The Simple Guide To Digital Marketing For The New Entrepreneur

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“Innovation needs to be part of your culture. Consumers are transforming faster than we are, and if we dont catch up, we’re in trouble.” - Ian Schafer

Starting out online can be quite overwhelming even for an entrepreneur who is seasoned in traditional offline marketing.

When you are literally staring at a blank slate, where do you start? How do you get noticed? How do you build a following and the right connections?

Here’s a simple, step-by-step guide to making your foray into the world of digital marketing. In fact, you can get started in just these seven steps:

  1. Developing your SEO strategy
  2. Building your content strategy
  3. Rolling out your social media strategy
  4. Setting up your lead generation funnel
  5. Building your email strategy
  6. Rolling out your paid search strategy
  7. Tracking your progress

THE SEO STRATEGY

Market-Research2Once your website is set up, the first step is to optimize it for online visibility. You want to build a site that users can easily find in the search engines and all across the web.

Follow these steps to optimize your new website:

List your business on online directories so local customers can find you easily– Some of these include Google Places, Yelp, Yahoo! Local Listing , Four Square, City Search, Merchant Circles etc.

Undertake extensive keyword research to determine the topics your target audience is searching for the most– Use Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends. This information will be useful in developing and optimizing content.

Undertake an inbound link building campaign– Use sites such as Alltop, Popurls.com, Mashable.com, etc. to find relevant, niche-specific sites that you can reach out to for site building opportunities.

  • Reach out to other site owners, make meaningful connections and share link building opportunities e.g. guest blogging.

Work on the technical SEO details- Place keywords in URLs, title tags, images and site content.

THE CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY

In online marketing, content is still extremely important.

Creating valuable content consistently will open doors to those precious connections, to customers and to online brand recognition.

Content marketing is an ongoing process and it will probably take up the largest chunk of your marketing efforts.

Start by setting up an editorial calendar to organize what, how and when you will create your content.

Make your content as diverse as possible by including videos, ebooks, articles, images, white papers, case studies, surveys, visualizations etc.

Your content strategy should spell out innovative ways of sharing and promoting your content for example by reaching out to online influencers, sharing on social media, doing offers and contests to generate buzz etc.

THE SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

7910370882_eeaed9b952_k-1260x840Social media plays a powerful role in your overall digital marketing strategy because today, more than 50% of online users regularly access social sites.

Consumers are using social media to research brands and to find products and services. Users are increasingly making purchase decisions based on a brand’s social media presence.

First things first: Set up your profiles on the main social sites: Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.

Your social media strategy should be linked to your content strategy so that any content you produce is automatically shared across your social profiles. Tools such as Hootsuite, IFTTT, Buffer, Sprout Social, Everypost etc. can help you schedule and automate social posts.

Importantly, continue to form connections with influencers across the different social sites; they will be valuable in promoting your content across their own social profiles, thereby helping you to grow your following.

Some rules of thumb to consider:

  • Put in enough time, effort and consistency to grow your social following substantially
  • Share valuable and diverse content regularly
  • Share other people’s content and avoid over-the-top selling to your followers
  • Listen to and engage with your community religiously
  • Analyze your social metrics to find out what’s working and what is not—use tools such as Google Analytics, Buffer, SumAll, Quintly etc

THE LEAD STRATEGY

It is not enough to channel traffic to your site. You need a way to convert browsers or site visitors into actual leads/potential clients.

Building your lead funnel is essentially the first step to translating your digital marketing efforts into cash.

To build your lead funnel you will need:

  • An offer-Free e-book, limited membership, video, cheat sheet, whitepaper etc. that you know is valuable to your target audience.
  • A call to action– A simple, concise message showing site visitors how the offer benefits them.
  • A way for people to opt-in– Site visitors could provide their email address right off your website or from a landing page. Here are some options to achieve that:
    • Create a landing page when you can go into details about the offer and to encourage more people to provide their email address.
    • The landing page has longer copy and it can feature images and videos, in contrast to traditional website-based opt-in forms.
    • Create a pop up email opt-in form on your website to capture visitor emails.
    • Create an on-site email form on your website where people can opt-in to receive your offer.
  • An email auto-responder service- Once site visitors provide their email address, an email auto-responder service helps to start the email-marketing loop.

