As a business owner, you likely have heard you need a strong marketing strategy so often you’re pretty sure you’re caught in some sort of Groundhog Day type loop.
Business experts emphasize this point because it’s true. Yes, providing your customers with quality services and products is essential, but even if you strive to do so, your business might still fail if you don’t market it properly.
That’s a key word: properly. There’s no single digital marketing strategy that’s right for every business. While there are some general best practices that apply to virtually all businesses regardless of their industry or niche, the specific details of an effective marketing plan can vary on a case-by-case basis.
You need to experiment with different digital marketing strategies to determine which is right for your goals. If you’re not sure how to get started, review the following examples. They describe strategies others have employed that may inspire you when developing your own.
In 1996, Bill Gates published the essay “Content is King.” It describes how the Internet has provided nearly all businesses with a platform through which they can provide an audience with content that either educates or entertains. Gates stated that this will be the primary way businesses reach customers in the future.
His prediction was correct. Content marketing is now an essential component of a digital marketing strategy. Whether it’s through blogs, podcasts, videos, ebooks, social media posts, or online courses (although you should ideally be creating content for a variety of media and channels), you can attract new customers and maintain loyalty among existing customers by regularly offering valuable content.
The way in which you do so will simply depend on the nature of your business and brand. For example, if you run a law firm, you can publish informative blogs and videos with a professional tone that explains various legal topics that may be relevant to your customers.
However, content doesn’t always need to be educational. For some brands, content is more effective when it’s entertaining.
Consider the example of MoonPie. This century-old snack earned a lot of attention when the powers that be decided to hire someone to post weird, absurdly funny content on the brand’s Twitter account. By simply entertaining customers with short, exceptionally bizarre Tweets, the brand gained much more exposure than it was typically accustomed to.
A blog can be a very powerful marketing tool. Again, it gives you the opportunity to educate your audience, establishing your brand as authoritative in the process.
The problem is, a blog that’s only published on your site has limited potential reach. That’s not ideal when your goal is to grow brand awareness.
Along with posting blogs on your own site, reach out to the editors of relatively popular sites and digital publications in your niche. Ask if they accept guest submissions. Often, they will, allowing you to mention your business or link back to your site in lieu of direct payment.
One of the smartest (and easiest) ways to develop an effective marketing strategy is to research consumer attitudes. For example, research shows that sustainability is increasingly important to consumers. Many are eager to support businesses that strive to conserve resources and minimize their carbon footprints.
Look for ways you can boost sustainability at your business. Make the necessary changes, and promote them via all marketing platforms and channels you currently use. You can even apply for sustainability certifications to ensure customers aren’t skeptical of your claims.
In a post-Covid world, it’s more important than ever that business owners work hard to keep their properties as safe and germ-free as possible. Customers aren’t exactly crazy about visiting businesses that look about as clean as a dorm room at the end of the semester.
Is your business one in which customers may visit brick-and-mortar locations? If so, make a sincere effort to promote their health and safety while on the premises. Just as you advertise your sustainability efforts, advertise this aspect of your business as well.
There’s always room for blogs, podcasts, and other forms of content that are relatively easy to produce. However, even though producing quality videos can be somewhat costly (in regard to both time and money), if you can justify creating video content regularly, you should.
Surveys and studies consistently indicate that user interest in video content is on the rise. In fact, by the end of next year, video content could potentially account for as much as two-thirds of all online traffic.
Just remember, as with any other form of content, you need to consider the nature of your brand and products or services when determining what types of videos to produce. For example, if you’re selling a kitchen gadget, you could produce videos showing how to use the gadget to make various meals. If you own an auto mechanic shop, your videos could demonstrate how to address certain basic car issues. If your brand targets Gen Z, you might focus on promoting your brand via funny sketch videos.
Consider hiring professionals to help you produce your videos if you don’t have much experience in this area. If your videos are low-quality, they could actually negatively impact your brand. Who’s going to hire a lawyer or mechanic who doesn’t even know how to properly set up a tripod?
Livestreaming typically involves posting live videos on platforms such as Facebook, your own website, and others.
Livestreaming should be reserved for instances when it makes sense to “go live.” For example, a fitness instructor might promote their services by livestreaming a workout session that viewers can follow along to. Another business owner might livestream a Q & A session in which users can submit questions via Twitter or Facebook, with the business owner responding to them in real-time.
