Creating an effective marketing strategy can take a lot of time and effort. You have to evaluate the vision, values and goals of your company or organization, determine your target audience, research where that specific audience spends their time and choose the appropriate marketing channels to get your company’s products and services in front of them.
If you’ve already followed the above steps and have allocated a marketing budget that will allow you to accomplish your company’s goals, great! But if you’ve created this plan a few years ago – or even last year for that matter – and you’re simply reusing all the same strategies and tactics you’ve used before, there’s a good chance your marketing strategy needs an update.
Why Update Your Marketing Strategy
If you’ve been using the same marketing tactics year after year, you may be missing out on a great deal of opportunity. With the digital landscape changing in what seems to be a blink of an eye, you have to continue to look for ways to capitalize on marketing trends, ¬especially if your target audience is between the ages of 13 and 35.
Millennials are fully immersed in the digital world of social media, online shopping and entertainment streaming. While traditional marketing tactics like TV advertisements were extremely effective for decades, the habits of the “cable-cutting” generation are making these traditional marketing tactics more obsolete.
Where to Start
Like with any plan, you need to start with the basics. What is your company’s mission, vision, values and goals? What value proposition does your products and/or services provide for customers or clients? What distinguishes you from your competitors? These questions will help you determine your target audience, which will help you make important decisions on where to focus your marketing dollars.
But I already know my audience…
Even if you feel you already know your target audience, it’s important to go back to the basics every now and again, especially when creating a new marketing strategy. It’s always possible for your products and services to appeal to a new demographic, especially with quickly changing industry trends. It’s important to do your research and understand who exactly is buying your products or using your services and why.
Current Marketing Approaches
The next step in building or repurposing a marketing strategy, is evaluating your last one. Look at the approaches you are currently using, or the ones you have used in the past. Did you use print directory listings? Online directory listings? Radio advertisement? E-blasts? The list could go on and on. Take a look at all these approaches and evaluate how effective they were in getting you to your goals.
If you are using print and online directory listings as a marketing tactic, evaluate the effectiveness of the service by asking for listing statistics. These statistics should tell you how many impressions, click throughs and calls have been received with regards to your listing. Once you have these statistics, compare them to the Google Analytics from your website, and analyze the user behavior. Did these visitors make a purchase? Did they click your contact information? Or did they leave the site as soon as they landed on the homepage? This information is important for helping you understand the traffic patterns of your visitors, which will help you improve your site and make key decisions about what to include in your marketing strategy and where to spend your budget.
Trim the Fat
Once you evaluate your current approaches, it’s time to trim the fat. For instance, if your listing in the directory is not generating leads, impressions or click throughs to your website, or calls to your sales team, it’s not an effective use of your marketing dollar. In this case, it would be best to cancel your subscription and invest that money into a channel that will actually reach your target audience.
How to Effectively Reach Your Audience
If the marketing strategies you have been investing in aren’t working for your company anymore, it’s time to broaden your horizons and set your sights on other marketing tactics that will get your products and services in front of potential customers and clients. In today’s digital age, investing time and resources into search engine marketing, social media advertising, email marketing and blogs has proven to be successful for companies in a wide range of industries.
Search Engine Optimization
In simple terms, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what makes your website show up on search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. If you’ve ever looked something up on a search engine and found what you were looking for at the top of the results page, it’s because the website you found and clicked on had a site that was optimized for the search engine.
Every company operating in today’s digital landscape should see where they rank on a search engine. Try Googling your industry along with the name of the city and province you work in. For example, if you run a local restaurant, try searching “restaurant, London, Ontario.” If you can’t find your website on the first or second pages, your customers –and most importantly your potential customers ¬– are likely not finding you either. If you’re using an online directory and that directory listing doesn’t show up on the first page or two, you definitely want to cancel that subscription.
So how does SEO work? It’s actually quite complex. Google for example, uses in-depth algorithms to crawl the web and bring searchers the most relevant information for their search terms. Improving the SEO on your website will help Google – and other search engines – crawl the web, find your company and deliver your information back to the person searching for it.
Is SEO really necessary?
If you are running a business in the digital age then yes, SEO is very necessary. In 2011, Americans alone conducted 20.3 billion searches each month and approximately 52 per cent of all online users had used a search engine on a daily basis. According to a recent StatCounter report, Google directs 92 per cent of the world’s online traffic, Bing directs 2.92 per cent and Yahoo directs 2.07 per cent. With this amount of market share, it’s extremely important to have a website that is optimized for search engine recognition.
While search engines are great at attracting billions of users worldwide, the best thing about them is that they are hyper-targeted. If your company is showing up on the top page of Google’s results page, it’s often because your business is relevant to what the searcher is looking for, which helps accelerate customers through the sales funnel.
