Marketing your business, whether online or off, is costly and time-consuming. Getting the most from your marketing budget means allocating funds where they produce the highest ROI (return on investment). And, in a world where your market spends more and more time online, digital marketing makes sense both in terms of low cost and reaching potential buyers. That’s why spending on digital marketing exceeds spending on traditional marketing tactics like TV and radio. Add the challenges of actually reaching consumers with traditional marketing strategies due to streaming services that don’t support advertising, the death of print, and the use of devices that allow users to skip commercials. That’s why you can ignore digital marketing at your own risk — a significant risk of business failure. That explains the shift in marketing dollars away from traditional adverting in favor of digital marketing.
It is devastating to your business to ignore digital marketing and, whether you get digital marketing services to help you create and implement a digital marketing strategy from the outside or you hire someone in-house (or a team to handle all your digital marketing), you need to optimize the return of your digital marketing strategies. Below, are just a few of the reasons why you ignore digital marketing at your own risk. Let’s take a look!
Ignore digital marketing at your own risk
Below, we see the drawbacks of traditional marketing, which argue for the transition toward digital marketing we’ve seen over the last 10 years or so.
These drawbacks argue that when you ignore digital marketing, you lose a valuable tool for advancing your marketing goals. Let’s explore further why you ignore digital marketing at your own peril.
You need a targeted audience to achieve results without wasting money. One of the biggest reasons you need a good digital marketing strategy is these strategies allow you to reach a targeted audience. Unlike traditional marketing, often called spray and pray marketing, the idea was to reach as many “eyeballs” as possible, hoping that at least some of them represent your target market. This wastes a lot of money, as evidenced by recent Super Bowl advertising that topped $7 million per 30-second ad. Below, you can see that, even adjusted for inflation, the cost paid for a Super Bowl ad increased precipitously over the life of the game.
For some, the payoff from a Super Bowl ad is great, while others find themselves on the losing side of the equation. The notion that a flood raises all boats is certainly the case for Super Bowl advertising, where you find even brands choosing not to advertise on the big game saw a big lift in their sales.
In contrast, digital advertising costs a fraction of what you might spend on a single TV ad. Plus, you can selectively reach your target audience by using keywords to selectively you’re your search ad or using nuanced segmentation to reach users on social platforms. Even your organic reach through search and social selectively reaches your market.
Effectively managing your budget
Ignore digital marketing and your advertising gets pretty expensive, as we saw in the Super Bowl example above. So, not only does digital marketing provide better selectivity in reaching consumers, but the cost per impression is also much lower for digital versus traditional advertising.
As a small business, your marketing budget is likely even more constrained. Competing with larger brands in traditional media just isn’t possible, especially when you consider the cost of a single ad and the number of exposures to that ad it takes to drive purchase (normally 5-7). Social media lowers the requisite number of exposures to somewhere between 2 and 3.5, depending on the source you use. As a small business, you can effectively reach your market much cheaper and even a small advertising budget spent on digital platforms provides a better return than the same money spent on traditional platforms. For instance, Google Ads only charge a fee when a user clicks on your ad, which means you only pay for traffic to your website, not simple impressions. Other tools, such as remarketing ads, increase conversion probability by 70%, with CTR (click-through rates) of .7% versus .07% for initial ads.
Plus, organic reach on the internet comes without any direct cost, although you’ll spend money on creating content, SEO (search engine optimization), email marketing, images and video, and influencers. Other costs, such as affiliate marketing, pay for themselves. Employing a strategy optimized for SEO and a content marketing strategy focused on creating valuable content on a consistent basis, you see sales improve, although the amount of improvement varies based on industry, as you can see below.
Assessing and optimizing performance
John Wannamaker famously said he knew he was wasting half his marketing budget, he just didn’t know which half. And, that’s the problem with traditional marketing. You have no clue what’s working and what’s not. With digital marketing, you can assess the performance of each page, each campaign, each channel, and everything you do online directly to conversion, average sale value, and lost sales. Armed with these insights, you can not only calculate the ROI of every digital marketing tactic, you can optimize performance by repeating tactics that deliver on your goals and eliminate those that don’t.
Of course, you must spend some time learning how to assess your performance. Google Analytics, which assesses website performance, is free and offers excellent free training on the platform. Each social platform offers some rudimentary analytics but you likely need a paid tool if you want a more nuanced view of performance on social platforms. Email marketing platforms, like MailChimp and Constant Contact, offer assessments of your performance on their platforms.
Interacting with your target market
Almost by definition, traditional marketing means talking AT your audience while digital marketing involves a two-way exchange of information. This bi-directional communication offers a number of benefits to your organization that says you shouldn’t ignore digital marketing, even if you don’t use these tactics as a form of advertising or promotion.
Below, you see the engagement engine depicting how social media and other digital channels spread the word on brands, increase motivations to purchase, and result in more sales for a brand.
