The type of your business, where it is now, and where you want it to go in the future all play a role in whether or not it is suited to digital marketing. If you’re a dairy farmer in rural Ireland, for example, with a fixed contract to deliver milk to the local co-op and little, if any, scope or ambition to expand and develop your business year after year, internet marketing is probably not for you.Similarly, if you’re a small butcher with a loyal customer base in a bustling market town in the English Peak District and just want to keep things the same, you’ll probably be alright without internet marketing.If, on the other hand, you’re a Peak District butcher trying to expand your product line, broaden your business’s reach, and start selling your high-quality organic products to restaurants and hotels across the country, then welcome to the world of internet marketing.
In reality, very few firms nowadays can’t profit from some form of digital marketing, even if it’s simply supplying basic information sending out the occasional update to existing customers via an e-mail newsletter or RSS feed, and creating an online brochure telling people what you do.
Whether you manage a home-based ‘lifestyle’ business selling handembroidered cushion covers, a small-scale artisan food manufacturer, a budding restaurateur, or oversee a major global organization, an increasing section of your client base is already online, with more joining every day. Clearly, the more your target market relies on these internet channels for information, research, and purchasing, the more important digital marketing becomes to your company’s long-term success.
Digital marketing – yes or no
When it comes to determining whether or whether your company requires a digital marketing plan, there are only two key questions you must answer.It’s as follows:
1. Is or will my target audience be online? If your customers utilize digital technology to investigate and/or acquire the products and services you offer, you must adopt digital marketing immediately in order to engage and retain them. If they don’t, then neither do you. That’s all there is to it, Keep in mind that as the next generation of consumers becomes your new customers, they are going to expect more digital interaction from your company. If you are unable to meet their expectations, they may choose to spend their money elsewhere.
2. Is digital marketing appropriate for my products/services/brands? This is a hard question, but the answer is almost always yes It doesn’t usually matter what your product, service, or brand is: as long as you’ve proved that there’s a potential online audience for it (see question 1), you should promote it online. While some products and services are plainly more suited to online purchase and fulfillment than others (digital files such as e-books or music come to mind), many commodities that few people would ever imagine of purchasing over the internet are being effectively advertised through digital channels.Consumers use the internet to investigate, assess, and compare their options. They make purchasing selections depending on the quality of their online experience, then go to a physical store to complete the transaction. Boats, vehicles, houses, apartments, horses, tractors, you name it, it’s all being actively and successfully advertised online.
Developing a digital marketing plan
The next stage is to sit down and outline your approach if you’ve concluded that you do, in fact, need to pursue some type of digital marketing.Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits all”strategic solution.Nobody, including ourselves, has a magic recipe for ensuring your digital marketing success (despite some of the online hyperbola you may read on the subject).
Essentially, each company must develop its own unique strategy based on its specific set of conditions while the elements are the same (and we’ll go through the big ones later in the book), the techniques that result can be vastly different.It’s only common sense if you sell apples by the truckload to local grocers, your strategy will be very different from a company selling downloadable e-books and report on financial trading, which will be very different from a sports clothing manufacturer who wants to cut out the middleman and sell directly to consumers over the internet.Various products, markets, and needs necessitate different solutions.What it all boils down to is this: the people who know your business the best are the best people to create your digital marketing plan.
Laying strong digital foundations
The good news is that you’ve most likely already begun developing your digital marketing plan. You’ve most likely been thinking about digital marketing in the context of your business, what your competitors are doing online and why, how your customers and prospects are integrating digital technology into their lives, and how you can best exploit these new and exciting digital channels to foster longer, more productive relationships with them before even picking up this book.These are the elements that will make up your digital marketing strategy’s foundation
● Know your company: Is your company prepared to embrace digital marketing? Is it possible to promote your products or services online? Do you have the necessary technology, expertise, and infrastructure? What role will digital marketing play in your current business operations? Is it necessary to alter such processes, and are you and your team prepared to do so?
● Know your competition: who are your primary digital marketplace competitors? Are they the same as your competition in the real world? what are they doing things correctly (imitate them)? What are they doing incorrectly that you can learn from? What exactly are they not doing (is there an opportunity for you?)? How can you set yourself out from their online offering? Remember that in the digital era, competition can come from around the neighborhood or across the globe. The same technologies that enable you to reach a larger geographical market also enable others to reach into your local market. When you go online, you’re playing in a worldwide game, so don’t just look at local competition.
● Know your customers: who are they and what do they expect from you? Are you planning to serve the same customers online, or are you going after an entirely different demographic? How do your target customers use digital technology, and how can you use that information to build a productive and long-term connection with them?
● Know what you want to accomplish: if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably never get there. What are your goals for digital marketing? A major aspect of your digital marketing plan is to set clear, quantifiable, and achievable goals. Are you wanting to increase online sales, develop targeted sales leads, raise brand awareness among online communities, all of the above, or something else different? Your objectives serve as benchmarks against which you can assess the success of your digital marketing activities.
● Know how you’re doing: compared to other forms of promotion, the results of digital marketing are far more measurable. You may keep track of everything that happens online and compare your progress to predefined goals and KPIs (KPIs). What is the status of your digital campaign? Is it true that some digital channels generate more traffic than others? What gives? What about conversion rates – how much of that extra traffic translates into revenue for your company? Measure, adjust, refine, and measure again. Iterative digital marketing is a continuous process.
The process of formally defining your digital marketing strategy pushes you to sit down and critically examine the market in which you operate, as well as to consider the many components of your organization and how digital marketing might assist you in achieving your business objectives.Don’t get too caught up in the nitty gritty of digital marketing; remember, it’s about people communicating with other people.Technology is simply the piece in the middle that makes it possible. Your strategy should give you a high-level framework – a bird’s-eye perspective of the digital marketing world with your company front and center – with the details coming later.