This is the final in the social media marketing series that I’ve done as part of a course I’m in at NAIT.
To see the others click HERE.
Since being in a social media marketing class, I’ve learned that digital marketing is complex, more so than I thought, but also an essential part of making any business a success in the digital era. Unfortunately, for many of us, it’s also overwhelming. Where do we begin? How much time is going to take? It’s often at this point that many people either give up on digital marketing or hire outside help. However, it is possible to create a plan that is doable. In Brad Batesole’s (2021) LinkedIn Learning series, Becoming a Digital Marketing Specialist, we will learn how it’s done.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is any marketing that you do online through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and even Tic Toc. Any platform on which you’re able to post, you can use as a means for marketing your business. It takes a bit of trial and error to figure out which platform and message is right for specific customers, but that’s what I’ve learned is an integral part of this process: trial and error. In fact, digital marketing looks a lot like science and experiments. You plan (hypothesis), try it out (experiment) and then evaluate the success or failure (Batesole, 2021). The data we collect on how well we do is the information we need to improve our strategy.
The other day, I had a conversation with a friend who has a podcast. He shared that he didn’t know where to start with digital marketing. To which I proceeded to download all that I had learned about social media marketing over the last couple of months. I think I heard his brain break over the phone. I had completely overwhelmed him!
He’s not alone. We all do this (or have someone else do it for us) all the time. What many people do when they get overwhelmed is quit. However, Batesole (2021) says to just start SOMEWHERE. You don’t have to do it all and you don’t have to do it perfectly, just do it. He also reminds us that the process is not going to be instantaneous. It’s going to be incremental and methodical but if you keep at it, aiming to learn as you go, success will happen.
Digital Marketing Framework
There are three types of media to understand in digital marketing:
- Earned (Batesole, 2021)
Paid media is everything you pay for online. This could include sponsored ads and affiliate marketing.
Owned media is your website or blog.
This type of media encompasses all those organic mentions and shares that others do of your content.
The overall benefit of digital marketing is the ability to personalize your approach. Since you’re using the various platforms, there may the temptation to mass produce a post and duplicate across all channels. Batesole (2021) discourages that approach. Instead, tailor each ad to the specific platform and to your ideal customer.
The Marketing Funnel
If you’ve done any research about marketing, you’ve likely come across the marketing funnel. You know, the inverted triangle? But did you know that the reason it’s inverted is to signify that you won’t capture every customer that enters the funnel? Here is the lesson again: drop perfectionism. Not everyone you engage with will buy what you have to sell. That shouldn’t stop you from trying.
The funnel is divided into four sections: awareness, interest, desire, and action.
At the top of the funnel is the awareness stage. It is here that the customer first becomes aware of your brand, but keep in mind, that they’re also becoming aware of your competitor’s brand, too (Batesole, 2021).
The customer is interested in what you have to offer and starts to look deeper by doing some research or asking around about yours and your competitors’ product or service.
In the desire phase, the customer has decided to make a purchase; they just may not have decided on purchasing from you.
The customer purchases…or does not. It may be from you…or not. Either way, the customer has decided.
The funnel is described as having a top, middle, and bottom (Batesole, 2021). A digital marketer should focus their energy on each part of the funnel depending on what their goals are at any given time. At the top, your goal is about making people aware of the solution you have to offer. Focusing on the middle is about nurturing your prospect through the funnel. Frankly, this sounds a little salesy to me, but I like to think of it as nurturing relationships and building trust. The bottom of the funnel is about converting those decision-making customers to purchase from you.
Keep in mind that while the funnel implies a straight line from beginning to end, but it’s not really that simple (Batesole, 2021). Marketers must understand their customer’s journey. What attracts the customer to your product or service? What are their motivations? What are their objectives? Each question you ask, should correspond with a different stage of the funnel. It may help to use a spreadsheet or some other kind of diagramming methodology to create a map of the customer’s journey.
