By Judith O’Leary, founder and managing director of PR and digital comms agency, Represent Comms.
After an incredibly challenging year for businesses across the board, regardless of sector or size, planning your marketing budget for the year may be the last thing on your mind. However, when you consider that according to Forrester, 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done online (in fact, it’s actually probably a lot more than this by now), by neglecting your online presence, you are missing out on a huge number of potential customers - all of whom are being sucked up by your competitors.
Whether you sell products online or not, the fact is the majority of your target market will be searching for information relating to your product or service online via their tablet or smartphone (and even more so following the Covid-19 crisis). If you’re not appearing in that search, why would they ever buy from you?
That’s why it’s so important, especially during these unprecedented times, to take charge, invest in and plan your digital marketing strategy for the year ahead. A carefully planned online journey can convert someone who has never heard of you into a fully committed buyer.
Here are 5 things to do in order to develop an effective digital marketing strategy that will attract, educate and convert customers:
Understand your business and your target market
In order to develop an effective digital marketing strategy, you need to know who your customers are and what they care about.
Gather as much information as you can – desk research, customer and client surveys, interviews and more - to create target customer personas. What are their motivations? How do they find you? What media do they read? What social media platforms are they most active on? What are their biggest business challenges? How does your product or service help overcome business challenges? What reassurances do they need before they will buy? You can’t create an effective digital marketing strategy if you don’t have a clear understanding of who you are trying to target and how they behave online.
Review your website
Your website is your shop window and you’ll need to make sure it is set up correctly, so your target customers can find you and when they do find you, ensure that they want to buy from you. Is it easy and quick to navigate? Is it fast and does it work across multiple devices? Is the content well-written and concise? If the answer is no to any of these things, review your website and make the necessary changes to ensure the online customer journey is a seamless one.
Analyse your traffic and conduct keyword research
Where does your website traffic come from? What’s the best performing channel in terms of conversions? Which sites refer traffic to you? All of this is valuable information when it comes to understanding the customer journey.
Are you missing out on potential customers because your website is not properly optimised for the right keywords (the words and phrases potential customers type into search engines when looking for products or services)? Use online tools including Google Keyword Planner and Moz to conduct keyword research and identify what terms and phrases your website should be ranking for in the search engines and then optimise your site accordingly. There is lots of helpful information online on how to do this. Moz’s guide to SEO for beginners is a great place to start.
Look at your competitors
You can learn a lot from your rivals. Monitor which keywords they are interested in, have a look through their blog content, look at their social media channels and see where they are generating links from. See what is working (and not working) for them and tailor your own strategy accordingly.
Plan your content
Once you’ve mapped out your target market, understood what your competitors are up to and made sure your website is up to scratch, it’s time to start planning what content you need to produce.
You will probably want a series of landing pages designed to help you rank for specific keywords on key topics associated with your business. You’ll want to guide prospects towards key areas of your site through optimised blog content and targeted guides for download and you’ll want to capture additional interest and traffic through a well-executed social media strategy.
Yes, getting your digital marketing strategy right takes an investment both in time and resource, but don’t miss out on potential new business opportunities by neglecting it. By understanding who your target market really is and how they behave online, by analysing and optimising your website, by researching your competitors and by planning your content accordingly, your business will become much more visible online and you’ll start attracting more customers as a result. And this is going to be even more important than ever in the year ahead.
About Judith O’Leary
Judith is founder and managing director of Edinburgh-based PR & digital marketing agency, Represent Comms. She has over 20 years’ experience working with businesses to build their profile, manage their reputations and generate leads. Recently awarded Creative Industries Leader of the Year, Judith is well known for living and breathing her clients’ businesses and her enviable contact list is testimony to the reputation she has built during her career to date.
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Image: public domain