“Digital marketing doesn’t sound like worth a shot for our business.” “Our business is present on digital platforms, but we’re not sure whether it’s making an impact on our bottom line.”
These are typical concerns voiced by small businesses that have no intention of using digital marketing or maybe are currently using it but see no tangible business results. This by no means can be attributed to the belief that digital marketing is most suited for larger businesses or brands or only e-commerce or businesses from a few specific industries.
The fact is, a lot of the buyers have migrated their buying habits or the initial research or both, to online. Think about the number of times you have looked up product reviews online, scanned Google for solutions to your problems or needs, or even stumbled upon a blog you found interesting. More often than not, all these interactions you made were likely with a business looking to sell to you eventually.
What I’m hoping to achieve from this article is, educating business owners about a more goal-oriented approach to digital marketing, rather than merely maintaining a minimal online and social media presence.
So, the question isn’t whether digital marketing can make an impact on smaller businesses. The real problem is – does your company have well defined and achievable objectives on digital media. Is your business using a digital marketing strategies to achieve these objectives?
This article highlights and details relatable expected outcomes and the digital marketing strategies to achieve these outcomes. By no means is this a comprehensive list of plans, but it does cover most of the business goals common to multiple business types and industries.
Here is a list of Digital Marketing Strategies along with briefly detailed pointers to execute them
So let’s cut to the chase.
Create a conversion funnel and work towards narrowing it at the base
Whether you are attempting to gain subscribers, get more app downloads, or sell your products online, the importance of a conversion/sales funnel cannot be overstated. Funnels give you a visual representation of the ideal path to a conversion or a sale.
Every product/service fulfills a user need or solves a pain point/problem for a user. There are, however, several buyers out there who are not even aware they have a problem that needs to be addressed. A typical funnel starts with this cohort, i.e., the problem-unaware users. This is referred to as the awareness stage of the funnel. The next step in the funnel is the Interest stage, characterized by users who are aware they have a problem or need and are seeking solutions to fulfill the requirement. Next, it moves to Consideration, where users become solution-aware and are in-market or comparing different solutions providers/products. Finally, the user moves into the purchase stage at the bottom of the funnel.
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Note: This does not mean every person who buys necessarily starts at the top of the funnel and moves his way towards a purchase. The purpose of this funnel is to understand how differently to treat users who are in different stages of awareness. For example- sending a user who is at the top of the funnel directly to a purchase page or product page will yield little or no results. Similarly, showing an informative blog to a user shopping for your product too will be a poor choice.
What to do with your funnel?
Once you have mapped out your funnel, it is imperative you define the communication strategy for each of the cohorts and the channels used. Let’s take an example of a business that sells Motorcycle seat cushions.
A typical conversion funnel for this business would look something like this:
Top of the funnel
The Problem-unaware people: These are bikers who are not aware of either why they have back pain, or what problems could be caused by long bike rides. Your objective is to educate them about spinal health for bikers or causes for poor spinal health. Reach out to them through blogs or articles.
Middle of the funnel
The Solution-unaware people. These are the bikers who understand they have a problem i.e., an aching back or the likelihood of developing it. They are looking for solutions now. There could be several other solutions alongside yours, such as an LS belt, ointments, oral medication, etc. What you need to do is tell them why your seat is a viable solution or, for that matter, the best solution.
The Consideration phase
These are folks who are already aware and convinced that the product category i.e., bike seats are the solution for their problem. They are actively seeking it but not necessarily considering your product. They are in-market for bike seats and are comparing different products. Your job is to convey to them why your product is best for him. Having a strong value proposition or product promise is valuable for communicating with users in this stage.
Product-aware. These are users who are aware that you sell back seats and are interested in buying them from you. The objective at this stage is to make the buyer journey as easy as possible, with minimal disruptions in the buying process. A good indicator of people in this stage is the people searching for your brand name and product.
Bring Social Media Traffic into the Sales Funnel
I need not sell the idea of why social media is a must for digital business. What we would touch upon is the points to consider for defining the role of social media for your business. Do you want to sell on social media directly? Do you want to use it purely for branding? Do you intend to use it to bring people into the top of the funnel?
A lot of businesses tend to use Social media purely for branding or creating engaging content, but it is without any strategy or game plan. On the other hand, several businesses stay away from social media because they see it purely as an engagement channel and have no hopes of breaking an ROI from social. Social channels such as Facebook and Twitter have compelling targeting options and are often underused due to lack of in-depth, in-depth planning or awareness.
With the same example as in the previous section, let’s say we sell bike seat cushions. We’d have many expectations from social channels for this business – Bring people into the top of the funnel (educate them) and perhaps even nudge the buy-ready people towards considering my product.