Livestreaming videos don’t take nearly as much time to produce as other types of marketing videos. Additionally, audiences seem to be more forgiving when livestreaming videos aren’t of amazing quality. Research also indicates that livestreaming videos yield fairly high levels of engagement.
Influencers are people with large social media followings. They often partner with brands to promote their products and services. In exchange, influencers may receive free products or another form of payment.
Getting influencers to promote your brand on social media can help you reach a large audience that you might otherwise not have access to. As always, though, you need to work with the right influencers.
The “right” influencers don’t merely have a large number of followers. They have a large number of followers who may share key similarities with your target customers.
For example, if you’re promoting a gaming app, you don’t want to partner with an influencer who mainly promotes beauty products. Their audience may have little interest in your app. You need to spend some time finding influencers who can help you reach people who may actually be interested in what you have to offer.
Like video, a podcast is another form of marketing content that gives you the chance to educate and entertain your audience.
You can get started by creating your own podcast. However, this might not be ideal for everyone. Maybe you don’t have the necessary equipment to put together a strong podcast and can’t justify purchasing it right now. Or, you might simply be worried that you’ll struggle to grow an audience for your podcast.
If so, podcasting can still be a useful way of marketing your business. Instead of starting your own podcast, look for podcasts whose hosts interview business owners in your industry. Contact them offering to be a guest on their shows.
Not everyone will necessarily take you up on this offer. If your business is new and small, those who run popular podcasts might feel your brand isn’t big enough to justify representing it on their platform just yet.
However, you may be surprised to discover how many other podcasters will enthusiastically invite you to appear on their shows. After all, they also need to consistently generate new episodes and content. They rely on new guests to help them do so.
This isn’t a marketing strategy that all businesses will be able to employ. It requires a certain financial investment that may be outside the budget of many.
However, if you can afford it, strongly consider hiring developers to create apps and digital experiences/content for your brand. You should also consider working with them to create digital content that uses innovative tech to make a stronger impression on customers and users.
For example, brands like Home Depot, Ikea, Sephora, and numerous others have worked with developers to release apps and products that use augmented reality, a tech that involves inserting virtual elements into the “real world” as seen through the screen of a smartphone, tablet, or AR glasses.
Ikea’s AR product allows users to visualize how items they’re looking at when shopping online would look in their own homes or offices. Similarly, Home Depot’s app lets users check how paint colors might appear on their walls.
These products offer genuinely helpful solutions to customers. However, because they make a lasting impression and often attract the attention of bloggers and journalists, they also qualify as forms of marketing content.
Virtual reality is another tech you might consider when deciding what type of digital product to release. With VR, you can truly immerse your customers in a branded experience, forging a connection with them in a unique and potentially lasting way.
Optimizing your local SEO involves a range of steps. However, one of the best ways to take advantage of local SEO is simply to optimize your Google My Business page.
Some business owners don’t make a point of optimizing local SEO because they may serve customers from all over the country or planet. They don’t believe there’s any value in spending time optimizing local SEO when they aren’t running strictly local businesses.
However, research has shown that optimizing local SEO can help a business show up more often in relevant Google searches in general. Thus, by improving your Google My Business listing, you could grow brand awareness even among potential customers who live far away.
It’s important to not forget about the basics when developing a marketing strategy. While producing video content, experimenting with new tech, and showing up on podcasts can help your business grow, it’s still a good idea to also advertise on social media.
Advertising on social media gives you the chance to reach literally millions of users. Perhaps more importantly, social media platforms generally allow marketers to exercise a significant degree of control over the types of users who see their ads.
For example, when you set up a campaign on Facebook, you can choose to target users based on age range, location, interests, and numerous other factors. This can help you optimize your budget by limiting the chances of your marketing content being seen by those with no interest in your products or services.
Along with advertising directly through social media, it’s also smart to maintain an active social media presence. Your social media ads can simply serve as, well, ads. The content you post via your own social media accounts, however, should be more human. Along with promoting your business, share valuable content that others have published, engage in conversations, answer questions, and generally make an attempt to avoid being too promotional or “salesy.”
(Also, don’t get into social media wars unless it’s clear you’re doing so as a joke. Too many business owners have lost customers because they couldn’t stop themselves from tearing into their critics. Trust us, it’s not worth it.)
Again, perhaps the main point to take away from this is that marketing strategies are wide-ranging. You may not know which strategy is best for your brand just yet. However, by experimenting with the ideas here, you’ll eventually learn what does and doesn’t work.