Ancient Egyptians used papyrus to make sales posters and pamphlets. In other parts of the world, town criers and musical instruments were used when the paper wasn't available. In parts of the world where reading wasn't common, using images on signs instead of text brought customers in.
Times have changed. Over the centuries, people have used increasingly complex advertising strategies to get people's attention. Today, even small businesses can hyperfocus on a specific demographic and reach them where they frequent the most.
A business's online presence can make or break them. Building a solid foundation and staying up-to-date with current trends can keep a business thriving for decades to come. A company that relies on one strategy or direction may become insignificant within a few years.
Whether you are a new business or reinventing itself, this article will help you build a solid foundation.
At Small Business Mentor, we call this foundation the 5 Pillars of Digital Marketing.
A Great Website
For years businesses could get away with not having a website. After that, companies could get away with having a website that wasn't updated or spectacular. However, with customers using online search engines and social media to find products and services more than ever, a business will struggle without one.
A great website will not only make a great first impression; it will show up in search results, educate your customers, and be easy to navigate. When customers are shopping online, they will jump at any excuse to move on and look for other options.
A wrong website design can make even the best product or service seem insignificant compared to mediocre work with a great website.
If a business knows how to create a great website that aligns with their identity, they will gain many benefits such as:
- It serves as a platform and foundation for the other four pillars of digital marketing.
- Your customers will have easy access to you from the comfort of their homes. By 2023, over 85% of the United States is projected to utilize online shopping. Since most people today find the businesses they're looking for through the internet, it will become easier to target local buyers.
- It enables online requests and fulfillment, which exponentially increases your reach and the number of potential customers your business has.
- Your website allows you to track customer behavior and make educated decisions.
- The website also allows for more significant interaction and education on your customer's end, which will improve your relationship with them and will enable you to optimize your services.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO may as well be one of the most powerful tools of the five we are displaying here. Not only for its flexibility but also due to the actual results.
Search Engine Optimization, just like your website, is a long term strategy. It requires consistent optimization and care, but the results can turn your business into a money-making machine.
To grasp the concept of search engine optimization, imagine that you have a leak in your sink and need to call a plumber.
Much like anybody else would do, you search for one on Google and quickly find one right on the first page. Out of curiosity, you look at the number of pages in your search results and see 64 pages with links to different plumbers and information.
As a customer, are you going to spend the time going through the thousands of options or choose the first one that fits your needs? Sure, you may shop around a little, but I bet you would stick to the first page. That gives you ten options, and anything more than that seems overwhelming.
In other words, if you aren't on the first page of Google, you're missing out on customers every time they search for your services.
You want to be first on the list. However, what isn't apparent is what determines which website is going to get that golden spot.
Google's algorithm decides the ranking, and adapting your content to please the algorithm is what we call SEO or search engine optimization.
Positive side effects from improving your Search Engine Optimization Are:
Of course, having a website that is both easy to navigate and pleasurable to look at is useless if you don't put anything in it. That's like having great packaging for your product without anything inside.
When it comes to digital marketing's practical side, most of your time and effort will be invested in producing content for your audience.
Content attracts, retains, and converts customers.
This content can serve a wide variety of ends from being informative, funny, or even useful for solving particular problems.
No matter what genre of content you pick, the most critical aspect of this content has to be engaging your audience and improving your relationship with them. Your content needs to provide value.
If a potential client comes out of your website or social media feeling like their life has been added to in one way or another, the chances of them coming back only increase.
We have a whole article explaining the many types of content you can choose from, but here are the main primary mediums most websites use:
Articles: Written Content makes up the bulk of most online content, primarily due to how flexible it is in terms of what you can do with it. For instance, an article can take the form of a list, a storytelling narrative, a tutorial, a review, and so many others.
Videos: Did you know 44% of all millennials use videos as a trusted source of information? The benefits of videos don't stop at adding credibility to your brand either; it is also incredibly useful for adding personality. Videos are also beneficial for condensing information in a way that is easy and entertaining to engage in. They also keep individuals on your website longer.
Podcasts: The podcast industry has been on the rise for a while, and the data shows that it isn't slowing down any time soon. This not only represents a field ripe for you to start sowing awareness for your brand, but podcasts themselves offer another exciting advantage. Your audience can listen to your podcast wherever and whenever they want, and it has a similar effect to video in humanizing your brand.
Infographics: According to Forbes, 84% of all business owners that invest in digital marketing registered an increase in results by using infographics.
Why? Because infographics have the power to describe all the information you need at a glance, which incentivizes people to share them to pass the information on.
As you can imagine, that does wonders for your online engagement.
Ebooks: Do you know what is one of the biggest perks of our rapidly digitizing world? It's a fact you can carry an entire library in your pocket, which was three times as cheap to produce as if it were made of paper. In digital marketing, eBooks can be used to present a case or solve a problem your customer has in a way that points to your brand.
Not only will that build your authority in the field even further, but it's a great way to establish customer fidelity since they'll know exactly what to expect from you.
Online advertising has a lot of mixed reviews. However, there is no denying the fact that it is the most targeted and data-driven approach. Depending on the medium you're using, you can target your customers' exact demographic and interests.
You can also accurately calculate your return on investment as you'll be able to put a dollar amount on each customer you receive.
Using a data-driven approach, you can reach more customers and grow your business. Advertising is also becoming more popular and competitive. For example, social media advertising, which uses the mind-boggling traffic of Facebook, Twitter, and the like, is expected to produce 8.5 billion dollars this year.
As you can imagine having your brand become well known on the internet and beyond has many benefits, it also leaves it open to negative feedback.
While researching online, customers will look for social proof that your business is one that they can trust. A few negative reviews can lose your online credibility and, therefore, customers.
Encouraging customers to leave positive feedback on Yelp and Google can help you get more customers and drown out any negative feedback.
Keeping a careful eye on your online reputation, responding to reviews, and encouraging customers to leave feedback can have great results.
Online marketing may be commonplace, but that doesn't make it easy, which is why most business owners that recognize its value will prefer hiring professionals to handle it instead.
Even if a business owner is an experienced marketer, doing it well takes a lot of time. The time that business owners may not have.
Small Business Mentor is a digital marketing agency that prides itself on helping small businesses thrive. We are passionate about not only educating our customers but carrying our exceptional service as well. We specialize in the 5 Pillars of Digital Marketing.