Digital Marketing First Steps
Developing a Strategy
Since you can’t sell to everyone, you need to understand your product and your customer so that you can match them up.
I liken developing a marketing strategy to getting ready to paint your house. You can’t start by rolling the paint on the walls. You must start by preparing the walls, taping the trim, choosing the right colour paint, protecting the furniture, and priming. It seems slow and ineffectual, but it is essential to having your walls look the best they can and to not wasting your time and money. This is the same with marketing. There’s a lot of prep work that may not feel like marketing (research, planning, data collection, etc.) but it is all necessary to make the most of your marketing efforts (Batesole, 2021).
The steps involved are:
- Creating a value proposition
- Don’t focus on how your product is better; focus on how the outcome is better
- Identifying the target market
- Create customer segments using demographics (age, gender, geographic location), psychographics (interests, attitudes, and beliefs) and needs.
- Create your customer persona
- Should fit on a single page and generate a specific picture of your ideal customer
- Establish goals
- Create S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound)
- Determine OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)
- Develop KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
- Allows you to measure the performance of your activities
- Draft a one-page marketing plan
- Use a Lean Canvas
Digital Marketing Key Concepts
According to Batesole (2021), there is an important question which we need to ask ourselves as we are building a marketing plan:
What information would help me more persuasive?
With this question in mind, we can allow our curiosity to lead the way to more questions and exploration.
The next questions Batesole suggests are:
How will I obtain this information?
How do I use this information to my benefit?
Data drives almost everything in business these days and digital marketing is no different. Before I began learning about the process, I mistakenly thought that the number of Likes and Follows were the most important metrics to follow – or rather the only metrics. I’ve learned so much on this journey that it kind of makes my brain swim. Data is essential; both collecting and analyzing it will help with decision-making and planning because it helps us understand more thoroughly what our customer is doing (Batesole, 2021). You can always dig deeper and find more patterns.
All our movements are tracked online through Cookies. It helps to monitor and collect information about our strategies and actions. Google analytics is a critical tool for analytics.
Customer Needs Gap
The Customer Needs Gap is essential for the businessperson to understand. All customers have expectations and desires. The difference between what the customers wants, needs, or expects and what services are being offered is the Customer Needs Gap.
Batesole (2021) recommends these steps:
Digital Marketing Hub and Spokes
Hub and spokes refers to Batesole’s (2021) metaphor a digital marketing framework to think about, plan, and manage all the copy and content you post online. The centre (or hub) is your owned content – like your blog. The spokes are the channel to which you will post your content. Keep in mind to not have too many spokes because each one requires time and energy to manage (Batesole, 2021).
Choosing the right channel for your spokes takes consideration so that you choose the ones that work best for your brand.
The Power of Messaging
Batesole (2021) says that the best messaging is always simple and consistent. He suggest reviewing your current messaging to evaluate the current messaging being used. You can do this by sending out a survey to your team with these questions:
- What is it that we do?
- What is the problem we are solving?
- How are we different from our competitors?
- Why should customers buy from us, or why did you buy from us?
As I read these questions, I can see how they could potentially uncover any confusion or miscommunication about your brand with your team.
Next, Batesole (2021) outlines some messaging best practices:
- Tell a good story
- Appeal to emotion
- Be consistent
- Be clear
- Be obvious
Prioritize Marketing Channels
As previously mentioned, we should not attempt to be on every marketing channel. Not only is it impractical but not every channel suits our brand. Therefore, you need to prioritize. How do you do that? Batesole (2021) has an acronym for us: ICE.
He (2021) recommends a chart to determine with confidence with platform to use:
Score each section between 1 and 10 and total them up at the end. For the analytical types, you will love this. I can also how it wouldn’t appeal to some people.
Digital Marketing with Your Website
Your website is an essential tool for marketing your products or services. Since it’s the most valuable part of your strategy evaluate it using the questions below (Batesole, 2021):
- Is your site mobile friendly? Or even mobile first?