THE EMAIL STRATEGY

write-for-usThe money is in the list.

Channelling site visitors through the lead funnel to your email service allows you to build a list of potential customers with whom you can start communicating immediately.

Through email marketing, you can segment your list, create customer profiles, and deliver personalized content to your subscribers. This makes email the most effective conversion medium.

Once subscribers are on your email list, you need to send them valuable (not salesly) information on a regular basis. To get subscribers to convert into buyers, use strong but precise calls to action telling them where to go and what to do.

Email tools to use include Aweber, Mail Chimp, Get Response, Litmus, Target Hero etc.

THE PAID SEARCH STRATEGY

Marketing your business online does not stop at organic search optimization. Paid search attracts more targeted traffic that is likely to convert.

Use Google AdWords, Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads to kick-start your paid search campaign.

These tools allow you to target very specific audiences, including those who have visited your site earlier.

Your paid search strategy will involve:

  • Keyword research
  • Writing up ads which may include text, images, videos or a combination
  • Creation of landing pages for lead generation
  • Tracking and analyzing your paid search campaign metrics

KEEPING TRACK OF IT ALL

Finally, success in digital marketing is highly dependent on working with the right data at all times.

This data comes from marketing analytics. There are plenty of things you must keep track of to determine what is working and what is not, to improve your strategy.

Ideally, you should track the following metrics at least once a week:

  • Conversions rates– subscribers, sales, leads etc.
  • Website engagement trends- time spent on site, visited pages, bounce rates, etc.
  • Online reach– Traffic levels, unique visitors, devices used to visit site, origin of traffic etc.
  • Inbound trends– Referrals, mentions, shares, inbound links etc.

It may take a while before seeing substantial results for all your efforts. But, consistently applying these strategies will set you light-years ahead of others who are also just getting started.

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2 Comments

  1. Andrew Spence says:

    Hi there Peter,

    That is very kind of Ryan to mention me in one of his e-books. If Ryan is your blogging mentor you won’t find a better one than him!

    Social media is very much a trial and error process and really involves understanding your target audience, what they respond to and where they hang out. A multi channel approach is always recommended but if time is limited you will want to focus on the channels that work best for you. Creating immense value is vital, but if your target audience don’t respond well on that network it’s going to be a wasted ROI. Also pay attention to the new upcoming networks as these are the ones where you can easily create a large following before they are hit by algorithms that limit who can see your posts (it happens to them all eventually).

    So, define the audience, look at where they mainly hang out, test and test different approaches and see what they respond to and then keep giving them what they want. You’ll also want to ensure that your website is fully optimised to maximise the conversions of subscriber optins/sales when they do visit the site.

    Thanks for sharing your comments and for stopping by. Appreciate it!

  2. Hello Andrew and many thanks for sharing this superb guide.

    It’s my very first visit to your place and was encouraged to do so by one of my blogging mentors, Ryan Biddulph, in one of his ebooks.

    This post will be greatly appreciated by not just new online entrepreneurs but may I suggest ALL entrepreneurs as you provide some real gems of advice that is often overlooked by some including me!

    Of the 7 steps the one that I have struggled with most is creating and implementing a social media strategy that actually works.

    Despite having profiles on most of the major platforms and using tools like Buffer to share my and other’s content, apart from Twitter, I have never managed to generate all that much engagement.

    However, you mentioned it does take time, lots of effort and consistency so I’ll keep at it.

    My aim is to provide as much original value as I can to my readers and encourage them to follow me and subscribe with me as well.

    It’s interesting to note that the responsiveness of the email subscribers from my blog is far higher than any subscribers achieved by paid advertising like Facebook marketing or solo ads. Building my blog subscriber list sure does take lots of time and effort but the end result makes it all worthwhile.

    Blog commenting is one of my main strategies in building connections with influencers in my niche and it’s something I enjoy. Sure it takes a lot of time but I learn something new and extremely valuable everyday that in turn I can implement and then share the concept and the results with my subscribers and readers.

    Thank you again Andrew

    Best wishes from a remote Thai village blogger

    Peter Beckenham

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