While many companies and businesses understand that they need to be "on the Internet," they usually do little to engage their target audience. Today's potential clients are more sophisticated and informed than ever before. Information is available 24/7, no matter where you are or what you're doing, and answers to questions are now always at the consumer’s fingertips. It's imperative that businesses create a marketing strategy that speaks to the problems that both their current and potential clients are facing. Everyone is talking about digital marketing or online marketing or inbound marketing and they’re asking a lot of questions:
- Is your company doing PPC?
- What should I do about SEO?
- Should my business blog?
- What are you posting on social media?
- Are you using video?
- How do I get my firm on the first page of Google?
These are all good questions and even really good tactics, things your company might want to do to generate new business; but what you don’t see here is a strategy…a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term goal. A strategy takes the guesswork out of the process and saves both time and money. It defines your goals, what you want to achieve, and what tactics you’re going to use to get there. Without a digital marketing strategy, your business is just trying one tactic after another… in other words, throwing everything you can think of at the wall and hoping something sticks.
Marketing is about the big picture and a strong digital marketing strategy takes time, thought, experience, research, analysis, insight, creativity, brainstorming, testing, and measuring. If you skip the strategy step and just relying on tactics, activities, and tasks, then I can definitively say that you’re wasting time and budget and possibly harming your brand and the company’s reputation. Without a strategic plan in place, you’re flying by the seat of your pants, crossing your fingers, and hoping for the best.
Strategy and tactics…is there a difference?
Strategy is the who, what, where, when, and why…in other words, your marketing goals.
Tactics are the how…the activities you’re going to use to achieve those goals.
Strategy always comes first. It is unique to your business. It defines your goals and objectives and the direction your digital marketing should take. Your over-all strategy will give you an understanding of your potential client, their behaviors, and how best to deliver your marketing message to them. It serves as your marketing blueprint and needs to be flexible and adaptable, as the digital marketing landscape is continually changing. Once your strategy is in place, it’s easier to know which tactics or activities are most useful to fulfill your goals and drive new customers and clients to your business.
To create a successful digital marketing strategy, you need to be able to answer these four questions:
- Who is my target customer or client?
- What is their pain point?
- How can my company solve their problem?
- What does my business need to do to help them find me online?
Know your target audience
Create buyer personas. If you follow my blogs, you've heard me say this over and over again...all marketing starts with understanding who you’re talking too. A buyer persona is a composite sketch of your ideal client and will help you visualize their wants, needs, goals, concerns, pain points, and how your company can help them solve a problem. Each fully realized persona will help you market and engage a potential customer with the appropriate information that they are seeking. Use your company’s ideal clients as a starting point. Your goal is to flesh out a strong understanding of who each persona is and their needs and preferences. Once you’ve developed that understanding, your business can effectively use the right tactics to engage prospective customers and clients who are looking for information about your products and services. At a minimum, you need to be able to understand the following about each persona.
- What are the demographics of your prospective client?
- What are they interested in learning about and why?
- Where online do they do their research and find information?
- How active is your ideal client on social media?
- Which channels do they like and use to find relevant information?
The more information and understanding you have about your target audience and ideal clients, the better you can create a marketing strategy and use tactics that serve them.
Find the pain points and solve a problem
Now that you know who your ideal client is, you need to understand their pain point(s). Remember, potential clients are contacting your business to solve a problem and a true pain point isn’t a problem that can wait or solve itself. It’s a serious, pull-your-hair-out, have-to-get-this-solved-right-now kind of problem. Your potential customers’ pain points may be large or small, immediate or long term, but until you understand their motivation, you can’t market to them successfully. To understand a potential client's pain, you need to be able to prove to them that you understand:
- How the pain affects that ideal client personally.
- That your business has a good understanding of this pain point.
- That you have the knowledge and expertise to successfully solve this problem.
- That your company has solved this problem many times before.
No marketing is possible without content!
Content marketing is about connecting with your ideal client without selling. It’s not about pushing or pitching information to advertise your business, its products and services. It’s about delivering valuable information, knowledge, news, and relevant insights to raise your company’s profile and help prospective customers and clients make a better, informed decision when choosing a business with which to work. Developing relevant, unique content that engages potential customers is hard work. Valuable content answers the questions prospective customers are asking, attracts visitors, and builds trusts and credibility. Remember, you’re writing for consumers, not the search engines, and not for others in your industry or niche, so lose the jargon and talk to website visitors as if you were speaking to them in person. Your goal is to be thoughtful and informative.
Blogging and articles are great ways to get information out to your potential customers, but content doesn’t just have to be written. Know your target audience and how they want to be informed. Mix it up. Make it engaging and interesting. Use video, images, memes, eBooks, infographics, whitepapers, and Powerpoint presentations to tell your story. Even written content can be more interesting when you change up the format. Try out new ways of reaching potential clients, like Q&As, interactive checklists, and newsletters. Don’t be afraid to provide free information and insights about relevant, timely topics that would be of interest to your target audience.
Really great content:
- Is written for your target audience, ideal potential clients, and not your peers.
- Is shareable ( are social sharing buttons readily available?)
- Can be scanned quickly - short paragraphs, bold text, bullet points, numbered lists, quotes and so on to make the text easy on the eyes and easy to digest quickly.
- Uses strong titles and headlines - Create enticing, actionable titles that use keywords strategically and naturally.
- Anticipates your prospective client's hopes, fears, wants, needs, and concerns.
- Is better than currently ranked pages - Check out the competition. Review the pages that are currently ranking well for target keywords and work to make your content better.
Once you start to view content as the starting point of all your marketing efforts, you’ll be able to map out your strategy and use the right content, at the right time, on the right media, to engage your target audience and potential customers and clients at all stages of their buyer’s journey.
Engaging content will improve the visibility of your business in the search engine results, increase traffic, generate more leads, and convert more visitors into paying clients. Statistics show that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and advertising and generates about 3 times as many leads. Conversion rates are nearly 6 times higher for businesses using content marketing than other forms of advertising.
Become a trusted go-to resource
- Over 95% of people seeking advice use the internet first to find answers.
- Over 70% of people who begin a search online, end of contacting a business via phone.
- 74% of people who visit a company’s website during a search for information, take action.
A strong digital marketing strategy can increase your reach to your target audience, exponentially, and help you convert them into new customers and clients. It's not enough to just show up on the web anymore. Know who you’re marketing to and what pain or problems you can alleviate. A well thought out strategy will help you be the business that is able to engage and answer the questions and concerns potential customers are seeking online, and nurture prospective clients during the decision making process. Your goal is to attract and engage visitors, create value and awareness, and build trust and credibility. Don't try tactic after tactic, spinning your wheels and hoping for the best. Create a digital marketing strategy that adds value and will attract new clients like a magnet.
Located in McLean, Virginia, just minutes from Washington, DC, Bethesda, MD, and all of Northern Virginia (NoVA) we have been helping businesses locally, and across the U.S., leverage digital marketing since 2003. Our mission is to help our clients grow their revenue and brand awareness with strategies that integrate outstanding websites, valuable content, a strong social media presence, and state of the art advertising and promotion.
With industry veterans possessing over 30 years of experience in translating technology into business tools, we have the background to guide you through the process of building traffic, sites and sales through all your web properties.