- Listening to your market. A major benefit of digital platforms over traditional ones is your ability to listen to consumers in your market. What do they want most? Least? What do they see as your biggest strengths? Weaknesses? Are there features they’d like to see added or removed for your product? Are some aspects of your product challenging or don’t function as advertised? This feedback is invaluable in improving your offerings and providing better customer service. It’s like being invited to sit at thousands of dinner tables to eavesdrop on their conversations.
- Engagement with users helps spread the word about your brand, increases the appeal of your products to others, and binds the user closer to your brand. Thus, you increase your reach and increase the conversion probability. You also increase repeat purchases from existing customers. Influencer marketing, a specific marketing tactic in digital marketing, employs users embedded within engaged markets to promote your brand very effectively across social platforms.
- Interacting with your market helps reach others in that market. Since users exist in naturally self-organized communities, those in their social graph share common beliefs, attitudes, norms, and traits that make them more likely to convert when a user shared brand information or even tacitly endorses the brand by sharing images including the brand.
- Sharing by users decommercializes your messages, making them more believable.
- Native advertising on social platforms is seen as less annoying, less intrusive, and more positive than traditional advertising. Native advertising converts at higher rates and is more likely to be shared than traditional advertising.
Developing a digital marketing strategy
Below, you see tactics used as part of digital marketing that you must consider in developing your digital marketing strategy. As corollaries to this diagram, consider mobile, email, SMS (short message services), and influencer marketing are a big part of your strategy and you must add them as you build your digital marketing plan.
Producing valuable content on a consistent basis is the hallmark of a successful digital marketing plan. You need a lot of content to share on your website, on social platforms, and in your email marketing programs if you want to see success.
Building a content marketing calendar helps keep your content marketing on track as it specifies topics, assets needed, and ownership of every piece of content you must create. Market automation helps by streamlining the sharing process, allowing you to schedule an entire week’s worth of content in an afternoon then sharing that content on your preferred schedule.
To really benefit from the content you create, you must optimize that content for search engines by including keywords representing user intent when searching for products to purchase. Each search engine employs an algorithm that determines your content’s rank in a user’s search. Higher rank translates into increased traffic and a higher sales volume, as you can see below. Once your content ranks lower than 6th position, the amount of traffic you achieve isn’t very favorable for performance.
On-page SEO relies on including the keywords within your content. Including the keywords in your title, headings, alt tags on images, meta description, and a few times within your content helps it perform better. Social signals such as backlinks, high CTR, low bounce rates, social media engagement, and others, tell the search engine your content is valuable.
Off-page SEO refers to ranking factors impacting your entire site such as load speed, number of pages viewed, number of repeat visitors, age of your domain, the relevance of your domain name to your keywords, and other factors.
Local SEO is a particular concern for small businesses as they often don’t want a global audience.
Publishing on social media begins a conversation with your community. Here are things to consider as you build your social media strategy:
- Choose the right platform(s) based on your target market. For instance, TikTok users are younger, Pinterest users trend female, etc.
- Only choose as many social platforms as you can manage rather than maintaining a minimal presence of a larger number of platforms.
- Craft posts based on the norms and requirements of each platform. For instance, Instagram is very visual, YouTube is video-based, and LinkedIn focuses on long-form content. Some platforms use hashtags while others don’t. Posting content that doesn’t conform to the platform looks slopping and reduces trust in your brand.
- Listen more than you post on social media. Respond respectfully to comments and encourage engagement by posting interesting content, asking questions, posting polls, etc. Faster response achieves better results than slower responses.
- Time your posts to correspond to when your target marketing is on the platform.
- Integrate across platforms, offline marketing, and your website to reinforce your brand message.
Email marketing is actually a two-pronged marketing strategy. You must develop a strategy to gain more subscribers (and reduce churn) while another strategy deals with sending messages. Sending targeted messages based on the needs, interests, and characteristics of your subscribers generates a higher conversion rate and lowers churn.
The return from email marketing outperforms most other digital marketing tactics, as you can see below.
Influencer marketing builds on the engaged audience owned by other users. Influencers might profit from their engaged audience through advertising dollars, affiliate returns, or other monetization strategies. Brands compensate influencers through direct payments for services or free products. Finding influencers is easy through platforms designed to connect influencers to brands but you must show care in choosing an influencer as bad behavior on their part might damage your brand.
In the old days, companies built 2 websites; one for mobile and one for everyone else. Today, search engines demand a single site that performs well on both mobile and other devices. A responsive web design ensures your content adjusts to screen size so your website looks great regardless of device.
Another consideration in mobile marketing is where you place buttons to ensure intentional clicks and reduce mistakes.
Building with a mobile-first strategy considers the needs of mobile users in building your website. For instance, placing your address and other contact information up front is wise since mobile users often what this information. Linking your information to Google Maps and phone systems that place the call with a single click is also important on mobile.
These tips should prove to you that you ignore digital marketing strategy at your own peril. I hope you are convinced of the need for digital marketing and have some tools to get you started as you build your digital marketing strategy.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.