When you think about digital marketing, the first thing that pops into your head is advertising. However, a digital marketing plan encompasses more than just ads.
Many businesses go straight to advertising before solidifying the foundation that will make their advertising more effective.
In this article, we're going to discuss how to build a digital marketing plan step by step, in the correct order.
Determine Your Goals: The first step of any business is to determine what they want their goals to be and what they hope to achieve from their marketing efforts. For example, if your goal is customer acquisition then there are certain steps you should take for your site visitors to convert into customers, such as providing easy contact information or emphasizing testimonials on product pages.
Many marketing plans fail because businesses think that they need to do everything. They have a generic goal and then try to market themselves using every form of online advertising available, in hopes that something will stick. This is unwise as it can be very costly.
A much better approach would be to focus on one thing. You won't have to worry about doing everything right and you can focus on one specific goal that is important for your business.
A good example of this type of focused marketing plan would be an eCommerce company that sells products online. They may only need customer acquisition in the form of brand awareness or they might want sales conversions from paid ads, organic traffic, or social media.
Once you know your goal, it's important to understand the different channels that will help you achieve it.
There are many digital marketing channels available today and they can be classified in a few ways: paid, earned, and owned.
Paid marketing is when you use advertising platforms like Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, or LinkedIn Ads to place your ads in front of a specific audience.
Earned marketing is when you use channels like PR, social media, and content marketing to generate publicity or awareness for your brand.
Owned marketing is when you use channels like website design, SEO, and email marketing to create an environment where people are already aware of your brand.
Once you know what goals are most important, then it's time to choose the platforms that match up with those goals and work on them until they're optimized.
We'll talk about how each channel can help you achieve a specific goal in future articles so stay tuned!
A Quick Note About Content Marketing:
Content marketing and digital marketing are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Digital Marketing is the use of any online channel (paid or organic) to market your brand whereas content marketing refers specifically to owned channels like blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc.
However, many businesses will still jump straight into content creation when they're just starting out with digital marketing. This can be a mistake because it's important to have a solid foundation in place before you start creating content.
You also need to have a plan for how you're going to promote that content and make sure it reaches the right people.
On the other hand, many businesses jump right into paid advertising without having a solid marketing foundation, which can lead to wasted budget and disbelief that advertising works.
So, which one should businesses do first, content marketing or advertising?
The answer is neither one unless your business has a solid marketing foundation.
Your website is your most important asset when it comes to marketing. It's the first place people go to learn about your business and it's the foundation for all of your other marketing efforts.
That's why it's so important to have a well-designed website that looks good on all devices, loads quickly and has relevant and accurate information.
You also need to make sure your website is optimized for search engines so that it can rank high in Google and other search engines. We'll get into this more when we discuss content marketing.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of optimizing your website and content to rank higher in search engine results pages.
There are many factors that go into SEO, but the most important ones are:
Backlinks - The number of links that point to your website. Backlinks can come from other websites, social media platforms, or even your content. A backlink is a vote for the authority and quality of your site.
Keywords - When someone searches on Google or another browser, they type in one or more words (keywords) that describe what they're looking for. Your website needs to include these keywords so that it can show up in the search results.
Content - The quality and relevance of your content are some of the most important factors in SEO. Google wants to rank websites that provide valuable information to their users, so make sure you produce content that people find useful.
Content can be text, images, videos, or audio and should include your target keywords naturally in it.
We'll talk more about these factors when we discuss content marketing, as well so stay tuned!
On-page Optimization - This is the process of optimizing your website and content for search engines. There are many things you can do to improve your ranking, such as adding keywords, optimizing your titles and meta descriptions, and using images with alt text.
Off-page Optimization - This is the process of marketing your website outside of your website. Some common off-page optimization techniques are link building, social media marketing, and directory listings (citations).
Online reviews are becoming an increasingly important factor in SEO. Reviews from sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp can help or hurt your business depending on the sentiment of the review.
It's important to actively manage your online reviews and respond to any negative reviews quickly and politely.
You can also use review sites to get more reviews by offering discounts and coupons for customers that write a review about your business. Some sites don't allow this (Google), so make sure you check their policies first.
A Google Business Profile is a free listing that you can create for your business on Google. It includes your business name, address, phone number, and website. Additional information, such as services, products, and your business description should also be filled out, as these are opportunities to inject some keyword phrases into your content.
The data that is input for your Google Business Profile is what is used to help people find local businesses, both in search (the local pack) and on Google Maps. You can learn more by downloading our free Google Business Profile ebook here: 8 Steps to Increase Exposure on Google
After you have a solid marketing foundation, you can move to the Active Searchers phase. Active searchers are people who are searching for products or services related to your business right now. They are the low-hanging fruit.
Some of the key strategies in this stage of marketing are Google PPC ads and Content Marketing.
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is when someone pays to have their ad show up on the search results page. This can be extremely effective for driving sales and leads, but it's also a very expensive channel if you're not careful. If your targeting is off, you could end up wasting a lot of money on PPC ads. For example, if you're targeting keywords based on the wrong intent of the term, and your goal is to drive purchases, you'll most likely be attracting the wrong people to click on your ad.
That's why it's important to have a good understanding of your target audience and what keywords they are using to find information about your products or services. You can use Google AdWords Keyword Planner to help you with this.
Content marketing is the process of creating and publishing content that attracts people to your website and helps you achieve your business goals. Content can be in the form of blog posts, articles, videos, images, or ebooks. It's important to produce content that is high quality and relevant to your target audience. Once again, search intent is something to pay attention to. Create content that is geared towards helping your target audience solve a problem or learn something valuable.
