As we help customers with their marketing plans and implementation, we’ve identified a framework for the digital marketing age that leads to more revenue for your business. Consistency is important. Execution is important. But consistency and execution of the right things is what leads to increased sales!
If you are committed to growing your organization, but struggling to map out the process using digital marketing, here are the steps you’ll want to take. Some of these apply to your organization as a whole and not strictly to digital marketing. However, they are key areas we see many small businesses and nonprofits haven’t clearly defined. Just posting on social media won’t get you the results you want if you haven’t defined your strategy.
Framework for Using Digital Marketing to Grow Your Organization
Identify your target audience
There is so much noise out there today, and consumers consistently report they prefer personalized, relevant messages from businesses. If you try to be all things to all people you will likely not reach anyone. Knowing your customer is the first step in trying to reach them.
Know what differentiates you
You are probably not the only source of the product or service you provide. What other options do people have? Really evaluate what you are good at and tailor your offerings accordingly.
Craft your message
What is your value proposition? This is the message that tells people clearly why they should notice you, take action, and do business with you. It speaks to your target audience, your differentiators, and your benefits. Why choose you?
Determine the results you want
What do you want people to do as a result of your digital marketing efforts? Do you provide a service that you want them to use? Do you want them to purchase a product? Do you want them to join your organization or donate to your cause? Are you building awareness for your brand?
Strong, clear calls to action work best to guide people in the direction you want. Don’t assume that people will figure out what you want them to do. Be specific, and use a single call to action in a given campaign.
Understand the buyer’s journey
The traditional sales funnel has changed. Everyone wants to buy, but no one really wants to be sold to. Once you know who your customer is you’ll want to map out your customer’s journey. A typical buyer’s journey might look like this today:
- Awareness – they know they have a problem they want to solve
- Consideration – they research options to solve the problem
- Decision – they decide to purchase
- Purchase / Buying Experience – they make the purchase, implement your solution
- Retention – they want to stay with you and refer you
A lot of this journey is complete before they even contact you. Your buyers are likely 80% through the sales process before they ever contact a sales person. As research is one of the top internet uses, you must tell your story online and have information available at each of the stages.
Decide on your platforms
It seems like a new social media and digital marketing channels pop up every month. Where should you be focusing your efforts?
First, make sure you own your own domain name and have a website. Social channels seem to go in and out of favor, and you don’t control the terms for these platforms. Don’t build on rented land. We know of a number of organizations that have been blindsided by Facebook, for example, when they decided to show less business page content in fans’ news feeds without boosting posts for a fee.
Social channels are great for in the moment, but it is also difficult to find past content on these channels that still may be relevant for your business. Put your story on your website and use social channels to promote it and drive traffic back to the website.
Once people have shown an interest in you on the web, on social media or in person, how do you keep the conversation going? Make sure you are getting their information so you can contact them directly. Another report this year from Adobe found that email is still far and away the preferred channel for communication from businesses, even for millennials.
Use an email marketing service to ensure deliverability, automate your processes, and measure your results. Don’t buy a list – that’s spam, and nobody likes spam. Use email to build relationships with people who have already expressed an interest in you.
Should you be on all social media platforms? Probably not. This is where knowing your audience comes into play. Where are they spending their time? Your customers are using one or more platforms however, and social media is one of the best ways to promote your message today. Take a look at the demographics of the platforms and your audience and spend time where they are spending time. Here is a quick overview:
- Facebook – most widely and broadly used
- Instagram – visual, fastest growing platform right now
- Twitter – current news, customer service, most users don’t post but only view
- YouTube – 2nd most popular search engine and reaches more 18-49 year olds than any TV channel
- LinkedIn – professional services and B2B
- Pinterest – visual, most evergreen, drives a lot of website traffic
- Snapchat – almost half of users are 18-24 years old, and 70% are younger than 34 years old
Depending on your audience, other channels like Reddit or messaging apps likes Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Slack may also be appropriate for your organization.
Paid search engine advertising is appropriate and cost effective for many businesses. Social media platforms are increasingly becoming paid advertising platforms for business. This is especially true for Facebook where organic reach has been consistently declining for businesses.
However, the targeting available in social media and search engine advertising can make it a great value. You can reach exactly the right people, and measure the effectiveness of your campaign with more precision than traditional advertising channels. Google Adwords and Facebook Ads are two of the biggest advertising platforms, but your organization may benefit from more specialized or smaller platforms as well.
Plan Your Content
You know where you want to get your message out, but what are you going to say? Your content could be considered the most important part of your marketing strategy. Remember the buyer’s journey – create content that is useful and relevant at each stage of the process for your customers.
Create a map of the types of content you will create. Consider the seasonal aspect of your business. Also think about repeating features you can use throughout the year. For example, if you decide on a featured product of the month, what sort of product information, helpful tips, buying guides, promotions, etc. can you create around that message? That becomes part of your content plan for that month.
It is important to create content in a way that is engaging and relevant to your audience, but also time-efficient for you. Repurposing older content and creating evergreen content–content that is always relevant–should be part of your plan. What do you have already? What questions are you answering most frequently for your customers and prospects? Be human. People want to connect with people, so don’t be afraid to add some personal elements. Spotlight a team member or customer, share what you are doing in the community, or add a few fun elements to your content like contests, polls, quotes, or celebrations.
You already have the content. If I were to express interest in your product or service in person, you wouldn’t tell me you couldn’t help me because you have no content. Think about what you are already telling people and tell this story online. If you are not comfortable writing, consider using a podcast or video to get the word out.
Develop processes and use tools that automate and streamline digital communications
Try to automate as much of your marketing campaign as possible to free up time. Use an editorial calendar. Editorial calendars help keep your marketing content organized and on-schedule. Use scheduling. Most digital marketing platforms allow you to schedule content so you don’t have to spend a lot of daily time to have a presence.
Execute and Tweak the Plan
Once your plan is set, make executing part of your regular business processes. Make sure someone has responsibility for it.
Monitor your results, but give it time too. Consistency builds traction. Do more of what is working for you, and tweak what is not. One of the most valuable things about digital marketing is the metrics and analytics built into the platform so you see what is working and what is not. Use these.
Someone responds to your call to action. What next? Have in place a process for following up on the leads you do receive. Once someone has demonstrated interested in you, how do you build a relationship with them? People buy from those they know, like and trust. Building this relationship happens online and offline.
One method is to use email marketing drip campaigns with a personalized sequence of messages that is valuable to the contact.
You’ll also want to identify which of your leads are prospects. While a lead is someone who expresses an interest in you, a prospect is a person who has already been qualified by you or your sales team as having the interest and ability to make a purchase.
Convert Prospects to Customers
Converting prospects to customers requires consistent follow up. You need to have a repeatable process in place to make sure that you’ll follow up and in a timely fashion. How are you tracking and managing your prospects?
Remember in the new social selling that you don’t want to hard-sell prospects on your business, but should focus more on solving problems that are meaningful to them.
Engage with your current customers for repeat and referral business
Don’t forget your existing customers. What are you doing to make them fans and ambassadors for you? How are you encouraging them to continue to do business with you? Make existing customers part of your content and outreach plan.
Make This a Project to Get Results
If this seems like a lot of steps to you, realize that you have to treat this as a project. Investing time in developing this framework and planning for your organization is necessary to see the results. Make this process a project and schedule time for it on your calendar. This investment will pay off.
What Will You Do to Get Started?
Are you ready to commit to growing your business?