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