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I am again reverting to our example of bike seat cushions. I would use Facebook to identify people interested in pages/apps/sites related to motorcycling and further narrow them down by people also actively engaged with topics/pages/groups/products about back pain. A perfect opportunity to show my blogs about the causes of back pain in riders to a focused audience. Once they leave their cookies on my web page, I can follow them around with content and ads with different content via re-targeting until a few of them move down the funnel.
Create a Customer Feedback Loop
Businesses across the globe already recognize that the cost of acquiring a new customer is higher than retaining existing customers. Also, most companies, small or big, already have a feedback mechanism in place. However, when it comes to closing the loop on feedback, most companies tend to focus strongly on detractors and reply to promoters with a generic “Thank you for your feedback.” Now, although, indeed, detractors contribute significantly to your churn rate, a large percentage of your churn happens outside of your ‘Detractors.’
So, instead of investing time & efforts only in the detractors, a business would stand to gain engagement and perhaps even repeat business from users who leave neutral or positive feedback by giving those personalized offers or responses. For example, if somebody goes your feedback about how much they love the new version of your software, you could close the loop by taking this opportunity to inform the user about your app, which can be used on the go.
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Increase Average Sale/Ticket/Order value
A lot of businesses that sell online struggle sometimes even to leave aside, making a profit. For example, you sell a product for $100, but it costs you $110 or even $90 to acquire one customer. This does not justify making your business presence online. A lot of these situations are solved by digital marketing experts who can optimize your entire buy cycle and bids to make you profitable. However, there is something that can be done without the consultation of a digital marketer. And that is to increase the average sale value or order value. This does not mean increasing the price of your product. What this means is, maximize the revenue you can get from each purchase via cross-selling or upsell.
Lack of profitability is typical in low-value products (often under $20). When a purchase is made for such products, take the opportunity to upsell before the user checks out or perhaps maybe even later via email nurture. But instead, strike while the iron is hot. Here are some possible ways to maximize revenue per user:
- Offer discounts for higher-volume purchases
- Cross-sell a supplementary product
- Upsell complementary products
- Capture email/phone number for future deals and offers
Make your Brand an Engaging One
We previously discussed the role of social media in the conversion funnel. The other contribution social media can make for you is giving your brand high recall value. But that is if you have the right game plan and an innovative team for it. The key here is not to go with a strategy that promises you ‘n’ number of posts per day or week. There is no magic number for achieving engagement. It is more of an art than a science. Another common approach that holds brands back on social media is that they take themselves very seriously and refuse to engage in a little bit of fun. Social media users respond better to quirkiness and light content rather than all business. (of course, this also depends on the social channel and your TG). DiGiorno is an excellent example of a brand that delivers laughs on Twitter. They not only engage in a fun back and forths with their customers but also often with other non-competing brands.
Content Marketing to make you more Discoverable
Very often, businesses restrict their digital marketing strategies to a website, social media, and online stores. Although these channels are technically speaking, host to your business content, it leaves out a crucial element of content marketing. What I’m referring to our blogs.
You may think – “do I even need blogs? I’m not in the publishing business. It’s not going to bring me hard cash.”
Now, this outlook is a valid one in many cases. Like for example, if your business is a local cake shop or a florist, the chances are slim that maintaining a blog will turnaround your fortunes. But for several other businesses and industries, particularly B2B businesses, a blog is an invaluable part of your marketing assets.
Here’s a fact – a massive chunk of searches on search engines are thrown by information seekers and much fewer by people ready to make a purchase. What this means is that a vast majority of the searches in many cases are by people looking to know the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of things that can fulfill their need or problem; versus those that search for the product itself. Once again, this does not apply to all industries. But overall, it indicates that search engines are used as much, if not more, for researching, before buying.
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And that is the gap to be filled here. While your website or your online store acts as a great storefront for people who are already ready to buy, they aren’t the type of pages a person researching his pain points would engage with typically. And that’s a huge portion of search traffic you’re just letting go of by not having blogs. The key here is to show up in search results for this audience by offering genuine and helpful, informative content that is not self-promoting. Audiences that engage with these pages can be brought into your sales funnel via re-marketing or email nurturing. Also noteworthy is the fact that businesses that spend on search ads for general terms, expecting sales, are often disappointed by the low conversions or the poor quality of conversions on their product pages. These terms would be better served via organic keyword optimization.
The right mix of choosing from these digital marketing strategies is subjective to the business type, the industry, and the objective. The big take away from this article should be for stakeholders to realize there’s more to digital marketing than routine social media posts, and following the flock. It’s critical to customize digital touchpoints and strategies that align with your business goals and expectations.