Digital Marketing Best Practices
What Is Digital Marketing and How Does it Work?
Digital marketing refers to any marketing that uses electronic devices to promote or send advertising messages to audiences. In today’s business environment, the majority of businesses apply unique strategies to ensure that their digital marketing efforts will be effective on both desktop computers and mobile devices. Digital marketing encompasses things such as websites, email marketing, videos, display ads, search engine marketing, search engine optimizations, social media and blog posts.
In 2020, the digital marketing industry was valued at $378 billion and projected to $646 billion by 2024.
Defining Marketing Strategy vs. Implementation Tactic
For digital marketing to be effective and produce business results, it’s always important to set out with clear goals. By setting SMART (specific, measurables, achievable, realistic, timely) goals you create a way for your team to measure the success of various marketing tactics you might employ.
Whether you’re looking to increase brand awareness, attract new leads to your website, or convert more web visitors into leads, there are many strategies to assist you in moving your audience through the buyer's journey. While it can be tempting to jump on one-off marketing trends, if they aren’t part of a cohesive, holistic strategy, it likely will not result in creating a sustainable and meaningful return on your investment.
In other words, your business goals should inform your overall digital marketing strategy, and that strategy dictates the individual tactics you’ll use to reach your goals. The world of digital marketing is far reaching. There are dozens of marketing channels and hundreds of ways to engage with each of those channels. This can make it hard to stay focused and sometimes pulls the attention of well-meaning marketers down paths that aren’t necessarily a best fit for your company’s overall business goals.
By setting SMART goals and looking to them as a North Star, you can avoid having your marketing team hop haphazardly from one “shiny object” to the next. This puts you in the position of being able to make steady progress on your goals by sticking to well-considered, strategic plans that rely on data to inform your efforts.
Digital Marketing Best Practices
Set SMART Goals
At Mole Street, we take into account the needs of our clients’ customers and our clients’ overall business goals and the other strategic initiatives they’re planning. We also look to see the results from marketing efforts that have run in the past to uncover any possible learnings that may inform new strategies and plans.
By setting business goals based on baseline metrics, rather than guesswork, we help clients set realistic goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
When setting SMART goals related to pre-planned initiatives over the next quarter, it’s a good idea to look back at key performance indications (KPIs) from the prior months (and quarters) to get an idea of how you’re currently performing.
This establishes a realistic framework as you plan for future growth and set goals that will be challenging and motivating—while still being realistic and working within your company’s budget and resources.
- Specific: Goals should be well-defined, clear, and unambiguous—otherwise, your tactics could lack focus and/or your team might not be clear on what the overall objective is.
- Measurable: Goals should contain specific outcomes that you’d like to achive so that you can track progress, benchmark success, and stay motivated to keep working towards them.
- Attainable: Goals should be attainable — stretching beyond past performance outcomes, while still being realistic based on other factors like budget, available resources, and timeline.
- Relevant: Goals should ladder up to your company’s top business objectives and align with the initiatives that have been deemed a top priority and relevant to P&L.
- Time-Bound: Goals should include a start and end time to create a sense of urgency and provide the opportunity for your team to make steady progress (in time) to achieve the deadline.
Build Your Buyer Personas
Developing and documenting your company’s buyer personas is the first step in crafting a digital marketing strategy. All marketing efforts, and the user experience you plan, will need to resonate with your audience and help move them along the buyer’s journey. This requires a deep understanding of the jobs they’re seeking to accomplish, the things they value (as it relates to your product/service), and the objections that often come up for them as they shop for a solution to their problem. These 5 steps can help you build buyer persona profiles:
- Define broad buyer personas: create semi-fictitious profiles for each of the general customer profiles who are most likely to seek and use your product/service.
- Identify useful details about your buyer personas: Drill down into the specific traits and needs of your persona with information related to demographics, psychographics, buying habits, areas of interest, technology use, and pain points.
- Research your buyer personas: support your profile with market research such as interviewing or surveying prospective or current customers. Tools like Facebook Analytics can also help provide additional insight into your personas.
- Bring it all together into a buyer persona profile: compile your research into an “at-a-glance” profile that organizes the information. Your persona should be as close to real as possible, so don’t forget to give them an easy-to-remember moniker and a photo to help your marketing team keep their needs top of mind as they develop marketing assets.
- Use your buyer persona to make business decisions: With clearly defined personas, you can determine the best messaging, keywords, social media platforms, and content to effectively communicate with your customer.
Related Read: How to Choose the Best Keywords for SEO: 5 Tips
Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
With clearly defined buyer personas in hand, you are better able to find your customers online and attract them to your website or social media platforms where they can interact with the marketing collateral you create and publish. By establishing an inbound marketing strategy like this, you’re able to supplement outbound advertising efforts (cold calling, billboards, display ads) with less invasive communication that invites engagement by providing value to your potential customers.
Providing educational, helpful content is key to inbound marketing and relates to more than just blogging. It requires a full-funnel strategy that begins with social media and follows all the way through to automated, nurturing email sequences that work to engage, nurture, and delight your audience over the lifetime of their relationship with your business.
Digital Marketing Channels
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing focuses on all the marketing aspects related to social media platforms. The combination of social media marketing, influencer marketing, and eCommerce integrations has led to 55% of people buying a product through social media, and 87% saying it helped in the decision-making process. Some of the most popular platforms companies market on include:
Marketing on social media provides a massive opportunity for businesses, but only when executed well. On average, people spend 2.5 hours per day on social media. However, they don’t spend time there hoping to be sold to. So your strategy must reflect one that takes into account the type of content that they prefer and are already looking for (and that is suited to match each platform’s expected content experience.) Marketers must remember that social media is primarily a place for users to connect with friends and be entertained during stretches or moments of downtime.
