowed down where your prospects like to hang out, create profiles on those particular social media sites and begin regularly interacting with those online communities. This requires a significant commitment to do right, so don’t spread yourself too thin.

4. Create a blog.

Your blog is the place where you share more of the personality behind your company, and it’s also a great place to provide your visitors with helpful and meaningful content that can answer their questions and address their pain points. You can share how-to articles, highlight industry trends and share your knowledge and experience, all of which can boost your credibility and position you as a thought leader in your given field.

5. Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing.

When you’re working to establish an online presence, visibility is the name of the game, and one of the best ways to increase your online visibility is by ranking highly in Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines. There are basically two main ways to do this: SEO and PPC. Organic SEO enables you to get an essentially non-stop stream of free website traffic, but it can take several months before you see any results from this method. Pay-per-click is instant; as soon as you create your ads, you can have them published and appearing on search results pages for any keywords that relate to your product or service.

Of course, the main difference between the two methods is that SEO requires virtually no up-front investment, while PPC requires money right off the bat. While SEO is a great way to start on a shoestring budget, it will take time and serious effort to get your site ranked. There’s a pretty hefty learning curve with PPC, and your tuition will be in the form of advertising dollars spent, but the trade-off is that your site can be instantly seen by millions of potential buyers. Consider your own particular needs and budget, and then make the most beneficial choice for your given situation.

6. Build a list of email subscribers.

When it comes to putting your message in front of a targeted audience, you simply can’t match the laser-like precision of email marketing. The traffic you receive from the above methods should be funneled to some type of prominent email opt-in page on your website, so that you can begin to engage with your prospects by sending out regular email updates and promotions. You’ll see conversion rates soar as you develop targeted email strategies based on your list of subscribers.

These six simple steps are rock-solid pillars to a viable digital marketing strategy. Start at the top and work your way down to position your business for growth and success.

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