“I want my business to show up first in the search engines.”

As a digital marketing consultant, I’ve heard many clients make this exact statement. The benefits of a #1 ranking are obvious: more clicks, more pageviews, and — hopefully — more customers. In reality, showing up first doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes a well-orchestrated digital marketing strategy that requires a substantial investment of time and, yes, money.

So, what is digital marketing? As the term implies, digital marketing involves the promotion of goods or services through digital channels, such as websites, social media, mobile ads, and other online media. But how can it impact the growth of your company?

Let’s discuss some basic truths about digital marketing.

Digital marketing is multi-faceted

New clients often ask me, “How much should we spend on digital marketing in order to achieve our goals?”

Although budgeting is vital to any business endeavor, it’s not the best starting point for a digital marketing conversation. A better place to start involves exploring all of your digital marketing opportunities, such as:

  • Search engine ads (aka pay per click/PPC)
  • Remarketing ads
  • Search engine optimization (aka SEO)
  • Email marketing
  • Paid social media ads
  • Organic social media
  • Video marketing
  • Podcast marketing
  • Paid promotion on industry websites
  • Webinar marketing
  • eBook and whitepaper marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Review site marketing

As you explore your options, you’re likely to find dozens of subcategories within each digital marketing category. Take, for example, search engine optimization (SEO). Unlike radio or TV advertising, you can’t just budget $10,000 for SEO and expect anything meaningful to happen. SEO involves a myriad of labor-intensive tasks that include content marketing, link building, on-page optimization, and other technical performance enhancements. Furthermore, SEO is increasingly linked to and reliant upon other digital marketing categories, such as webinar and eBook marketing. A website that generates significant organic traffic but fails to convert visitors to leads isn’t very effective. Therefore, smart webmasters design compelling digital assets that engage and convert.

Digital marketing is buyer-centric

A recent study by Forrester Research, Inc. found that 99% of respondents start their searches for products and solutions online (66% do so via search engines).* Regardless of the industry, B2B buyers are increasingly dependent upon digital information to make informed purchasing decisions.

How can your company capitalize on this trend? Enhancing your website, social media presence, and email communication is certainly a step in the right direction. After all, you can’t attract customers digitally when your digital footprint is virtually nonexistent. That being said, some companies stop short of considering their digital marketing in the context of the buyer journey. As a result, they spend a lot of time and effort building digital assets that do not actually resonate with potential customers.

A better approach starts and ends with a detailed understanding of the buyer’s needs. Think about your ideal customer with these questions in mind:

  • What specific problems do our buyers have?
  • What search terms would they use to find solutions to their problems?
  • What tools do we need to identify related search queries?
  • Are there specific websites that our buyers go to when solving problems?
  • How can we help buyers solve their challenges without forcing them to talk to sales?
  • What types of digital assets (blogs, whitepapers, infographics, etc.) could help buyers?
  • Where does our product or service fit into the solution?
  • How do competitors use digital marketing to solve buyer problems?
  • How can we help buyers become aware of unrealized needs?

In short, buyers are seeking reliable partners who can help them solve their biggest problems. Although some buyers are ready to make a purchase, many — if not most — are not. Your digital marketing mix should contain a healthy blend of educational and promotional content that aligns with each stage of the buyer’s journey.

Digital marketing is data-driven

Aligning your digital marketing with the buyer journey necessitates a data-driven approach. The good news is that digital marketing (unlike most “traditional” marketing formats) is intrinsically data rich.

To illustrate my point, let’s compare two marketing initiatives.

Traditional marketing campaign: postcard mailer

Print-on-demand services have made postcard campaigns more affordable than ever before. For a minimal amount of effort and cost, your company can rapidly design and implement a postcard mailer that reaches thousands of potential clients.

The tricky part with direct mail has always been measurement. How many postcards were successfully delivered? Did the postcard make it to the intended recipient? Did the headline, creative, and offer grab the recipient’s attention? How many times did the recipient look at the postcard? How many recipients came to your website or called for more information?

You can configure vanity URLs and QR codes to answer some of these questions, but, ultimately, you’ll only have a partial data set.

Digital marketing campaign: email newsletter

Compare the postcard example to an email marketing campaign. In most cases, an email campaign requires much less cost and effort than direct mail. Better yet, most email marketing systems offer in-depth campaign analytics that provide insights into deliveries, opens, clicks, and user-level activity. With a few clicks, your marketing team gains all the data they need to measure campaign performance and ROI. Ideally, this data should synchronize to (or, preferably, reside in) your CRM, preserving a 360-degree view of each prospective buyer. Of course, if you use an integrated or unified sales and marketing CRM, then it’s easier and faster to design targeted marketing campaigns and reach customers at the right time with the right message, keeping your sales and marketing teams aligned.

Data is an accelerating force in today’s marketing world. Digital marketing programs expand your pool of corporate data, which, if properly utilized, can lead to smarter decisions that scale your business.

Digital marketing is a business asset

Blog articles float around the web until you decide to unpublish them. Emails get clicks for weeks or months after they are sent. Recorded webinars provide buyers with in-depth answers even when your office is closed for a holiday weekend.

With the right strategy, digital marketing can be a lifelong asset for your business.

What steps should your company take to turn digital marketing into an asset? Stay tuned for a step-by-step guide to launch your digital marketing strategy!

*Take L2RM To The Next Level With A Pivot – From The Funnel To Your Customer, Forrester Research, Inc., December 18, 2018