Every platform attracts a unique set of audiences and comes with its own advertising guidelines, and marketing tools, so it’s important to understand each platform thoroughly before investing in any type of paid advertising on that platform. A rule of thumb is to start marketing on just one platform — the one your audience is most active on — and then create additional accounts on other platforms as your capabilities and understandings grow.
There are a slew of social media marketing tools available to make posting, planning, creating, and scheduling content a lot easier. Some of the popular platforms include:
- Sprout Social
- Facebook Analytics
Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of internet marketing that allows you to improve your website page rankings on search engines through paid advertising methods.
Search engine algorithms are constantly being updated, so best practices from five years ago will likely be outdated. For major marketing initiatives, having a dedicated SEM and display ad expert will be critical to achieving success. This is not an area where you want to go DIY.
Google may be the biggest game in town, but other search engines offer opportunities for marketers as well. Be sure to investigate if platforms like Microsoft Ads and Bing might be a source of potential web traffic based on your audience and buyer persona web behaviors.
Content marketing is a pillar supporting a great inbound strategy and is critical to driving organic traffic to your website. The content that appears on your site should aim to provide value and be relevant in order to make it worth the time of the people who choose to consume it. Most people have low tolerance for click bait titling techniques, as well as content that is stripped of any tangible value behind promoting products with heavy-handed sales tactics.
It’s smart to focus on creating content that can solve pain points for your buyers and that offers evergreen value. Trying out shortcut “black hat” SEO tactics to try and move to the top of search engine results does not work in the long term and can actually cripple your organic search efforts over time thanks to Google’s all-seeing eye.
83% of people worldwide own a smartphone which makes mobile optimization a key consideration for your strategies to improve engagement rates.
Related Read: How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy
It’s impossible not to recognize the level of penetration that video content has across all marketing channels. We have now hit a point where more consumers prefer video over any other visual medium. Recent statistics show 87% of all online marketers now use video content of some sort. All video content revolves around storytelling. When you can tell a compelling story about your business and prove you can solve the pain points of customers, you’re working with a can’t-miss formula.
Successful video marketing can include behind-the-scenes tours of your business to reveal a more human side of your brand, demonstration clips to show how best to use your software, or testimonials from real customers to offer social proof.
It’s also best practice to keep your videos as short as possible and break up longer content into a series of shorter clips to keep engagement levels high. Attention spans are as short as ever, and you’ll need to tell your story in a compact way with a compelling hook.
The first email was sent in 1971, making email one of the earliest forms of digital communication. Today, there are over 3.8 billion active email users around the world. Email marketing has become an essential business tool for managing business communications, sharing company and industry news, and brand and product marketing.
To send email campaigns, you’ll need to set up contact lists based on information collected from your CRM, website, analytics, or other data sources your company has access to.
Successful email marketing campaigns are built around creative, concise copy that touts relevant information. The copy is usually supported with images and media, a persuasive call-to-action statement, and a compelling subject line. Some of the best email marketing services available are:
- Constant Contact
These services provide a built-in framework to make email marketing campaigns relatively easy to
execute. Many of these marketing services also provide analytics which can help you optimize your efforts and improve campaigns in the future. A useful tactic that is frequently used in email marketing campaigns is A/B testing.
Influencer marketing offers a “round about” path to reach new consumers. If you’re looking for alternative ways to break into different audiences or networks, this option might be a good fit.
There are global influencers, like Kim Kardashian and Elon Musk, as well as micro- or niche-influencers who may not necessarily have an astronomically large following, but who do have a large amount of influence over the purchasing decisions of the people who follow them.
Coordinating the sharing of your content by way of these third-party outlets/personalities helps to build trust with potential new audiences and can result in their followers deciding to investigate or consider your product/service for themselves.
It should be noted that overall, influencer marketing has had a mixed track record in terms of conversions and ROI. However, when done successfully, the value it brings to brand authority and awareness is obvious.
Affiliate marketing is when a company partners with individuals, known as affiliates, who help to promote the company’s products or services to their own network of contacts.
Affiliate marketing activities can be as simple as dropping a link to a business within a blog post, or can be more complex and involve the creation of independent websites and landing pages to serve as advertisements for the company that is being promoted. Whatever strategy is used, the affiliates use custom hyperlinks that contain tracking codes so that the effect of the affiliate’s promotion can be measured and tracked against any conversions or revenue their activities generate.
Adjust Strategy Based on Analytics
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
Marketing isn’t a launch and forget effort. After a campaign goes live, the work of tracking that campaign’s success begins. Frequent review of the results and continuous testing of various campaign elements is an important part of reaching or exceeding a campaign’s predetermined objectives and KPIs.
User Experience (UX)
User experience measures how successfully users engage with your web interface and digital marketing assets. First impressions, clarity, and ease-of-use count. So beyond ensuring that your website is visually appealing and easy to navigate, you need strategies in place to keep users engaged longer and improve conversion rates.
Ready to Get Started with Digital Marketing?
The ever-evolving marketing landscape represents endless opportunities for businesses of all sizes. However, only brands that approach their marketing strategy using the data-driven best practices outlined above will be able to make the most of the growth to come. They will find success by setting SMART goals, thoroughly understanding their customers, and creating content that resonates with them.
Need help pulling together a B2B digital marketing strategy? Schedule a time to connect with one
of our Senior Strategists today. We’d love to hear more about your business goals and answer any questions you might have around the most up-to-date content, SEO, inbound and digital strategies.