Content marketing can be an extremely effective way to attract new customers to your business, but it does take time and effort in the beginning. You'll need some sort of blog platform where you can publish this content on the web, ideally your website. This content needs to be optimized for search. This means that it needs to have keywords and phrases in the title, the first few paragraphs of text, image file names or alt tags, URL slug (basically the filename minus extension), etc. This is not a one-and-done process. If you want to move up in the rankings for specific terms you are targeting, you'll need to analyze your content regularly and make adjustments as needed. Luckily, one of the best tools to do this is a free Google tool called Google Search Console.
Tools for Content Marketing Analysis and Updates
Google Search Console (previously called Google Webmaster Tools) is a free tool that gives you insights into how your website is performing in Google search. It shows you data such as impressions, clicks, and average position for the keywords you are targeting. You can also see which pages on your website are getting the most traffic from search, and which pages are ranking in position 0 (the top spot) for your target keywords.
The best part about Google Search Console is that it's free to use, and you can get started today. Simply create a free account and add your website. Once you have verified your ownership of the website, you'll be able to see all the data mentioned above. You can use this data to help fill in the content gaps, as well.
Another useful tool that can reverse engineer the top pages ranking for specific terms is called Surfer SEO. Surfer SEO gives you the ability to see what pages are ranking in position 0, or on top of Google search results. You can also use this tool to find new keyword opportunities based on your competitors' rankings and where they're getting their traffic from.
Content marketing is a strategy that has been used by SEOs for many years now because it's very effective at driving traffic and new customers to your business. It's a long-term strategy that takes time to produce results, but if done correctly, can be extremely profitable. In the meantime, you can utilize pay-per-click ads to get traffic to your site or landing page to convert leads.
Think about it this way... if your website isn't set up to convert visitors, or maybe it's just a bad-looking, outdated site, would you want to pay money to drive people to it?
Also, when prospects are working their way through the buyer's journey, they'll likely be researching and reviewing their options before deciding on which vendor to buy from. If you run a pay-per-click ad and someone clicks on it ($$), then goes to do their research on your business service or product, they'll find your competitors as well. If your competitors have a ton of good online reviews and you don't, the lead is more likely to continue their research by way of your competitors' sites. In a way, you'll be advertising for your competitors.
This is why it is so important to have a solid marketing foundation before starting advertising campaigns. If you have no reviews, bad reviews or just don't have any recent reviews, or if your website is just 'bad', you'll unlikely be able to convert as many leads as you should.
Retargeting is a form of online advertising that allows you to show ads to people who have previously visited your website. This is done by placing a cookie on their computer (or other device) when they visit your site. The next time they visit a site that is part of the retargeting network, they'll see your ad.
There are a few different types of retargeting ads, but the most common is display retargeting. Display retargeting allows you to show your ad on websites across the web. You can target people based on their interests, demographics, and even past behaviors.
Another type of retargeting is email retargeting. Email retargeting allows you to show your ad in the inboxes of people who have visited your website. This is a great way to reach out to people who may not have been interested in your product or service the first time around.
Retargeting can be an extremely effective way to increase traffic and conversions for your business. If you're not currently using retargeting, you should consider adding it to your marketing plan. You can set up retargeting ads on both Google and Facebook.
Passive searchers are people who may or may not be in the market for your product or service right now. In fact, they may be, but not know it yet. They're doing their research and haven't decided on a specific vendor yet. This is where content marketing comes into play.
If you can create helpful, informative blog posts, guides, whitepapers, etc., that solve problems or answer common questions that your target market has, you can attract passive searchers to your site. And when they're ready to buy, you'll be the first vendor that comes to mind.
Another effective way to reach these passive searchers is through Facebook Ads. You can target people based on their interests, what they do for a living, etc. Facebook Ads are also very effective at reaching cold leads that may not have heard of your business before.
When creating Facebook Ads, be sure to keep the following in mind:
-The headline of your ad is very important. It's the first thing people will see, so make it catchy and interesting.
-In the body of your ad, include a brief description of what you're selling, as well as a call to action (e.g., "Click here to learn more," "Sign up for a free consultation," etc.).
-Include a picture or video. This will help capture people's attention and increase the chances that they'll click on your ad.
-Make sure you have a landing page built for your Facebook Ad and that it is optimized for mobile devices.
If you are a B2B business, you may want to consider LinkedIn Ads. LinkedIn Ads are very similar to Facebook Ads in that you can target people based on their job title, company size, etc. However, LinkedIn is a little more expensive than Facebook and the audience is a little more niche.
Here's our suggestion:
Now that you know the different digital marketing strategies, it can be hard to know which order to launch them in. We suggest starting with a professional website, then continuing on with online reputation management (including reviews), Google My Business profile, content marketing and the pay-per-click Google ads. In between the active and passive searchers stages is a good place to start your retarging ads on either Google (display ads) or Facebook. Standard Facebook and LinkedIn display ads should be saved for last, as they don't target people actively searching for products or services.
If you're looking for help putting together your digital marketing plan, our team at Engaged Digital can assist you. We're experts in all things digital marketing and would be happy to help you reach your business goals. For qualified businesses, we will put together a complimentary marketing roadmap, which will include a health grade of your current marketing and suggestion for going forward.
Here's the link to schedule your initial discussion: Book an Initial Discussion Call