- Does it load properly on all browsers?
- Does it answer all of the questions my customers may have?
- Does it represent my brand throughout?
- It your site up to date?
- How does it compare to your competitor?
As you work through and modify your website be sure to focus on writing stellar copy. Remember, it should be simple and concise. Next, curate powerful landing pages that are designed to convert. It’s here that your previous work in deeply understanding your customer will pay off. It would be difficult to create landing pages designed to convert if you don’t know anything about your customer.
Digital Marketing with SEO
SEO is all about ranking. You want your website to be ranked high because it’ll mean that your content has been determined that you are relevant and popular with your audience (Batesole, 2021). Your website needs to be findable by people. How do people find you? Through searches through key words. Ensure that your copy and meta descriptions are meaningful and relevant to your brand.
SEO is complex and has multiple layers. To learn more, check out my previous blog post: SEO Foundations.
Digital Marketing with Paid Channels
Even though it would be ideal if organic reach was enough to market our businesses. Unfortunately, it is not (Batesole, 2021). The fact is that we have to “pay to play.” Batesole (2021) says that most of the paid advertising works on an auction format, meaning it’s a kind of bidding model. The good news about this is that you get to determine how much you will pay.
These are paid displays (much like a flyer) that are posted around the web. The locations are chosen to reach your target audience and can be effective. However, there is no way to know if you’re reaching an audience that is at the decision point of their customer journey (Batesole, 2021).
These are the ads that show up in videos on You Tube. Personally, I despise those so much as a viewer that I don’t know that I could bring myself to use this option.
Social Media Marketing
You can pay to boost your posts or invest in sponsored ads.
CLV – Customer Lifetime Value
This number is arrived at through a formula that uses average purchases per customer, average markup, and average number of years of customer retention (Batesole, 2021). There are several things you can do with this data. For example, increasing average transactions values and determining a budget for future advertising. Once you know the financial value of a customer, you can decide how much you’re willing to spend on keeping them.
When Do You Pay?
How much you decided to spend will depend on your goals. Yes, back to those pesky goals (see how important that initial priming work continues to be?). You may wish to overspend on your budget, for instance, if you have calculated the pay-off is worth it. Perhaps if you’re near the beginning of your customer journey or if it means the difference between converting not converting.
To find out more, check out my previous post: Advertising on Facebook.
Creating an Ad
Most of the social media platforms require you to categorize and group your campaigns. It makes the most sense to do it this way, so take advantage. As always, keep your customer persona at the forefront of your mind. In addition, think about you. What makes you unique? What set you apart from the competition? Next, include your call to action in the description of the ad (Batesole, 2021). For example, “Buy Now.”
The last part is experimentation. Try an approach and then see how it works, then try again.
Digital Marketing with Social Media Marketing
One of the great things about social media marketing is the ability for connection and communication with your customers…in real time (Batesole, 2021). Each time your customer interacts with your marketing and posts, it increases your credibility. Also, remember those goals you made? They will come in here.
Consumers have a nose for being sold to. They don’t like, especially when it’s nonstop (Batesole, 2021). In fact, it’s the quickest way to get unfollowed. So, instead, focus on entertaining and educating. Especially, if the topic is meaningful to them.
You also can’t just post; you also need to follow and interact with your customers. This increases your validity and relevancy. Below , is an interesting image of the various platforms categorized by the use for which they are popular.
Posting on social media is pointless if you don’t have followers. Consider using hashtags and @names to grow your follower. You may even want to engage the help of an influencer (Batesole, 2021).
Digital Marketing with Email
Interestingly, Batesole (2021) says that email marketing is still relevant and useful. There must be a strategic plan to implement a good email marketing campaign. You’ll want to go back to segmenting your customers so that you can tailer your email campaigns.