If you’ve decided that investing in your website’s SEO is a good use of your marketing budget, you’ll want to start improving SEO by producing consistent and unique content. In the SEO world, content is king, and one of the best ways to boost SEO with content is by incorporating a blog section into your website. Posting fresh, relevant content on your website twice a week will go a long way in improving your SEO and moving your company closer to the top of a search engine results page.
Producing regular and unique content will help you improve your SEO, if you do it correctly. If you try to cut corners, you will end up hurting your SEO and having to climb back from an even further ranking deficit. To avoid this, do not duplicate content, if a search engine see’s the exact same content on more than one page, it will hurt both website’s search rankings. Also, make sure you aren’t using too many keywords on one page or in one article. It’s best to use some, but only if it can be incorporated naturally. Once keywords are overused a search engine will recognize this as “keyword stuffing” and avoid your website.
If you don’t have the time to produce original content and manage a blog, consider investing in a blog writer or copywriter to take on this responsibility. Because cutting corners with content and SEO does more harm than good, you’ll want to make sure you’re improving SEO the right way. Professional digital marketing companies have blog writing and copywriting services and know exactly what blog elements help SEO and what elements hinder it.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
The first result spot on a search engine results page is a coveted position, because many users tend to click the first result that comes up on the page. This means higher visibility for your company, but also higher click through rates and lead generation.
All search engines offer pay-per-click advertising to help companies get to the top of a results page for keywords that are relevant to the products and services they offer. Google for example, offers Google AdWords which allows companies to create their own ads, associate them to keywords and set a daily maximum budget. The best part? You only pay when someone clicks on the ad and is directed to your website. This has become an effective marketing tactic for companies whose target audiences operate online or on their mobile devices. If your audience likes to find information online or on their mobile devices through search engines, pay-per-click advertising is a digital marketing tactic worth investing in.
Display Advertising is another effective digital marketing tactic. Instead of displaying an ad on search engine results pages, you can place your ad on a webpage that has a specific theme or keyword that matches the content of your ad. These display ads are most often placed along the top of the page as a banner ad or down the left hand side of the page. With display advertising, you can drive the traffic of a webpage back to your own site, to bring exposure to your brand and ideally, to direct a visitor through your sales funnel. Unlike ads that show up as a result on a search engine results page, display advertising allows you to have some creative liberty. Your display ad can take on a variety of formats, from different formats and sizes to the use of text, images, videos and audio.
If you’ve ever bought anything online, or you’ve looked into buying something online, you’ll know the concept of remarketing. Think back to that time you searched for a product or service and decided against making a purchase right away. If you find yourself back online reading an article or browsing through your newsfeed on Facebook, and see that same product you had searched earlier suddenly appear as an advertisement, that company is doing remarketing.
Remarketing is a clever way to reconnect with online visitors who have looked at your products or services, but did not make a purchase. These targeted ads positioned specifically for this audience acts as a gentle reminder that says “Hey, we’re still here if you want to buy that fashionable bag you were looking at earlier!” It is also a great brand building tactic as well.
Social Media Advertising
Social media marketing, such as Facebook ads and sponsored content, is another great way to reach potential customers and clients, as 90 per cent of people aged 19 to 29 use social media. Not only can social media help you put your company’s products and services in front of a worldwide audience, it also allows you to build your brand and tell people the unique story of your company, which is probably why one third of millennials prefer using social media channels to connect with businesses today.
Unlike pay-per-click advertising that connects keywords with relevant search engine results ads or display ads, social media advertising allows you to create ads that are specifically targeted for your chosen target audience. For example, targeted Facebook ads let you specify location, demographics, interests and behaviours. So, if you only want to reach women aged 18-54 who live in London, Ontario, you can create a targeted ad that will only reach that desired audience.
Before you get too far in to search engine marketing or social media advertising, you’ll want to make sure you have Google Analytics set up for your website. Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google that lets you monitor the website traffic from your site. It gives you an incredible amount of information such as how many people are visiting your site, what pages they are going to most, how long they are staying and what geographical location they are viewing from, to name just a few. The information that Google Analytics provides can help you make important decisions on how to utilize your marketing budget. If you start using search engine marketing or social media advertising, Google Analytics will help you track and measure the success of your campaigns, which will help you make even more informed decisions on where, when and how to use your marketing dollars.
ZOO Media Group
If you’re looking to repurpose your marketing budget to include new digital marketing approaches, our experienced team at ZOO Media Group can help. At ZOO, our full range of digital marketing strategy services can help you with any marketing campaign you’re looking to start. From copywriting to social media management and everything in between, our knowledgeable team can put your marketing dollars to use with an effective and strategic approach. Contact us today to get started!