Getting New Members
The first step, as always, is to identify your goals. Now, we’ve already done that haven’t we? Well, we might have but it’s important to continually review them because as your business needs change, so will your goals. The next step is to match those goals with your customer segments.
You will also want to refer to your marketing funnel and design your emails to encourage the receivers of your email to continue through the funnel (Batesole, 2021).
Customers get tired of receiving your email (Batesole, 2021). This could happen for several reasons, one of them being too many emails. Since customers know that emails campaigns are automated you will need to ensure that the emails are personalized enough so that they don’t just feel like a number. As you learn more personal details about your customers, you can create templates with these options built into them and ready to go for your segmented customers.
Measuring the success of your email campaigns is essential to improving them and there are several metrics that are available (Batesole, 2021).
This tell you how many customers have opened your email (Batesole, 2021). It could tell you effective your title or subject line are in terms of engagement.
Click Through Rate
This tells you how many customers are clicking through to your website. It could tell you how effective your Call to Action is.
These people clicked through but also completed the sale.
Digital Marketing with Video
Batesole (2021) says that video marketing is a must. These are those annoying videos in the middle of YouTube programming. As mentioned earlier, I find these particularly annoying, but many do see success with them. I must admit that I purchased a pair of sunglasses based on such annoying video.
Data drives pretty much everything we do these days (Batesole, 2021). By understanding your goals and your customer, it can help you identify which metrics you need to monitor. Below are the business areas you should focus on and consider using at least one metric per business area.
Creating visualizations and reports so that your stakeholders can make decisions on future campaigns and budgets will support your overall goal and impact your success (Batesole, 2021).
Additional Marketing Channels
Influencers have become increasingly important to marketing campaigns. They are unique because they have made a connection with their audience and built authentic relationships with them. It’s why they are popular and can be regarded as an influencer. Interacting and engaging an influencer is essential (Batesole, 2021).
The important aspects to remember about influencer marketing are:
- Social proof
- Influencers have leverage and have gained trust. If they are using a product or service, it’s likely their followers will do so, too.
- Cut through the noise
- Influencers have been proven to cut through email fatigue since people want value (Batesole, 2021).
Since we’re in the age of truly surfing through the internet, hopping, and popping from one platform to the other in a matter of, sometimes, minutes, the only way to keep up and jump on those magical moments of opportunity, it’s time to automate (Batesole, 2021).
Sequencing and triggers are the foundation for automated marketing.
Sequencing is the order of emails that get automatically sent and the triggers prompt those emails to get sent.
Trends to Watch
There are two ways to get customers: push or pull marketing.
Push marketing is all the things you do build awareness of your brand…without the engagement (Batesole, 2021). While pull marketing invited your customers in to a connected, two-way conversation. According to Batesole (2021), the goal is interactivity.
Artificial intelligence is, as we know, the wave of the future…and NOW. Chat bot, for example, are more than just those message that automatically pop up when you open a website. They are sophisticated, automated, conversation machines that can be used to collect data, lead your customer to specific departments, and even prompt a sale (Batesole, 2021).
This is just the beginning of your digital marketing journey. If you’re interested in learning more, I encourage you to check out all of the wonderful courses over at LinkedIn Learning. There is a plethora of information there that will help you fulfill your marketing goals.
Batesole, B. (2021, January 14). Becoming a Digital Marketing Specialist. Retrieved from LinkedIn Learning: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/digital-marketing-foundations/what-is-digital-marketing?contextUrn=urn%3Ali%3AlyndaLearningPath%3A56d7a3f83dd559b764b88a8f&u=2109516
Blue Corona. (2019, July 13). The Modern Digital Marketing Funnel: Explained. Retrieved from Blue Corona: https://www.bluecorona.com/blog/new-digital-marketing-funnel-strategies/
Garman, E. (2021). Discover the Difference Between Earned, Owned & Paid Media. Retrieved from Titan Growth: https://www.titangrowth.com/what-is-earned-owned-paid-media-the-difference-explained/